My last few articles had been well prepared, scheduled and written in advance. Ahh, I thought, I don’t have anything this week, and I’m not sure what to write about. I have had a couple of things that I could talk about at a push, but some weeks to be quite honest, things just aren’t really that interesting, and I don’t want to bore you.
Fast forward to this morning (Fri Morning). Last night we had a ladies group, where we are starting to read through a book called Influential Women by Wendy Virgo. We have just read the first chapter, entitled quarrelling women. It speaks about two women of the Bible Euodia and Syntyche and a quarrel that they have had (though we are not sure what it is about). The chapter looks into and poses the questions on why women quarrell, what do we argue about, what irritates us about each other, and how do we respond to correction. These are not easy things to talk about or think about sometimes. I’m not sure I was in the right place to hear things well enough last night. However this morning some of our conversation hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I was upset, and I was feeling a bit down about it all. I realised that the very things which we were discussing were some of the things that I have trouble with. I let myself get very irritated about things that some women do. I suffer with those pangs of jealousy from time to time, I compare my parenting skills with others. I don’t always respond well to correction, I can take it too personally, I am fairly sensitive (though may not always give that impression) and I can feel like I’m a small child being told off. We spoke about core values and were encouraged to think about what these are, what do we really believe, and how does that shape us?
As I looked in the mirror this morning, I looked at my tired face, without makeup (I don’t wear a lot anyway, enough to cover the spots!) I looked at the said spots, I looked at my rapidly greying hair, which is awaiting a cut and colour in the next couple of weeks (at the moment it resembles some sort of brown rainbow, it’s a bit patchy, not cool). I just looked at myself, and felt bleurgh for want of a better word.
I felt the word stripped bare come to mind. I looked in the mirror and kept on looking, and really felt God encouraging me to look deeper, not just face value, what other people might judge me on, how the world sees me, but to really get to my core values, the things which we had touched upon the evening before. We are certainly going to have times where we want to look good, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, with making the effort to look nice. It was just that I was feeling down in my spirit and I needed a lift that no amount of looking good was going to help with.
One of the group said that they felt they had a lot of people in the church that they could trust to talk too, be vulnerable with. I think this really hit a nerve with me. I have some good friends, however they are not people who are part of our church, they attend other churches. I wondered if, and who I could really have a conversation with about big issues that affected me in our church. It’s important to have those relationships, whether you believe in God, you still need to be open with someone who you trust to speak into your life. We sometimes are asked for counsel, but we also need it ourselves, often.
Often little irritations can really get under our skin. I was at school pick up the other day, we have been asked to donate some jars filled with sweets. I had put a fabric cover on the top of my jars and fastened them with a ribbon. I mentioned this to a couple of Mums, one of which I’ve never spoken to before. I did express that it had taken me half an hour to put the covers and ribbon on, I did wonder why I was doing it at the time, but afterwards I was quite pleased with them, and thought that they looked better, than before with the sticky glue left on the lids from the previous labels. The Mum said, you don’t need to do that, she looked at me with a kind of knowing, (I’m a seasoned Mum) been there, done that kind of look. I didn’t appreciate it much. I think she was trying on some level to make me feel better, she said you could have just put a sticky label on the lid, the kids don’t mind, they are only interested in the sweets. She’s quite right of course, they are. I smiled, and brushed it off, and thought to myself what do you know, I wanted to do it.
I wondered why I was so irritated. At first I thought why is it that often people’s first reactions can be to come in with a negative when someone has done something positive. We are sooo much better at being critical to one another than being kind. (Myself included). She has been there though, she has been through the endless donations and school things that you have to do (I know because I saw her with an older child at school pick up too). She was I’m quite sure trying to say the right thing, maybe she thought she was being helpful. I can often get a bee in my bonnet about creative stuff. My background is in art and textiles, but since leaving university (more than 10 years ago) I haven’t done a lot of arty crafty stuff. I think I sometimes feel sad for not pursuing my creativity in this way more. When I do something crafty, I like it to look good, and I want to show that I have made an effort, that I have taken time, that the thing which I was doing mattered. There lies the crux of the issue, I want to matter.
I need to be stripped bare by God, so that I don’t get weighed down with the stuff that life throws at me. We have so much put upon us, we take on more than we need, we run around like crazed lunatics for ourselves and our families. We think that our children need certain things, and that if we don’t act a certain way then you are somehow failing at being a (insert the blank for you).
One thing I heard recently really resonates though. What we do matters, but who we are matters much more.
How do you view other women? Do you let things irritate you to the extent that they become a bigger issue. How do you resolve an argument? I would love to hear from you.