Being a Godly Woman

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Text:  Genesis 2-3, Ephesians 5:21-33, I Peter 3:1-5

Men and women are SO different, aren't they?  God created both men and women in His image, but He was very creative in his design.  He made us completely different in every way. It was as if God said, This will be fun.  I will create them completely different yet with a deep desire to be together.  God created us to spend a lifetime trying to figure the other part out!

Did you ever notice that we are different in:

The Way We Act:  Hunter vs Gatherer (pic)

Men are like hunters seeking adventure and setting goals, looking for and competing for things to conquer. They begin life as little boys, seeking to know how things work, seeking to blow things up, getting dirty, and looking for the nearest adventure.  They quickly discover that they need women to help clean them up, feed them, care for their injuries, and to provide them with a good chase.

Women are gatherers seeking to surround themselves with children and relationships that flourish when nurtured.  Women begin life as little girls, collecting baby dolls, nail polish and dress-up clothes. They quickly discover that they need men to provide the resources to purchase the bags to transport these necessary collections and a home in which to decorate and play house.  Women feel safe and loved when they are protected and provided for, things hunters are good at doing.  

The Way We Think:  Waffles vs Spaghetti (pic)

Men's brains have been compared to waffles.  When you look at a waffle, you see a collection of boxes separated by walls.  Men usually have a separate compartment for everything they think about.  Everything has its own, separate, neat space, and they deal with life one thing at a time.  Men are able to focus on the task at hand.  When men are at work, they think about work.  When they are in the garage, they are thinking about the garage.  When they are watching tv, they are thinking about whats on tv.  Men tend to work out of one box at a time, solving problems and taking care of one compartment before moving on to the next.  One thing does not have to do with another which is foreign to women.  

Women's brains are like spaghetti.  If you look at a plate of pasta, you will notice that there are individual noodles that all touch each other.  Everything we think about is in one big, messy pile.  Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue.  And, one thing over here is most definitely related to something over here everything intersects.   Women are usually better at multi-tasking then men.  We can talk on the phone, make dinner, work on shopping lists, give directions to children, and shut the door with one foot all at the same time.  Women try to connect all of life together: emotionally, spiritually, logically as we try to make sense of our pile of spaghetti/life.  

The Way We Look:  Visual vs Appearance (pic)

Men are extremely visual.  It has been said that their mind is like a rolodex that keeps the pictures and images they have seen.  

Women are not as visual, but we do have this thing in us that cares about our appearance.  We care how we look. Maybe because we know men care about how we look.  How we look actually affects how we feel.

This area has the potential to get us both in trouble.  Wes cautioned the men last week to be careful what you look at and how you look at women.  Women, we need to be careful what we give them to look at.  While we do need to take care of ourselves and look our best, we also need to be careful to not get too focused on our outward appearance.  Scripture reminds us that our beauty, true beauty, comes from within.  

The Way We Feel:  Faucet vs Waterfall? (pic)

Have you ever noticed that men seem to be able to turn their emotions off so easily like turning off a faucet?  Men move on from arguments, relationships, and hardships faster than women or at least they appear to.  I have seen men who are dealing with something very difficult be able to work or have normal conversations and look like nothing happened, or like nothing is wrong.  They are able to turn off their emotions.  

Women don't understand how that is even possible.  I made the mistake and asked my husband what our emotions (me in particular) could be compared to.  If men are like a faucet, what are women like?  He said a waterfall!  Now, I think that's a little extreme, but he said emotions are always pouring out of me.  Our emotions flow whether we are angry, sad, tired or happy. . .there's always an abundance of emotions.  They are always present, we just change what the waters look like.  The best we can do is slow them down.   

Obviously, these are generalizations.  But the bottom line is that men and women really are different.  One isn't wrong or right, better or worse.  And, if we allow it, our differences actually complement each other.  Women, we were created to be women on purpose. And, not just any kind of woman.  We were created to be godly women.  I think for us to better understand who we were created to be, we need to go back to the beginning and look at Gods original design.  

Celebrate who we are created to be:

In the Beginning. . .

The Genesis narrative starts with its not good for man to be alone.  

1.  PARTNER (Helpmate Genesis 2:18-22)

18 Then the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him. 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man[a] to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the mans ribs[b] and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

I love this story.  It wasn't good for the man to be alone.  So, God brought all of the animals to the man for him to name.  Scripture tells us that none of the animals were suitable as a partner. Did God think one of them would be?  Or, did God bring each of the animals to the man just to prove that none would do except for a woman?   

So, God made woman for the primary purpose of being a partner/helpmate/companion.  The word helpmate seems derogatory sometimes.  But, the original, Hebrew word Helpmate actually means the other part of the whole, or the corresponding part.  I know some of you are thinking that it looks like this. . .(show Jerry McGuire video)

But really, its the idea that God created Adam and then he created Eve, a corresponding part, like a jigsaw puzzle that fits together perfectly.  

So, what does this look like?  In order to be a good partner:

1.  You have to know the other person.  What are the strengths, gifts, passions that make them who they are.  And then you have to look at yourself and say, How does who I am-my strengths, gifts and passions, how do they fit/complement the other person?  How do we fit together? 

2.  In order to be a good companion, you have to spend time together.  This means we have to protect time with our spouses.  As we plan the schedule, I wonder, are we being intentional to include time together?  

Ive seen this partnership take place in different ways:

1.  Stay at Home--I have watched as some women partner with their husbands and stay at home.  The way they support their spouses, care for their children and take care of their homes is a full time job. One of my friends has chosen this as her life's calling.  She loves to tell me about how much joy she finds on a daily basis by partnering with her husband as she stays at home.  It is a beautiful partnership!

2.  Deckers...I know another family where both, husband and wife, work outside of the home.  Both have full time jobs that they love and really feel they are called to.  They also realize that their relationship, children, and their home are their top priority.  It has been so interesting to see how they divide responsibilities, based on what they enjoy, their personalities, and what they are good at doing.  For example, one finds cooking therapeutic, and the other is more patient when it comes to disciplining their children.  Their partnership is strong, and it is formed based on who they are, and how they complement each other.

3.  Us...My husband and I have chosen to take a different approach, and its one that few people understand.  We believe that I am called to work full-time in ministry.  When we moved to Newark, we were expecting our third child, and we really felt that the best thing for our family would be for my husband to stay at home with her and to help our other children transition to new schools.  This has been the best thing for our family! My husband is the CEO of our home.  He manages our household and is very methodical in his approach to housework.  He has brought a cleanliness, order and peace to our home that we haven't had before.  While our responsibilities for our home have changed, our roles have not.  He is still husband and father, and I am still wife and mother.  Our partnership works for us.  

I don't think there is a perfect way to live out the partnership between husband and wife.  It looks different for each relationship.  However, the partnership is most effective when each person is living out who they are, and when they are fully participating in it. 

Women, I know that there are many things that distract us from fully participating in our partnership; work, volunteering, children, schedules, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, friends, etc.  In the midst of all that we have going on, we cant forget our primary purpose.  God designed us to be companions, and we need to be the other part of the whole!

2.  INFLUENCER (Genesis 3:6-12)

Women, the second role we are called to is that of influencer.  We really do hold a lot of power.  We have to be very careful to use our power of influence for good.  Eve did not.  The story continues in Genesis and tells us that the serpent approached Eve and offered her fruit from the tree God said not to eat from.  Genesis 3:6 says, 

 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

Eve not only ate the fruit, but she convinced Adam that he should try it, too.  When they were questioned by God as to why they did it, Adam blamed Eve.  He said, The woman whom you gave me, she gave me the fruit.  It was ultimately Adams choice, but Eve used her power of influence to convince him.  

When Eve used her power of influence for personal gain, their perfect relationship became broken.  It was at this point that marital conflict began.  One of the consequences of sin was a battle for control.  Instead of completing each other, Adam and Eve began to compete with each other.  

 This is why women were called to submit.  Submission is bending our will to the will of another.  Instead of using our power of influence to gain power or control, we are called to give up control.  It does not mean that we are to be a doormat or that our opinions do not matter.  Its actually the opposite.  We are called to lean in and really love well, and that takes strength, courage, and wisdom.     

One of the best ways to love our husbands is to respect them.  In the book, For Women Only,  the author did a survey with men and asked If you had to choose between being alone and unloved or feeling inadequate and disrespected, which would you choose?  Most women think, who would ever choose to be alone and unloved??  But, of the men chose to feel unloved and alone rather than being disrespected.  A lot of the men had a hard time answering it because they felt like it was the same thing.  Because, in order for men to feel loved, they need to feel respected.   Respect is shown not just with words, but also with actions.  It flows from a submissive attitude of the heart.

Submitting, respecting, and loving our spouses is a beautiful way to use our power of influence.  When we love like this, we have a positive influence on the ones we love.  This influence causes others to respond similarly when we love well, we help others to love well, too.  

3.  NURTURER (I Peter 3:1-5)

The third role women are called to live out is that of nurturer.  Nurture is defined as:  to care for, to support and encourage, to bring up, train, and educate.  I Peter 3:1-5 tells us how we can best nurture those we love:

1 In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.

 3 Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 

Our goal should be to create an environment in our home that nurtures and develops our spouse, children and those around us to fulfill Gods will for their lives.  How do we do that?  How do we live godly lives? 

1.  We need to make time with God our number one priority.  We cant model our lives off of Christ if we don't know him or know how he lived.  Spending time in Gods Word, in prayer, and with other Christ followers will help us look and act more like God. Just like this scripture tells us, we want our godly lives to speak to them without any words.

2.  We need to pray constantly for our husband and children.  Pray for their character, their choices, their friends, their work, their relationship with God. 

3.  Create structures and scheduled times that make family a priority.

4.  Provide opportunities to play together, serve together, and worship together.  

5.  Lastly, do everything you can to help them be the people God created them to be.  

We were created to be godly women; women who partner, who influence, and who nurture.  Elisabeth Elliot wrote:  The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.  For I have accepted Gods idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am, and all that He wants me to be.

Who have you seen live this out?  Who do you think really models what it is to be a godly woman?    

For me, it would be one of my greatest friends, Melissa Prater Rex.  From the very first day I met her in college, I was amazed at her relationship with God.  She knew him, and loved him with every ounce of her being.  She had committed her freshman year to being the year that she fell even more in love with Jesus.  I didn't even think that was possible, but she did.  She used to share her dream of meeting a handsome and godly man and having children of her own.  She dreamed of being a missionary, dedicating her life to serving others.  

In some ways, her dream came true.  Melissa met and married Doug, who is a handsome and godly man, and they had three beautiful children.  Three years ago, Melissa was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and last Saturday she died of complications from that.  She has been my example of what a godly woman looks like.  She loved God with her whole heart, soul, mind and strength.  And, she truly loved others.  She dedicated her life to partnering with her husband.  She loved him and she supported him as he went through med school, and looked for ways to serve him and to love him better on a daily basis.  Melissa's children were her greatest joy, and she spent her days loving them, caring for them, and teaching them what it is love God.  Melissa lived a life of love and imitated her Savior.      

I spent this week remembering my friend, grieving her absence in my life, and celebrating who she was.  As I watched her parents, sisters, husband and children grieving, I was reminded that Melissa left the greatest legacy.  She left them love.  At the end of our time here on earth, the only thing that can remain, the only thing we can pass on is our love.  Melissa loved well.  She was a godly woman who lived out Gods perfect design for her life.  I want to be just like her.

I want to spend my life on things that matter.  I want to love others; my husband, children, and those around me, and I want what I do and say to lead others closer to Jesus.  I want to be remembered as a godly woman.  I believe God wants that for each woman here today.

I wonder what changes God might be asking us to make in order for us to be who He has created us to be?  I wonder what we might need to do love better, to partner better, or to be a better influence to those around us.