Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Moment: The Deception

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
-Proverbs 31:30

Oh, but we're all about the charm and the beauty. To us... even as Christians... the measure of a woman is her beauty and charm.

I've been giving this some thought lately. With my marriage over and buried a year ago this past weekend, folks around me are strongly encouraging me to get back into the dating scene. Over Christmas, even family and friends bombarded me with: Are you seeing anyone? and, I've found the perfect guy for you! Yeah. Sure you have. I've laughed.

Yesterday a friend asked me, What ARE you looking for in a guy, Brin? I paused and then gave my standard Patty Griffin answer: "strong and kind and clever". And what should he be looking for in you? my wise friend asked. This time I paused but said nothing.

It's a shame, I think. As we raise our children, we teach them to look for someone smart. Mannerly. Beautiful. We coach them to find someone with good teeth or hair... a good work ethic... good automobiles... good families. We encourage our sons to find a pretty girl... especially one who can cook or isn't afraid to work. We tell our daughters to go after the quarterback... or at least not to settle for an unattractive man who treats her poorly or won't spend money on her.

And those things are important. To all of us. But they're not the point. We're missing the point entirely. We're tossing dozens of arrows at the target and missing the bulls eye. We're buying the deception and gift wrapping it for those around us. We're entrusting our family tree to diploma-carrying, pressed-khaki-wearing, Comedy Central-watching, income-potential-offering young people who have no willingness or desire to exemplify the single characteristic we should be crying out for: a person who fears the Lord.

Where am I going with this? I'm going here: we have it all wrong. As we look at ourselves in the mirror, our potential or current partners out of the corner of our eye, and our family trees down the line, we're still scribbling "charm" and "beauty" at the top of our must-have lists. We're placing far too much emphasis on the external at the expense of the eternal. We're becoming shallow, in this world and of it people who dishonor our God by the priorities we choose and the people we chase.

Strong, kind, and clever. Hmm. I do want a man like that. And charming and beautiful? I want to be that girl, too. But above all, my heart and my family tree cries out for someone who fears the Lord. Where are these people?

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a significant other... a child... a friend... an in-law... an ordinary man or ordinary woman... who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick-start your week. See you again next time!
UPDATE: Please read the comments to this post for clarification(s)!


Sandy said...

Hi Brin - not sure how I even came over to your site but it's lovely. I just wrote a post for singles on "crosswalk" that you might enjoy. I think every single gal should read "no more christian nice guy" - if you want to check it out.
Blessings! Sandy

betty r said...

I agree Brin, good post. That is what I have taught my children too.
yes we do want charming, good looking and all that but lets not settle just for that...most important is to look for someone who fears God and wants to live for Him.
Mr Right is out there somewhere..all in God's time, Brin..

Lindy said...

I couldn't agree more. Great post.

elenka said...

Hi Brin, I think I'm losing my mind, I thought the last time I checked in with you, you were in a German restaurant. Could I be imagining things?
I have a question for you....I grew up a Christian, still am. I consider the Lord as someone who is there for me, and takes care of me, and helps to guide me. I could never understand the term "fear the Lord". It sounds so negative and forboding. Yes, I suppose that if we don't behave ourselves, we have something to fear in the end. Is that what FEAR the Lord means? Like we used to fear our parents when we would do something wrong? Or does the word have a different connotation in this realm. This has always confused me. Wouldn't you rather want to find someone the loves the Lord, and through that love, tried to emulate him? The word fear just gives me a picture in my mind of someone with a whip and I should be cowering in the corner. I don't want to be that way.

Mama Lisa said...

i completely agree. but you must remember that if God brings you to it he will bring you through it. i struggle with that as well when we go thru difficult times, but there is a lesson in every tear. my mom always told me to pray as specifically as you can....pray for your God fearing man, but include all the other things you want in a mate too. it's ok to be particular. God wants to bless us, but through the pain he gets us where he wants us first. then we enjoy the journey all the more.

Minnesota Kathi :) said...

Brin, what an awesome Monday Moment! You already know what kind of man to wait for, a man who loves and fears our Lord. God is preparing that man for you now Brin, wait upon the Lord, He will give you your hearts desires, in His time, that can be the hard part :).

Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brin said...

Geez, y'all! Clarifications:

Elenka: "Fear" - in this context - is not how we typically define it. The word most often translated in the Old Testament as fear is the Hebrew word 'yirah', which can possibly mean fear, but usually means awe, reverence, respect and devotion. A closely related Hebrew word is 'yare', which can mean fearful, but also means "to stand in awe, reverence or honor". So when people say "fear the Lord", most of the time they're pointing toward awe, REVERENCE, honor, and devotion. Hope that puts it in proper (biblical) context for you, and points you toward the meaning I was implying.

Others: I would rather CHEW OFF MY OWN ARM than date again. I mean it! I'm NOT actively looking to get involved with anyone and would rather fall off a cliff than get married again. Honestly. The point of this devotional was to call to mind what we look for and should look for in ourselves AND the people we choose to let into our lives. And right now, I'm loving my life as it is! (And don't y'all dare start encouraging me or praying for some stinkin' man to come into my life!) :D

kali said...

Hi Brin!
I completely get what you are saying here. You have an incredible ability to just make things make sense...not just this post, but in others as well. I know what scripture means to me, but you convey things so eloquently! I always laugh because you just hit the nail on the head. Its so easy to be driven by worldly influence when searching for that someone- Lord knows I am guilty of it. This post was like God grabbing my face in His hands and saying, "Look at me, pay attention, listen to what I am telling you..."
Thank you for sharing your life, your thoughts, your cooking, your home. You could never know just how greatly it blesses others...blesses me.

elenka said...

Thanks, Brin. That's what I thought about the word 'fear', but I'll tell you, if one does not have a background religiously, that word will be used literally. I remember one person years ago telling a bunch of us that he doesn't want a God he has to fear.
I don't think you need to be looking for a 'man'. People will come and go in your life that you will enjoy, some temporarily and some for the duration.
You have so much in your own life to keep you fulfilled and anything else will just happen.
I do think, tho, (I know, i know i'm a broken record..) when and if you can stay at Freeman House, there's a kitten out there that needs y'all!
Best to you, and thank you for taking the time to answer my query.
Cat lover from the frozen, snowy north.

Jenny said...

Wonderful post. I needed the kick in the pants to remember this, especially during the tough days with children that love to fuss with each other. :)


Harvest Moon Cottage said...

why is it that when a woman gets divorced, they are "forced" back in the water,Married friends bombard you,unmarried friends bombard you,the meat dept. man bombards you.Everyone has "a great friend!" Well, if that friend is so great then his phone should be ringing off the hook and doesn't need me!Let life happen, live life! Discover YOU! AND never feel you have to look in anothers eyes to feel self worth! All you have to do is look in the mirror!My gosh when I was divorced, I even had the mailman saying he had a friend.I did NOT need a male to make my life complete.HECK I was still hurting, and I wanted to let myself go through it and not pass it the mean time I discovered ME! I got ME back!I LOVED being home on a friday night watching old movies,reading, eating popcorn! Its OK to be alone in fact after the marriage I had, being alone was WONDERFUL!

Brin said...

Geneen: THANK YOU. Thank you for saying what I wouldn't!

Elenka: You got it, babe. Well said. And I've meant to tell you that I agree with you: when I'm home to stay at Freeman House I'm getting both a puppy AND a kitten!

Anonymous said...

Brin, I still say you need a new furbaby. Something cuddly to hold close. Mae would be delighted.
God bless,

Patsy said...

Oops, glad you are getting two new furbabies!!!

Brambleberry said...

Such wise words. I have been praying that my children will find godly spouses. I think God will put the right person in both of their lives, and when it's "right" God will take care of all the other details.

Thanks for the reminder.

grace said...

A good friend of mine, after a failed relationship, prayed: "God, I'm putting you in charge of my love life. I'm not looking any further. If you want me to have a husband, you're going to have to find him for me."

"Jack" soon moved in next door. Her father visited and said, "You better watch out for Jack...."

The next thing you know, "Jack" had come calling and eventually coaxed her into marriage.

She relayed this story to me in the alto section of our church's large choir. "Jack" was sitting in the bass section.

I, too, don't need a man. But if the Good Lord has one for me, I'm willing to give him a look-over! Otherwise, I'm happy as I am.

Grace x

Anonymous said...

Hi Brin~

I luv your blog. I completely agree with your post. Far too many Christian girls are putting "tall, dark, and handsome" (okay, maybe not that exactly, but you get the picture. :)) at the top of their lists when it comes to "must have/be"
characteristics in potential spouses.
Thank you for writing posts like these that make us stop and think about what truly counts.

God bless!

Grace :)

V. said...

I see your larger point here...not just the part about when-will-you-finally-have-a-man-in-your-life.

I think our Lord would be so sad to see the ways we allow culture to rule and reign. Do we ever ask ourselves "am I doing this because culture dictates it" or "am I doing this because it would please my Lord and Saviour?"

Such a tough plumbline to drop. It creates a dynamic tension in all that we do and say and are.

When everyone around you looks at your life and thinks it should look better somehow, remind them that His eye is still on the like we believe that should be our true mark as a follower of Christ.


Sue@CountryPleasures said...

Great post Brin, and I got it too! Being a woman of divorce twice I understand how you feel and I agree with you. You must take this time for yourself to totally heal before you can even think of another relationship. We do try sometimes to find that perfect someone but we aren't perfect so how is that possible? Our hearts know, trust yours and you will be just fine! Love ya!!

Terri and Bob said...

I learn so much from you.

miss gracies house said...

Well said!

redeemed diva said...

Hi Brin. I love checking out your blog--it's so interesting. Anyway, I just want to encourage you and say that I admire your desire to "eat your own arm off rather than date again". That takes a lot of gusto. I think you nailed it bang on about "beauty and charm". Sometimes church can feel like a singles bar, only in this pub, you are expected to find somebody and marry them...and marry young, so that you won't fall into sexual sin!I think that you are making a stand to be set separate and holy as He is holy. I honour you for that. And thanks for giving me the reminder that I need to keep my mouth shut around my single friends when it comes to getting them hooked up. That's God's deal, not mine.
Keep walking strong! I'm pulling for you.