Approaching Grace in Red High Heels
You see my pictures where I look happy, laughing-happy. Happy because I’m married and have a cool job, because I go on business trips and girls’ weekends. Because I drink coffee and blog, because my hair looks good in that picture and I probably don’t have a care in the world.
I look happy to you, like I don’t worry, don’t stress, like I woke up this way. Like my apartment is perfect, my clothes and husband and life are perfect. And yours isn’t.
In a world where we all ‘follow’ each other – a discipleship of image and best-face-forward – you look at me and think less of yourself. Or you look at me and think more of yourself.
Just like I look at others and do the same.
Dear girl, I’m just like you.
I’m the woman at the gas station in the scuffed heels. I’m the girl answering the phone with annoyance in her voice. I’m the one with the fighting heart and the too-strong tongue that stings sometimes, even when I don’t mean it.
Based on Mark 5:1-20.
With a slow turn of the bow, the boat leveled in the water, not far from the shore. Peter secured the anchor and jumped in the water, waist deep. He glanced at the sea: a deep, Galilean blue. You would never guess there was a storm last night.
The other disciples waded ashore as Peter tossed the goods on the ground. The landscape was rocky, even desolate. Peter looked up at the mountains, rippling downward to the eastern shore of the sea. The morning sun cast shadows through the ridges.
Peace was torn by a ear-piercing scream.
Racing over rocks, undaunted by the bloody scars they caused on his feet, a creature bounded toward the disciples. Dishevelment flew behind him in a mass of matted hair. He snarled and hissed and spat, barreling toward the Master, who had just stepped ashore. If the creature were not completely naked, Peter wouldn’t have known it was man.
Throwing himself before the Master, the creature slammed a rock into the ground, growling as he ground it in his hands. Peter noticed shackles on his wrists and ankles – but the chains had been broken. A few links hung like charms, clanking against the rocks.
Jesus was unmoved by the man’s writhing screech. “Come out of him.”
“WHAT have YOU to do with me, Jessusss, the Mosst High God?” The man writhed on his knees in the level gaze of the Master. “I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
I was clicking through some of my referral links – the ones that send people to my page – and one pingback took me to a girl’s blog where she expressed her distaste for my post, “The 5 Myths of Modesty”. But her dislike for my stance wasn’t limited to the belief that women can wear whatever they like, regardless of responsibility or consequences: rather, Hannah expressed: “I just want to speak about my opinion of this dangerous, “submissive-attitude”.”
Submission: is it dangerous, like Hannah claims? I addressed this issue as it relates to modesty in my post, That Day My Husband Told Me What to Do. Subsequently, I did some research in both secular and Christian sources to evaluate both worldviews.
I’m bothered by both the Christian and feminist approach to this issue. For the Christians, it is imperative in this culture to know more than the face value of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3. Submission does not mean in this culture what it meant in Paul’s. And for the feminists – until you also understand what is meant by the Christian stance on marriage and submission, your arguments against it will be fallacious and flawed.
So we’re going on a submission safari. I don’t think it means what you think it means.
Mondays are my least favorite day of the week, and my resentment towards them builds from 5 PM Sunday night to my alarm’s unwelcome tune at 4:50 the next morning. Yet another week of trying to juggle everything, my mind stews as I make the familiar drive into work, usually running late. I enjoy the busyness; I thrive in it. I love my coworkers. Yet when Monday comes, the dread builds as I realize I must shift from the ‘optional’ to the ‘required’ mode of operation.
I’ve found a few ways to make them better: I start out the week in my red heels, and allow myself a ‘real’ coffee for that day from Starbucks or Joe Beans (since it’s fall, it’s pumpkin spice latte season!). That gives me something to look forward to when I can feel a case of the Mondays coming on!
Despite my best efforts, there are many days I don’t wake up happy. I am not by nature a ‘happy’ person. I love to laugh, and make others laugh – but I also take life a little too seriously, at the cost of my joy. Yesterday in church I was reading in Psalms during part of worship. I’ve been studying Psalm 30 for a while now; this passage contains a back-and-forth pattern of God’s actions and man’s responses. In verse eleven, the writer says:
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”
As I read that in church, I thought: Why do I lack so much joy in the weekly day to day? I can’t wait to just be home with my husband, in my kitchen, resting, but it cannot be God’s will for me resent the very work He gave me to do. My eye fell on Psalm 32:10-11:
“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
Suddenly, I made the connection. Trust and joy are tied together. They come as one.
My parents were firm believers in work ethic. I got my first job when I was 12. I was a “mother’s helper”.
By 14, I was a nanny, and by 15 I was working part-time at a greenhouse and nannying as well. My successive career included working in women’s retail, teaching piano, babysitting, waitressing, hostessing, receptionist work, and reporting. I moved to New Mexico to work as a wrangler (glorified cowgirl), then moved back to Michigan, where I worked days at a newspaper and nights at a restaurant. I left those jobs for a position at a doctor’s office, and from there came back to my alma mater, Liberty University, as an admissions counselor, social media coordinator, and eventually the coordinator of groups and homeschool recruitment.
Given this work history, I often feel like a blogging minority. There aren’t many young, married, full-timers like me: the in-betweeners. Since I’m in this in-between stage where marriage and career take top priority, I read magazines like Harper’s, Forbes, and The New Yorker in my spare time. I love to read leadership blogs like Michael Hyatt’s and Jeff Goins. In my work research, I’ve stumbled across some posts about the intersection of work and personal life. Should you, for instance, friend your boss on Facebook?
I don’t know if it was perspective, or if I was just really blessed – but every boss and supervisor I’ve had has been top notch. Each one was individual; different in his or her way, with their own management and leadership style. So not only did I ‘friend’ my superiors, but I am still friends with many of them outside of social media. And I’m really glad about it. I think we could benefit from a more personal relationship with our superiors, if they are willing to participate. Here’s why:
1. A leader’s influence is not limited to the professional sphere.
A boss isn’t just an authority figure: he, or she, is a person. At one time, that person was a growing professional like us.
A good leader is not just a good leader at work. More often than not, good leaders have personal habits that led to their success. By getting to know your boss on a personal basis (whether that be simple conversation or via social media, if they are willing) you add context to the work relationship.
Some bosses don’t want to be known outside of work, and that’s fine. We should respect their privacy. But for those who are more open, it behooves us to get to know them as people – and not just for ‘networking opportunities’. Leaders can offer as much insight into personal issues as they can to the professional. Think of them as wellsprings of experience-based instruction, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
It was my first time back at Bible study after two weeks away. I am still new to the church, so I picked a row and sat down next to a girl I’d never seen before. She glanced at me and smiled. “My name’s April, what’s yours?”
“Phylicia,” I answered. “I haven’t been here the last two weeks -”
“Oh, it’s ok, neither have I!” She answered cheerily. “So where do you work?”
We found out we both work for Liberty University, she in the Law School and myself in recruitment. “I’m the school group and homeschool recruiter.” I clarified.
“Homeschool recruiter? I am very interested – what exactly do you do?” I explained my job in more detail, until April said, “I am interested because I was homeschooled as well – 6th grade through high school.”
“Did you have a good experience?” I asked.
“Yes! I loved it.” She answered.
As we went to our respective study groups, a pretty woman touched my arm. “You were homeschooled?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I just wanted to thank you and the other girl for what you were saying – I couldn’t help but overhear. It’s so encouraging to hear people talk positively about their homeschool experiences. I am homeschooling my three kids – age 7 and under. So it’s encouraging to me to hear that, especially on days when I think, “I’d really love to put you in school!”” She laughed and I thanked her for what she is doing in the lives of her children.
In my job, I have the privilege of traveling the United States, talking to homeschool mothers like this. With homeschooling at a growth rate seven times faster than private or public education, there are many more women (and men) choosing to educate their children at home. And while the initial stigma attached to home education has fortunately waned (I saw a group of sisters in Panera on Friday at 1 PM in the afternoon, quietly reading while their mother met with another woman – no one asking, “Why aren’t you in school?”) choosing to home educate requires great patience, sacrifice, and time.
Can a public schooled child turn out alright? Sure. Many of you, homeschooling mothers, went through public school systems yourselves.
And will homeschooling guarantee your child’s success and salvation? No. There are a few homeschooled children who struggle to adapt to the social surroundings of adulthood, and there are homeschooled children who reject Christ.
Homeschooling is neither a fruit of the Spirit nor a guarantor of your child’s spiritual destiny.