Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christian women's babble, Part 2

I think that the most useful piece of information found in any book on relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, is the reminder that men and women think differently.

It's not necessarily good news to note that your actions are "typically female" or that a guy's mysterious behavior is "typically male" (or vice versa). But when viewed in light of the fact that we are created by a loving God, and that He orchestrated all of this to His glory, it all starts to make sense.

"Lady in Waiting"* accomplishes this goal. It presents the ways that a woman can be feminine in Christ, developing the qualities that her Creator designed for her.

full post/-

In part 1 of my review, I noted my disgust with the reference to single Christian women being desperate for dates. Throughout the book, we find charges not to despair over a dateless Friday, Saturday, or month gone by. The worst offense is the use of the term "datelessness" (p. 44). This is similar to the Russian word for a single person being "not married." It implies that the default state for any person is to be in a relationship with a significant other, be it dating, engaged, or married.

The book constantly refers to "dating," but doesn't mention actual guidelines for dating until chapter 9. While the point of the book is to address women's overall spirituality qualities, I think that not clarifying the authors' viewpoints at the very beginning was an oversight. Although the authors clearly love the Lord and live by Christian values, I felt that they were a little timid about enforcing boundaries, perhaps wanting to leave it up to the reader.

The Book of Ruth is used as the main Scripture reference for "Lady in Waiting." While I'm not completely in agreement with the way the Scripture is stretched to fit the framework of the book, I can't think of a better example of a woman in the Bible for the subject matter.

Another thing I want to mention is the inappropriate choice of examples to illustrate points. I already mentioned the "dateless Saturday" one as a bad example of woes that Christians face (there are lot of better examples that are more common). Here is another one: "Lisa even told her boyfriend she was pregnant so he would make a commitment to marry her." (p.94) This was used as an example of insecurity. Talk about worst-case scenario! I wonder what percentage of readers have ever been tempted to do what "Lisa" did? One day you're wallowing in a pit of despair because you don't have a hot date...the next, you're having premarital sex with your boyfriend and manipulating him? Were those the only scenarios they could come up with?

Or how about this one:

"A very attractive and popular high school girl was challenged to develop a list of biblical dating standards and to put them into practice. She carried a copy of those standards in her wallet for five years. Thus she dated more Boazs than Bozos because her conviction helped her clearly see the type of guys with whom she was relating and ultimately dating. " (127)
Well, how lovely for her. The unattractive and unpopular students clearly need not bother since they'll be sitting at home enjoying dateless evenings. Or on dates with Bozos. Improving the "case studies" would change this book from good to excellent.

The edition I purchased happens to have a study guide for the chapters AND a devotional guide in case you need more ideas for processing the information. The study guide includes assignments such as paraphrasing a Bible passage, saying what it means to you, and making lists on various topics. The devotional guide is based around the framework of the book and includes additional quotes and stories for reflection. In my opinion, you don't really need these sections.

"Lady in Waiting" touches on the most vital questions that a woman faces in her spiritual walk. I would recommend it mostly for young single women.

I've chosen an excerpt from each chapter that I feel best represents that chapter, or was the most interesting to me.

1. Lady of Reckless Abandonment
"A college professor...told a group of young women that when she was eight years old, her mother told her a secret that has guided her perspective on life. The most important thing her mother would ever tell her was, "No one, not even the man you will marry one day, can make you happy-only Jesus can." ...this secret allowed her to grow up following Jesus with reckless abandonment." (14)

2. Lady of Diligence
"The single woman can be involved in the Lord's work on a level that a married woman cannot because of the distractions and responsibilities of being a wife and mother. Ironically, some single women can be so distressed by their single state that they become emotionally more distracted than a wife and mother of four children." (26)
3. Lady of Faith
"You have nothing to fear except getting in His way and trying to 'write the script' rather than following His." (45)
4. Lady of Virtue
[Ephesians 4:30a] says, 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.' You grieve or hurt God's Spirit when you choose to think, say, or do something that offends God...from the time you wake in the morning until you go to bed at night, set your heart's desire on exalting Him.
5. Lady of Devotion
"If you want your devotion to God to be complete, don't merely brush at sin lightly. Get in there and confess it, clean it up, and clear it out. Be rid of it." (70)
6. Lady of Purity
"God intricately and delicately formed women with emotional characteristics that differ from men. A woman cannot separate her emotions from her physical state." (82)
7. Lady of Security
"When you see a woman going after the guys, you probably don't immediately say, 'Yes, I see that she really is insecure!' Insecurity dwells in the heart. What you see outwardly is a woman's age-old ability to manipulate and maneuver. When a woman manipulates a situation, she feels personal satisfaction because she believes she is in control." (97)
8. Lady of Contentment
"Why some males are unaware of their capacity to defraud is still a mystery. 'And that no man transgress and defraud his brother [sister] in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things...' (1 Thess. 4:6). To defraud is to excite physical or emotional desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled.' (108)
9. Lady of Conviction
"Once you have set dating standards and understand the significance of a constant motive check, (daily bringing the flutters in your heart to the Lord), you are ready to consider other guidelines for successful dating and relating. " (129)
10. Lady of Patience
"Wait patiently. Perhaps you are giving God time to prepare, not yourself, but your beloved. Let your heavenly Father accomplish His work thoroughly while your single man is undistracted." (144)

*Kendall, Jackie, and Debby Jones. "Lady in Waiting." Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 1995

5 comments:

  1. This is quite a useful post, Elizabeth, for anyone considering going to Russia for work. (I am not; I spent two decades there off and on, mostly during the Cold War. The Russia of today is not the Soviet Union that I knew. I was surprised by all I saw in Moscow and the little syelo in the distant environs -- I stayed at Pestovo -- in August when I went back for ten days.)

    Good luck to you, and blessings.

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  2. Ahhhh, Liz. I read this book in late high school. I don't know if you knew it or not, but a group of Barret girls did a study of it either freshman or sophomore year at W&M. I don't know if it did more harm or good - the girls in our group were particularly shy with guys already, so I often wonder if it hindered them from being open enough to regularly interact with guys during the college years. Not sure. But I, too, would agree that each chapter does hold a nugget or two of useful knowledge that one can base life/guy principles on. I'm glad it wasn't a total waste. But yes, it is a bit cheesy, I agree.

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  3. Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth! Russia has certainly changed a lot since 1996 when I first visited, so it can be hard to keep up!

    Ruth, that is such a Barrett girls thing to do...LOL. I don't know if I was aware of it at the time, but I knew you were doing some book studies. Did you do Passion and Purity as well?

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  4. Your review reminds me of the things I so often cringe at in "Christian" self-help books. The tone is so often....icky. In Catholic books, we tend to be challenged to be SO much less "of the world" that perhaps the book reaches fewer people. Sadly, in reality, many people who would label themselves Catholics are very IN the world, as in "worldly". Maybe we'd do better to push some of these kinds of "real life" books for that large population less radical in their faith. For example, adult women in our parish would be more likely to check out "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francis de Sales. No coy tone from him! But probably fewer women would be looking for a book by which to guide their lives in the first place.

    As you ran through the chapters, I felt I'd like to read more and discuss with you the chapter on "manipulation". I've been thinking about that lately. We manipulate one another all the time. Our day to day courtesies are in some sense - manipulation....i.e. getting people to do what you want them to do, through means other than a straight-out request. So, when you interrupt the saleslady's telephone chat by saying, "I'm so sorry...." you are actually manipulating her. You are not sorry but you did not say, "Would you please stop your personal conversation and wait on me?" Yet, how bad is that? So at what point does "manipulation" become bad?

    Elizabeth; I want to be in a book club with you. Book Club of the Blog

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  5. I think people are searching for books that are going to call them out on their mistakes. But to do this, a book would have to break some taboos, because the real problems, that Christians and non-Christians face, have to deal with sins that are often difficult to talk about. One author who does a good job of being "real" is Elisabeth Elliot. It's kind of eerie because it feels like she is looking over your shoulder. There is a way to do this without being patronizing.

    The "manipulation" talked about in "Lady in Waiting" was described in the chapter on "security." I think you are speaking more about control, which isn't necessarily bad.

    The book specifically mentioned a tendency to try to make things happen faster when we are impatient, or impose specific emotions on other people. The reason this is wrong is that it shows that we do not feel secure in the Lord.

    I don't know too many girls who didn't pass by a guy's locker on purpose, for example...speeding along the process of the guy (inevitably, of course) falling for her. There are a lot of times when we "take matters into our own hands" instead of trusting.

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