this post is about what happens when people in the church create a culture.
a culture with extra-biblical standards.
both spoken & implied.
disclaimer: these thoughts are all mine.
based on my own experiences & friends' experiences.
friends who attend my church & other churches not affiliated with mine.
but mostly my experiences both pre & post ppd.
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
1 Timothy 2:9&10
Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart...
1 Peter 3:3&4
now, i think most all agree the above verses are NOT saying to us today in 2013 don't braid your hair or don't wear gold jewelry or no way to pearl stud earrings.
no, this is about society then & women.
the culture at the time was different.
here is what one commentary says in part on these verses:
track with me here - we want to appear well in the sight of others.
it is something deep in all of us.
(um, not just women, mr. commentator, but anyway...)
it is a craving.
sometimes it is by seeking to "adorn" ourselves as our society dictates.
be it back in the days of 1 timothy or in the 2000's.
but sometimes the culture "of the day" isn't the problem.
that isn't creating the temptations and snares and eventual brokenness.
there are some in the church that have created a culture.
it is a clean, beautiful, orderly culture.
& they have made it their niche.
they promote themselves as having accomplished this.
or that they are oh so (faux) humbly failing yet striving at this created "perfection".
they dish out the advice & how-to's endlessly in the speaking circuit, books, blogs, etc.
check out the photos of my new anthro blanket draped perfectly on my sofa next to stack of journal, pen & Bible during my early morning quiet time.
check out my bright dirty fiestaware dishes in my sink.
check out my hospitality how to.
check out how i love my husband.
everything so perfectly crafted.
be this created standard of perfection and you will be... "godly".
this is a lie.
you will be externally adorned.
to the untrained eye you may appear godly.
but... not so much.
providing the new adornments to be aware of.
the new way to "seek to appear well in the sight of others".
in 2013 a pair of gold hoops isn't it.
braided hair isn't it.
to me, this is worse because it is more subtle.
it is - perfection.
i keep my house well. clean. all sparkly.
i train my children well. faithfully.
i love my husband. look - date night once a week! holla!
i am at church every sunday do or die.
i support my man by oh so joyfully releasing him to do [fill in the blank].
i decorate my house.
toys are all picked up by the time daddy walks through the door.
i have a cutesy way to meal plan.
all my laundry is done & put away.
my house looks like a magazine spread decorated for the holidays.
and on and on.
at all times.
all these things.
if this is the expectation.
if this is the standard put out out there -
you are crushing women's souls.
plain & simple.
i am not being too dramatic here -
i know so many women who think they are failing.
who are deeply suffering because they cannot do "it all."
the impact on our relationship with Jesus is so harmful because we are made out to be failing Him.
these EXTERNAL things have been made into a kind of gospel.
good things, good gifts from God - twisted.
the people who do it deny it.
and those who buy into say their critics are jealous because "they" can do it, but "we all" can't.
no one does it all (or even comes close).
and i say - we are not expected to do it all.
don't throw the proverbs 31 woman at me or i'll throw her at you.
God doesn't say - do all the things listed in this chapter if you are a woman all at the same time perfectly with a happy heart or you are failing.
repeat - we are not expected to do it all.
because we can't.
and that is OK.
think about some of the most notable named women in the Bible, ok?
*sarah - noted for her FAITH after she bitterly laughed at God. never did i read about her kickin' decorating skills or major props for folded laundry.
*mary (Jesus' mother) - she had crazy FAITH. no mention of her meal plans or how she went on date night with joseph once a week.
*rahab - prostitue, but TRUSTED God. enuf said.
*ruth - faithful, hard worker, trusted God. no mention of her incredible gourmet baking skillz.
see, here is the pattern - GOD.
it was about GOD.
not about these women.
not about what they did.
and THEY were about GOD.
they were not out there telling others "how to".
although for realz if Sarah wanted to talk to me about learning to trust God i'd totals listen.
no, they were being faithful to what they were uniquely called.
and sometimes they MAJOR messed up.
sometimes they doubted God.
and yet... GOD.
what is my point?
THIS - the culture created within churches - is so not in the Bible.
that standard of perfection is crap.
yeah, i said false religion.
because it is not from Jesus.
and those of us who "don't appear well in the sight of others" - we are a problem.
we are a problem to ourselves because we condemn ourselves as terrible, unfit, ungodly, not faithful.
we forget - therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
and who is reminding us?
and we are a problem to some others because we make life messy.
this church culture has no true room for messy.
the mentally ill.
the physically abused.
the sexually abused.
you know... the people Jesus dined with?
where do these people fit into the perfection church culture?
can they feel Jesus' love extended by His Body if there are these external standards?
if they don't appear well in the sight of others?
this church culture has long bothered me.
as i've previously mentioned, i bought into it.
or at least tried.
but i rarely make my bed & don't iron.
& think hormones are real.
& believe feelings are legit & from God.
& oh do i have examples of others pointing out how i wasn't cutting it and i better because my husband works at the church.
i am so the opposite of the perfection culture.
ppd has me a mess in all sorts of ways i didn't know was even possible.
it is my hope that the more this is called out - the more freedom in Christ women will experience.
let wash over them.
and the stigma of ppd can die in the church.
where it should never have existed anyway.
and HELP can take its place.
(part 2 will come soon and focus more on the specific impacts of women with ppd in this culture & how we can help women instead.)