Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Perfect Woman -- Not!

by C.J. Chase


I’ve been having a crazy week. Or maybe I should say, a crazy month. And it’s not going to end for another two weeks, at which point I will be madly trying to make up for lost time on my writing schedule since I have a book under contract. Book? But I’ve been too busy being an author this month to be a writer! Don't worry. I can do it all. Really. 

Ah, life in 21st century America. It was this very busyness that got me to thinking about the Bible’s two women I most love to hate.

The first is an easy choice: Jezebel. She was pretty much pure, unrepentant evil. Who cannot find her actions—the murder of hundreds (that we know of, perhaps many more we don’t)—abhorrent? Jezebel wrote the royal rules of acquisition: what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.

Actually, if I’m honest, I might have to admit that maybe I secretly like Jezebel. When I consider Jezebel, my sins just pale next to hers and my self-esteem increases by a factor of three. Hey, I may make my “mistakes,” but at least I’m not malevolent like her. I mean well. Mostly. I guess I’m a pretty good person after all, right?

While pride led to the downfall of Bette Davis' character in the 1938 movie, unlike her Biblical namesake, this Jezebel repented of her ways
Of course, comparisons are exactly what I avoid with that pesky perfect woman from Proverbs 31. You remember the one. She’s the perfect wife to her husband (31:12). She’s the homeschooling mom (31: 26) with multiple businesses—farmer (31:16), merchant (31:18), seamstress (31:24). Oh, and don’t forget her works of charity (31:20). And that doesn’t even include the things she does around the house like her home cooked meals (31:15) and hand-crafted home fashions (31:22).

You know, I really don’t like that woman. Not because she does evil, but because she makes me feel inadequate.

We just celebrated Easter two weeks ago. It’s so easy to vilify the priests, elders, and teachers who wanted to see Jesus killed at any cost. And yet, aren’t they so easy to understand, even to relate to? I might find the ideal of Proverbs 31 too much to live up to, but imagine actually seeing and hearing the real live Jesus walking among you. Yikes! Try comparing yourself to that. Talk about a blow to your ego.

And so instead of seeing God’s grace in Jesus, they saw the threat to their pride.

Pride is sometimes called “the mother of all sins” because it leads us to commit so many others. We disobey God’s commands because we know better. We covet because we want to have better “stuff” than anyone else. We lie to make ourselves look better in the eyes of others. Yep, most of God’s top 10 list has a root in pride.

Take Adam and Eve. They wanted to be like God. Pride. Or Cain, so offended because God didn’t accept his offering that he killed his brother. Pride. The builders of the Tower of Babel wanted to “make a name” for themselves. Pride. And I’m only to Genesis chapter 11.

God has some strong words about pride. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace,” (Proverbs 11:2). “He mocks proud mockers, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). “And those who walk in pride, he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

Pride lets me feel self-righteous when I compare myself to a Jezebel—or pretty much anyone I consider a greater “sinner” than I. Pride makes me resentful when I compare myself to those women who seem to have it all and do it all, without even breaking a sweat—as if there are any “perfect” women out there. (Irony of irony, the same pride that makes me want to convince everyone I am that ideal woman makes me ugly, inside and out.) No matter what you do, you're going to be on the wrong side of my pride because pride is all about keeping me at the center of the universe.

Worst of all, it puts up a barrier between God and me, just like all those examples from the Bible. How many times do I, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, miss God’s blessings—blessings he puts right in front of me—because of pride?

Ouch.
 

You know, maybe being at the center of the universe isn't worth all that.

Does your pride sometimes lead you to try to be the "perfect" woman? 



After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her next book, The Reluctant Earl, will be out in early 2013. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com

17 comments:

  1. Does your pride sometimes lead you to try to be the "perfect" woman?

    Oh, CJ, I'm embarrassed to say my laziness keeps me from trying to be the perfect woman.

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  2. BWAHAHAHH!!

    Suzie, I was going to say the same thing about myself!!

    I don't have the time or energy for a lot of pretense. And I figure God knows the truth about me anyway.

    I don't feel envious when I read Proverbs 31. I just feel overwhelmed. How in the world did she DO all that? I can't even get my proposals done!

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  3. A) I'm pretty sure the Proverbs 31 woman, being someone Solomon interacted with and probably his mother, was surrounded by servants.

    B) I agree about pride. In my latest book the theme was letting God lead your dance and your life. But in order to illustrate that theme other ideas like truth and forgiveness snuck their way in there. Then finally pride -- the hero's big issue, which kept him from reaching out and submitting to God. A very typical problem and one we often overlook.

    C) Now may be a good time to invite you all to join the "Crappy Wives Club" my local writer friend Angela and I recently started. My counselor said this thing could totally go viral. It's basically our way of saying no to guilt over not living up to some unattainable standard, and also a refusal to let our husband's manipulate us through said guilt.

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  4. i am SOOOOOOOOOOOO not the Proverbs 31 woman. i get worn out just reading about what she does. boy, oh, boy can i relate to the pride problem and comparison thing. i'm usually on the losing end of that comparison.

    thanks for giving me some good food for thought.

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  5. Oh, Suzie!!! Thanks for the laugh. I so needed that this week.

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  6. DeAnna, I was feeling envious, until I decided that was just your pride talking. Now I feel better about myself :)

    Man, do I have this pride stuff down to an art form or what?

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  7. Dina, I discovered in my last book that at it's core, my hero's issue came down to pride--which seemed kind of contradictory at first. But he has himself convinced he was too bad for God to forgive -- yep, pride.

    So where's the membership form for the CWC?

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  8. Oh, thank goodness! I'm not alone in finding the Proverbs 31 woman intimidating! Talk about guilt. LOL. I do not measure up by a long shot.

    Great post, CJ.

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  9. Deb, my soul sister. I'd like to think it's just age making me tired when I read Proverbs 31, but even at my youngest, most energetic that seems overwhelming.

    Maybe it's a composite of all Solomon's wives?

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  10. A composite of all of Solomon's wives...HA, HA!!! Exactly, that would take at least 5 women.

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  11. A composite of five women? That would work.

    I also heard one expositor say that these were the accomplishments of her entire lifetime--and not like they read--something she did every day. If that's the case, then yeah, a lot of those things can be managed. I've cooked. Gotten up early (once). Done acts of charity. Carried out business. I even homeschooled my daughter. Just not all in one day.

    So we can all be the virtuous woman. We just need to live long enough to check all the items off the list. LOL.

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  12. Susie, you are definitely not alone. I don't know if anyone could measure up to that standard. Maybe it's just supposed to be the ideal we are to strive for?

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  13. Barb, if those are her accomplishments over a lifetime, then I'm doing better. But does sewing a button back on count as making my family's clothes?

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  14. CJ--

    Yes. Especially if you've purchase most of your family's clothes. (She bringeth her wool from afar.)

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  15. I admit I tend to be a busy person, so I can get up early and get a lot done and try to do it all. And well. But you know it was never in comparison with anyone but myself. I used to make my own granola for crying out loud. That's definitely a form of pride (busyness not granola) But if you saw how I dressed when I went out today you would know I am not trying to impress anyone, not even myself anymore. I'm way into a 'take it or leave it attitude' that come with age. If I compare myself with anyone, it's about selfishness vs. service.

    Remember we can be perfect, after all. Perfect being our own true, specially designed ME.
    I think the Proverbs 31 woman is not about how much she does and how well, but what kind of attitude she has in the attempt to give it her best.

    A servant's heart.
    My children will rise up and call me... but they know I often forget to turn my phone on.

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  16. Oh yeah. :D

    But then I realized I wasn't giving my kids a chance to be responsible adults, nor was I giving them enough credit to think for themselves. And I wasn't giving hubby enough of a chance to make decisions because I decided everything before he knew there was a question. Things are a lot more laid back now. Of course, my house isn't perfect...LOL

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  17. There is a story (according to what I once heard in Tunisia) that Jezebel was the Great Aunt of Dido, legandary founder of Carthage. Both reportedly originated from Phonecia (Lebanon) so perhaps there is some truth in it..

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