I am so relieved!
Those of you who have been reading our blog for some time realize how hard I’ve been working to become the woman God wants me to be. I’ve taken the online course on how to be a true woman; I’ve received daily emails on steps I can take to be a Proverbs 31 woman; I’ve read how to create a real marriage; and I’ve even thought a little bit about buying one of the t-shirts Melanie recommends, especially the one with Blessed in large letters prominently stretched across the chest, although in my case there would be precious little stretching.
Admittedly, throughout this training process, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed from time-to-time, like there is no way that I can ever achieve the womanhood that would rightly result in God’s glory. I mean, for goodness sake, 1 Timothy is pretty clear that the path to salvation for women is to have children, and since my quiver is as empty as you can get (unless you count Pippi and her older “sibling” Hershey), I imagine heaven’s gates are about as close as I will ever get to the golden streets of the here-after before being refused entrance, banished to the fiery pit instead because of my domestic disobedience.
So, you can imagine my abundant relief when I found in Rachel Held Evan’s new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master,” that instead of failing all aspects of my role as a woman and a wife, I am achieving a couple of wifely duties fairly successfully: I cook and I rise early.
There. That wasn’t so difficult, after all!
Now I suppose you want to know why I cook and why I rise early, hours before Bryan, and I imagine this is where my good and godly womanhood gets ripped apart again.
When Bryan and I were first married and thus still enjoying marital bliss where nothing your partner does gets on your nerves with the exception of leaving too many hairs in the shower and sleeping too late to get anything decent accomplished on a Saturday morning, we drew up a cooking/cleaning chart. Each week we were assigned to cook two days and clean up after the other three days. Our rotation would, naturally, switch every other week and weekends were left for what we have come to call our “buffet,” the leftovers for which we have become immensely grateful.
We were quite proud of ourselves for establishing such a perfect routine. Together we would shop for groceries on the weekend and during the week with our separation of labor clearly defined there would always be a meal prepared and someone else to clean-up afterwards. Gone were our childhood experiences of our mothers getting endlessly stuck in their respective kitchens, seldom to be seen anywhere else, unless there was a church potluck dinner, in which case you could find them in the church’s kitchen.
As we implemented our perfect plan the cracks quickly emerged and I was none too happy about them. It seems I had the ability to think ahead, to plan the meals I would prepare while walking to class, or during some other break in my daily routine. Bryan, on the other hand, had no intention (or ability, I’m just not sure about this) to plan ahead so that when he cooked, we generally ate around 8 or 9 pm. Fuming because he failed to see this as a problem, I’d finally get the kitchen clean just in time to hit the sack.
Since Bryan’s food preparation gave entirely new meaning to the slow food movement and since I am not naturally a patient person (or a very nice one when I have to eat several hours after I am no longer hungry) after a few months of this insanity we threw out our carefully constructed schedule replacing it with one much better adapted for our requisite skills: I fixed the meals, he cleaned the kitchen.
So, I am the cook in our family but God has nothing to do with it (gasp).
Similarly, the reason I rise early is the result of being raised on a farm where sleeping in was something only “city” kids enjoyed. Heck, we’d fed the cattle, swept the barn, and rode the horses before most of my friends drug themselves out of bed each Saturday morning.
That kind of schedule doesn’t leave a person very easily and I gotta say my internal clock just runs this way still, even after more years of living in the city than on the farm.
Each morning I’m awake hours before Bryan but not because I think God wants me to embrace some weird notion of being a Proverbs 31 woman who rises early to accomplish much, but because the farm girl simply lingers long in this city woman.
You now understand my conundrum, one Rachel Held Evans illumines in her book: is there any validity to the idea of a biblical woman if the things I actually accomplish are the result of anything other than a divine command?
Stay tuned, I’ll have more to say about Evans’ new book, especially once I figure out why so many Christian bookstores find her writing too dangerous to stock her book on their all-knowing shelves.