Friday, March 23, 2012

Spirit and Spice

I just finished reading Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily Freeman.
And also I just incorporated these spice jars into our kitchen.  I got them for my birthday (I think) from my parents (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
 Since I took no pictures of me reading the book, and the Spice Jars post I had written was boringlame, probably not my best work, I've decided to mix the two stories.  Today, you get thoughts and completely unrelated photos.  If you like the photos, just skip the words.  If you feel up for a book review, then keep reading.

This is the book, by the way:

And this is the label-maker I used for the spice jars:
So anyways, I finished reading while waiting for the plane I took to get back down here to work.  I was weeping in the airport.  I'm sure the people around me thought I was engrossed in a romance novel.  I'm planning to make a new Kindle cover out of the old hardback Pride and Prejudice I've got that's falling apart.  Then people will know I'm engrossed in a romance novel.
 I love Emily Freeman's take on the Mary/Martha story.  I'm used to hearing about how Mary got it right by sitting at Jesus's feet, but I don't think I've ever heard about what Martha may have gotten right or why it was that she apparently missed the point.  I mean, she welcomes the Lord into her home in the first place.  She voices her frustration with her sister to the Lord instead of playing the long-suffering, invisible servant, and blowing up at Mary later, once the guest had gone.  But I still struggle with liking Mary at all...I don't feel like I struggle much with the Prodigal Son; maybe Mary and Martha hit closer to home because they're women.  Besides, their story wasn't Loose Living versus was...well...I guess it was Something I Enjoy versus Something I'm Expected to Do.  Hm.  That's still not quite what I was trying to get at.
Martha really wanted To Please God.  So then Jesus tells her that all her hard work doesn't please him at all and that he's more happy with "that lazy sister of mine."  And that totally sucks and makes me really mad.

Freeman shares the story of a hard day she was the middle of everything else, tired, frustrated, worn out, she turns around and hears the Lord randomly ask, out of the blue, "So how do you really feel about the Prodigal Son?"

And she responded that, now that you mention it, she was mad about it, actually.  And I probably am too, though, like I said, I'm more mad about Mary than about the Prodigal Son.
 Freeman talks about masks a whole lot throughout the book.  As you read, you get used to the analogy, but still every time she uses it, I keep picturing The Mask with Jim Carrey where he's listening to that psychologist on tv talk about "the masks we wear."

The ones Freeman talks about are so much less obvious...and they usually garner praise, not offers from friends for prayer and support.  They're pretty masks.  We encourage each other in our wearing of them and praise the folks who wear them best...the "strong, silent type," the sweet, uncomplaining child, the strong woman of God who bears the loss of parents, husband, and child and manages to keep coming to church and leading Bible studies...people who magically have no needs at all.  They're on those decorative plaques at the Christian decor shop, directions on how to be "good" for Jesus.  They're everywhere I look.  It's insidious.

See how I put the jars right next to the stove? I thought that was clever.  The drawer is really heavy now.
I'm seeing it in myself, ridiculously obvious after reading this book.  The "try-hard" way of life that I lead.  The way I have been outraged at others' refusal to recognize my right to be heard, to be beautiful, to be the favorite, to have a good reputation...and my immediate reaction is always, always  to try harder.  To pray for restoration of "my rights."  And to always feel like I've let God down or let Dave down or how I'm a slacker because I didn't get enough done today.
 And my need to brag about my projects.

These are the "extras" of the spices that wouldn't fit in the glass jars.  They're in a cupboard, out of the sun, out of sight.
 I'm going to have to read it again.  I should have been taking notes the whole time, but I didn't.

Freeman shares a story of a sermon she heard once (I think she said it was in junior high) about how all us Christians are walking advertisements for Jesus and "Jesus doesn't need any bad press."  So she felt the weight of promoting Jesus's cause by modeling a "good Christian" and the responsibility of the salvation of all those around her, especially her father, lay on her shoulders.  Her Christianity at this age put her into bondage, chained to the Law and other people's opinions of her, not set free by grace.

As a grown woman, she tells about a friend at church whose daughter was rebelling...but, the friend said, when one day that daughter turns her life back around the right way, she'll have "an awesome testimony!"  Which, of course, means that good girls don't have awesome testimonies.  They have boring, lame, probably not very interesting testimonies.  Which probably means that God doesn't love them as much as He loves the Prodigal because they don't need Him as much...right?  Right?

And that's not fair.  It's especially not fair to Martha...she wanted to sit with Jesus, but she had so much she had to do in order to get the house clean and get food on the table, or her world would fall apart.  Because she was the responsible one.

And we're supposed to be responsible, right?  Weren't you praised as a child for your mature sense of responsibility or criticized for your lack as an adult?
This bottle was 50% off because someone spilled oil on the label, and it looked kinda grodey.  It's empty now, sitting in my craft pile...I'm sure I can find a use for a grodey glass bottle.

There's a lot more to the book, and I highly, highly recommend it to all my dear friends and family.  I'm going to read it again next month...I need a minute to let what I've read sink in a bit more.  This book made me want to start journaling again, and y'all...I haven't picked up my journal in over a year.  I guess I've been blogging instead.

So my own take-away, at least after the first read-through, is that whatever you do must be done out of love.  You don't lead a Bible study because that's what you're supposed to do it out of love for the women in your church.  How the heck do you pull that off when you don't even really know those women?  Well, you don't pull that off.  Because that's not step #1.  You can't give what you don't have.  So step #1 has to be have to receive love in order to give love.  So you have to get to know God and begin receiving His love and trusting His love, whether you feel lovely or not.  And working harder to make yourself more lovely/dependable/sweet/whatever, does not increase your worth in His eyes.

And that...makes me want to cry.

So until I've digested that a little more, that's about all I could handle from the book.  I'm gonna go ponder for about a month.

Updates on more of my projects coming up in the next 2 weeks (funny, no time to blog at home, only when I'm at work...everyone should be so lucky :)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great book! The spice jars look really nice :)


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