Monday, November 21, 2005

Weaving and Waiting

As a young, single woman I am frequently asked three questions. You may recognize the questions since, either you have asked them of someone or have been the recipient of the inquiry. I am quite familiar with the various techniques in which the questions are presented. Experience has afforded me a standard reply that either pleases or horrifies the “interrogator”.

1- The Clever Interrogator comments about their life while casually posing questions of me that will satisfy their curiosity.
2- The Blunt Interrogator is, well, blunt. After an initial greeting they dive head long into the “big” questions.
3- The Silent Interrogator lets me talk. All the while they are listening for clues that will tell them what they want to know.

The Clever Interrogator
You have probably figured out the three questions. If not, let me assist you with an example of a common encounter with a Clever Interrogator. It proceeds as follows:

“Hi Jaclyn. It is so good to see you,” the Clever Interrogator greets me with a smile.

“Hello, it is good to see you as well!” I reply.

“So, how are you doing? What is new?” The first undercover question is shuffled onto the table.

“I am doing great. How are you?”

“Oh, well, life is going good for us. Are you still working at American Family Insurance?” The question is on the tip of their tongue at this point but they decide to go through the back door.

“Yes I am. I just work part time for now,” comes my honest answer.

“What are you doing with the rest of your day? Are you taking college classes?” One of the questions cannot help but fall out of their mouth.

I smile and reply, “I am doing some correspondences classes but not working too hard at them right now. I help my mom with the home-schooling, watch Samuel and do ministry.”

It is burning their tongue by this time in the conversation, “So what does your future hold?”

“Only God knows. I am serving God with the time He has given me in the here and now.”

The Blunt Interrogator
“Hi Jaclyn. It is so good to see you,” the Blunt Interrogator greets me with a smile.

“Hello, it is good to see you as well!” I reply.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” The first question is thrown rapid fire in my direction. (Sometimes this question includes a “yet” at the end to remind me that people are watching.)

“No…” I begin to explain and am quickly interrupted with the second question.

“Why not?” They respond with the second question as if I am an alien for having responded as I did.

“Well…” I start, knowing I have explained my conviction to this Interrogator before, and am cut off with the third question.

They hesitate, “Well, then, are you taking any classes?”

And I sigh.

Boyfriends, Books and Business
So those are the infamous questions I face. I marvel why people assume that my life needs to be consumed with boys, books or business. Most of my interrogators are satisfied when I tell them that I have a job. I have seriously considered quitting my job so I could more adequately learn the disciplines of the homemaker. I wonder what people would say if I was not working?

In my early teens it was acceptable to people that I did not have a boyfriend. Obviously I was not yet college age, so the third question did not apply. As a fifteen year old I would tell people my convictions regarding boys and dating. People would smile and nod with a “she’ll get past that” or a “we’ll see” look. The pressure greatly increased at eighteen from both peers and adults alike. Everyone who is someone either goes to college at eighteen or has a faithful boyfriend, right? Then there is Jaclyn.

Now, as I progress through my early twenties, the questions are the same but the pressure is different. Some feel sorry for me. Some wonder what is wrong with me. Others have learned not to ask because they know my heart and convictions. A few loving souls encourage me on my journey.

In the past these questions caused me a level of turmoil. I struggled with my convictions and identity. I spent many nights crying out to God for assurance and comfort. I was frustrated with people who would continually ask me these questions!

God Confidence
The last few years my confidence in God and His convictions in my life have grown. Trials have come. The wind has blown tirelessly on my sail. My boat is scratched. My clothes are drenched. Yet the storm has passed. The sail is still standing. The sun is shining. The Lighthouse guided me through every wave, around every rock and on to still waters.

I am at peace with where I am in life. Do I have dreams? Of course. Do I long for a Groom of my own and a family to bear? Definitely. Those dreams have not changed, nor do they fade. On the contrary, as I focus my eyes squarely on God, my dreams grow and mature.

God and I have had many discussions about this very issue. Some days I still feel like protesting or begging Him to fulfill my dreams. He always reminds me that He is enough. He is Enough. He challenges me daily to seek none other than Him. When my eyes start to drift, when my heart wanders, He is so good to take my face gently in His divine hands and set my focus and desire back on Him. He is the only one who will ever satisfy me. He is the Lover of my soul. He is true Reality. He will never let me down. Anything above and beyond the treasure of Him is an overflow of blessing.

Still, I wait. I dream. I weave.

The Three Weavers
A few months ago my dad started Bible studies in the morning with his children. Tuesday morning is for the boys. Friday morning is for us girls. He, Victoria and I have been journeying through a study by Robert and Shelley Noonan called, ‘The Three Weavers’.

There are three families. Each father is a weaver. One year each father has a daughter. At their birth they are presented with a loom, gold thread and a yardstick. All of the fathers are instructed to teach their daughter how to weave a mantle (Prince-worthy clothing) of pure gold for the prince that will one day come to marry them. Each father approaches the weaving differently.

Griffin, father of Gabriella, is the wisest of the three. He explains to Gabriella the need to save her mantle for the one prince who is promised to come for her. He teaches her that she must weave carefully, diligently and with only the gold thread. Griffin hangs the yardstick by a window. He instructs Gabriella to focus her faithful attention on the yardstick. If any young men pass by the window asking for her mantle she is to measure them by the yardstick. Griffin reminds her constantly that they were given a yardstick of the exact measurement of the prince. Therefore, she cannot stop short.

The other girls waste their time, their gold thread and forget the yardstick by making mantles and giving them away. Gabriella is sometimes confused by the actions of the other girls. Young men pass her window too asking for her mantle. She tells them that they are not the measurement of the yardstick. She also seeks her father’s guidance when she does not know what to do. He always reminds her of the prince that will come for her one day. Her prince.

Gabriella’s prince, along with the other princes, come one day for their brides. Two princes are disappointed to find that the women have made and given their mantles away to common boys. Gabriella’s prince, on the other hand, finds a beautiful gold mantle waiting for him. It fits him perfectly. He too has made a beautiful dress for the princess he was waiting to marry. It fits her perfectly.

And we all sigh as they ride off into the sunset…

Why Marriage?
So I wait for my prince. The one that will measure up to the yardstick God has given me. People can roll their eyes if they want to. They can tell me my convictions are too high and my dreams are unrealistic. I believe God will keep His promise to bring me my prince.

Five years ago I had a simple view of marriage and children. As intimacy with my Savior has grown, my perspective on life, love and marriage has changed. I know that this change is partly from getting older. The other part of the transformation has been birthed from my desire to know God’s will and purpose for me as His child.

Therefore, I have asked myself several questions regarding marriage. Why do I want to get married? What is God’s design for marriage? What do I need to do to prepare myself fully for marriage at this point in my life?

I have struggled with my perception of marriage. I want so much to treasure marriage like God values it. The world, my peers and sadly, even the church, seem to have a much distorted view of marriage. Marriage, and all that it encompasses, are promoted as self-centered, physically gratifying, lust driven and just “the next stage in life”. Children too are seen as a part of marriage that “has” to happen. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Marriage was designed and created by the Master Weaver Himself. He uses sacredness as the gold thread in the cloth of marriage. When regarded as the pure and beautiful reflection of Christ and the Church, marriage is a stunning gold mantle. Marriage is holy beyond human comprehension. Marriage is sacred.

Since God compares Christ and the Church to marriage, it must be gloriously wonderful. It is also painstakingly challenging. As a Bride of Christ I must be striving to be holy, blameless and pure spiritually. Therefore, as a future earthly bride, I also need to be holy, blameless and pure. My Heavenly Groom gave Himself for me to make me holy. I need to seek an earthly groom that will do the same.

These responsibilities are not simple. As a Bride of Christ and as a future earthly bride I am called to be holy, blameless and pure. Holy. Blameless. Pure. In order to produce those characteristics in my life, I must first be intensely focused on my Heavenly Groom. He alone is able to fashion this clump of sinful humanity called Jaclyn into a beautiful vessel of usefulness. He turns my affection, desire and longings toward Him. He shaves away the impurities and blemishes that hinder me from being His holy, blameless and pure bride.

So, I am already the Bride of Christ. Why do I long so much to be an earthly bride? There are many and varied reasons. Some reasons are complicated. Most are quite simple. At the very end of my explanations I always come back to one desire: To make much of Jesus. How beautiful to share my life with another human being who is also longing to further the name of Jesus!

All the Days of My Life
Proverbs 31:11-12 says:
“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”

I imagine a young man, my prince, reading these verses. As he looks around the world today there are few women of noble character like what is described here. Who can find her? The one who searches. What is she worth? FAR more than rubies.

I love the next part, “her husband has full confidence in her.” I do believe that, even now, before I know his name or see his face, that he can have full confidence in me. I also can have full confidence in him. He can be confident that I am not sharing my affections with anyone; I am waiting for him and preparing to build his home. I can be confident that he is preparing for our marriage in the same ways.

He can also be confident that I am bringing him good, not harm. At least I am trying. Last time I checked, all the days of my life are now. Now is the time where I can be the greatest blessing to him as I wait and prepare to be his bride. I can do him good by learning to cook. I can do him good by understanding the pressures of motherhood. I can do him good by being disciplined, chaste, sober and modest.

The greatest good I can do for my husband now is to seek God, know God and love God with all that I am. Thus the reason the author wrote verse 31, which was the subject of my last post and the mother of this one.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

The Three Questions Answered
So when I face the three questions: “Do you have a boyfriend? Why not? Are you taking college classes?” I am able to remain confident in who God is, the plan He has for my life and the prince who is waiting. I set my eyes on the yardstick and work diligently to weave a gold mantle worthy of a prince’s stature.

~To the Prince of Heaven, to the earthly prince who will come for me and to Shannon who waits eagerly for her prince along side me.~

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