Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Be Weary No More

In her book, Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps and bad advice, Elyse Fitzpatrick has written an easy to read, relaxing and refreshing book about the absurd expectations women are expected to meet.

As a man, I thought it would be interesting to read this book to better understand what the world demands, and Christians demand of women.  I found this book enlightening and entertaining.  Fitzpatrick was able to weave stories into her themes which were humorous, but have a significant point.

Within each chapter she has shaded areas called "Bad Advice Women Receive" and a section "The Good News."  There are other highlighted areas and questions at the end of every chapter to help the reader reflect on their journey. 

This book would be a good book study for a women's group or for a woman to read this individually.  This book should help free women from some of the grandiose expectations that have been placed before them.

The author asked us to post the following ~

I have a daughter, two daughters-in-law,and two granddaughters, and if there is anything I want them to know, it is this:

There is good news for you. You don’t need to learn secret steps, try harder and harder, wear yourself out in
an attempt to be beautiful, snag Mr. Perfect, or raise perfect children. You are already welcomed, loved,
forgiven, and completely okay. You can laugh and rest and resist all the ways the world lies to you and tells
you you’re not good enough. And you can love God because He has already loved you. You can be free to
fail, to rest, to love, to be weak, to grow, and to know that everything is already given to you in Him.

I know that women (and men) have been overwhelmed by to-do lists, steps, and bad advice since the beginning of time. Even five hundred years ago, Martin Luther didn’t need to read his Facebook friends’ posts about their having fun without him to realize that there was something wanting in his life. He was aware of his inability to obey God’s law from the heart, and he knew he didn’t have his own self-approval, let alone God’s. But I do think there is something a little more desperate, more frenetic about our present wilderness.
There are so many messages being broadcast at us from every direction about “How to be perfect in 149 simple steps” or “How your life will become a self-inflicted Armageddon if you don’t follow these rules.”
As a woman who loves Christ, the gospel, her family, her church, and her country, I’m standing up to scream, “Stop this madness! Be done with the fluff, the bricks, and the despair-breeding, anxiety-multiplying self-righteousness!  

It’s time to trust in Christ—and Christ alone! He has already done it all. Everything you need has already been given to you.” Or in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:1011).

Instead of freeing me to love and serve Christ and my family, all this “good advice” loaded me down with guilt and shame over my ongoing sin and piled on more and more wearisome rules. The very thing I was taking as an antidote for my failure was making me more and more ill. Instead of finding freedom, I was a slave to self-justification.  And judging from what I’ve heard from other women, I don’t think I’m the only one who has ingested this poisonous brew.

The problem comes when women (and men) haven’t learned how to differentiate between law and gospel—when we don’t understand how the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign is meant to impact us. When we don’t see the connection between the righteous life Jesus lived and our standing before a holy God, we are setting ourselves up for bondage. Many women don’t understand
the freedom that has been purchased for us, and we often get tangled up in legalism or moralism. We don’t know what it would look like for obedience to be motivated by gratitude.

I believe there are specific instructions in Scripture regarding gender roles, including those in Genesis 2–3, Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. I believe that these truths remain valid for today and that we ignore them to our great harm. But I also believe that much of what has been dished out to women under the guise of “biblical gender roles” has failed us in at least two ways. It has gone way beyond Scripture’s bounds, while at the same time closing off much of the Bible’s message of comfort and hope. In
these ways, much of this teaching resembles Jesus’ description of the Pharisees’, for it gathers unnecessarily heavy burdens and lays them on women’s shoulders (see Matthew 23:4).  Meanwhile, those who teach these things effectively “shut the kingdom of heaven in [their] faces” (verse 13).

When we define gender roles too narrowly, overemphasizing a limited number of texts while completely ignoring the breadth of Scripture— when we try to make Scripture say more than it actually does or tell any segment of people that only certain parts of the Scripture concern them (whether we intentionally communicate this message or not)— we do so to the detriment of women and men, and to the detriment of the church and its mission in the world.

and soul crushing to tell a woman that the only worthwhile activity she can do is to birth children and serve a husband and a family. This mind-set also creates an idol out of the family structure, making success as a homemaker/mother the most important vocation in a woman’s life. And although this is a high calling, it should not trump our first and foremost calling: to believe in Christ.

In response to the evils of radical feminism, which shamed women who didn’t work outside the home, the radical femininity movement has shamed Christian women who work outside the home (for a variety of reasons) or who are not married or who have been divorced. Many Christian women have been taught that motherhood is not only their highest calling but also that it is the only calling they should aspire
to. It seems a little like the drunk man who falls off his horse on one side and climbs back into the saddle, only to fall off on the other.

Taken from Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

I received this book from Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest review.

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