Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eve, Esther, and the Proverbs 31 Woman

This thought has been flowing over and over in my mind, as I am writing from my experience as a wife-to-be.  This is not strange for me, as I have always felt the need to chronicle my life journey for reasons unknown to me - perhaps it will mean something to somebody else one day.  Anyway, most of it seems prolific enough for me to write down.  Maybe it will all be a book one day.

I have never reflected more on my womanhood and presence on this planet than this pivotal moment in my life when I am getting ready to combine that Womanhood with Mr.'s Manhood (not talking about sex, so keep up, please).  It's not that I didn't notice the she in me when I was hanging with my girls (whom have all for the most part strangely gone mum or absent on me, with no help or advice).  When we were shopping, buying clothes, getting nails done, talking as women are wont to do, and battling between eating that dessert and eating those veggies, I definitely remembered my gender.  I love being a girl.  Wouldn't trade it.  But I never really THOUGHT about what it means in combination with a man's gender in that messy, miraculous thing called marriage.

There was nothing to breathing...  You just are who you are; you just do what you do.

But the closer I get to that day when it's official, with all the prepping and life changes, I realize that there is something deeper God himself wants me to understand about me.  We don't really learn who we are until life demands that we bring our entire selves to the table.  We bring our entire selves forward when we are getting ready to join life to life.

The thoughts I have contemplated and meditated on focus around the three women that most women whom are actively attaining Christianity attribute our role in life or marriage to.  Eve, the first woman God made...Esther, the first Queen God crowned through life circumstances...the Proverbs 31 woman unnamed so we can all fill our names in the blank...all three have messed with my mind over the past nearly 6 months of marital consideration. 

Why are these three all up in my brain, so to speak?  Why do they matter?

The life intended, the mistakes made, the process walked through, and the perfection of being are not to be looked at lightly.  My preparation to love Mr. is not a mere "something to do" in the whole scheme of things.  While I may, as a woman, desire to have the perfection of the woman in Proverbs 31, I sometimes feel like Hadassah becoming Esther with the propensity of Eve to screw things up.  The process forces you to engage every part of the woman, every part of what makes you "not-so-perfect" but loved anyway, honored anyway, needed anyway.

How can all these elements be in effect but a man still sees the deeper purpose (very reminiscient of how our Creator sees us)?  How can grace finds us in that earthbound reality?  That is where I am right now, meditating on that grace.  He does love me, honor me, need me - little old me.  How? 

This pending marriage is crazy, in my head and through my eyesight.  How can someone love you enough to want to be joined to your life everyday?  How can someone want to be with you, when he knows that you can feed him something spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and (God forbid) physically; how can he know that what you feed him can make or break his entire life, that can affect his very purpose on this earth (like Eve).  Everyday, the question is raised to women - what are you feeding your spouse?  What are you feeding your children, your generations?  What are you giving them all that they are eating, internalizing, digesting?  Obviously, I am not talking about food.  God wasn't either when He questioned Eve about the fruit she gave Adam, when He asked her "What have you done?"

How can the man I believe God brought to my life love me when I came from a semi-orphaned existence, not entirely like Esther but uncovered paternally as she was until her cousin came along?  I had a different name, just as she did.  She came from somewhere that was not considered royalty.  She was not necessarily from a royal lineage; in reality, she was from a enslaved culture - bound to a reality she did not choose for herself but was hers  nonetheless.  I am not asking these questions from a place of pity, but from a place that acknowledges that marriage for me is like queenship for Esther - something never witnessed before.  The process to become a queen was a year's worth of hard work internally and externally.  I do not believe that the reason it took so long was based entirely on physical reasons.  Esther had to learn how to walk, to relate, to exist as a queen.  Where she came from had to be eradicated from her everyday though probably was never completely erased from her mind.  Not easy at all.

Finally, how can he (this man that has interrupted everything I ever thought about manhood) see me as this metaphysical manifestation of the woman he trusts his heart with?  Of all the things that stick out to me about the Proverbs 31:10-31 verses, these two hit me the hardest:

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.
12 She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.

Wow.  These are heavy statements to make, especially when there isn't much trust going around nowadays between men and women in marital relationships.  That doesn't mean there aren't any good marriages, so please don't misunderstand me; yet, I doubt anyone can deny the enemy's plan to destroy marriages and families.  But when I look at the truth of these verses, to  me they are more concrete than anything else I have ever seen in describing marriage.  After all, what is the point of a man marrying a woman and not being able to feel this about her, know this about her, testify this about her?

To me, the heart of a man is the most priceless and precious treasure he has.  When Mr. says he trusts me with his life and his heart enough to give them both to me forever, it makes me want to work harder (like that Proverbs 31 woman) to keep those gifts true, to make our home his sanctuary he can come home to when the world outside our door is so ruthless and dangerous to his heart and soul.  It makes me want to work harder at "making [him] feel my love" as Adele sang in her remake of the Bob Dylan classic.  He gives me something unable to replicated by anyone else, and I polish it like the gold of heaven, holding it dear.

These three women are forcing me to make this thing we have to be the best love we each could ever have.  This is no small thing; quite frankly, nothing any of us vow until death to treasure could ever be.  I see that now.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Let's Stop Being Distracted, Shall We?

I am sitting here listening to the interview and the brief video of Victoria Christopher Murray and Reshonda Tate Billingsley on Bill Thompson's "Eye on Books" website, along with other authors that are highlighted on it this week.  While it is refreshing to hear authors talk about the one thing I live for (writing, writing, and more writing), it is also disheartening sometimes.  Ever since I was a little girl all I have ever wanted to do was be surrounded by books, art, and music and write books, make art, and play/sing to music.  With such a broad landscape to pull a creative life from, it can be hard to stay in a place of motivation if it feels that you are only doing for yourself, releasing tension with your hands to paper.

I have found it to be distracting to want something so badly and never get the opportunity to live like these women - traveling the country, reading their books to audiences, being interviewed on radio programs, and being able to keep writing for years and years to come with an established fan base.  Sometimes it makes me sad enough to just put the pen, paintbrush, or guitar down.  I have done this.  I am still doing this.  In my heart I know it is wrong to wallow in self pity when no one buys books or gives feedback if they did.  But then, days like today, I realize that the pouring out of a creative gift should never be abruptly ended just because the river is flowing to sites unseen.

The stopping is the distraction away from the gift.  The ending of a thing before it is done is the obstruction of vision and view that kills a project, a poem, a song.  It kills you, and before you know it, everything has shut down.  You are no longer happy and joyful - talking, smiling, opening yourself to the world at all - even if that world is only one person.  The halting is the precursor to the procrastination that intercepts starting again.

So for my artist friends, my writers friends, my musician do you stay focused?  How do you battle the war of distraction and procrastination?  This is the area that many of us that hold claim to artistic endeavors wrestle with.  The reality is evident that these are the tactics of an unseen enemy.  But what is the weapon you use to move forward in writing, art, or music?  What is the key?

Listening to these Black women writers' voices talking about writing a book together reminds me of the work that I am doing now, helping others bring their voices to life.  The problem I am running into is the distraction of waiting for responses when others don't understand their role in the flow.  Waiting for responses can be a distraction in itself because you begin to wonder if you are really talented enough to help yourself more or less anyone else.

How do you not give up on the gift, the contract, the comradery, and the ability to help?  How do you stand still when you want to leave it all along and ignore the urgency to tell the story of life again and again.

Here is the short video of the life these authors are living now.  I pray one day I will too.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Getting Closer to the Ideal

I probably should be scared, nervous, uncertain.  I probably should be getting cold feet.  But whatever for?  If he is the one then he is the one.  I am a very cut and dry person, which sometimes gets me in a lot of trouble at work with the co-workers (not with what I actually do); that trait comes in handy no matter the circumstances because I have a "no-BS" (no Bureaucratic Stupidity, or something like that) rule of thumb I swear by.  I just wonder what the rest of this life together will be like.

I am loving the color purple right now and am realizing that getting married and having a marriage are actually two different things - two distinctly royal parts of the Esther Process.  I have not been overly concerned with the wedding itself, though I have a few wedding magazines sitting on my living room table at home for good measure and I also carry one with me so I can read what other brides have done when I am not busy.  But, I am concerned with keeping the sacredness of the union in the forefront of my mind.  I do not want to lose the sacred, as I have lost so many other things that I cannot get back.

I found a book entitled Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas while Mr. and I were wandering through Barnes and Noble last week looking for ways to spend my birthday gift from his parents.  Holding the paperback in my hands, I got the feeling that I should approach the reading of it as the help I really need - not so much the same as reading Inside Weddings

We all know and it is understood that weddings last at most an hour, but a marriage is a lifelong endeavor.  Somehow, it seems easier to not acknowledge that and distract ourselves with throwing a big party instead.  Forever seems an abstract concept, though we are living eternity now.  I love parties but I do not love heartache.  It is better, I believe, to throw myself into building on a sure foundation, a sure thing.  Taking risks in marriage is not wise, as I have witnessed time and again.  And I have never been called unwise.

Overly cautious maybe.  Innovative, surely.  Able to see sounds and hear colors (synesthetic)?  Artistically and faithful to the God-given spark inside?  Absolutely.  Unwise?  Never.  Never.

In two months my name will change again, though I have already released myself from the last name that I held for 34 years.  The going joke is that I will be "Locked" in.  Do I want to be?  Yes.  Do I want to escape?  No.  But what will it be like to be someone's wife, someone's mom, when I have been myowne somebody for so long?  That is the harder question, quite frankly.  That is the more realistic stance to take.  But who really asks this question?

I look in the magazine that is in my bag, carried everywhere, and I begin to wonder if the brides highlighted in it asked the right questions to make the right decisions.  I'm not talking about floral arrangements or chic shoes luxe bags, though for someone this is important or it would not be indicated as an article on the front cover.  Can someone write about the life after the wedding as a topic of discussion or is it really true that fantasy is what people want but reality is what they need?  I mean, I understand that weddings are big business but so is divorce court.  We want to be joyfully in the first place but definitely not in the second, if the marriage becomes just as important as the precursor to it.

I want to ask this bride (the one whose quote was boldfaced on the magazine page above), was her marriage completely worth it?  Is being married better for her than being single?  Does she still feel like herself a year later?  (Typically these articles are written six months to a year in advance of publication, coinciding with the appropriate time of year.)  So, by now, she should have started the beautifully principled, not-so-easily-desirable meshing together of two lives into one.  That is a bloody, difficult process if there ever was one.

When God took Adam's rib to make woman, that Eve-girl that rocked his world so (and ours too), there had to have been some blood involved or otherwise why was he put to sleep?  There may not have been physical pain in the Garden, but there was blood.  Adam bled so his wife could blend.  To be part of who he was, she had to be part of who he was.

I am preparing to drape our wedding day in purple, but what happens after everything is over?  Everybody claps and cheers and wonders under their breath as they witness us drive off into the future how long we will make it. 

Mr. will wear that purple; it will be intertwined in my hair and make-up.  The children, precious god-children of ours) preceding my entrance will be clothed in it as well, matching us that day.  But there are more  questions to ask every day after: Will our marriage be draped in purple - the royalty of a lifelong imperial love?  Will it be sacred, and will we be holy at the end of it - having drawn closer to God and each other as a result of being together in holy matrimony?  Will it be completely worth it?  Will those children grow up and admire the union they got to be a part of establishing those many years before?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Going Somewhere I've Never Been

People don't tell you and the bridal books don't say it, but when you have been single for as long as I have been, the journey toward joining two lives into one is a very difficult preparation.  You want to follow the books and the advice but the truth is every marriage is as unique as a fingerprint.  You will never see two the same.  On the outside they all look alike, but inside the house, there is more to the reality, there is more to the story that the couple never tells.

I don't mean the bad stuff, the hidden secrets that could tear the union apart.  I am talking about the dream they both had when they said "I do" to each other and not to someone else: the goal they had for their family before the family actually came into being and the desires they wanted to have when marriage became the topic of discussion.  When you are heading somewhere you have never been with new keys in your hand, you want to ride that journey to the end.

Getting married has been a journey from one place in life to an unforeseen other.  The love is the key that locks the door to the past and unlocks the door to the next place.  For me, it has been easier to not go back the way I came; it has been scary but exhilarating to move on to that next place - although I don't really have a map or advice on what the future for me and Mr. will look like.  Call me a raging, blind-faith romantic, but I am okay with not knowing exactly what will be around the corner.  All I know is that we desire a future that will be better than the places we have been before.

We are naming things that don't exist yet - two children, a homestead, a church together that we will both attend, artistic paths that we will encourage each other to pursue.  We are hoping for more ahead that we have never seen.  And the goal, the passion, the love is something we cannot deny.  I am glad for the broken road, as Rascal Flatts sang, that God blessed.  But I am also glad for the journey we travel together, with new keys opening new doors.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Eating Music Like Candy

This season in my life has been very busy, very crazy...
This season of my life demands music and pictures drawn
To erase life as we know, to erase the evidence that reality is not spirituality
Because love is not meant to be used as a pawn
In the attempt to be traded for something less risky
In the attempt to be used in place of the pain that rides love's coattails -
Can't have one without the other, can't live without love and pain
With the inevitable truth that while it grows deeper, the root of love fails
When you aren't nurturing the inspiration, nursing the muse
Stroking the ego of that art going beyond the visualized and auditorily internalized....
I'm eating music like candy gumdrops chocolate drops red hot drops
Hoping that the pounds will still drop, hoping that the residual won't leave a residue
Because the blues and the jazz and the hip hop of the bee-bop
Have the power to fatten up the unseen, colored a strange color of artistic blue....

I'm eating music like candy so I don't have to eat something better
So my soul will have reprieve and the spirit can receive
The deeper details of a life and a love that cannot be circumvented
In order to create the lie no one really can say they believe
But they eat it up anyway
Like water for chocolate
And sugared fruit snacks for the raw bite of true fruit
And the shot that changes the game, taking over the table with a corner pocket
None of it is real and emotions rise and fall like the piano carrying the melody
Of the song where Joss says she is The Last To Know
And I begin to wonder if we are all so blind that we don't look close enough to see the truth
That eating music like candy is the action that makes love slowly grow....