As I was on my way home from work and the grocery store today, I heard an amazing interview on the radio. The show was on the Q90fm (90.1 in Appleton/Green Bay) Naomi's Table show. It truly inspired me to stop and think about how we as women view men and relationships. It also validated a conversation I had yesterday with another truly amazing and strong woman who has helped me immensely, whether she is aware of it or not.
I am a strong woman. I have the tendency to crumble under high amounts of stress, which leads to panic attacks and sometimes even tears, but I am highly independent. Throughout my relationships, one theme has resurfaced over and over again: I hate relinquishing control over myself and my home. I would very much prefer to do everything myself. Men have a strong desire - no, need - to be providers and protectors within their families and relationships. They want to fix everything. Men need to know their purpose as a strong, solid rock within a relationship. It's a woman's role to nurture and protect this within him.
Biblically, a woman is to be submissive. I'm not talking about cowering in the corner and obeying his every command. For a very long time, that's exactly how I saw that Biblical view. Part of it has been my own personal experiences, but there is a big difference between survivor and victim. I took the definition of survivor to an extreme. It was the means to my survival to be so strong and in control of everything.
It was a good thing to take these last two years off and remain intentionally single. It was good for my heart, for my mind, and for my own healing. It has been good for my children, they've needed this time. I needed to be in control and strong to defeat the doormat syndrome I'd held for far too long. It has been a means of finding my heart, healing the scars, and moving on to a healthier, more stable life. I have chased dreams and accomplished goals I never thought I'd actually achieve. Though I still have far to go, I feel successful.
There is a time for everything, though, and the time has come for me to relinquish at least some of that control. I will always be independent and strong. I will always have my sense of self. It's simply time to be womanly again - and I now understand that to be womanly does not mean being weak.
The interview on the radio show today was about the relationships between men and women. One of the points that really hit home was about woman coming from man's rib. Not from the head, to lord over him, not from his foot to be walked on. From his rib. Why the rib? The rib is a strong, but flexible bone. The rib's function is to protect the heart and lungs.
So how does this correlate to our relationships as women?
It is a woman's job to protect a man's heart. I'm not just talking about the wishy-washy function of the emotional heart. The physical heart pumps blood, which is one of the basic essentials for human life. The stronger our blood, the stronger we function. We strengthen our relationships with our womanly capacity to nurture. A woman's strengths lie in compassion and understanding. We're sensitive to everything around us, to the emotions of others, as well as our own. We need to be in touch with those abilities, and to work with them to nurture our relationships.
The ribs also protect the lungs. Our lungs re-oxygenate our blood. We breathe in cleaner air, and exhale what isn't useful. Woman, with her capacity for compassionate understanding, have the ability to be the voice of reason. Men are typically action-oriented. They fix things. Women who take control are also taking away some of that vitality from a man, by not allowing them to function fully in their roles as protectors and managers in relationships and in life in general.
The woman being interviewed (I wish I would have heard the beginning, or at least a name, so I could give her proper credit) spoke of relationships as a garden. Gardeners know to prune unwieldy, wildly-growing plants. The parts that are pruned are called "suckers" - literally sucking the life out of the rest of the plant. We need to prune ourselves, as well. We need to remove some of those untamed parts of us which keep us from growing stronger and more beautiful. Pruning isn't always pretty. We're sometimes left barren, feeling ugly and raw. That's exactly where we need to be. We need to cut off all that excess and return to the person we're intended to be. We need to grow from those unruly life-suckers and become stronger, more full and well-developed human beings.
Over the past month, that's exactly where I've been. I've been pruning. It's sometimes been ugly, and sometimes very raw. It's also been a beautiful growing and learning experience. It's been about finding myself, truly and meaningfully, and growing into someone better and more fully developed.