Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Green Paper and the White Horse

As a girl who's still waiting for her Prince Charming to drop to one knee with a diamond ring in his outstretched hand, I've had a lot of time to think and learn about relationships. And, as a girl (er, woman?) several years out of college and my parents' house, I've thus had several years now of trying to make it on my own.

Finally, after years of struggling, two months ago, God blessed me with a great job in a growing company that promises security and opportunity and ample rewards for my hard work. It's incredible, really. I wake up every morning with praises on my tongue as I drive to work.

But as I position myself to really begin what appears to, at last, be my career - at least the first part of it - I can't help but wonder: am I shooting myself in the foot when it comes to relationships?

As I've watched others get into relationships, engagements, and marriages, I often see the earning of money being heartily shouldered by the husband. I've heard phrases from women like "He just wants me to make enough to pay for gas" and "I'm so happy he only wants me to supplement what he earns." It's made me wonder: is that what men want?

What I'm really asking is: is being self-sufficient a turn-off? Do I need, instead, to be a damsel in distress? Do men want to be able to ride in and save a woman who can't take care of herself in order to really feel like a man?

Now, I've never really been much of a "career woman" in the classic sense - in the sense of blind ambition, money-hunger, and choosing one's career over one's family - not in the slightest. I have passions, and drive, and yes, ambition, but it's not because I want to be the CEO or to puncture the glass ceiling with my Manolo Blahniks. (That's a designer shoe, gentlemen.) I want to minister. I want to use the gifts God has given me to share His love with others. I want to do what I love, and love what I do, and show His love everywhere I am, no matter where that is.

But yes, also...I want to be able to make a living.

My parents worked hard to provide well for me and my sister. We've never wanted for anything. Because of their drive, we went to good colleges. We have cars. We never have to worry that we'll be homeless or hungry. In these frustrating years after college that I've been struggling, I have had the security of knowing that my parents will always be there for me with not only emotional but also financial support. It has been an incredible blessing, and I want to be able to provide that same security for my own family, if God blesses me with children of my own. If the economy is this bad now, what will it be like in 10 years? 20? 40? I shudder to think.

So, to that end, and also because I'm a grown woman and I need to, I work. I work hard, with God's help and grace. I praise God for the opportunities given to me, and I show Him respect by taking advantage of them. I want to advance in my new company. I want to make a career, a living, out of this job that I've been given - unless or until God calls me to something else. I don't want to be an albatross around my future husband's neck; I want to be someone he can rely on throughout his life rather than yet another burden for him to shoulder. What if he loses his job? What if the worst happens? I believe that being a help-meet means not just being an assistant, but a partner.

But does that attitude, and that ability, and my new job and career, make me less attractive to a man who wants to gallop in on his white horse and save me?

I hope not.

Because here's the thing: I still need a man to be my hero. I need him to be strong in the Lord, a spiritual leader in our home. I need him to claim the Biblical authority he is meant to and be fully committed to the well-being of our family. I need him to be close enough to Jesus that he listens to Him about everything. I will need him to help teach our children, to minister to our elderly parents, and to help guide our lives in such a way that will constantly bring us further into God's will.

I need him to be strong enough to be able to handle the strong-willed woman I am.

As I was thinking about all this, about being a Christian woman and working and what does that mean?, I got the bright idea to, duh, go to the Bible. Here's what I found:

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.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night. -
Proverbs 31:10-18

Well, then. I think I'll pretty much just keep doing what I've been doing.

If you want the truth, ultimately, my goal is to live in such a way, in all areas of my life, that 30 years from now, my husband will say to our children, "I praise God that I was lucky enough to marry your mother."