Saturday, March 24, 2012

To Be or Not To Be….Loved

     It’s time to get personal.  As we seek to expound on who woman is, we’re going to overlap discussion with personal reflections from several different women of diverse backgrounds and ages.  I believe that to understand woman, we must search beyond just theory and ideas.  We need to roll up our sleeves and dive in to the hearts of real women.  I hope you are as excited as I am to see this unfold!   So without further ado, I will begin…

     To be loved, to be truly, deeply unconditionally loved for who we are, is one of the most primal needs of the human person (woman and man).  Yet, it is especially true for women.  Pope John Paul II used scripture to explain that women are first in the order of love.[i]  She was made to beautifully receive God’s love and in turn, give that love out to all others.  What does that mean?  She is more easily able to love; it is her strength.  In some ways, it is as if women communicate in terms of love.  When women seek friendship, it is an emotive attachment.  More than just someone to “hang with”, women look for that “kindred spirit” as Anne of Green Gables described it.  And when they seek a romantic relationship, the physical unity (though highly valued), is not the primary goal.  Women seek to love and to be loved.

     When a young girl is growing up, she looks for that affirmation, that love.  Yet there are so many things and people that can confuse what love is and how it is given.  If we let it, this often is the beginning of the breakdown of the self-understanding of womanhood.  This was true for me.  I grew up in a wonderful family.  I am the third of seven children.  And going through those years was confusing.  Only now do I look back upon it with more clarity.  I was a spiritual child; my heart and soul stretched for God.  Maybe more than others, I had a deep and desperate desire to love God and give my life for Him even at a very young age.  In many sleepy mornings, my little self innocently, yet profoundly walked in a relationship with God.  This deep, passionate love of God created a deep, expansive canyon of emptiness when I turned to other things – other than God. 

     When my sights turned to the opposite sex, I sought, as every young lady does, to be loved.  And the need was ever intensified by this abyss left behind from my profound love of and from God.  And when my love need wasn’t met I turned to the world to tell me how to get it met.  I lost weight… a lot of weight.  It was innocent at first (like every addiction begins) and then it consumed me.  I was never thin enough and no matter how much I lost, I only saw bulges when I looked in the mirror.  Whenever I could (without causing attention to myself), I dumped my food and ate little bits of lettuce.  The strength of this void of profound love pushed me forward, but I chose the wrong direction.  There was one week, when I was away from home through a school activity, that I barely ate anything all week.  I came home excited to only weigh in at 94lbs.  If I was thin, surely I would find love. 
I have to laugh now looking back on it, because those poor teenage boys who were probably just looking for someone to hang with, were met with young Theresa and her passionate ideas of changing the world!  No young man could live up to that nor come even close to meeting that need within me – they were doomed before they even began!  But it was my heart that had pushed God to the side to choose worldly views of myself.  It created not only an impossible reality within me, but just knowing I wasn’t doing things the way I was supposed to, I pulled myself away from my parents too.  As much as they said they loved me, my thoughts countered it, ‘their words are empty because they do not know all I have done.’  The lies plagued me and divided me from any love.  No one knew what was happening in this little soul (so melodramatic even within my own mind!).  The only time I ever remember my father yelling at me was one night when I refused to eat dinner.
     It threw me into a tailspin that came to a head my junior year in high school; I was falling into a depression.  But over the following 6 years, the constant love of my parents and ultimately, the unconditional love of my husband, a renewed dedication in my relationship to God and the forgiveness of my parents, helped heal the wounds.

     This is one reason I have such a passion for helping women!  There are too many young women who are depressed, have low self-image and seek to find “love” at the cost of themselves.  (One study I read said over 80% of young ladies have some sort of self esteem issue.)  How I wish I could speak to each one of them!  I know they just want to be loved!  They just want the affirmation of their own great dignity: that God made them perfectly, beautifully, wonderfully!  I know it’s not the norm these days, but more damage is done to the psyche of young ladies (than to young men) when they engage in sexual activity and I believe abstinence must be promulgated.  When a young girl is seeking “love”, she thinks she can get it by giving in to the world’s way.  Yet she only ends in further emptiness.

     To be or not to be loved, that is the question on every young girl’s heart.  It echoes from the depth of her nature – imprinted in us like a roadmap back to God – we all wish to be loved.

That’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  Please comment below!
(Stories from other women, starting next week!)

[i] Mulieris Dignitatem, 29. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

What’s Wrong With Being a Woman?

This is the fundamental question at the heart of New Feminism.  What IS wrong with being a woman?  We are in a culture where feminists scream out for equality of the sexes on the one hand and yet demean and disregard that which is female on the other.  (If you haven’t read my previous post, please read that first.)

The feminists of the 1960s achieved many great things.  Even the very tenacity and courage they must have had to stand up to the establishment and demand rights for women is remarkably admirable.  Yet, it is the shift to what they extracted from Marxist philosophy (that our bodies are not a part of our nature) that created such a fracture among women.

The tragedy is that in their pursuit of equality, they unwittingly perpetuated the very prejudice they wished to overturn.  Because they believed gender did not matter and was, in fact, a sign of our oppression, they quickly found ways to brush aside the gender specific qualities.  Their goal was commendable: they sought a fair society where women and men shared an equal role in the raising of children.  They desired a society where women were respected and given just as much opportunity as men.  But instead of demanding that men respect feminine traits, they tossed gender aside and said, ‘See!  We’re strong too!  We can do anything you can do!  See?!  We are exactly like you!’

Today, it is often the woman who chooses to be a mother or chooses to embrace her womanhood that is mocked by men and women in our society.  A young girl who does not engage in sexual activity is a ‘prude’, a ‘goodie two shoes’, or a ‘tease’.  When a woman stands up for her feminine traits and demands respect of herself and her body, she is belittled.  How did this happen?  Wasn’t the point of feminism to elevate woman?  This is where knowing philosophy comes into play.  Some feminists see our femaleness as the result of oppression and therefore disregard it as a subservient position.  They see anyone who embraces that subservient position as obviously out of touch with what true equality means and is clinging to a lower level in society because they have been brainwashed and suppressed by their religion.  Obviously….right.

Here’s a better idea:  it’s time to finally elevate woman.  In all her emotions, in all her passion, in all her love, in all her intuitive insights, in all her beauty, and her ability to bear life, she is greatly to be extolled!  Why should we have to conform to the man’s way of thinking, acting and being in society to be equal?  A woman ought to be given dignity and merit for her femaleness, not just her ability to act like a man.  She has a way of thinking that relationally connects all her concerns.  Some have compared the difference to food: men think like waffles; women think like spaghetti.  Men compartmentalize everything and even have an empty compartment where their minds can go to just blank out.  But just as one cannot only pull one noodle from a plate of spaghetti, a woman’s thoughts are totally interconnected at all times.  (This is not a personality reflection but the relational love of women.)  This relational interaction with others (and the world around her) pulls upon her emotions.  Her heart goes out to so many that sometimes it is hard to hold back the tears.  God has gifted woman with unimaginable strength coming not from muscle, but from her love.

Women and men were created so uniquely different, yet equal.  Do you love one child more than another because they are different?  No, of course we don’t!  We love each of them equally yet in their own way and love them because of their differences.  Women are a creation formed from the heart of God.  He has gifted women with His very own rich capacity of love.  For millennia, force has been equivalent to power, but we are in a time where words can overcome.  This is what New Feminism is all about.  It is about looking at the dignity of woman in all her glorious femininity and elevating her because she is woman

There is much more to come on this in future posts, but knowing philosophy or not, most women relate to "being woman" as the most authentic reflection of their human experience.  Most women are proud of their femininity and recognize the contrast between women and men.  It’s time our society does too.  Women are magnificent beings, enriched with such strength!  And God has even empowered women with the divine ability to bring new life into the world.  Whether women become physical mothers in their lifetime or not, the capacity to bear life reflects the very nature of women.  They have the ability to create and enrich life daily through their profound love of those around them.  Our female bodies, our blood, our very selves are the life force of the human race.  We hold the future of the whole of humanity in our wombs and it’s time we get the true respect we deserve...

Wait a second, now, who is waging a “war on women” again?     hmmmmm …

That’s my view of it, and I welcome yours.  Please comment below! 

And if you like what you’ve read, PLEASE SHARE with others! THANK YOU!
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Irony of a World which Considers Philosophy Obsolete

   We all know the old saying “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it”, but I believe the same is true of philosophy.  Those who do not study philosophy are doomed to be ruled by another.

   In the US, we pride ourselves on our free society.  We hail democracy and wave a flag of liberty.  Yet at the same time, even colleges are focusing on the utility of degrees and not the value of knowledge.  More and more our society is adopting the view that a thing is valuable only in so much as they are useful to society.  How many times did I get pestered by business majors saying:  Why would anyone want to study philosophy?  What on earth can you do with that degree?  Or even theology for that matter, why waste your time since that will never give you a decent job?

   So, the happy college student goes through life, working real hard to be good at one thing so he or she can in turn get a job and support him or herself and potentially a future family.  And those college students believe they are free.  They believe that all their actions are what they decided to do and no one is telling them what to do.  They believe this as they buy brand name clothes, drive expensive cars and sit down to 3 hours of television a night (which includes 45 minutes of commercials).  Never stopping to question or ponder but just going about their lives.  Until some new phase or movement gets their emotions riled and they cheer them on, because it feels good to be passionate about something.

   Am I being too stark?  Forgive me, I realize not everyone is completely brain dead.  Yet, the reality is that we are all under the influence of philosophy – every day, every minute.  From the moment we wake up,  to turning our tv on, to reading the paper, to talking with friends, to choosing what items we purchase, we are bombarded by ideas that stem from different philosophies.  And if we do not know what our philosophy is and what other philosophies are about, then we will not have the logical intelligence to distinguish one from the other.  And we will be emotionally lead down a path that leads to a very different end then the one we expected.

   A very real example of philosophy unstudied is socialism.  So many people seem to be opposed to it, but many are living it unwittingly because they have not stopped to look around and study the situation.  Oh, it’s been studied very well by those who agree with it and want to create a socialistic state in society, but not by the average person.  It was upon socialistic norms that the women of the 2nd wave of feminism (in the 1960s) made a drastic shift from early feminism.  They adopted Marx’s idea that our bodies are not a part of our nature.  If our bodies were not a part of our nature (meaning not part of who we really are), then they didn’t matter and could be used however.  The feminists took it a step further to say that our gender in our bodies is a direct result of oppression for all these centuries.  They believed we evolved into gender because of the oppression.  And therefore, to make men and women equal, the goal of technology would be to rid us of gender.

     Now if you asked the average woman, “Do you think your woman-ness is bad?” or “Should we get rid of our female organs in order to be equal to men?”, they would most likely answer “no!”  Women rally together IN their femininity and because they are women.  And yet, the birth control pill came about out of a need to “rid us of gender”.  Encouraged sexual promiscuity came about from a view that our bodies weren’t important to who we were and can be used to gain pleasure just like any other past time.  So many of us are living out a socialist philosophy and we are completely oblivious to it.

     And yet, if you asked a woman, “Do you think you are made in the image and likeness of God?”, she would (if she is Christian, which the majority of Americans are) answer “yes”.  But herein lies the rub!  These two philosophies cannot co-exist.  And only if you are educated about philosophy can you sort it out enough to evaluate and choose. 

     So, we are faced with two opposing philosophies and we must make a choice.  Do we believe that our bodies do not matter (and can be used for whatever purpose and it not affect who we are) or do we believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God and our bodies are intrinsic to who we are?  It is socialism vs Christian personalism. 

    And every person is free to choose…oh wait, you are not really free unless you understand your options and can formulate your opinion.  When we don’t step back to analyze it, we are swept along a path unaware of what the consequences will bring or what personal beliefs we may be putting in jeopardy.   So, Americans think philosophy is obsolete?  I think philosophy just had the last laugh.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

For Every Action there is an Equal and Opposite Reaction

So it has come to this.

Theresa Martin has begun a blog.  If it weren't for the opinions of misconstrued truths, vile reactions and hatred coming from all corners, I probably wouldn't be blogging.  Yet, with every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.  I know that I am only one piece of the enormous reaction, that is the Catholic Church, pushing back against those who attempt to shred her of her religious freedom.  Yet though I am only one piece, it is needed.  As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "all we do is but a couple drops in the ocean, but without our work those drops would be missing."  Indeed, Fr John Hollowell nailed it in his recent 'I have a say' video, "Here comes the Catholic Church"!

I do not begin such a blog with the presumption that I have all the answers, but with the courage to give true feminism a voice, a forum, a podium from which to shout, "we are women! Hear us roar!"

I pray that this might be an inspiration to many women, from all walks of life, who will take up their own pen and add a post to share on this blog.  The goal would be a place of unity.  Every woman is a woman.  I realize this is obvious, but it is also profound.  Whether each individual woman has opinions on the right or the left, republican, democrat or libertarian, each woman is first and foremost a woman. 

And it is from that starting point, that we will jump in.  So I invite you!  Join me, join us - breathe in and believe in the great beauty that is your femininity!