God has been gracious to reveal much to me as I prepare for the Living Stones Women's Conference, "Liberate." I will be addressing three areas of relationship - with God, with men, and with other women. My goal is to proclaim truth in these areas that women would be liberated and stand in the Truth that makes us free. Three specific areas of bondage make my heart heavy for the ladies of Living Stones - Discontentment, Comparison, and Performance-based living.
Discontentment is the absence of gratitude. It's a focus on what you'd like to have and an ungrateful heart for what you do have. It could be regarding your dating life, home, clothes, body, children, spouse, money... the list is long. When our eyes are turned to what we have, the blessings God has already given, we can be thankful. It is difficult to be discontent when we are thankful. Discontentment is a cousin of comparison and jealousy.
Comparison (or competition, jealousy, bitterness and covetousness) is an epidemic among women and disturbingly present in the church. James calls it demonic. Hebrews says it defiles us and Paul calls us to put it to death. Often we can be ensnared by comparison and not realize it. Competing with other women is manifested through body image, losing baby weight fast, wanting a thinner waistline, good hair, and/or nice clothes. It's also manifested when we compare our husband's success, our home, our material things, and our children's behavior with that of others. We tend to compare these things and find our value based on who's got it better. Women can tend to be haters of others who've "one-upped" them and become bitter while drowning in jealousy. Has a girl ever walked in the room and you notice her shoes, outfit, hair, etc. and a tinge of judgment pricks your heart towards her? You really only have issues with her because you're discontent with what you have and you covet what she has. It promotes this lifestyle of "sucking in." Women walk around with their gut sucked in completely fooled by the disillusionment that everyone else doesn't have a gut! We all got a gut, some are bigger, some smaller. If we'd all just let it out and see that she's got one, too...we'd be a little bit more free (I mean this literally and figuratively). Many of us are captive in this area and we don't even know it. It impairs our freedom for healthy, godly, female friendships.
It is a constant struggle to cling to grace and not the law. Many women struggle with living by performance. "Am I good enough?" "Did I DO enough?" It's a dark cloud that looms over us and deceives us into believing our worth comes from our work. It veils the Truth that our worth is completely other than ourselves. We are to radically define our worth based on God's love for us in that He sent His Son to live perfect then be murdered and rise again, thereby giving us His righteousness freely in exchange for our sin and depravity. Instead of standing and being free in this Truth, we live these lives of performance and law regarding our homes and our relationships with God and others. We foolishly base our worthiness of God's love and affection (and other's affection) on our own works - church attendance, prayer life, Bible reading, and other good deeds. It bleeds into how we relate to others. We hold them to a works-based mentality as well. You do for me and I'll do for you.
What is grace anyway? It's getting what we don't deserve - completely unmerited favor. It's giving to others what they don't deserve. It's freely given to us to liberate us from the slavery of performance, the law.
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1