Readings: Judges 4: 1-24, Psalm 123
There are so many portraits placed before us of the ideal man and the ideal woman, but as we age, we become increasingly aware that no such thing exists. There is no ideal man or ideal woman. There is no perfect fit or match made in heaven. There is only us, with our strengths and our weaknesses and with God being our helper, we will go on the incredible journey of learning how to love each other and care for each other better. Life is not about getting to the winning line, but about enjoying the journey. It is about celebrating those moments in which we get it right and appreciating those moments in which we get it wrong because we have just learned something about ourselves and about the way we relate and we have learned that the needs that others have are not the needs we think they have. How often do we place heavy burdens on the shoulders of others because we assume they have the ability to guess what our hearts long for? I think relating to each other is hard enough without making it harder by believing that a good guess is the same thing as a real love.
I think one of our biggest obstacles in relating to others is the way in which we place expectations on ourselves or others that are not the expectations others have of us or of themselves. This is especially true when we treat our expectations as fundamental truths. Society doesn’t help in this area much either because all of us together as society also create stereotypes of the ideal man and the ideal woman and then we place those expectations on all of its men and on all of its women without considering the individual.
Had Deborah been around today, I fear that in many of our communities, the story of God redeeming His people would have turned out very differently. If Deborah had been silenced as a prophet because the expectation was that God could not speak through a woman; she would have been silent because we would have told her that she was not equipped to talk about God and Israel would never have turned back to God. If her husband had called her to order as so many societies would expect him to do today, Israel would have become a vassal state to the Canaanites. If she was not heeded as a judge, the community would have lain in ruins as the disputes she administered over would never have been resolved and the community would have imploded as internal clashes would have brought down the nation from within, in which case they would not have needed her as a judge to help them bear witness to God’s deliverance from their oppressors.
I think that as a global community, we have a very far way to go in terms of not deciding for God who God can use to make His love known and who God can use to redeem and deliver His people. May God help us to let God use who God knows He needs to use to bring about Heaven on earth. May God help us let go of social expectations of the role of women and of men as we allow individuals to be who God created them to be and as we allow them to serve in the ways in which God set them aside to serve.