We have just completed the Season Advent – the time of excited waiting. This Advent was very exciting for my family because my sister got engaged to the man she has been dating for quite a few years (talk about waiting!). I actually drove up through that *ahem* snow storm we had on the East Coast to go see her after it happened! Not the brightest thing I have ever done, but SO worth it!
Anyway, I began to reminisce about my own engagement – it was 1 year and 8 months long! (The military sort of dictates when you can and can’t get married – if you want to attempt a honeymoon, that is) I recall that engagement was much like Advent – expectant waiting. Mostly exciting, sometimes maddening, sometimes frustrating slow, but waiting with anticipation and Hope.
While I was meditating on these things it occurred to me that waiting is indeed a very feminine thing. Think about it. We spend quite a bit of time waiting for Mr. Right – and I know a lot of you are still waiting for him. Then there is the engagement period – more waiting. Then after the marriage many women begin a whole new kind of waiting – Waiting on your husband! OK that was a lame joke. (One I shouldn’t really tell since just this afternoon I kept my hubby and four kids waiting for me in the car for 10 minutes while I tried to get myself out the door!) Seriously, though, I am talking about pregnancy. Nine months of very expectant waiting. In fact, common vernacular refers to pregnant women as “expectant” mothers. Women around the age of 45 often begin waiting for a whole new phase of life; and who among us doesn’t recall being around 12 or 13 waiting for the day your first cycle would begin?
Part of being a woman is about waiting. Waiting to be asked out, waiting to be asked to dance, waiting for some poor guy to get up the courage to call, waiting for your biology to do its thing, waiting for a baby to be born, waiting for a sparkly ring or to wear a habit…waiting is feminine
Well what about guys? Don’t they have to wait? Yes, usually for us! But I would argue that men do not have the same relationship with waiting that we do. Men are created to be initiators.
Initiators? What the heck does that mean? It means that in God’s great design for men He wasn’t planning to have them wait around. He created men to go out and actively initiate. All the testosterone coursing through a man’s body helps him do this – to go and be aggressive. To go do, get the ball rolling, so to speak. It’s in his nature to go and drum up enough courage to ask that pretty girl to dance. It’s in his design to be the one who gets down on one knee with a shaky hand and pop the question. It’s how God made him.
Just look at a man’s body. Everything is out there. There is no interiority – nothing is hidden. Contrast that to a woman – she has great interiority. Her womb is hidden; in fact all her uniquely female organs are internal. And what does her body do? Its waits. It waits for her man to enter and to initiate a life-giving communion with her. Then again, her body waits. Has a life been created? If so, then a whole new experience of waiting begins.
This interiority, this waiting, is called “Active Receptivity.” Many of us confuse waiting, and being receptive, to being inactive and passive. This is not the case. God did not design women to be passive and to demurely sit and twiddle our thumbs idly. That is why I like the term active receptivity. We may not be designed by God to be initiators in the same way that men are, but we are by no means wallflowers!
Lets not get ahead of ourselves here. I do not want you thinking that I have some strange belief about women never being able to “start” something – to initiate. We all know that we can and do initiate lots of things – whether at work or home or with friends and family. Male Initiation and Female Receptivity are biologically and psychologically a part of who we are as men and women. God made us this way to compliment each other. It’s not to say that women can never be initiators and men can never be receptive – in fact, when it comes to God, men have to be receptive…..which brings us to our greater point.
As we have discovered time and again, the realities that are male and female – our biology, our psychology, and interaction with each other, all point towards a greater reality: God.
In a way, men and women are archetypes – “perfect examples of” (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) – aspects of God that He wishes us to understand. In the case of waiting, receptivity, and initiation, Men represent God the Father, and Women represent humanity. Through our interpersonal relationships and our very being as men and women, God wants to reveal to us how He wants to relate to us.
Lets take a closer look at waiting.
We determined that waiting is a very feminine thing. We are also hypothesizing that this can tell us how humanity should relate to God. We should wait for Him?
Yes. Have you ever heard the phrase “waiting on the Lord?”
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:6-8,
“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield,” Psalm 33:19-21,
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD, ” Psalm 27:13-14,
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation,” Psalm 5:2-4.
“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him,” Isaiah 8:16-18,
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:17-19,
“I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”Lamentations 3:23-25…… *
Thats just a small sampling! God uses your femininity to reveal to humanity that we need to “wait on the Lord.” Thats why Scripture so often refers to humanity, and by default, Israel, in female terms. More than any other literary device in Sacred Scripture, the Bride-Bridegroom analogy is used. God is always the bridegroom, and His people (us, nowadays) are the bride. So how are we to relate to God? Your femininity is the clue! We wait on Him.
But wait on Him to do what?!
Can you take a guess? Look at what we have been discussing. Our gift of femininity shows us how humanity is designed to relate to God, then it stands to reason that masculinity reveals to us how God wants to interact with us……so that means, we wait for God to……….initiate!!! That inherently masculine characteristic. God desires to initiate a relationship with us. If we are actively receptive to this initiation, then a beautiful communion begins – a true relationship – we with our God. One on one – with God bringing us ever deeper into His mystery and Love for us.
God, however, is a gentleman. He desires so much for us to allow Him to Love us. His initiative is never forceful, or intrusive. If we are not receptive to Him, He will not force Himself on us. But if we recognize His repeated attempts to initiate a relationship (or deepen the one we already have – see A Knight in Shining….blue jeans?), and we respond, there is no limit to what He will do for us. remember this is the same God who led the Israelites out of Egypt, who tumbled the walls of Jericho, who gave Abram and Sarai, Elizabeth and Zechariah, children in their old age, who rescued Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace, and who gave us His one and only Son. A relationship with Him is anything but boring!
All He asks is that we wait on Him.. In Faith, in Trust, and in Hope.
Are you ready to wait?