Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Laughing and Speaking

While attending a dinner gathering, I was interrupted mid-sentence, in a quite conversation with a friend, by the roaring laughter of a woman. As most anyone would, I looked over towards the direction of the laughter to see, and again hear the seemingly witch-like cackling coming from the woman. Wow, I thought, whatever she’s laughing at sure most be funny!

A little later in the evening, the host stood up and introduced to the attendees his pastor and his pastor’s wife. Looking in the direction he was gesturing, I saw a table of people, including the cackling woman. “Stand up, will you?” Asked the host to the pastor and his wife, and up stood the cackling woman, and her husband, the pastor. , I never would have thought that was the pastor’s wife.

That’s what I learned from the next “don’t,” “Don't laugh loudly or in a vulgar manner.” When the pastors wife roared with laugher from the belly, I wondered, where is her “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:3-4)? Where have our gentle and quiet spirits gone? Are we women who sit around and laugh it up with the boys, or are we ladies who quietly smile and quietly giggle to ourselves? We should be quiet and well-mannered in public, not to draw too much attention to ourselves, which does not honor the Lord.

The next “don’t” I’ve learned is “Avoid the following qualities in the voice: loudness, firmness, efficiency, boldness, dullness, mumbling, monotonous, singsong.” If we speak what’s on our hearts, wouldn’t HOW we speak also display what’s in our hearts. At work, if I talk with authority to my boss, it might seem as though I’m undermining my boss’ authority. This could really mess up my witness as a steward.

What I learned: Laughing loudly can be very manly and inappropriate for a woman. When women are together there can be exceptions. A friend of mine, who I consider to be godly, and I agreed that when women are together in a relaxed setting, it is okay for women to “let their hair down”. This doesn’t mean that women can act sinful, or manly, but they should feel comfortable enough to laugh, talk and cut up together.

Lastly, HOW one speaks is almost as important as WHAT they are saying. There are times when ladies need to use firm voices (like with children), boldness (when sharing the Word of God), and singsong (when greeting a child). However, we need to choose carefully the tones we use that they may convey the proper message to the hearer.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Using Hands and Walking (Part 2 of my "Don'ts for the feminine Manners""

Today officially began the first day of examining first hand the "don'ts" listed in November 2nd's post. The entire day, I was watching how I used my hands, making sure that they weren't used in an unladylike way as question number one states, "Don't use your hands in a stiff, brusque, efficient, firm, or strong manner." I had to actually tweak this "Don't" a little bit because as a paid worker in a bakery, it is important to honor the Lord by working with my hands and doing the job He has given me, and doing it well. This usually means that at the end of the day, I will have managed to leave with a burn or two from the oven, paper cuts and dry hands from hot, soapy water while washing endless amounts of pans.

I have also decided that using one’s hands in a strong manner isn't always unladylike either, as most women have to open tight jars, carry a vacuum up stairs, and lift up five year olds during the day without the help of a man. With that being said, for me, this "don't" mostly meant, no talking excessively with my hands, which seems to be very common with headstrong women like myself.

Luckily, this one came quite easily as my hands were quite busy throughout the day at work, and then while taking notes at school. But say that I had stopped on the way from class and began taking to a classmate. My classmate may be a very good listener, but if I'm throwing up my hands in exclamation, or waving them back in forth making gestures, will they be looking at me or my hands? And if someone is sitting at a nearby table, will my hands direct attention towards me, meanwhile the person is thinking "I wonder what she's getting all excited about?" In a sense, a conversation that was between just me and the one other person, is now visible to anyone else around who may see that I was agitated earlier by the way I've thrown my hands up in disgust. I know, seems like such an odd thing to consider, but please DO consider what your hands reveal to others during your conversation with them.

The next "don't" that I tried not to do today was number two on my list,
"Don't walk with a heavy gait or long strides." I must tell you, if you had seen me running out the door this morning for work, you would have thought, she's off to a great start! And sarcastically speaking, you would have been right. However, the day did get better. I hope that all you long-legged women will back me on this, it is hard to NOT take long strides when it's so easy to take two steps, two stairs, whichever, and you are there. But today, I decided to slow down a bit, and I loved it! Walking slow almost made me feel like a princess, not like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame that I'm usually like.

Walking lady-like slowed me down and gave me a chance to really concentrate on just taking one step at a time, no hurry, just getting to where I needed to be. It was rather peaceful, not stressful like I had to run to be somewhere a few seconds earlier.

What I learned today: Using my hands can glorify the Lord, and they can also glorify me. WORKING with my hands brings glory to Him who gave me use of my hands; however, TALKING with my hands, brings attention away from what I'm saying and on what my hands are saying. This can be used to glorify myself because I’m subconscious using my hands to elaborate what I have to say (often exaggerating), bringing unwanted attention from many directions, putting the focus on me.

As for as walking ladylike, it is quite lovely to walk more slowly and delicately as a lady should. Even long-legged women, like myself, should slow it down and concentrate on each step she’s taking. However, it is UNSAFE to walk slowly in a parking lot at night, whether with someone or alone. Therefore, in my opinion, if you must for the sake of safety, pick up your princess slippers and walk a little faster!