Written in partnership with Sherwood Pictures' upcoming film, COURAGEOUS, in The Resolution for Women, popular speaker and author Priscilla Shirer challenges all women to be intentional about embracing and thriving in God’s beautiful and eternal calling on their lives.
Like the men in the movie who resolve to fully accept their responsibilities before God, Shirer explains how today's women can and should live out their own resolution. It is "a defining banner that hangs over your life, written in the ink of your own choices." A woman's banner should be an accurate reflection of who she desires to be-someone completely Christ-centered who blesses and changes things in her world for the better.
The Resolution for Women inspires women with intentional, spirit-filled living from three unique angles. Section one, entitled, "This Is Who I Am," helps a woman define herself as "authentically me, purposefully feminine, surprisingly satisfied, and faithfully His." Section two, "This Is What I Have," invites her to value "my best, my blessing, my honor, and my heart." And Section three, "This Is What Matters To Me," focuses on joyfully honoring God as a wife, mother, and family member while resolving to live with the grace that leaves a godly legacy. The Resolution for Women is designed to inspire a revolution.
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|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
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A resolution to be content
Every Bite Counts
"This is going to be a good year for you, my friend. Thirty-six is a great age."
It was the end of December, and that's how old I was about to turn. I sat across the table from a friend who'd long since passed that decade of her life and watched her brown eyes glimmer with a tinge of remembered excitement.
I'm not sure why, but something about what she said really got to me. Maybe it was just the way she said it. Maybe it was the expression in her eyes as she looked at me. Maybe it was the little smirk that curled up at the corners of her petite lips. Whatever it was, it drew me in, got my attention, and settled into my mind and heart for consideration.
I thought about this birthday of mine from her perspective. On occasion we'd discussed the happenings of her twenties, the surprises that interrupted her thirties, and the settledness that had held her hand, gratefully escorting her into her forties. She'd now been married for twenty-five years, raised three incredible children, dealt with the unexpected twists and turns of life that most any person standing on the cusp of her fiftieth year has probably lived through. She'd seen disappointment, experienced incredible joy, and was now living a full life complete with deep friendships and an even deeper faith.
And here at a Christmastime restaurant table adorned with a delectable molten chocolate cake that we were ravenously sharing, she sighed the full breath of a woman satisfied. She swept her blonde bangs off her eyelids, cocked her head slightly, and told me that the season I was about to enter was a good one, that I should face it with expectation and enjoy its blessings. The kids are a bit more self-sufficient, marriage a few years more mature, the body still pretty much pointed in a northerly direction.
Yup, recalling that year in her life made her smile. It had been good.
And with that simple comment spoken, she went back to her eating — fork to mouth dripping with chocolaty goodness.
She must not have noticed my reaction. Didn't notice the weight of her comment hitting me with a full blow, like a baseball player swinging and connecting with the pitch. With one abrupt flick of the wrist, she had sent my heart sailing into the outfield of conviction. The thing she was suggesting, implying in so many words — the way she was proposing for me to approach this next phase of life I was entering — was exactly opposite of what my proclivity had been.
I'm the type of person, you see, who rushes ahead, who often just goes through the motions of any current activity on my way to the next one. My heart and my body haven't always been good about sharing the same space. Instead of relishing each moment, each year, each opportunity, each step on the journey, I'm constantly overeager to get to the next thing, which always looks more enticing than what's currently before me. I'm rarely satisfied in full with my present station.
A quick mental inventory revealed the facts, presenting ample evidence to support the claim that I hadn't really been in attendance for large portions of my life. As a teenager, I'd impatiently rushed toward young adulthood full throttle. As a single university student, I couldn't wait to be in a committed relationship and out of college so that life could "really begin." Then with a loving mate promised for life, I enjoyed our first years of marriage, but during some of them I secretly harbored discontentment with our childlessness. And when the kids started coming, the nights were long and the days even longer, and I prayed through each of them that bedtime would come more quickly today than I'd remembered it coming the day before. I was present for all of those years of my life as a student, a wife, a mom — a woman — and yet there was so little I could really remember, few emotions I could recall that accompanied some of the events of life. Why? Because I'd been there, but I hadn't really been there.
And with my thirty-fifth year coming to a close, it occurred to me that I hadn't engaged fully in that one either. Oh, I'd enjoyed it for the most part, but I hadn't soaked in it, relishing it, cherishing it, celebrating it, appreciating it for what it was — the only thirty-fifth year my life would ever know. Now it was nearly over, and before me stretched another year, populated with all the things, people, events, relationships, and milestones that would make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience — my only chance to fully be the person I'd be at this age and in this season. Only for the coming year would my husband be exactly like this. Only for these fleeting moments would my children talk, look, and act exactly like this. And if I chose to hurry through them in an attempt to avoid the parts I didn't like, I'd simultaneously miss all the things I did like about this season.
I recognized that by rushing through life, I'd been subtly devaluing those around me and the experiences I was involved in, not appreciating the importance and significance they bring to my life at this very moment, not grasping my responsibility for holding dear and treating well these gifts God has entrusted to me. Instead of embracing the privilege of being a blessing to my husband, my children, my friends, and others, I'd been quietly communicating that I wanted them to change and speed up, to get busy being somebody else, someone who's more in line with what I want and need, to hurry along to a place where they could make me happier than they currently do.
That's been me. Always looking toward the next moment, the next month, the next event, rarely allowing myself the privilege of fully participating and embracing the happenings that were right before me for that day.
And with one final bite of the most eye-opening dessert date I may have ever had, I realized this feeling had a name: discontentment. He shows up at your doorstep just like mine, eager to step inside and make himself at home. But instead of only coming for short visits on rare occasion, he refuses to leave, spreading his baggage everywhere, filling up corners of your space that you thought you'd locked up to this odious intruder. He comes. He lingers. He robs you of your years. Then before you know it, you've missed out on the joys in the journey, the growth that comes from battling through the difficulties, the sweet and savory experience of creating the memories.
I snapped out of my momentary trance and looked down at my plate. No more full bites left. Just chocolate syrup lacing the bottom, along with tiny crumbs of spongy cake dotted with miniscule dollops of whipped cream. With new resolve I started scraping up everything I could salvage, not wanting to leave behind any part of this delicious experience. Mmmmm. It had been worth all the hard work. Tasted just as good as the first.
Glad I didn't miss anything on my plate.
Promising never again to miss anything in my life.
Carefully consider what the Bible says about contentment:
"True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth." (1 Timothy 6:6 nlt)
"If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied)." (1 Timothy 6:8 amp)
"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5 nasb)
What have you been hurrying through?
What have you been hurrying to get to?
What are some of the good parts of your experience that you've missed in your attempt to rush through the more difficult ones?
What can you do differently today to "scrape the plate" — to gather up all the good things around you and begin enjoying the journey of your life?
My boys like secrets. In fact, we have a whole game we play that's centered around them. Sometimes when their friends come over, we'll all stand in a single-file line. The person in front whispers a secret to the one behind him, and then the mysterious dialogue is sent from one to another until it reaches the end. Almost always by that time, whatever was shared between the first two participants has become misunderstood, misinterpreted, or otherwise manipulated along the way. Somehow the message just never gets translated clearly all the way back.
And judging from our current position in line as women today, in this culture, the same thing has happened to us. What we hear described as the secret of our satisfaction sounds a lot different than it did when it was first spoken and handed down many centuries ago.
Today we hear a philosophy of happiness that's actually been training us for a long time not to be happy. It says there's always something else, something more, some additional requirement we need before we can really enjoy life the way it was meant to be enjoyed. So the advertisements bombard us with suggestions, dripping with recommendations intended to whet our appetites and tantalize our taste buds, encouraging us to get rid of the old and acquire the new, to be dissatisfied with what we already have.
If you're single, you should have the security of marriage.
If you're married, you should have the freedom of singleness.
If you live in an apartment, you should own a home by now.
If you own a home, it should be bigger than the one you've got.
Getting the message?
Your clothes should be from this vendor.
Your appearance should look like that trend.
Your kids should be more like those kids.
Your standard of success should be measured by these standards.
The fallout from this is inevitable. Fed by such a steady diet of unclaimed desires, we can hardly help but develop a level of disdain for our current circumstances. Caught in this vicious cycle, we consequently feel incomplete and substandard. Unhappy. Uncontrolled. Unfulfilled.
This is precisely why a satisfied woman is such a surprising woman. She is shockingly noticeable to a world that lives on a watered-down version of the secret — a secret that she obviously got the truth about. You can tell it by her peace and serenity, by her solace and restfulness, by the mysterious sense of ease that accompanies her. Her presence alone delivers an air of refreshment to any setting she enters, to anyone she's around.
The rarity and uniqueness of a woman who has chosen to be satisfied with what she has, with who she is, and with where she lives is as uncommon and worth celebrating as a Texas snowfall at Christmas. She's caught the faint whisper of a secret passed down through the ages, and she's chosen to trust its wisdom and to frame her life according to it. She's a woman of substance because she's a woman of satisfaction, a woman who's chosen contentment over displeasure.
Just like the person who first put the secret into words.
Contentment wasn't some unique gift the apostle Paul had been given. It wasn't an automatic facet of his personality. It was a skill he had chosen and adopted, then had mastered and applied to his tumultuous life experience. As a result, he could say with biblical assurance, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Philippians 4:11).
Come to realize.
Acquired the skill.
Developed the discipline.
Honed the ability.
And it all started with a "secret" (4:12) — a mystery that held strong and true even when his external circumstances were hardly conducive to living with a relaxed sense of well-being. He was well acquainted with disappointment and lack. He'd been beaten, stoned, and hounded by his enemies. In fact, when he wrote these words in a letter to Christian believers in the ancient Macedonian city of Philippi, he was in prison facing death, enduring some of the most extreme circumstances a person can imagine. Nothing was going well for him.
He wasn't in denial. He readily admitted that things looked bad. Neither was he playing the persecution card, acting like a martyr, trying to draw some measure of satisfaction from knowing he was going through more than everyone else.
He just knew a secret. And the secret gave him peace and serenity in the teeth of his ominous difficulties — the same secret we also can reach out and grab and hold on to when things are as bad as they can get, or perhaps when they're simply just not what we prefer. It's the key to unleashing a flood of joy into our hearts, the kind that rages within no matter what is raging without.
Paul's secret was this: he had resolved to be content.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)
The Greek word he originally penned in verse 11 to communicate our word content referred to an inner sufficiency — a satisfaction found through the depth of one's own life with God, independent of our surroundings. When unearthed and put to use, this "secret" sufficiency is able to bring a full measure of enjoyment and emotional stability to any kind of life experience, no matter how dull or distressing.
Not just for Paul.
For you. For me.
And that puts women like us in a position to be amazingly free.
When you've concluded that what you already have on hand is enough, that it's adequate — that it's been deemed by God as sufficient — then you're equipped and empowered to participate fully in the tasks set before you during this season of life. Paul described it like this:
God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
One thing leads to another. The more you believe that God's grace to you is overflowing, the more you'll be convinced that you will always have everything you need. And the more certain you are that you'll never lack, the more willing and able you'll be to give of yourself and your resources when called for because you'll be certain God will always replenish your supply.
You can just bank on that. Your God can be trusted to grant you the supply you need to excel at His purposes. So if you don't have it — whatever it is — it's because you don't need it. You may want it, but it's not necessary in order to accomplish what He knows is most important for your life today. Otherwise He'd have given it to you. He loves you too much to "withhold the good from those who live with integrity" (Psalm 84:11).
Whatever He's given or not given, He's done for a specific reason — a reason known only to Him perhaps but one you can trust with full confidence, sight unseen. Every decision you need to make, every task you need to accomplish, every relationship you need to navigate, every element of daily life you need to traverse, God has already perfectly matched up with an equivalent-to-overflowing supply of His grace. If you don't agree with that, then you either lack a proper appreciation for what you have, or you are doing things that you're not supposed to be participating in right now.
You can always tell people who operate from a position of perceived lack and deficiency. They're stingy with their time. They're selfish with their resources. They're tight fisted with their energy. They're reluctant to sow of themselves into the lives of others because they're afraid they don't have enough to do it with and still have enough left over for themselves. Not enough time, energy, talent, money, skill, patience. They're like my two-year-old, unwilling to share with his friends for fear he'll run out of what he's got.
But whenever we operate that way, the "every good work" that Paul outlines — the truly important tasks and relationships of life, the ones that promise blessing to us as well as to others — go unattended and undone. We're not able to fully participate, much less excel in something, when we don't feel like we have the proper amount, the proper brand, the proper type of resources with which to participate in the first place. So the "work" misses out on our touch, and we miss the many ways the "work" could touch us — the impact, the memories, the lessons, the experiences that God is knitting together to become a key part of our story.
Excerpted from "The Resolution for Women"
Copyright © 2011 Kendrick Bros., LLC.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Resolution Revolution,
Part I: This is who I am.,
Part II: This is what I have.,
Part III: This is what matters to me.,