sorry this didn't get posted on time...
Luke 18: 9-14
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
How often do we, as women, compare ourselves to others? We strive for an unseen goal, to be just like her, even though we don't really know what that entails. While appearances may heighten our desires to imitate another person, we must remember that God calls each of us to be...well...us. We are not called to be someone else.
Therefore, there are two lessons, I think to learn from this parable.
First, don't judge a book by its cover. We've always heard this. We know this cliche, but how do we apply it? I know I usually think it to mean: Don't assume someone isn't "all that" just by their atrocious appearances. But, can we also take it the other way? Just because someone looks like they have it all, that doesn't mean they do. And, in my opinion, this reality is far more common in our society than the former.
The Pharisee looked holy, but he really wasn't. How many women hide behind facades of holiness? I am not saying we should assume that all those women we admire for their sanctity aren't "all that." But, I am saying we should be more careful when longing to imitate another woman. It is my nature to be drawn to women whom I want to emulate, but I have to humble myself to instead ask for their bits of wisdom and guidance instead of just settling for copying their outward appearances.
That said, I hide behind my own facade. It drives me nuts how many people compliment me on my faith, when they have no idea of some of the inner turmoil I experience, the doubt, the despair. You don't really know, and therefore, you should be cautious in your assessment of others.
The other lesson to learn, simply put, is to be humble. Never trust that you are holy enough. Always seek more. I truly believe that if we could convert our material desires into a desire for holiness, we could redeem our fallen world. If women longed more for union with God than with academic or career achievements, wouldn't we live in a different culture?
How often do I put on a pedestal other women about whom I know little? Do I focus on where God is calling me to grow in holiness, or do I simply try to imitate others' exterior actions? Do I beat my breast and beg God's mercy on me daily? Do I embrace my crosses and my unique circumstances as paths toward greater sanctity?
Do I assume too much about others' personal faith journeys merely by their outward appearances? How do I cultivate my character, so that others may see there is more to me than what meets the eye? Am I open with others about my faith triumphs and struggles? Am I humble? Do I give God the glory for everything in my life? Or do I seek control and try to "manage" God?