Have you noticed that things have been a wee bit quiet at Gallimaufry Grove? Me, too. Sorry about that. Let me make it up to you by telling you a little story about a certain pastor’s wife who let her mind wander during the sermon.
Once upon a time (a few weeks ago), while my husband was skillfully preaching from Proverbs 14, I found myself thinking about beauty. To be more specific, I was thinking about Oxen, Horses and Beauty.
That’s right, folks. Me. The pastor’s wife. I allowed my mind to wander during the sermon! But maybe the Lord was actually pointing something out to me, so let’s call me spiritual and let it pass, M’kay?
What on God’s green earth could Horses and Oxen have to do with beauty, you ask? Horses, maybe, but Oxen!?! Brace yourselves while I explain the weird inner workings of my mind…
Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.”
In other words, where there is no Ox treading out the corn, the stall may be nice and clean, but that Ox brings a lot of prosperity with it. Without the Ox, not much gets done. The farm doesn’t grow and prosper. Things start going downhill. Next thing you know, the farm is dilapidated, the family is starving, and the world winds up in economic turmoil — all because the farmer didn’t have the good sense to get himself an ox. He was too busy checking out the pretty filly in stall number 4.
You still don’t see how oxen tie in with beauty? Let’s keep tripping through my brain. Don’t worry. This will be fun.
At the time that scripture was written, Oxen were more highly esteemed than horses. While the horses were lovely to look at — all finesse and beauty, the Oxen were stouter, stronger and more able to get the job done. They were easier to feed and keep, less prone to disease and hardier in practically every way. Horses were faster and prettier, but oxen were more useful and a better investment.
It got me thinking about our current society’s shallow standard of beauty versus the hardworking women of a century or two ago. These days, our society demands that women must be forever young, forever thin, and unendingly alluring. Brains and skill are pretty far down the list of desirable traits. Don’t believe me? How many women do you know who downplay their own talent and intellect while they endlessly bemoan the image they see in the mirror. To hear a lot of us talk, it is far better to be beautiful than to have good character or to work hard. Where did we learn that?
The result is that we are more prone to diseases, both of the body and the mind, (perhaps all the crash-dieting and the constant body-loathing is a contributing factor). Women are often stressed, cranky and unfulfilled. We have to spend more and more of our time and money, especially as we age, trying to maintain the “look”. But on what are we spending it all? Just on how we look. We are the horses. Or at least we’re trying to be. We have bought the lie that horses are better then oxen.
(If you have horses, let me just say, I happen to love horses. I’m not horse-bashing — just trying to make a point. So, feel free to invite me over to go riding…)
A century or two ago, women may not have all looked like Hollywood movie stars (nor were they expected to, but I digress). Their hands may have been worn and calloused. Many grandmothers may have actually LOOKED like grandmothers. But they were women of impeccable character, who thought unselfishly of others. By their hard labor they served others. Their calloused hands consoled countless bumps and bruises and made innumerable meals. They were the Oxen, and they were more highly prized by wiser men than the delicate fillies of our day who are rarely prized for more than their looks.
No wonder so many women suffer from self-esteem issues. We spend all our energies chasing a fantasy promoted by advertisers. The fruits of our labors are self-centered. The women of old spent their energies pouring into the lives of other people. They daily partook of the fruits of their labors in all the rich relationships they had fostered.
It’s food for thought…
I am on a quest to get back to what is truly valuable both in myself and in others. I want to remind people that they are valuable for who they are, not just what they look like. And I want to get back to adding value to other people. The advertisers have lied to us, but that doesn’t mean we have to believe them.
Have a great day!