Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chivalry...What's That?

Chivalry.  When you think about this word, what images come to your mind?  Do you think of the damsal in distress, so weak and frail, needing to be rescued by her knight in shining armour?  Do you think of a romantic rendevous between two lovers as the man wooes the woman by sweet gentle notions?  Or do you think that it is an ancient, and outdated part of culture that you are happy is no longer relevant for today?  The act of chivalry is most certainly something that is on the endangered species list of character in today's society.

My husband and I love Brad Pitt.  He is such a talented and versatile actor and in many roles is the perfect example of the type of man that women truly want.  (Besides his dashingly good looks, haha!)  The movie we watched this weekend was one of my all time favorites, "Legends of the Fall".  In this movie, Brad Pitt plays the character Tristan who is wild at heart and untameable, but has a strong cord of gentleness running through him.  

As I watched this movie I noticed quite a few characteristics that you do not see anymore.  The time era was set during World War I, being shy of just 100 years, so I wouldn't state that these characteristics are ancient.  They are just unfortunately...lost.  When Susannah entered into the room, all the men would stand up from the table.  If they had a hat on, they would remove their hat in her presence.  If they were in the dining room, a man would pull her chair out for her to sit.  When she would stand, all the men would once again, stand until she left the room.  I couldn't help but marvel at the very site.  Imagine ladies, men doing that today!  What a site that would be.  At this point, you might be feeling one of two things.  One, happy that this doesn't exist any more.  Or two, wonder why it doesn't.  I would have to say that the biggest reason we don't see men responding to women like this anymore is that it is very difficult to find a woman who is truly a lady.  I decided to google the definition of lady and this is what dictionary.com says the word lady means.

1.  a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken: She may be poor and have little educationbut she's a real lady.
2.  a woman of high social position or economic class: She was born a lady and found it hard to adjust to her reduced circumstances.
3.  any woman; female (sometimes used in combination): the lady who answered the phone; a saleslady.

4.  (Used in direct address: often offensive in the singular):Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Lady, out of my way,please.
5.  wife: The ambassador and his lady arrived late.
6.  Slang a female lover or steady companion.
7.  initial capital letter (in Great Britain) the proper title of any woman whose husband is higher in rank than baronet orknight, or who is the daughter of a nobleman not lower thanan earl (although the title is given by courtesy also to thewives of baronets and knights).
8.  a woman who has proprietary rights or authority, as over manor; female feudal superior. Compare lord def. 4 
9.  initial capital letter the Virgin Mary.
10.  a woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion.
11.  usually initial capital letter )
an attribute or abstraction personified as a woman; adesignation of an allegorical figure as feminine: LadyFortune; Lady virtue.
a title prefixed to the name of a goddess: Lady venus.

Wow, quite a list to explain the definition of lady.  Let's dive in and take a deeper look at what the definition really means.
The very first definition points out that a lady is refined, polite, and well spoken.  I find that this is very rare today.  Something that is refined is without impurities.  Scripture tells us in Psalm 66:10 "For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us as silver is tried, refined, and purified."  (AMP).  The process of refining silver takes much concentration on the black smith's part.  He must put the silver in the middle of the flames where the fire is the hottest and watch the metal intensely.  Just a moment too long, and the silver will be destroyed.  The blacksmith knows when the silver is refined to perfection when he can see his reflection in it.  The silver is then pulled out of the flames and has been transformed into something new and beautiful.  That is how God is with us.  He will put us in the hot burning flames of life.  

The trials, the unthinkable circumstances, the pressures and weights of this world, are all part of the fire and process of refining. The whole time we are in the fire, God has a hold of us.  He will never give us more than we can handle and when the process is done and we haven't left His grip, we will come out a new creation, beautiful, reflecting Him.  So, you may be thinking what does that have to do with being a lady?  A lady will allow God to refine her everyday and reflect Him.  A lady, as the definition says, is well spoken.  I don't think that means you have to speak prim and proper but rather it means that only good, positive, and life giving words will come out of your mouth.  You will not hear a lady curse or rattle off vulgar language.  You will not hear a lady being disrespectful with her words to anyone around her, and also herself.  You also will not hear her yell and assault the ones around her with her volume.  She will exude one of the most beautiful fruits of the Spirit...gentleness.  

The definitions continue to explain how a lady can be referred to as someone in upper class.  A lady can be referred to as a disrespectful slang or in reference in the political and royal realm.  I want to point out two more definitions that were given.  The Virgin Mary, often referred to as Our Lady, Mother of God in Catholic circles, was just an ordinary Jewish girl with a heart refined for God to use.  She obeyed God and submitted to His plan for her life, even when it made no sense at all.  She was willing to risk everything, her reputation, her upcoming marriage, and even her life (as being pregnant out of wedlock could result in a stoning) to put her life in God's hands.  She allowed Him to refine her in the fire and in the process became a lady reflecting Him.  

The last definition of the word lady I want to talk about is "a woman who is object of chivalrous devotion."  When a woman embraces the character of being a lady, the part of a man who God has designed by nature to be chivalrous will emerge.  This is like a victorious knight riding on his horse into the village, realizing just how much his character and his efforts are respected and honored by the woman he loves.  By her showing him the devotion and true design of a woman by being a lady, the relationship will be balanced, flourish, and grow into beautiful union. 

This amazing feat of course takes both to give of themselves for the other.  Both must pursue a heart for God, and let Him refine them.  Then they must put their selfish nature away and look through the eyes of the other. Chivalry is not dead though at times it certainly looks like it in today's world.  Both men and women have grown apart from God and each other and have embraced the arms of the world with delight.  Narcissistic lives result when the focus of ME is in the heart of the individual.  Unfortunately, this is becoming reality for our culture, and in the wake of that reality, relationships will weaken and crumble.

My challenge and hope is that we may indeed desire the creator's design and that we may witness and be a part of a new chivalry movement.  

Men, don't give up.  Be that man that all of us adore in the movies.  The man that runs forward when everyone else is running away.  Be the man that will give his very last breath just to tell the woman he loves, that he loves her.  Be the man who is a true gentleman even when your woman is not being much of a lady.  Be the man that controls his anger and is able to lead his family with strong and stable integrity.

Women, be a lady.  Embrace the gentleness that is pure strength.  Allow your man to lead and submit to him as the leader of your home.  Respect him, his efforts, his sacrifices, his hard work, and speak with a loving tone.  You want a loyal, faithful man, then give him the respect that he craves and I know he will give you more back than you could ever imagine.  

I am a romantic at heart and I love the stories of the knight in shining armour.  What I love even more, is being a part of a real royal destiny, as a princess of the King and my knight at my side.  

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