This is the title of a blog by Jonathan Rogers. German philosopher Martin Heidegger once wrote of “Geworfenheit” or thrownness. “You’re thrown into the world, into a particular set of circumstances not of your choosing, with a few tools thrown into your toolbox (also not of your choosing), and you start figuring out how to make a life – hopefully with the help of some wise guides, though, again, many of those guides won’t be people you identified or sought out exactly. Many of them were thrown your way too.”
Rogers then quotes James K. A. Smith: “Thrownness is not a negative thing.” We can regret our thrownness, resent it, or feel shame about it. Or we can take it as a gift and a guide to our calling: “We are bundles of potentiality, but the possibilities are not infinite. We are thrown into a time and place, thrown into a story that is our history, and these form the horizons of possibility for us… That is not a limitation as much as a focusing, a gifted specificity. This corner of earth I’ve been given to till. These neighbors I am called to love. These talents I’m exhorted to fan into flame. This neighborhood in which to birth a future.”
At my age, I really identify with the word thrownness. I have been reading I and II Timothy. I am impressed by how Paul the Apostle encourages young Timothy in his thrownness – that is, his unique call to carry on the ministry. “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof – Public Sinner Number One – of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy” (I Tim. 1:15 – Message). Never forget the mercy of God on your journey. None of us deserve mercy, but God is merciful and gracious.
Paul expresses how God’s grace has carried him: “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming” (II Tim 4:6-8 – Message). Personally, I have lived through a lot of thrownness in my life. I am so grateful to have gotten through this far and plan to finish strong.
Paul reminds Timothy that God confirmed his calling through all his thrownness: “And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed – keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (II Tim.1:7 – Message). He also encourages Timothy to remember how God has gifted him. “And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed – keep that dusted off and in use” (I Tim. 4:14 – Message).
Finally, Paul encourages Timothy to “hang in” there, fight, and not give up: “Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses” (I Tim. 6:12 – Message). Men, my testimony in the fourth quarter of my life is this: God can take every part of our life and make something out of it all. Let go – and let God use your thrownness.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Elle Purnell recently wrote an interesting article in The Federalist about an earlier interview Emily Blunt had with The Telegraph. Emily may be best known for her lead role in Mary Poppins Returns, but as a Hollywood star, she often plays “tough girl” roles. In the recently released Western miniseries The English, however, she does not play such a role. According to Blunt, “It’s the worst thing ever when you open a script and read the words: ‘strong female lead.'”
Discussing her role in The English, Blunt captured some of the magic of her character as well as some of the magical attributes of womanhood. “I love a character with a secret,” she said. “And I love Cornelia’s buoyancy, her hopefulness, her guilelessness.” Blunt maintains that strong female lead roles are “written as incredibly stoic, you spend the whole time acting tough and saying tough things. Cornelia is more surprising than that. She’s innocent without being naïve and that makes her a force to be reckoned with.”
Blunt has critiqued roles that reduce women to caricatures of men in the past. In a 2015 Vanity Fair interview, she said, “I get [told] a lot, ‘You play a lot of tough female roles,’ but I don’t really see them as tough. I think there are plenty of strong women out there and I don’t think they can be compartmentalized as being one thing. ‘You’re tough.’ What, because I have a gun?”
Purnell then comments, “But there’s nothing empowering about burying a female character’s natural strengths under a tough-dude facade. What is empowering is embracing those natural qualities.” Women have a secret. It’s their “feminine mystique.” Purnell describes mystique as “a fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power surrounding someone or something.” Purnell closes her article with these words: “[Mystique is] the complex, beautiful, powerful, gentle, unyielding nature that we often try to capture with the world ‘femininity.’ And men spend their whole lives trying to figure it out.”
This hearkens to I Peter 3:4-5: “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.” The beauty from within speaks to mystique. While men are more direct, task-oriented, and analytical, the hearts and minds of women are more beautifully intricate. The strength of women doesn’t mimic that of men, but rather has its own character. Those differences between the sexes are designed to complement each other.
My wife, Judy, is “a strong woman.” She continues to challenge me with her Christian character and lifestyle. She is the most consistent believer I know. I say to her daily, “Thank you for putting up with me for all these years.” Without her I would not be the man I am today. She has believed in me, supported me, and encouraged me over 57 years of marriage, while accepting my leadership in our marriage. I know firsthand the mystery of a strong inner spirit that expresses itself in a feminine Christian witness. Judy is “a complete, natural woman” who has learned to live with a “character” like me.
Since my wife exemplifies inner beauty and feminine mystique, I do not need to be convinced of the influence and strength that women can express in a feminine manner. They have a “secret.” Men, my advice is to not try and figure it out. Rather, learn to appreciate it, while enhancing your wife’s ability to express her unique Christian strength.