My reality is shifting faster than I can tap-dance. Who will I be at the end of this scramble? What IS the plan? I suspect that I am better off knowing less, and trusting more.
I am afraid of the thoughts that I think, and the things that I believe. I am ashamed of my own cowardice, which looks the woman in the mirror in the face, and says, “You can’t think that thought. If you think that thought, you will never be the same, again. If you fully realize that reality, you can never go back.”
And yet, I am being called into the light of reality, and truth. Scratch that. I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the glaring light of a really messed up reality. My head longs for the sand, but somehow, it has turned to concrete, and rejects my advances. My eyes are squeezed shut, my ears stopped up by my own fingers, and STILL, I hear the Voice, because it comes from within. “You have always seen these things. It’s time to stop hiding from them.”
I am horrified every time someone tells me how much they respect my honesty, my transparency, my lack of guile. If they only knew. I am only as honest with you as I am with myself, and there are vast tracks of the land of myself into which I have not yet dared to tread.
My prayer is, “Not yet, not so fast!”
The Voice says, “The Telos of all things is At Hand. Because of this, be sober and diligent in prayer.”
And I beg, “Please, please, may I only believe the comfortable things? May I only face the Truth that costs me little to nothing?”
And even as I ask, I know the Truth. The answer is, “No.”
The Truth will cost me Everything. It demands my all, my unswerving loyalty. My head is turned toward the field. My hand is reaching toward the plow. I know that this is a one-way decision. There is no turning back. So, I dance my tap-dance, one step forward, two steps back, weaving side-to-side, and beg the Voice, the Hound, to be patient.
I don’t believe in facts, or objective reality. They don’t independently exist. I am not impressed with your empirical evidence, or what the most recent research shows to be “true.” All this to say, I am neither an Empiricist, nor a Materialist. There are realities that we simply cannot fathom.
I do NOT believe in the scientific method as a valid way to arrive at TRUTH, though it is a very useful way to collect knowledge and information that leads to greater technology. Basically, our manipulation of nature increases our ability to manipulate nature.
Science is useful. It is NOT all-knowing. Yesterday’s big breakthrough is today’s embarrassment. (Trans-fatty acids, anyone?) And yet, over and over, the “facts” are presented to me, via advertisements, articles, well-meaning friends and family, as though they are unchanging and should somehow hold sway over my decisions.
I have never lived this way. I don’t intend to start now. The facts, and what is “scientifically possible” have just never factored into my personal reality. For better or worse, I live by Faith in the Unseen. So far, it’s worked out for me pretty well. If you want to change my mind, or to teach me, don’t bother with a list of statistics, because I will simply stare blankly at you, wondering, “who funded THAT study, and what are they trying to sell me, exactly?”
Research, not so very long ago, showed that women shouldn’t breastfeed.
An empirical, scientific approach to childbirth has us reporting skyrocketing c-section rates, and one of the worst maternal-fetal outcome rates in the developed world.
Studies once showed that smoking is good for your health.
Coffee has been shown to both save your life, and to kill you, depending upon who paid for the research, and whether or not they love coffee.
Frankly, science, or empirical evidence is subject to the will of the observer. I have taken quizzes and surveys in the fairly recent past that are obviously intended to manipulate me into saying what the researcher wants to report as statistically “true.”
A couple of examples, paraphrased from memory:
“Do you think that the UN should come on American soil, and rob us of our Second Amendment Rights?”
“If a man gives a woman an expensive engagement ring, and asks to marry her, in the hopes of having sex with her, is it sex for money?”
I’m not deceived by this rhetoric, and you shouldn’t be, either.
Have you ever noticed that scriptures, no matter what religion you adhere to, are written as stories? This world, and our life in it, is not a grand experiment. It is a love story. I choose to live life in the narrative; I live amongst miracles.
When I was 6 years old, my mother was murdered, in Canada, where I was a citizen. Her murderers produced a “Will,” leaving me to their custody. My American aunt and uncle fought for me, and were awarded “temporary custody.” I never went back to Canada, or those people.
As a child, I dragged one leg, then learned to walk crookedly, and finally, to fake a “normal” walk. My left leg, it turns out, was an inch shorter than the right. Due to forcing myself to walk unnaturally, I had chronic pain in that leg throughout my life. There were days, in college, that I just couldn’t face the walk to classes, and I stayed in my dorm. Eight years ago, a completely crazy-appearing evangelist from Africa prayed for my leg, and it grew. I felt it happen. And I don’t hurt anymore. I hike.
In college, my husband and I set aside conventional wisdom, and started our family our senior year. Our original plan, and the advice we received right and left, was to wait until we finished our educations, and paid off our loans. Today, and 6 kids later, we have never suffered want. We haven’t collected the toys that are advertised on television, but that’s okay, ’cause we don’t have cable, so we don’t know what we’re missing.
I have given birth to 6 children without a single medical intervention. I believe in my body’s ability to do more than even I think it can. My first birth was long, and complicated, and we made decisions that, according to a scientific view, should have guaranteed my death. (I don’t recommend those choices, but I am grateful to be alive.)
Almost 2 years ago, our marriage was in crisis. Today, we are in love, and more importantly, we are best friends, because we believed that we could overcome the statistics, and that WE were worth fighting for.
Today, I believe that I can be whole, and healthy, and strong. I believe that God designed my body to heal, and to overcome challenges. I don’t care what the statistics show. I don’t care that the science claims that my illnesses are chronic and progressive. My experience has taught me that I am growing stronger every day. I have no reason to believe that I will stop healing. I believe that my Creator knows better than the scientists, no matter how well-meaning those scientists may be, and that if I earnestly seek YHWH’s wisdom, it will be given to me, including how to be whole.
Your reality is not my reality, and mine is not yours. But we all want to believe that our truth is The TRUTH. I see this all the time with my children. Two children, in the same place, doing the same thing, at the same time, and having the same conversation, will remember it in two different ways. They are BOTH telling the truth, because our reality is not objective. MOST of what they experience is actually their own thoughts and emotions during the event. They will argue endlessly for their point of view, because to them, it simply IS. Like my children, I would rather die fighting, and believing, than laying down, and settling for someone else’s reality. I have the maturity, however, to realize that mine is not the only reality. Reality is BIG.
Please, don’t bore me with facts. They are too small. The Truth is in the Story.
“You know, she doesn’t shave her legs…”
“What? I just wanted him to know what he’s getting into…”
This conversation happened just after my first official date with the man who became my husband roughly 6 months later. Needless to say, I was mortified.
In a way, I still am. Why is the state of my leg hair of such critical importance?
Because it is. In American culture, female hair is a really big deal. Just stop, for one moment, and think about just how much money and time goes into managing, or removing hair from various parts of the female anatomy. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
Leg hair, as it turns out, is a big deal to me. A really big deal. God put it on me. Why should I be expected to remove it? But then, those Barbies I played with as a child had long, slender, monochromatic limbs, free from messy little growths. They shone. They were beautiful.
I have long, slender legs. With a good tan, they used to look quite a bit like Barbie legs. Now that I’m in my thirties, I am beginning to notice irritating imperfections, like stretch marks and little purple spider veins.
Wait a minute. Why am I even LOOKING at my legs? Ugh.
Because we all do. I watched a children’s movie tonight with my family, and I was stunned by the number of shots of women’s LEGS, smooth, hairless, slender, toned legs, that were displayed. Did I mention that this was a CHILDREN’s movie? Oh, how effectively my offspring are being indoctrinated.
It makes me angry.
Asa was right. When I met my husband, I didn’t shave my legs. My relationship with hair removal has been on-again, off-again. Literally.
At the ripe old age of 12, I started begging for the “right” to shave my legs. It was the way things were, according to the fashion magazines I read, the puckered and plucked women I saw on TV, and the pretty, popular girls in school.
But there were always the women who didn’t. And they fascinated me. How could a woman walk around, especially in a bathing suit, as I saw some do, with clearly visible leg and armpit hair? Where did they get such confidence? Where did they get such a counter-cultural self-image? Were they dirty? Didn’t they notice “everyone” staring?
When I left my hometown, I generally stopped seeing “hairy” women. And, over the years, I noticed that, when I was least confident, I was most groomed. During my most abusive dating relationship, I found myself obsessively concerned with always presenting a perfectly groomed, nearly hairless physique. It gave me pause. My feelings toward my leg and body hair reflected my feelings toward myself. By the time Aaron and I began dating, I had laid down my razor, and promised myself a level of self-acceptance that I was, frankly, incapable of maintaining.
You see, I was raised on Barbie, and 17 magazine. (I begged for them.) I grew up listening to completely sexualizing music. I wanted to see myself as something amazing, but deep down, a picture of myself as a mere sex object reigned.
So, when it was time to get married, I got out the wax. If I wax my legs, I’m not shaving, right? After wax, I tried an old-school, metal coil epilator, those little sandpaper pads that abrade hair off of your body, sugaring, harsh chemicals that burned the hair off, and more. I guess I was pretty worried about not being “enough.” You see, my husband was raised on those same images of femininity, the ones that demand a perfectly sculpted figure, smooth, flawless skin, and dear god, don’t grow hair anywhere but the top of your head, and your eyelashes. For those, absurdly long and thick would be best.
So, for the last 14 years or so, I’ve shaved, waxed, and plucked my way through life. My irritation with the entire concept of hair removal regularly rears its head, and my husband is stuck trying to snuggle up to a very prickly woman, as I let the shaving of my legs slip, again and again.
Recently, my family and I moved back to my hometown. And I am seeing hairy women, again. I see women with leg hair. I see women with armpit hair. I see women who are aging gracefully, with long, thick braids of hair, in their natural colors, shot through with white. I see fit, shapely, happy women, who are unashamed of the way their body was designed to behave.
I stare at them.
I stare at their legs, and try to decide if they’re beautiful, or horrifying. I stare at their armpits, and wonder, if I let mine go, how much would my own armpit hair show? And, would I get terrible body odor?
I stare at these women, and pray they don’t notice. I watch them with a fascination that might make some doubt my sexual orientation.
I don’t want to have sex with these women. I want to be one of them. But I’m afraid of the stares, probably of women like me. Women who are envious. Women whose addiction to a razor feels like a compromise of their true selves. Why should I have to spend hours a week removing the hair God put on my body?
And, what if I stop?
There are two women inside of me. One is an overcomer, who fights her way over and through any obstacle to seize victory and joy, wearing them as a breastplate and crown. The other is a pessimist, a conspiracy theorist, who thinks that the universe and everyone in it is against her. Every day, I carefully choose to feed the Overcomer, and starve the Pessimist.
Some people make the opposite choice, becoming more and more negative over time. Sometimes I wonder if part of starving my pessimist means asking them to knock it off, or leave me alone! Our companions shape us; we adopt their language, and their mannerisms. We become convinced of their worldview.
I’ve eliminated several human black holes from my life. I can’t withstand their energy and faith-sucking abilities. Others are on the block, awaiting the axe, because they JUST DON’T GET IT!
Here’s the deal. Every day, I see, hear, meet people who are AMAZING. They rise above their circumstances. They embrace the blessings that are reserved for those who overcome. They love, they laugh, and they cry. They press on.
And every day, I see blessed, healthy, intelligent people who have EVERYTHING, and still complain. They make me want to tear my ears off so I can’t hear them, to gouge my eyes out so that I can’t read their incessant moaning.
I appears to me that happiness, gratefulness and optimism are reserved for those who have endured.
The most sexually well-adjusted women I know, women who helped me to see my value and beauty, have endured marriages that ended due to their husbands’ infidelity. These women have overcome. I salute them.
I know cancer survivors, and people who live with devastating, chronic illnesses, who push themselves to run races, to climb mountains, and to dance. These friends have overcome. I salute them.
I know couples who have endured seasons of virtual hatred, of dead libidos, of bankruptcy, of extreme illness, and loved on. These couples have overcome. I salute them.
When I was younger, I did job training and oversight for handicapped individuals, and learned that those who fight the hardest for a job appreciate it the most. I worked in an assisted living facility, and learned that grateful people age gracefully, becoming more and more beautiful. Joyful people don’t age. They ripen.
All of these positive people amaze me. I want to be this amazing. And I think I’m on my way. I DEMAND it of myself. Failure is not an option.
I am the ultimate optimist. I’ve seen how bad life can get, so I know how good it really is. I had a teacher in high school once ask me, “Why do you compliment yourself?” to which I replied, “Well, I’m certainly not going to wait around for you to do it!” I had already learned that she was not an optimist. One should never wait around for something positive to come out of someone negative. It’s pointless.
And in case you think I’ve never suffered, think again.
I’ve been abandoned, orphaned, exported, rejected, abused, molested, assaulted, manipulated, and scorned. I’ve been chronically ill, perpetually malnourished, and clinically depressed. I was raised in a graceless, fatalistic religion, and taught that I wouldn’t live past the age of 24, because the Anti-Christ was going to take over the world any day now, and then Jesus would come rapture us all away in the year 2000. I’ve been slandered, and libeled, and misunderstood. I’ve internalized others’ hatred, and made it my own. I’ve pondered the headache relief offered by a bullet to the brain.*
But I choose to remember the positive, and to make it my future:
I’ve been protected, hidden, imported, accepted, hugged, kissed, rewarded, pleasured, and loved. I’ve found the key to my health, and been given the resources and skills to turn it. I was raised in a religion that taught me to read the Bible, and it turns out that all that other crap isn’t even in there. I’ve been praised, rewarded, and unconditionally supported. I’ve had endless opportunities presented to me, because other people saw untapped potential in me that I couldn’t even see in myself. I have overcome, and my life is blessed.
Your life is what you make it. Your challenges are steps to a brighter future. So, don’t whine at me when your legs hurt. At least you can climb!
I am alive, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Every positive thing you ever hear me say is a battle cry. This is me, demanding victory of myself, of my God, and of the Universe. Every setback has given me new growth to attain. To whom much is given, much is required. I figure that if God made me this strong, then She/He must have a really big job for me to do. Here’s to taking on LIFE, and that MORE ABUNDANTLY!
* This is not a current issue, at all. And yes, I promise to make sure my doctor reads this. It won’t be news to her.
Things are never what they seem. People tell you that, but what they fail to mention is that usually, things are better than they seem.
In the moment, it’s so easy to get discouraged. In the moment, it’s almost inevitable that I’ll get overwhelmed.
In the moment, I can only see about 1% of the total picture.
When will I learn to relax, and wait for the other 99% to unfold?
I know that I’d certainly live longer if I did!
So here’s to every challenge I’ve ever faced, and every disappointment I’ve ever mourned. Here’s to every snub, real or imagined. Here’s to the things that make me stronger. And here’s to the God who works them all out for my good.
Good morning, beautiful, messy, hard, vibrant, fulfilling life! What mountains shall we climb, today? And who’s coming with us?
(Note: This post has been modified, via the comments. Sometimes, things are much better than they seem! In my experience, this is USUALLY the case….)
I went to church this morning. Please forgive the jumbled blog post. I’m still recovering.
My family and I arrived an hour late, and then my “things must always be as I expect them to be” son had a near-total breakdown over the fact that our messy crate of McCall notebooks, pens, crayons, and child-amusing toys had disappeared from its former place in the back of the sanctuary.
I can’t blame anyone for removing the eyesore. We had been absent for months.
Going back, even for half a service, was much harder than I anticipated. I was clobbered by anxiety and fear as I combed my hair, and changed out of my Betty Boop, “Naughty Girls get Nice Gifts” t-shirt and short black skirt into jeans and a conservatively cut sweater. The sweater was, for the record, bright orange. I still had my spark, but not my sense of humor, it seems.
The fact is that I am afraid of church ladies.
There, I said it. That being said, I know that even feeling that way is a judgmental attitude on my part. The very label, “church ladies,” hearkens back to a not-nice-at-all SNL skit. And, the fact is that a couple of my dearest friends (women, even!) were there this morning, and they have continued to be my friends, and to maintain those relationships whether or not I show up to the same building that they do on Sunday mornings.
Our pastor hugged me, bright orange sweater and all. He would have hugged me in my Betty Boop T-shirt, I’m pretty sure. I’m also pretty sure that he would have been answering to some church ladies if he had. But, now I’m judging. Again.
I judge people whom I perceive as being judgmental, and this makes me judgmental. And then I judge myself. What a mess I turn out to be!
When we showed up, our pastor was preaching about who the Accuser of the Brethren is, and not being like him. He was encouraging humility, and being willing to get kicked in the teeth when you get down low, and humble yourself. He spoke about how often being a Christian in America seems to be all about accusing others, and how wrong that is. He encouraged us to love unconditionally.
A few people did reach out. I appreciated each one, and then a few of the ladies beat a hasty exit, refusing to even glance in my direction. I expected that, and coming in the first place was an act of humbling myself. This afternoon, my teeth hurt. There’s at least a chance that they each had a pressing engagement, and simply had to leave. But I’m a bit over-sensitive at church, and a smile and a wave on your way out the door doesn’t take any time at all.
The fact is, though, that they probably have no idea what an effort it is for me to show up on Sunday morning. They have no idea that they have the power to hurt me. They’re running to protect themselves. They run because my family’s continued absence has made them feel rejected, judged and scorned. At least, I’d like to believe that. It hurts less than the alternative theories I could manufacture.
I have a long history of making church ladies (and men) VERY uncomfortable.
As a teen whose physical dimensions resembled a Barbie Doll’s, I listened to my pastor rail against young women who tempt men with their bodies, and I learned to walk with my shoulders hunched. I learned to wear baggy clothes until I grew up and away from them.
As a recent college grad, with a degree in Classical Studies and Religion, I learned that “conservative” country churches don’t appreciate women who are educated, and have opinions. Especially about God, or childrearing.
As a young mother, I learned that nursing, even discreetly, at church will create such a maelstrom of gossip and upset amongst the women of a “liberal” church that the pastor will call you and explain that you are a terrifying woman, and you’d better stop hurting his sheep.
And as a new business-woman, who felt called to fight the colossal mess that sexual relationships and marriages in our culture and churches have become by fighting the Madonna-Whore complex with every ounce of my being, I discovered that my pastor is amazing. He’s not threatened by female sexuality, me, or what I do. He floors me.
And church ladies are still church ladies, because the face says, “we support you,” but the actions, and the several complaining calls to said pastor last summer say otherwise. Frankly, I don’t know how to respond. The women who are my friends outside of church are still that, and both their faces, and their actions agree.
“We love you.”
“We support you.”
I believe them. And I know that my pastor wants so desperately to see his whole church that way. He wants to believe that we are all loving, accepting, etc. He is NOT the Accuser of the Brethren. That’s certain. I’ve never met a more accepting, yet call-you-on-your-bullshit man in my life. And he says, “WE support you.” In my limited understanding, he’s the first pastor to really try. (Except for James Reist. Dr. Reist, who baptized our first son, is also amazing.)
I meet women every week, men too, who need someone like that in their lives. I need more people like that in my life. We all need to be loved unconditionally, and told to get our shit together, too. But the Sunday morning mask-fest, where we all pretend to be something we’re not, and complain to the pastor when someone steps out of line, is not the place to bring them.
I know that much of my discomfort at church is because, in a group so small, “several” complaining calls is significant. I know that much of it is because of my history in churches. And I know that maybe, just maybe, I am supposed to humble myself, and let them kick me in the teeth. Half of me wants to climb on stage and demand that they just get the stoning over with. (Except that I’m pretty sure things are split about down the middle, and I’d just be creating a rift so large that the community itself might disintegrate. Or maybe it’s egotism that makes me think that they care enough, either way.) The other half of me wants to run away, so that I don’t have to, once again, be the woman who makes people at church uncomfortable. None of me wants to put on my shiny happy mask, pretend that I enjoyed seeing everyone, and then call to complain to the pastor when I get home.
No, I didn’t enjoy church this morning. Yes, I could tell that my casual, honest comments to a couple of people felt like slaps in the face. The avoidance of others felt like a slap in my own. The whole experience inspired me to don my running shoes. (Of course, Aaron can be VERY persuasive. He got me to church this morning, and if he so chooses, he’ll get me there again, I’m sure.)
Yes, I knew that the friends whom I see away from church, too, were genuinely happy to see me. And my pastor gave me the world’s longest hug. He can feel me pulling back; he sees my family and I slipping away. I don’t know what to tell him. He’s doing all he can, but the entire institution of church in America seems to be at odds with him.
He’s right. Being the Accuser of the Brethren is the American way of Church. And I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I was raised in it, and I don’t know how to get free from it, except to stay away from church. But in doing so, I am judging those I leave behind. I’m deciding that they judge me. I haven’t asked them, either. As soon as the church ladies called the pastor, instead of me, I categorized them as people who don’t really love or accept me, at all. Judge not, that you be not judged? Yeah, I fail at that. Judgment, it seems, is a web, and we’re all caught in its sticky strands.
I need a sign. I need a big, flashing, neon sign over my head, that says, “Please do not feed the AmberDawn.” I’ve been poisoned twice in 12 days. Each glutening costs me a week of my life, so at the moment, I’m losing the majority of my days to pain and weakness. I’m about to file for a divorce from my once-true-love, food.
I love to eat. I love food. Not so very long ago, I categorized myself as a “foodie.” Cookbooks were my favorite reading material. I loved watching the Food network, but only at friends’ houses. I didn’t dare to get cable, because I knew I’d never leave the couch. The food porn would bind me there.
Two short years ago, I spent half of my day in the kitchen, concocting new, healthy recipes. I wrote a blog full of recipes. I was sought out by friends and acquaintances for advice on traditional foods, sources of local produce, dairy and meat. I headed up a group that imported barely-legal raw milk from a neighboring town, in glass, gallon jars. I was civilly disobedient, and opposed to all foods unnatural and unhealthy. I ranted against genetically modified crops, and the evils of the industrial food complex. I fermented my own kombucha, and my own sauerkraut. I ground my own, local wheat, and made beautiful, braided loaves of homemade sourdough bread for Shabbat.
The wonderful, healthy, nourishing food nearly killed me.
The day I finally figured out what was “wrong” with me, I was kneading my last-ever loaf of bread. As I prepared the dough, I felt myself grow weaker, and my head began to pound. I got dizzy, and confused. I called my doctor. I love my doctor. She is also my friend. She listens, and cares. “AmberDawn, you’re celiac….”
I had no idea what that meant. 18 months later, I’m getting an inkling.
Tonight, I’m accepting a new level of truth. I cannot eat your food. I know that you love me. I know that you are careful. I know that fidelity requires eating together, but I must refrain.
I realized, tonight, that this is not a matter of good manners, anymore. I cannot keep affirming my love for others by risking illness for myself. I’m beyond frustration. I’ve conquered self-loathing. I’m ready to love myself and others enough to say, “Please do NOT feed the AmberDawn.”
I deserve to be healthy, just for me, but I’m not making this decision for myself, alone. I am making it for my friends and relatives, who don’t deserve the pain or embarrassment of knowing that they slipped up and poisoned me. I’m making this decision for my children, who deserve to have a functional, loving mother, rather than a zombie.
I’m making this decision for my husband, who is right now doing dishes, while I lie on the couch. His burden is too heavy, tonight. I can tell that he’s frustrated, and more than a little afraid. In my strength, we’ve arranged our whole life to require two fully-engaged partners, who both work to support us, who both parent, who both clean. We’ve made decisions based on my strength, and he’s made space, professionally, for me to pursue my education and career.
I’m lying on the couch, because I can hardly sit up. We both deserve better than this. This problem can and will be prevented. I will no longer eat anything, unless I know that I know that I know that it is safe.
I can’t come to your house for dinner. I won’t share your snacks.
Perhaps I could interest you in a glass of wine? Tonight, I think it’s time to take a little for my stomach, and a decision to be healthy, and to choose true love over empty “manners” is worth drinking to. Cheers.
You have no idea what you have done for me. Your face is still lingering in my memory.
Regal, undeniably sexy, attractive even to me, you sat at my table. Your smile was knowing, your eyes had seen much. I wanted to sit at your feet, and soak up your wisdom.
Your shoulders were held back; your head was held high. You owned the room. Your clothing was subdued, yet spoke of quality, not fads. Your hair was softly curled around your smiling face. You had nothing left to prove.
All around us, young, vibrant girls of 19, and 25, perhaps, buzzed. Their clothing was the latest fashion. Their makeup was flawless. Their figures were without a roll or stretchmark. They looked one another up, then down, comparing. They fretted, smoothed, adjusted to hide each flaw.
And you smiled at me, knowing.
We were something beyond these children.
And your smile at me was an honor.
And you changed me.
You dear woman. I love you. I wish sincerely that I had asked you for your name, for your number. But perhaps I am wrong. You have done your work, here.
And you are not alone. You are joined by others, your fellow sages, who appear to me, silently, confidently, displaying the grace that comes with age and experience. I will never look back. Like you, I will age well, like a fine, red wine. My boldness transformed to richness and complexity.
Like Sophia Loren, and other gracefully aging beauties, you have given me a reason to look forward, not back. I cannot ever be those children, again. But someday, I hope to be one of you. I am eager for that day. The day that I, like you, become regal.
I am angry. This anger burns in me, feels like a lump in my throat, and a tremble in my core. I want to pick up the phone, and make a man cry. I want to make him sob with remorse. But he won’t. Calling him out on his lies will simply confirm his fear and hatred of women. He will wonder how my husband let me get so out of control.
He’s a liar, and a cheat. He’s an abuser, and an enabler. Tonight, I sincerely hate him, and I want to pray Psalms of vengeance at him. But I realize that this one man, this one Pastor, is just one of so very many. My anger at him is misdirected. He is WRONG, and I think he may, in fact, be evil. But he’s just a pawn. He believes his own lies. At least, Dear God in Heaven, I hope that he does, or his Evil is beyond my ability to understand.
In the Messiah’s time, Pastors were called Teachers of the law, or Pharisees. About them, he said:
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. –Matthew 23:4
I’ve never met this man. I do not know his name. It’s better for us both, this way.
I do know that women come to his church, and are bound in strips of legalism that tear their skin, that make them bleed until they are shells. I have watched one, vibrant woman slowly die before my eyes, assisted by her husband, supported by their pastor. I met another woman this past week into whom this pastor had just sunk his talons. Thanks to his influence, she had nearly violated her own restraining order against a dangerous man. I pray to God that I set her free. Please, dear God, don’t ever let her go back to that church!
Psalm 94 says:
20 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
one that brings on misery by its decrees?
These men, these pastors. Their teaching is corrupt. And I have watched them make women miserable all of my life!
Dear God! These men are why I can no longer call myself a Christian.
You brood of vipers! I will not identify myself with you! I will not follow your rules! I will NOT BE SILENT WHILE YOU CRUSH WOMEN’S SOULS!
Or in the words of Psalm 94, again:
1 O LORD, the God who avenges,
O God who avenges, shine forth.
2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
3 How long will the wicked, O LORD,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
4 They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
5 They crush your people, O LORD;
they oppress your inheritance.
6 They slay the widow and the alien;
they murder the fatherless.
I do, I must hope and believe that there is a change on the horizon. That the men who beat women down, and bind them in self-hatred and fear for all of their lives will, finally, be exposed for the charlatans they don’t know that they are.
Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.–Psalm 94:15
But I cannot fight this battle by myself. I know that there are others, somewhere, who see this evil. Women who, like me, have seen the rampant infidelity rates among the clergy. Or, perhaps we should discuss the molestation?
Tonight, I’m mad because all of my life, I have watched and listened to Christian clergy support and enable abusive men. I have listened to them accuse and manipulate women into believing that they deserve to be abused, that they are Eve.
We are NOT EVE! We are Chavah! And I know, dear men in religious power, that your power is an addiction, and you’re afraid to let it go. That’s okay. Just keep telling abused women to go back to violent men. Keep lying to women about what scripture teaches, in order to secure your own, superior position in their eyes. Keep abusing that position. Just keep telling young girls that they are stumbling blocks. Make them ashamed of their beautiful curves. Just keep right on cheating on your wives, and convincing them it’s for their own good. I dare you. You have been given plenty of rope, and the noose has been forming for millennia.
I will tell them the truth. And we will rise. And Chavah will be revealed. The image of God was made flesh in TWO parts, male and FEMALE. Your religion is crippled, because you’re missing half of the picture. You’ve abandoned the Breasted one, the All-Sufficient, El Shaddai. She will be reflected. Women will see the image of God in the mirror, once again.
You can peddle your andro-centric view of Divinity for a little while longer, because this war is too big for me to win, alone.
Meanwhile, I wonder if anyone else sees. Even better, I wonder if anyone else is willing to fight. And I wonder, where are the true, courageous, good men, who could stand with us, and put a stop to the lies, once and for all?
Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?—from Psalm 94
Here are some, random, poetic thoughts on all of the things I don’t say.
Prose, you fail me.
Straight words would be too much.
This Truth is too sharp, too quick.
You will cut them.
Poetry, I call to you.
Your curves are luscious.
I long to sink into your softness.
You will comfort.
Death, I defy you.
Chains, you will break.
Fear, I bind you.
Cage, you are empty.
Life, I bring you.
Light, you will shine.
Freedom, I share you.
Path, you are mine.
Slowly, gently, I will undress you
And they will see
God, give me the patience
To savor that which I long to gulp.
I will drink of this cup
slowly, lest it return.
We will be free.