faith · random robin · womens issues

a life of biblical womanhood

I had to ask myself once, self, why are you so angry? It broke down to something like, I hate being a woman, I hate being Asian, I hate being adopted, I hate being alone, I hate being alive. Nothing like starting a day with some joy and fluffy bunnies, eh?

It wasn’t so long ago that I felt trapped and broken and useless. I had a life that I thought I wanted and said a big screw you to all the traditions and social standards and religious oppressions that I had grown up with. I wanted so much to find happiness in all the things that “they” told me not to chase after – sex, drugs, booze, crime, whatever. It was my prerogative to do what I wanna do.

And it made me angry to think about the years I had spent trying to reconcile all the events of my life, the things done to me, the things I had no control over. I thought about what was given to me as a biblical mandate as a woman, a second class citizen, an afterthought of God, a mistake and the cause of all suffering – this is how the story is often told in our evangelical circles – oppressing women of all ages into this concept of don’t act up or you’re going to burn.

And I, like many many women with my kind of background, rebelled. I would have none of it. I am woman hear me roar. It wouldn’t be until years later, when a woman with a similar upbringing as mine was telling me about how her husband was a jerk and using the whole wives submit to their husbands to oppress her – he didn’t want her to go out to the bar with the girls… she was telling me this at the bar with the girls – that I realized a few things. I might have said, honey, you don’t know what oppression is. Has he ever beat you within an inch of your life for wearing a thong? Did he pour gasoline over you and light a match because you went to school? Did he chop your nose off because you read a book? Did your father cut off your clitoris before you got married? You’re sitting here in a bar with a top that should be a bad joke in a cartoon with more makeup than I own and you are complaining about a man who is home with your two kids playing monopoly. Don’t talk to me about Christian men oppressing any body.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. Of course it does. Of course there is abuse of power in churches across the spectrum. Of course we all know those men who think it’s my way or the highway. Of course there are pastors who preach from the pulpit on Ephesians 5 and stop at verse 24. And we’ve all sat through the talks from women who have “achieved” Proverbs 31 status and are giving us the ten steps toward being as awesome as them.

But more to the point of being a woman is understanding just how much of God’s image we are made in. When God breathed life into Adam, he set him in the midst of couples. You’ve been in that room right. You’re the one single person in the room and you see everyone in various stages of coupledom – those two are newlyweds and can’t stop gooing. The two across the room married since the dark ages, barely recognize that they’re in the same room any more. The two by the drink table are making out because they had a fight on the way over and now see the error of their ways. And you’re sitting there wondering how I am ever going to be whole again.

And it is wholeness to be united. “a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” And what we women get hung up I think is how we feel less than whole until we find the man to unite with.

I get that. I still get that, even as I am preparing for my wedding. It’s our rebellious nature to think that we “completing” any one – that we walk around with this missing piece, like Shel Silverstein’s little sad pie rolling around looking for someone, anyone, please please please, to walk into the picture. It becomes our defense mechanism to say I don’t NEED a man, I don’t HAVE to submit to anyone, I am my own girl.

And our anger points us to something much deeper. Anger always does. It’s a trigger to a gun – and the gun is the more interesting part. The gun is the part that makes the damage happen. And the gun for this anger is about doubt and fear and insecurity. It’s about not trusting a man, or men in general. It’s about ultimately not trusting God or His design. It’s about misunderstanding His design and not getting to His heart.

When a woman starts complaining about her man, it tells so much more about HER than about HIM. Listen next time you and your girlfriends start b*ing about men, and think about what it is EXACTLY you are upset about. What he does, doesn’t do, what he forgot about, how he didn’t do what you asked him or he did exactly what you asked him not to do. Maybe he chose his friend, his career, his recreation before he chose time with you. Maybe he spent more money than he should have. Maybe he got angry with the kids or you and yelled more than he should have. All of these things that trigger your anger, says something about you.

Now I’m not espousing a martyr or victim mentality nor am I blaming wives for every failure on the part of their husbands. But maybe that’s exactly what I’m getting at in the first place. You are not responsible for anyone’s actions. You have no control over any one else. And maybe you are angry about the lack of control. Maybe you are angry because your expectation hasn’t been met. You are mad that you aren’t the one calling the shots. You don’t believe your husband is making good decisions and you don’t trust him to head up your household. Maybe you don’t feel like he loves and appreciates you for all you do for him and it becomes a contest of who brings more to the table of this marriage anyway.

And it always boils down to pride. It boils down to wanting what is due me. It boils down to demanding my rights and collecting on all your debts to me. And you better believe I’m keeping an account. And there it is. We’re back at keeping lists, checklists, accounts, who/ what/ when /where and why. And we know that when you start with lists and rules, you only end up with shortcomings, failures and missed expectations. Which always pull the trigger.

I say disarm. Let it go. Don’t keep the gun loaded. Put it away. There is no record of wrongs. My life is not my own and I don’t need to carry this anger around with me, concealed or out in plain view. God created me a woman, a helper, an ally in war, a warrior in battle, a reserve army, a wise counsel and a shrewd dealer. (Not a shrew.) When we are focused on who we are, what we are made for, the glory of God’s good design seen more perfectly and beautifully in us, we find that all our defenses are pushed aside and we rest in Him. He is our only true defense any way. And when He is for us, what can man do to us?

I didn’t mean that to sound quite so combative… well, maybe I did.

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