love

All In

My daughter went to the library this afternoon to study and ended up writing instead. Thank God because I haven’t written anything for NaBloPoMo today.

So, with no ado at all, it is my pleasure to bring you a guest post, written by my daughter, a chip off her momma’s block:

It was years ago on a retreat that I was first challenged to look at the book of Genesis 3 and what it means for women in an entirely new light. In verse 16, in the aftermath of the encounter with the Serpent, God says to Eve, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and He will rule over you.” This is part of the curse of mankind, one of the consequences of that original sin. It is often referenced as a Biblical defense for man’s authority over a woman, but maybe, just maybe, the words aren’t so much a command as they are a prophesy, a foretelling of the way things will play out for humanity. God isn’t commanding husbands to rule over their wives or men to rule over women, He’s acknowledging that the downfall of woman is her desire for man, that throughout time and generations her desperation will lead her away from God down paths of destruction. I see it all the time. I hear it in the stories of the women who come in for counseling at the practice where I intern- it’s one of the strongest and most consistent themes there is. We as women are so prone to live out the sometimes implicit sometimes explicit ideal that it is better to have any man than to not have a man at all. We make a lot of bad choices because of it. We put up with a lot of crap because of it. We open ourselves and those around us up to a world of hurt because of it. We end up in horrible situations we refuse to leave because of it. Man rules over us because we let him.

The new perspective on Genesis takes it one step further to the possibility that God didn’t actually banish Eve from the garden. Chapter 3 verse 23 says, “therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.” Verse 24 continues, “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned over direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Never is the woman mentioned. Never is the pronoun “them” used. No, I don’t know for sure that Eve wasn’t banished. Yes, it is possible that God intended for this curse to be all-encompassing and that His inclusion of woman either goes without saying or got lost in translation. But it seems to me that Eve may have had another option. If Eve was not specifically banished from the garden, she could have stayed with God. And if she could have stayed with God, her separation from Him was a choice. What if the only reason Eve left the garden is because she followed Adam out? I realize that Eve’s sin would have necessitated some sort of separation from God, so I’m not fully convinced that this is the way it all went down, but I think it’s a question worth considering because whether Eve left the garden by choice or not, I believe that we as women do have a choice. We have the option to stay with God, to choose him over men. But it won’t be easy.

There’s nothing wrong with men themselves. They are not the problem, here. Men are wonderful and uniquely created; loved by God and meant to reflect His image just as women are loved by God and meant to reflect His image. In fact, we need both man and woman for the full reflection. Man and woman together make up the complete image. God created man and woman for relationship with each other. He loves marriage and He loves family, so not only is there nothing wrong with men themselves, there’s nothing wrong with the desire for romantic relationships with them. A relationship between a man and a woman who are both following after Christ is a beautiful, sacred thing. But there is something undeniably wrong with consciously or subconsciously putting the desire for a man above all else, forsaking all standards for the sake of having someone to love.

This is my task for the present: not doing that exact thing. I hear God asking me over and over again to stay with Him and I want to more than anything, but it’s hard. It’s hard even for me, who constantly witnesses the disappointment that results from “any man is better than no man” mentality. It’s hard for me, who’s more passionate about standards and choosing good men and never settling than I am about a lot of things. I had an incredible man who was following after Jesus, and now I don’t. I thought the memory of my relationship with him would make it easier to not settle. I know what a good thing looks like now. And yet. Yet, I still struggle with the temptation to settle for the sake of companionship. Most men who show interest don’t phase me. But then there are the men who have something attractive about them, something that resonates with me, though they may not follow Jesus or love Him the way I do. These are the “good” men, though they’re not the godly men. They are the men who have me questioning everything, thinking “not having a partner to have my back is hard” and “maybe I’m being too picky anyway” and “perhaps having a companion is better than not having one.” Wait. No. That’s not right.

This is the mental space where I’ve been fighting and have to keep fighting. A “good” man will never be someone who can walk beside me spiritually or be my partner in ministry. He will never be about the same things, or want to live the same kind of life that I do. I will inevitably sacrifice part of who God has created and called me in joining my life with his. I will inevitably abandon some of my precious intimacy with the Lord in following him. Is it better to have a man like this than to not have one at all? I know the answer is no, but whether motivated by a desire for something as simple as a night out and physical chemistry or as big as assurance of a future that includes marriage and family, the temptation these days is to say yes to this kind of man. Sometimes that yes seems pretty harmless, but I can play the tape to the end. Those paths aren’t for me. I won’t let man rule over me. God is asking me over and over to stay with Him. He’s asking me if I trust Him; if He’s enough. He is. He’s more than enough. I just have to remember that.

#loftyideas  #Itaughthereverythingsheknows  #allin

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family, love

Tender little Hearts

I’m still thinking about the girl from Thursday.

And I’m wondering whether she overheard an adult blithely say of her older brothers, “They’re probably dead by now.”

Not stopping to think about how those words would affect a young heart.

Where else would she have gotten the notion?

Adults may think, She’s adopted now, she is being provided a good life.

And leave it at that.

But her life didn’t begin with the adoption. There were already people residing in her tender little heart when she arrived. People she cannot forget. People to whom her heart is still connected.

And thank God she cannot forget them.

Thank God her heart is still soft.

But I saw a budding hardness in her pleading eyes.

And I’m praying that it will dawn on someone.

That children are not mini adults.

That they need answers and reassurances.

That no information is worse than unfortunate information.

And that we will all be better at respecting and protecting childhood.

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Light

L7

“Pollyanna!,” she spat with sisterly disdain.

But I took it as a compliment.  Every single time she said it.  Because I liked seeing the good in people, in situations and in life.  It beat the heck out of being miserable her.

“You’re not funky enough,”  he said matter-of-factly.

Funky is highly overrated. But I already told you that story.

“It’s easy to embrace heaven and goodness in a safe protected privileged bubble,”  he jabbed.

I found it ironic.   Because not too long ago he told me about a time when he almost drowned.  He was under water in a protected bubble for quite some time.  And he liked it there.  He didn’t want to leave.  But a voice told him to swim toward the light so he did.

So why insist that I leave my protected bubble? Is it just a matter of misery loving company?  “Join the f*ing human race,” he wrote.  Why on earth?

God placed Adam and Eve in a protected bubble.  It was called the Garden of Eden.  To be accurate, the garden was not the bubble – there was danger lurking there – the bubble was the protective warning God gave them.  The one thing He did not want us to have was a knowledge of good and evil.  But Adam and Eve insisted upon it and look what it got them.  Look what it got us.

Immediately after gaining carnal knowledge, Scripture says they were afraid.  An emotion I am guessing they had never experienced before.

Jabber cursed that I am not and never will be an effective counselor because I will not climb down into the pit and embrace the dark side.  I have three things to say about that:

#1  I am not a counselor or therapist.  I’m a wife, mom, and speaker.  And I invite people on retreats now and then to listen to their stories.  Even if I were a professional counselor, I don’t believe climbing into a dark pit would help anyone.  Which leads me to

#2  When I used to lead women (and sometimes men) through post-abortion Bible studies, from time to time someone would ask, “How can you lead these studies since you’ve never had an abortion?”  Usually it was asked in an angry manner by a participant who was going through a rough patch on the road to recovery.  Here’s what I would tell her:  Jesus hasn’t had an abortion either and He’s the One who heals you.

#3  We’ve all heard that FBI agents (or whoever deals in counterfeit $) don’t study counterfeit bills in order to catch counterfeits.  They study the real thing.  Because when you know the real thing inside and out, you can easily spot what is not.

I received a lot of praise and attention from teachers for being smart, for quickly understanding things.  Being smart became a big part of my identity.  Back then, if someone would have insinuated that my understanding and effectiveness were deficient because I hadn’t descended into some dark pit, I might have been tempted to go there just to prove something.  But I have nothing to prove.  My identity isn’t wrapped up in being smart anymore, and I know that going deep does not mean going down into a pit.  It means looking up to heaven, seeing what healthy looks like and aiming myself and others in that direction.

If having a knowledge of good and evil were so stinking important, then God would not have warned against it.

So to that sister who tried to shame me into the pit by saying that I was not as savvy and sophisticated as she was, I say “scram.”  And to the boyfriend who invited me into the pit by implying I’d be more interesting, I say “beat it.  I’ve seen it for what it is.”  And to those wolves in sheep’s clothing playing their sick game, I say “get behind me satan.  Luring me into the pit by insisting I’d be more spiritually complete, further along in my walk with the Lord and more like God may have worked with A & E but it didn’t work with me.”

Call me Pollyanna, call me not funky enough, call me not spiritual enough.  Just don’t call me late for dinner.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness
shall follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever and ever and ever.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

 In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Weaving the Threads.”

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