Divorce, Grief, LEARNING JOURNEYS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

JESUS LISTENED TO WOMEN ABUSED BY THE PATRIARCHIAL SYSTEM

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WOMEN HE REDEEMED

Jesus must have known and understood the abuse, lack of value and respect as well as the generational trauma that women had to endure, that was the result of the old system when he sought out the women whose stories are told in the New Testament. In his book “The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels, “ Frank Viola gives voice to these women’s stories from their perspective of living in the cultural context of that time. Although the stories have been fictionalized the context was thoroughly researched.

THE ADULTRESS

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The woman ‘caught’ in adultery, had a back story too. Abused by her husband she was vulnerable to the plans of others. Nowhere do we hear of the man, because Jesus knew this was a ‘set-up’ job to trip him up. When you read this story, do you take then words at face value and not think about the person behind the words? Everyone has a back story, but women’s voices were silenced in the system they lived in, and they were vulnerable to the abuse of others.

THE SINFUL WOMAN

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“The ‘sinful woman (prostitute)’ who had entered into Simon the Pharisee’s house uninvited, while he was entertaining Jesus. She stood behind Jesus and broke open her alabaster jar of perfume anointing him, and with her tears and hair washed Jesus’ feet. What was her back story? As a rejected, abused, or single woman she had little choice in earning her living, but Jesus never condemned her he used her as an example of love and compassion to the hard-hearted, legalist Pharisees who had not washed his feet when he entered their house. When do we hold the shield of propriety and the Law as a shield to prevent people from encountering Jesus?

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN

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The Samaritan woman was yet another example of how a woman who had had unfortunate marital experiences was forced into further difficulties by the patriarchal system, that used women for their own ends. In using her back story Jesus was able to not only redeem her but use her to bring others to Him, a missionary to the Samaritans. Even his disciples were aghast that he should be sitting talking to a Samaritan woman alone. Jesus was willing to risk his reputation in front of his best friends to bring redemption to this woman.

THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD

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The woman with blood issues fell afoul of the purification laws that kept her isolated from others and in a poor and weak state of health. Her desperation led her to reach out to touch this Jesus she had heard about to help her when she was untouchable by anyone else in her society. I was so touched at the compassion of Jesus for this woman who was desperate. So many women live in desperate situations, which force them to act in ways that they would not need too if the laws and the judgements of others had compassion for their situation and helped them instead of isolating them.

MARY OF BETHANY

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Mary of Bethany’s story opened me to a completely new perspective on her. I had always considered her to be the ‘saint’ in the story as I had been told it. Her backstory was one of poor self-image and comparison to her siblings. Martha, her older sister was blessed with the gift of hospitality, as was her late mother. Lazarus, her brother, was a handsome and gregarious young man, and her father a man full of faith and goodness whom Jesus had healed of leprosy. Mary never felt she was enough, she felt an outsider, a thinker, the different one, only fit to mull over matters of the heart, with no gifts or talents that were useful or apparent. She broke convention sitting at Jesus feet as a woman, yet Jesus commended her as he could read her heart and knew she was near the Kingdom he was teaching the others about. She later generously used up her jar of spikenard perfume to anoint Jesus and was accused of being ‘wasteful’ by one of the disciples. For someone who had found their self-worth restored by Jesus, that was very hurtful.

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The different backstories on each of these women, that have been researched and brought into context of the times they were living in, although fictionalized still point to the very character of God and Jesus as being a supporter of the widows, the orphans, the aliens, oppressed and underprivileged. These women if they lived today would still more than likely be marginalized because of the systems that kept them in their circumstances, often play out into lives of women today. What systems can you think of that would affect these women today? Do you know of any women who have been unjustly treated because of their circumstances or the things that have been done to them? How can we be like Jesus to them?

These women if they had lived today would still more than likely be marginalized because of the systems that kept them in their circumstances, often play out into the lives of women today”

I have really enjoyed reading these books and listening to the sermons that have highlighted God’s compassionate redeeming love for abused and marginalized women. I have written reviews for both the books I have researched, if you wanted to read them for yourself. “Women of the Bible Speak Out” by Marlo Schalesky and “The Day I Met Jesus” by Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth.  The Sermons can be found on YouTube Christ City Church.

If you have not yet read the first part of this story it can be found here Jesus Listened to Women

Home » Widowhood

Divorce, Grief, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, LEARNING JOURNEYS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

JESUS LISTENED TO THE WOMEN’S VOICES OF THOSE IN HIS GENEALOGY

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The sermon series run in our church during Advent highlighted the women in Jesus’ genealogy.  This is probably the first time I have heard these women being honored as part of Jesus genealogy. As I sat and listened to their stories, I wondered why I had not heard their point of view before. As an explorer of ideas and concepts, it struck me that preachers were generally male, the times the stories were written in were times of the patriarchal order and systems when women were not considered important other than to be breeders of children to carry on the male line. Being barren was the worst fate to befall a woman in those days. Women’s voices in general had been shut down or downplayed. Yet they carried the inner scars in the cells in their bodies and carried their generational trauma forward to the next generation.

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I then read a book on five women’s encounters with Jesus where their stories were told. Tears filled my eyes as I read of the compassion, lack of judgement and redemption for each of these women. At the same time, I felt He was redeeming the stories of the women in his genealogy, healing the generational trauma in their bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits. Jesus heard their cries for someone to listen to their story.

I will give a brief outline to the stories of the women in Jesus’ genealogy in this blog post and the stories of the five women that Jesus brought wholeness to in the following blog post as I want you to have time to think about these women and their back stories, how you viewed them in the past and what you may feel about them now you have viewed them from a different perspective.

BEFORE JESUS WAS BORN – HIS GENEALOGY

Tamar

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Tamar was a Canaanite woman that Judah married to first one son then another. When both sons died without progeny, Judah did not do what was demanded of him by the same custom as he married his sons to Tamar, to marry her to another son or find her a husband. She felt rejected and discarded, and her dignity stripped when Judah told her to go to her parents’ house and live as a widow. She used her own initiative with the only possibility open to her, that of a prostitute. Judah went to the prostitute and slept with her. The child born from that encounter was Perez, part of the genealogy of Jesus. I have never heard a sermon explain why Judah went to a prostitute! But he said, “She is more righteous than I,” eventually giving her the recognition that he should have done at first. Read the laws in Deuteronomy 25:5 and 26:12, Judah had broken both those laws as the Tamar was also a ‘stranger’ in the land.

Rahab

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Joshua sent two spies out to,” Go, look out the land,” They ended up in Jericho at a prostitute’s house! Now that part of the story was explained to me in the past: what were they doing there instead of looking out at the land! Yet, Rahab is part of the genealogy of Jesus she was the mother of Boaz. James said, “was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” By preserving the lives of the spies, for whatever reason she was a prostitute or that they were visiting her, she and her families’ lives were saved and she was considered righteous.

Ruth

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Ruth was a Moabitess, immigrant foreigner. She was faithful to her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. As widows they were destitute in the patriarchal system where only men could provide a living for a woman. Through her faithfulness to Naomi, they took the initiative, took an enormous risk to Ruth’s reputation to ask for marriage for Ruth to Boaz, calling on the same Deuteronomic laws of protection for widows. Yet, she found favor in both God and Boaz eyes, who took her as his wife. The women encouraged Naomi, “For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him [Obed] birth.” Obed became the grandfather of Kind David.

Bathsheba

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An innocent woman, taking her purification bath in her courtyard where she thought she had some privacy, was unaware of the lustful stare of King David whose palace overlooked her rooftop. She had no say in refusing the King when he sent for her. She was taken to his palace where he used her as he would. To hide his sin King David had her husband Uriah killed. Not only was Bathsheba raped, but her husband was also killed, and now she was a pregnant widow, probably the worst position a women could be in.

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Once the time of mourning was over, David tried to rectify his sin and brough her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.”

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Once the time of mourning was over, David tried to rectify his sin and brought her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord, and although he repented, his family life was dysfunctional as a consequence. When David was dying his son Adonijah placed himself on the throne. Bathsheba went into King David to remind him he had sworn to her that Solomon his son will be king after him. She reminded him that she and Solomon would be treated as criminals once David died. David rectified the matter and placed Solomon on the throne. When Solomon acceded to the throne, he had a throne brought for his mother and Bathsheba sat as his right hand, in a position of power. God upheld her dignity in the terrible circumstances she was forced into.

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When you look at these women’s stories from a completely different perspective, you hear their cries for justice in a patriarchal system that marginalized them as human beings made in the image of God. You see the hand of God moving to vindicate them and bring them into a place where they are given justice and the honor of being part of the genealogy of Jesus.

Jesus must have known and understood this when he sought out the women whose stories I will share in my next blog. [ to be continued…..] 

I would love to have your comments on this perspective. You can respond in the What are Your Thought box.

If you are interested to hear the sermon series, it can be found on You Tube Christ City Church. The two books I have read and used as reference as well are “The Day I met Jesus” by Frank Viola and “Women of the Bible Speak out” by Marlo Schalesky

Grief, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Retirement, Seasons of Life, SOCIAL JUSTICE, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

FIVE WAYS TO FIND EMOTIONAL PEACE AFTER TRAUMA

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Inner healing pathway
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Recognize the Symptoms

When we experience a sore throat or fever, we are reasonably sure we are getting a cold or the flu and take measures to help ourselves get over it. But quite often, we don’t feel quite right within ourselves. Perhaps we feel anxious or uneasy at certain times or with certain people, or our stomach knots up at certain places. We have low-grade depression and just find life hard at times. These can all be symptoms of PTSD or systemic abuse. Part of healing is recognizing that something is just not quite right. Having established that you could be living a much happier and healthier life than you currently are, is the first step in getting help. Your commitment to yourself to get help or find new coping strategies and strategies for overcoming disabling thoughts and behavior are the motivation you need. Let us look at a few ways in which we can recognize unhealthy symptoms.

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Depression, Inner Healing Pathway
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Mental: Stinking Thinking?

So much takes place in our thinking brain. What are our obsessive thoughts? Do our thoughts and our beliefs align? What are our thoughts about ourselves? Do we beat ourselves up all the time?  What are our thoughts about others, families, friends, teachers, etc.? If these are on a constant negative spectrum and churn and return both waking or sleeping. We are constantly thinking about rights and wrongs and get confused with what we were taught and how our reality matches up. Do you have thoughts of self-harm? Make an inventory of your thoughts over several days or a week, write them down without judging them, they just are, and you are now aware of how much time you spend with them.

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Physical, chronic illness
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Physical: Chronic Illnesses?

Physical symptoms are easier to experience but not necessarily to diagnose as sometimes they may have started out as psychosomatic but have taken on reality in your body. Be aware that stress and trauma are retained in the body’s cells as a memory imprint. Do you get stomach aches in certain situations? Did that end up as IBS or chronic inflammation of the bowl? There are many forms that this can take, backaches, migraines, arthritis, etc. After having a thorough physical at your doctor to rule out any disease or illness. Learn to read your body signs when you are feeling stressed or your muscles tighten. Does your heart race, do you get hot, does your stomach contract? When does this happen? Make an inventory over a month, scan your body each day, what symptoms you feel and when.

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Emotional , incontrollable outbursts
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Emotional: Uncontrollable Outbursts?

We may often feel angry or upset over something that should not really affect us to the degree it does. When do we feel triggered? Are there words that people use that make us feel bad? Or perhaps we will see or smell something that brings back bad feelings. Do we feel guilty over nothing or uncomfortable when certain subjects are talked about? Do you struggle with addictions to make you feel better? Or perhaps places we walk past or through that make us feel uneasy. Take an inventory of these places or incidents and any feelings or thoughts you have about them.

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Empty Church arches, dead
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Spiritual: Disillusioned with God?

Do you have a belief system in some Higher Power? Do you believe there is help from someone greater who will guide you by their wisdom? Have you lost your faith? Does the thought of religion turn you off, or do you long for connection with God? Have you been hurt or disillusioned by church and religion or don’t believe that God loves you? Where do you seek spiritual solace? Journal your feelings around spirit, faith, church, God.

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Finding happiness with a pet
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Having taken an honest inventory of your dis-ease, you will now have a lot of information to help you identify the symptoms of perhaps a traumatic experience that has affected you most of your life. You will also have places to start looking for healing. We are wonderfully complex creatures made in God’s image, created for a purpose. We are His masterpieces, yet sometimes the mud that sticks to us is hard to remove, marring that image and holding us back from our full potential. According to your situation (we are all different), look for professional help in the area you felt the most in need, a psychologist, medical professional, or spiritual director. Once you have turned the key in the door that unlocks the secrets to your anxiety, unease, and mental health, you will have begun the journey to healing yourself. This may take several years, so have patience with yourself and those who would help you. For those who feel they can help themselves, there are many excellent books and resources available. There are also support groups to help you both on and off-line. Find one that you can gel with and be comfortable sharing your journey. A few resources are mentioned in my previous blog.

Divorce, LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, Seasons of Life, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Uncategorized, Widowhood

HAVE YOU MET GOD THE MOTHER HEN?

As part of the Welcome to My World challenge, I am first answering this week’s question:

Q: What do you see as you look out of your window?

A: I look out of the window of my soul at the world of the past, the present, and the future. The past makes sense of the past, the present is part of the journey and the future is healed in God’s hands

This is probably one of the most difficult blogs I have ever written, but it is also part of my own healing journey. In my travels, I have come across so many spiritually and emotionally wounded women in the last decade, and like me, they are only now finding the courage to talk about it.

The remnants of a patriarchal mindset in the church and abuse of power have wounded so many women. When the Church should have been a refuge, it became the instrument of abuse using Scriptures as a weapon to beat women into submission in what today is named domestic abuse. I am writing this from a woman’s perspective as that is who I am, but I am sure that many men could also claim those wounds.

“Trauma is a deep wound of the heart and mind that takes a long time to heal. It hurts every part of us: our relationships, our bodies, our thoughts, and our faith.”

I am a great student of social history, especially the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, American Revolution, and British Colonialism, as they are all interrelated in one way or another and have influenced my own family history and so many others. The British legal and parliamentary system they brought with them made laws that disadvantaged women and others not belonging to the ‘system.’ British law stated that in marriage, a man and a woman were one person – the legal existence of a woman was suspended during the marriage as she was meant to be under his protection and cover. He could take all her dowry to spend as he liked. According to their dowries, women were ‘traded,’ father’s marrying off their daughters to their own political or financial advantage. Women were not able to vote to change the ‘system,’ and it took Emily Pankhurst (the suffragette movement was the Woman’s Revolution) and others more than fifty years to finally get the right to vote in 1920.

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Domestic Violence

This controlling role of men was also practiced in the Church by interpreting the Scriptures through their lens and insisting on their womenfolk submitting, by domestic violence or any other means at their disposal, including the church disciplinary systems. When this teaching has been instilled at an incredibly young age, a girl is brainwashed into thinking that they are an inferior person, subject to temptation (the Eve metaphor) or the temptress (the Bathsheba metaphor) but not the blessed woman (Jael). How many teachings have you ever received on Jael? Unrealistic standards set by the application of the example of the Proverbs 31 woman can lay the foundation for systemic shame and never being good enough. This teaching on the place of women at home, the church, and society when not applied with the second half of the teaching, the way that Jesus treated women, the Samaritan woman, Mary Magdalene, and his own mother Mary, failed women in giving them an earthly role model of Father. The teaching as God the Father, angry, punitive, and ready to judge and cast you into hell, reinforced this belief, disconnecting woman from a loving God, one who was their Creator, protector, provider, and friend.

It has taken me most of my life to reconnect with this Father, the Creator, the Good Shepherd, the mother hen God who shelters and protects in the shadow of His wings. It has taken time to deconstruct the angry God and reconstruct the loving God, who protects, provides, and is the lover of my soul. How have I been able to do this?

It has taken me most of my life to reconnect with this Father, the Creator, the Good Shepherd, the mother hen God who shelters and protects in the shadow of His wings. It has taken time to deconstruct the angry God and reconstruct the loving God, who protects, provides, and is the lover of my soul. How have I been able to do this?

Mother hen with chicks photo by K Kannan Unsplash

It has been a long journey of questioning everything I was taught and reviewing it in contemplative prayer, and revisiting ancient and modern teachers and historical contexts. It is by checking against Scripture, and if it is not clear, referring to how Jesus would have seen it and dealt with it. There are only two Commandments, “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.

The Golden Rule….

In other words, treat people how you yourself would like to be treated. Just as important, was to sit quietly with God in nature and in Art Galleries, letting Him reveal Himself and His truth to me. It was learning to hear His voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, as He called my name. I was never taught how to listen for my name. The system had taught me I was nameless, always referred to as my father’s daughter. I was called my nicknames but not often my given name, Deryn. When I found out its meaning of ‘little bird’, it was a liberation. I was able to fly out of the cage in which I had been entrapped for so long. I could sit on a branch and observe for myself, think for myself, and I could sing my new song.

Sketched in an Art Gallery

Reading good books has helped in reconstructing the image of a loving Father God and the research that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich put into her book “Good Wives- Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750,” helped to clarify the patriarchal thinking of the church in their era which has filtered down through the centuries. A modern book by Carol Howard Merritt on her journey from the teaching at Moody Bible College to her liberation from the spiritual woundedness caused by domestic violence in her family, “Healing Spiritual Wounds,” confirmed the importance of Creator God, creativity in the arts, and reconnecting with a loving God through Contemplative prayer.

Listen to Keynote speaker DrDiane Langberg who is a practicing psychologist whose clinical expertise includes 35 years of working with trauma survivors and clergy. She speaks at an international Conference Church as a Refuge in June.

It is my desire to be a sounding board for those who struggle in this arena of patriarchy and spiritual abuse both as domestic violence and in the church, so they can find their way to peace under the soft feathers of the wings of their loving Father God. If this resonates with you, please contact me via the Contact button.

Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Uncategorized, Widowhood

TRANSFORMING THE BRIDE

transformation2.jpgJesus used many parables and examples from nature during His time on earth. The book of Romans tells us that we are without excuse because since creation His attributes have been clearly seen and understood through what was created.  This has caused me to look at spiritual concepts and view them through nature and thus enrich my understanding of them.

Look at the Church, the Bride of Christ, we all understand that concept. We see the denominational diversity, divisions and competitiveness – how can we really become the one Bride of Christ?  Jesus said they shall be known because they love one another!  The conflicts and religious wars of history have shown that that hasn’t happened.  How can we accept one another’s differences and love one another at the same time? Let us look in creation for a metaphor and see if we can find an answer.

A tree has four components, a trunk, branches, leaves and roots. Without these it cannot live each being dependent on the other as a whole and the spirit (life-force) within that maintains its cycles.  If we look at each part and compare them to denominational or religious philosophies, we can see how much we depend on one another and therefore need each other to prepare the Bride of Christ.

The trunk, solid and immovable on what is right or wrong, black or white, no shades of grey. The Word of God is the Truth; we need to be reminded that this is so, that our focus is kept on the Triune God and that no other philosophy can woo us from this Truth. Trunks are covered with bark, that bark can be smooth or rough, striped, ringed or covered with thorns, and depending on how our Truth is projected or told to others can either protect or harm them. Fundamental Truth and belief systems.

The branches represent those who teach the Intellectual and Practical outworking of this central Truth.  Their programs reach out like the branches; they offer shade and shelter to the weary and to passersby. They reach out to causes like prisons, missions and good works.  They bear fruit; they feed the hungry, comfort the sorrowing.  They are always reaching out, even in winter when the branches are bare.

The leaves are seasonal and colorful. You know the wind is blowing by the rustling in the leaves. Jesus compared the Spirit to the wind; no one knows where it comes from or where it will go.  The leaves flutter and give trees their glorious colors.  In the Psalms it says the trees in the field will clap their hands in joy, charismatic movement.  We need the joyousness of the leaves to lift our souls in worship above the heaviness of life and to know when the Spirit is moving.  The leaves are there for a season, then drop to the ground where in due course they provide food for the roots.  The young leaves are then formed for the next season’s growth. There are seasonal patterns in our spirituality and belief systems.

We cannot see the roots, but we know they are there, they draw the nourishment and water up from the soil to feed the tree. There are people who set themselves apart to pray, those who withdraw from the world, contemplatives and mystics where meditation and prayer are central; the prayer warriors, monasteries, convents and communities.  Even if we do not see them, if these people stopped their function in the Church it would become very sick and maybe even die. We all need their prayer and deep connection to the Creator

Nature has given us a solution to the problem of religious and denominational difference and diversity.  We must accept the place God has assigned for each of us individually, whether it is the trunk, branches, leaves or roots and fulfil our function with all our hearts, minds and souls. This may be for a season or for a lifetime. We then must accept that God has assigned different people to different places and they are there to create balance, diversity, color and strength to His church so that the Church Universal can fulfil its function.

If we each maintain our own identity and function and accept everyone else’s identity and function as God given and as part of the whole, together we can transform the Bride of Christ because the Church will be known “because they love one another”. A tree will not survive if any one of the four components are missing so we need each other to grow in love and unity so we may be THE Bride and not many brides.