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

person s shadow so as not to identify the woman
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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

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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.

ancient arch architecture art
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.

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

THE SCAPEGOAT

The Welcome to my World Challenge theme is “what is one thought I would like to share in regard to Easter?” I have chosen the theme of Scapegoating and building resilience.

“But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.” Lev 16:10

THE ORIGINS OF THE SCAPEGOAT

I have chosen this verse from Leviticus regarding the ‘Scapegoat.’ The Jewish Day of Atonement was when the priests performed a ceremonial ritual of laying all the sins of the Nation of Israel onto a goat. The animal was chosen by ‘lot’ and then sent away into the wilderness where it was at the mercy of wild animals or starvation. The people would then be happy for the next year as their sins were removed from them. This ceremony needed to be repeated annually.

The theme ‘scapegoating’ fitted nicely into my thoughts on trauma for these few weeks, with a resolution in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. He was the ultimate scapegoat for the sins of the world. His resurrection enables us to build resilience for living in an unjust world.

UNDESERVED ILL TREATMENT

When someone is singled out for adverse treatment or blame, they did not deserve, but because of the ‘lot’ drawn against them, those in power used their authority to abuse and demeaned that individual or group of people. This can happen in a family, where one child is singled out as the ‘culprit’ for anything that goes wrong. It could be that child has AHHD, high spirited, is autistic, or for any other reason, but they are likely to be blamed for the family’s ills. They will carry the negative consequences of being ‘picked on’ into the world with them.

It can happen in all kinds of businesses and organizations when things go wrong, and the CEO or management needs someone to blame for their failures. Someone in the lower ranks is chosen as the scapegoat and will leave the organization, taking a load of injustice and anger with them into the world.

This can happen in religious and church settings, when the leadership, pastor, or priest has messed up big time, often with sexual abuse. There is a big cover-up to protect the institution, and it is the victim who is sent away as the scapegoat into the world, carrying the institution’s shame with them.

COMMUNITY SCAPEGOATING

The same thing is playing out in communities, where a specific community is singled out as the ‘scapegoat.’ We see the Asian-American community targeted now. Previous years, it was African Americans or Muslims.’ Who will be the ‘scapegoat’ for the nation’s sins next year? As each generation of scapegoats takes their burden of injustice out into the world, the world becomes a more hostile place as the injustices heap up one upon the other. How will this all be resolved? Our world becomes deeply divided between those who have the power to inflict injustice and the recipients, who in turn will begin to respond with their own manner of injustice.

As each generation of scapegoats takes their burden of injustice out into the world, the world becomes a more hostile place as the injustices heap up one upon the other.

What options does the ‘scapegoat’ have? If we look at the original scapegoat, he may have been torn apart by wild animals, or he may have been resilient and learned how to survive in the hostile wilderness. Those excluded from the ‘power’ group may decide to fight back; this causes conflict or terrorism as they may be few against many. Others may look for greener pastures and safety elsewhere. Taking themselves out of the danger zone, only to find themselves ‘scapegoated’ again as ‘immigrants.’ They could just kowtow to the ‘party line, give up their fight for justice and accept the status -quo, and become passive. Or they could build resilience, each time becoming stronger until they know they are being scapegoated and can call the perpetrators out.

This is where the Easter story comes into a full circle. The prophet Isaiah said, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. 53:5-7 Amplified Bible.

Live in the resilience of the Risen Christ – Santa Monica

Jesus of Nazareth was the ultimate scapegoat chosen by the people, who did know that this was precisely God’s plan and purpose for their redemption. Jesus was the innocent victim, showing up the violent and hateful tendencies of humanity. His words from the Cross ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” show us the pathway to healing. His Resurrection on the third day broke the power of the cycle of abuse and completed the atonement.

How can we live in His victory or build resilience in the violent culture around us? How do we call out those in power to deal with unjust policies? It all starts in the Father’s heart to forgive, as Jesus forgave, by His wounds we are healed. As individuals build resilience and heal, we bring healing into the world with us instead of carrying the guilt and shame of those who chose us as their’ scapegoat.’ If we continue to take our hurt into the world, we keep repeating the cycle that the Israelites did, every year having to keep on sending a ‘scapegoat’ back into the wilderness. But Christ died once and for all as the atonement for mankind. May we learn to live in His Resurrection power.

Have you ever been ‘scapegoated’? If you want to share your story with me, please comment below or send an email in the Contact Page

Read the previous blogs on Generational Trauma as well for more insight

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.

Photo Annie Spratt from Unsplash

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.