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

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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, Seasons of Life, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDING, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Resources for Healing Spiritual Wounds

What book or e-book would I recommend to my readers this week is the challenge for Welcome to My World? That is a tough question to answer as I have read at least five excellent books this past month in doing the research for my focus articles on Spiritual Wounding, Generational Trauma, and Child Abuse for April.

Healing Spiritual Wounds

I will tell you a bit about each of them, and you can decide if you want to read any. “Healing Spiritual Wounds,” by Carol Howard Merrit. Merrit shares her own story of living in a home where abusive parental practices took place following the teachings of their fundamentalist church. I followed her story through the process of her anger, grief, and shame to reconnecting with God and finding her healing in His love. Sadly, what she writes about has been common practice in many fundamentalist church groups.

Sacred Wounds

Another more practical book was Sacred Wounds by Theresa B Pasquale. This book deals with this sensitive subject, spiritual wounding, and trauma. She has shed a lot of light on the subject, which is close to her heart. She is professionally qualified to write on this subject, and anyone who has had to deal with spiritual abuse or trauma will find the book most helpful with examples from life. People coping with or helping people through their issues with religion and church would find the insight most beneficial. To know where to back off and where to support. Spiritual abuse had a lasting effect on people’s lives and how they can deal with their problems when their concept of God has been corrupted. If you need help for releasing some of these wounds, God has gifted some people to help you, I am happy to share this article by Justina Ford on being Confidently Visible Despite Spiritual Wounding.

Conditions of the Heart

Healing Power Through Spirit Born Emotions

For people who want to find ways to connect to God and heal from this type of trauma, a beneficial book with many different angles to approach healing is “Unleashing Healing Power through Spirit-Born Emotions” by Mark Virkler and Charity Kayembe.  One of the most exciting things in one of his approaches is that God speaks through images. As an artist, I have always found that I have been closer to God visually. This was in significant conflict with my upbringing when it was only The Word, which quite often, to be truthful, I did not understand! This book shows the numerous ways in which we can communicate with our Creator, which is really quite liberating.

What is the Bible and How Do we Understand it?

Life has certainly moved on since I was a child. Technology has changed so much of how we view the world that was not available to our forebears. The millennial generation thinks and experiences the world in ways that we never could. They also have many questions about the Bible and the Church, so my church here in Washington DC is doing a seminar on hermeneutics. We used the book by Dennis R Edwards, “What is the Bible and How Do We Understand it?His books on radical faith and the Jesus Way certainly shed a lot of light on many of the problems we have in applying Bible passages to modern life and made so much sense in light of the previous books mentioned.

The Body Keeps the Score

My research converged with listening to a weeklong series of lectures on Dealing with Trauma by a team from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. Their scientific experience verified what I had been learning from the above books but made the picture a lot clearer in the case of the developing child’s brain. Children are helpless to escape from traumatic or ongoing trauma, developing their own mechanisms, which become a learned behavior in their bodies. “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk is an excellent resource for learning about this.

Deconstructing Old Beliefs

There are other good resources for counseling from Spiritual Abuse. Church as Refuge is leading the movement to bring this to light and bring healing to those who have been taught a theology that had made them doubt their relationship with God. Listen to a short video excerpt by Rev Megan Cox of “Give Her Wings” or check out the website if you know of someone who might need this kind of help.

Memory and Dream Artwork

In January, I signed up to attend classes for Memory and Dreamwork in Drawing with a lecturer at the Royal School of Drawing in London for May. In the very first lesson, I had chosen a nightmare of vegetables chasing me I had had as a small child to work with. Everything fell into place with the eating and stomach problems I had experienced when I looked through the lens of what I had just been reading and listening to!  My recent work with the elderly who had dementia made me acutely aware that unresolved trauma can severely impact you in old age. I wanted to deal with any issues that might arise if I got dementia, hence my research. By the same token, I wanted to bring this awareness to the forefront to help point people in the right direction to get the help they might need before it is too late.

I could not choose just one book because one book would not cover the scope of this vast subject with so many facets, as everyone is unique. These books are a good starting point for people interested in the topic or who know someone who is struggling with any aspect of PTSD. Soaked in prayer as to which one will be most helpful in moving you forward. It is also crucial to seek counsel to find therapists who are specialists in PTSD with the spiritual aspect. Being able to reconnect to God is part of the healing process.

It is crucial to seek counsel to find therapists who are specialists in PSDT with the spiritual aspect. Being able to reconnect to God is part of the healing process.

What are your thoughts on PSDT and trauma? Do you think they are original sin? Do you believe that the church can help or harm in the healing of people who have PSDT?

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

INJUSTICE CALLS FROM THE GRAVE

My response to this week’s Challenge for the Welcome to My World question “What does the word WATER make you think of?”. For me, it immediately conjures up the picture of the Victoria Falls cascading over the edge of the rocks and the bridge over the Zambezi River. This is my logo! A lot of water has gone under that bridge, and metaphorically in history too. My blog is one of a series in looking at some of that history that has gone under the bridge than cannot be retrieved like the hymn-writer said “Time, like an ever-flowing stream, bears all its sons away.” Our God, our help in ages past, can redeem that history.

From where I live in Washington DC, it doesn’t take me five minutes out of my front door to be reminded of injustice. So many houses in the street have signboards in their gardens proclaiming words uttered by Martin Luther King Jr and others, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This reminded me of the passage in Revelation 6 where “the souls of those who had been martyred for preaching the Word of God and for being faithful in their witnessing. They called loudly to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge the people of the earth for what they’ve done to us? When will you avenge our blood against those living on the earth?”

I have been studying generational trauma recently, and I have had to reassess how I thought about some of the things I had learned. Most Christians will say one or another version of the Creed, which mentions the “communion of the saints.” My previous understanding was, once a person has died, there are no further prayers required. Some churches will light candles for the dead and say prayers; others honor the dead-on Allhallows, maybe even a pilgrimage to the graveyard. My understanding has been expanded by reading Revelation 8 “the bowls are the prayers of the saints which are delivered to God.” And Hebrews 12:1, where the persons who have died are pictured as a cloud of witnesses encompassing Christians on earth. It appears that the saints who have gone before us are still actively interceding on our behalf for the healing of the nations and individuals.

Prayers around the Throne

What caused this shift in how I understood the “communion of the saints?” I had an experience when I lived in the UK that shook me to the core of my being. I was visiting my son one weekend, and he decided we would go and look at one of the National Trust Country Houses. We found the one he had chosen was closed, so we proceeded to another that was nearby. We walked around Petworth House, enjoying the beautiful woodwork and furnishings and the extensive Art collection. We minded our own business; when we arrived at one gallery, the lady at the door stepped up to me and insisted I take a booklet of the paintings’ descriptions. I did not really want to take it, but the lady had singled me out with some urgency, so I dutifully took it and began to page through the painting descriptions. As I turned the pages, one name jumped right out at me, Thomas Wentworth Earl of Strafford!

As I turned the pages, one name jumped right out at me, Thomas Wentworth Earl of Strafford!

His DNA flows in our family history as one of our ancestors. He was beheaded at the Tower of London on 12th May 1641. He was a supporter of Charles I but hated by Parliament, and they wanted him Impeached. Charles I had promised Thomas Wentworth he would protect him from Parliament, but he signed his death warrant. Charles I, which he later regretted. We found the painting, and I was shaking as Thomas looked down at me from the wall. I thanked the lady as I handed her back the booklet and pointed out our ancestor’s painting. We completed the tour of the rest of the House without any further interruption. I must admit to being quite freaked out by the experience. About a week before I left the UK, I was at the Swan Inn in Bedford and as I left the Ladies’ room, facing me at the top of the staircase was another portrait of Thomas Wentworth. It was as if he was saying to me, do not forget.

Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford

I still do not fully understand what that was about, but what I have learned about generational trauma is stored in the body’s cells and DNA. This needs to be recognized to be healed. “Trauma constantly confronts us with our fragility and with man’s inhumanity to man but also with our extraordinary resilience,” says Bessel Van Der Kolk, in his seminal work on PSDT and book “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.”

“Silence about trauma also leads to death—the death of the soul.”

Bessel van der Kolk

How do we heal from this generational trauma? “Silence about trauma also leads to death—the death of the soul. Silence reinforces the godforsaken isolation of trauma. Being able to say aloud to another human being, “I was raped” or “I was battered by my husband” or “My parents called it discipline, but it was abuse” or “I’m not making it since I got back from Iraq,” is a sign that healing can begin.” (Bessel van der Kolk). Individuals and society need to listen when people are silent or depressed. When you ask them ‘How are you?’ they may well answer, “I am fine.” They may be afraid to speak out as they do not want to disclose what has happened to them and are just holding their lives together.

My thoughts are we should join our prayers for justice to those of the saints around the throne and do what we can to help those who are being unjustly treated, whoever they may be. A few more of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quotes to finish with are, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” “I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems.” “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” May we open our hearts to love to keep the flow of God’s goodness into our hurting and broken world.

“I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems.” “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Can we really listen to another’s suffering without judging? Can we respond with compassion and love? We are all affected by the pain that others suffer; even if we do nothing, our taxes will have to pay for rehabilitation or deal with the next wave of violence or war. It is time to educate ourselves and our religious systems that they can harm as well as heal.

A Conference called Church is a Refuge for anyone interested in learning more about Spiritual Abuse is being held in May, check it out, it may give you a greater insight into this problem.

Look out for next week’s blog on Generational Trauma. Subscribe to my blog so that you won’t miss out!