Sunday, January 29, 2017

I'm not a Feminist

I've been paying more attention to political news than ever before- I'm sure the election has a lot to do with that. Recently, because of the Women's March in DC, every news cycle has a feminist being interviewed. I believe in wage equality, laws against sexual harassment, reinforced laws promoting  prosecution for domestic abuse...most of the feminist agenda I can either relate to or on some level agree with.   However, on the same token and more-so, I believe in woman being created the weaker vessel. Its not a shame. It's not a dismissive insult towards women either. There's beauty in fragility in both the masculine and feminine genders.

I could very well be the poster child for Feminism: here's why (in reverse order).

I'm a mother whose shouldered the responsibility of raising four kids mostly on my own. I was emotionally and spiritually abandoned by a husband who confused Biblical teachings of submission with entitled superiority and unquestioned power. I have a very commanding father.

After my divorce I was hellbent on proving that the kids and I would be fine. Better than fine- we'd be doggone, jolly-fantastic. I could do 'this' and everything that 'this' entailed.

I worked, raised my kids, cooked the meals, managed my finances, started a savings. I excelled in ways I didn't even thing were possible. I didn't have an education to fall back on. I didn't have family money to rely on. I didn't have a home through the divorce settlement- I left with nothing more than a bag of diapers, a broken heart and the selfish need to prove my worth to no one but myself.

I'm off the charts stubborn. I am so stubborn that if anyone would ever write about me- they would have to invent a new word that would properly embody the full brevity of my obstinate nature.

With that said- I thought I was proving my worth and substantiating the resilience of woman around the world. We do what it takes to not just survive but to thrive.  To kiss the heads of their sleeping children at night and know they are safe, warm and fed. And its because you didn't give in. You didn't believe the lies you were told. You overthrew the tyrant! I was proving daily to myself that I was so much stronger and more resourceful than he ever gave me credit for. I was marching for liberation- a parade of one.

Let me say here, for the sake of anyone who stumbles across this.....I believe in and fought for the sanctity of marriage. I believe its a God ordained constitution. I do not make hasty, lighthearted, spur of the moment decisions; I stayed way past the staying point. I endured a lot because I believe in the covenant between man, wife and God. There are three parties in marriage vows...and I took my vows to God seriously, even when I no longer felt anything but resentment and fear. These beliefs were not only taught to me as a child, they were demonstrated in action and deed by adults in my life. People are not disposable. Vows are not out of convenience. Love is not fleeting. But I'm not justifying my journey to anyone. That ship has sailed.

So, the divorce was final after three years of separation. The joys of independence had somewhat began to tarnish by then- the reality of survival was all too pressing. The economy tanked. My job was teetering in the balances of the recession. The scales tipped and the company folded.

All the responsibility of day to day living fell on me. I kept a log of child support money in 2011. At the end of the year the total received was $28. It was given to me on Easter weekend to buy 4 kids stuff for Easter baskets. I put the $28 in the church offering instead. God knows why.

After all that I've experienced- I still believe in submission, teamwork and most shocking even to myself I believe in a man being the head of the household. What I wouldn't give to have a man worthy to be trusted and followed? To have someone to bounce ideas off of? To be able to converse about the decision process of sending Sarah to a 2 year college and later transfer to university?? Have I made the right decision? The decisions are endless.And sometimes really petty.  What is the noise the car is making? Is it safe to drive? The pilot light is out on the fireplace and I'm too scared to light it myself. Jacob wants to go to teen camp instead of Junior Camp this summer, I think he should stay with the young kids- am I being over protective? What are your thoughts?  Do you think I should dye my hair? Did you hear the bass run on that new song? Do you think these lyrics are pithy? Can you help me get the Christmas stuff out of the attic?( last year the box nearly broke my neck because I wasn't strong enough to guide it down the attic ladder and balance it against my chest for leverage at the same time.)
 I don't mean to imply I'm only looking out for my own self-preservation. I am a giver, a sensitive listener whose perceptive. God, this is starting to sound like an infomercial....back to the point.....

I remember the night that I found out Gabe was in the hospital after being jumped and beaten in the Army. I didn't know what was going to transpire. I was so lost and felt entirely isolated. Being independent at the moment was the worst feeling I ever had in my entire life. I needed someone. I needed reassurance that the decisions being made were the very best we could do in light of the circumstances. Someone to stay awake with and discuss the options we had on the table regarding a criminal lawsuit. I still don't think the best decision was made, but it was overwhelming. I was 17 hours away from my son in the hospital with facial fractures, a missing tooth and a concussion. When I called his father he just said, "Oh yea? Huh." Like I had called to say, "can you believe their calling for snow in July?"
 I went straight to my church. It was a Thursday, I didn't know where else to go. I went in and much to my relief, Pastor was there. He prayed with me. He offered some answers and consolation. I felt at ease. I felt like the situation was manageable. He broke down the reality of what I could and couldn't control. And reiterated that my son is a grown adult in the care of the Army. Really, nothing was in my control. There was absolutely NOTHING that I cold do but pray. Being made to realize that was a huge gift.

What I wouldn't give to have someone to just listen to other than myself!  To hand over this burden I shoulder. I'm not seeking a mate, because I think that makes you too open to negative possibilities. I am very guarded. very protective of my home and heart. I have a very small, tight circle of trusted loved ones, and I prefer to keep it that way.

Back to the subject at hand; the oddest part of feminism to me is that in all honesty, the most discrimination I have ever experienced as a woman is not from men nor in a professional setting. The discrimination that was implied was when I had to act as the "Man" and be the provider for the family. The looks from some happily wedded, stay at home moms when you can't assist in a school play or class party because you have to work. You can't pick up the kids from the school because you have to be at an appointment. You have to use all your resources in friends and family to systematically coordinate everyone's schedules and lives. Its a real task! I won't go into further details, but there's more "discrimination" in Christian circles than professional settings.... The "oooooh, so that explains it" look. It is what it is I'm not defensive over it. Divorce is ugly, no matter how you slice it. I don't wear it like a scarlet letter and I won't. It just IS what it IS. Like a person with a scar on their face....its there and they learn to shave around it or tilt their head for the best angle in pictures. You just deal with it. And eventually it becomes a part of you and you accept it. Without that scar you would't be who you are today. I an only hope that the scars and fallout have made me a gentler, more understanding and giving person. A person that one day will have someone to help shoulder the weights of the world and who'll wink on my stubbornness as an endearing trait. :)


Sometimes, we lose ourselves; an act which can result in wonderful purpose and lead us to great destinations beyond ourselves. Or , it causes us and others hurt, loss and most of all a connection to our sense of a higher purpose or calling.

It's amazing that amount of books and philosophical writings that have been published regarding finding your calling, purpose, self, meaning and so forth. Practically every self-help book is about that in one way or another.

So many voices. So many opinions.

The intriguing thing is that if you look to scripture for "self-help" you'll quickly realize there's little preservation of self or even encouragement for "self" in scriptures. All through scripture there's the common thread of "die to self", "swear to your own hurt" and so forth. Scripture even commands that we esteem others better than ourselves.

Using scripture for more guidance on the subject of self preservation, look at the Hebrew boys- who walked into the fiery furnace. Daniel, thrown in a lion's den. The Exodus of the Hebrew children. Nothing was comfortable. None of the great stories of Faith have any plot line that remotely looks like self-preservation. It was all or nothing.

 Humans (for the most part) have an innate need for comfort, belonging and warm fuzzy feelings that makes us feel loved and included. There's not a lot of support for warm fuzzies through scripture examples...for instance there was the time that Jesus said "Let the dead bury the dead. "  So harsh, in light of the circumstances in the story.

It's painfully obvious that any good in ourselves is contrived, self-preserving and blatantly pious.

From an early age good, Christian children are taught that our righteousness is but as filthy rags....but to really comprehend and come to grips with the reality of that scripture applying to YOU with as much severity as it applies to the hypocritical televangelist asking for donations- well, its a sobering realization to say the least.

Coming to terms with the lack of righteousness and goodness I possess is not only sobering- its almost depressing.
The point that I've had driven into my spirit and heart recently (through prayer and reading) is that we as Christians are to hide ourselves in Him...we are to be so intertwined that we are no longer "ourself" and therefore any good that comes from us is not reflecting back on ourself but is lighting an onlooker to Christ.