by Christine Sine
This last week my discernment process has been sorely tested and I decided to share not just my testing but the vulnerability it raised and the healing it has brought within me. I hope that it will help you to face the hurts within you that restrict you from becoming the person god intends you to be.
I posted a link to Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention on Facebook, and was overwhelmed by the derogatory comments that ensued. I don’t expect people to agree with me, but I do expect them to be respectful. The conversation soon degenerated into one about abortion and birth control. What really sent me over the edge was when someone commented “if women would just get their sex drive under control everything would be OK”.
On the surface, what really upset me was the lack of recognition of how male domination restricts women’s choices even today, and of how men love to blame women for their own failings.
I soon realized, however, that my response was far more than a reaction to the comments. It really revolved around some deeper issues that I needed to deal with myself. So I found myself returning to the process I outlined last week for help.
What Was I Having Trouble Naming?
What I was having trouble naming was the scars of male domination, beginning with my father’s domination of my mother and myself. As I grew into adulthood, and entered a male dominated world, there was the added shame of times in the past that I was left feeling dirty and violated. In my vulnerability, there were times that I almost succumbed to sexual advances because my job was at stake. Thank God for the strength of divine presence that made it possible for me to avoid these situations. You were there, God, protecting me in the midst of these violations, and though I still bear the scars, you have covered them with your healing balm.
I also have trouble naming the times I struggled to be the person God called me to be in the face of a male dominated world. Like the times I was told I was more like a man than a woman and wanted to run away and hide. There were other times I was told I could not lead because of my gender, or was rejected as a mate because of my leadership skills and intelligence. Sometimes I was silent when I should have spoken out. At others I spoke out of anger rather than love.
How Does This Lack of Self Awareness Make Me Vulnerable?
These scars from the past sometimes mean that I am tempted to walk down paths that are not of God’s choosing. Sometimes I want to walk the path of least resistance without really understanding why. Thank God for the strength and resilience that have built up within me as God has slowly peeled away the layers of hurt and anointed the scars with that healing balm.
Follow the Stirrings – Maintain Your Freedom.
In the midst of my struggles, I hear God say “I am proud of you. I chose you and I formed you in your mother’s womb with the strength and resilience for the job I prepared you for. You have not just survived, you have thrived and become a model for others to follow.”
Then I hear the echo of a young medic in the refugee camps in Thailand, “My prayer is that my daughters will have the same freedom that you have.” God has granted me incredible freedom and I need to embrace it and to do all I can to model it for others.
As I reflect on all of this, I see Jesus who responded in the exact opposite spirit, not dominating but releasing women. I hear him say “I am not like that. See how I treated my mother and the women that followed me. Don’t let your joy be stolen by those who are imprisoned in their bigotry and narrow mindedness. I have set you free. Live into that freedom.”
I wonder if the way Jesus treated women was in part a reflection of how his earthly father, Joseph, treated his mother. Such respect for Mary and the child she carried that was not his own, when he could have discarded them like Abraham discarded Hagar and Ishmael. So much love to protect you both when the world would have thrown you away.
We often talk about how God chose Mary but rarely think about how and why God chose Joseph. He must have been a man of great love and integrity and I claim that love and integrity as a model I can cherish in my heart. It heals me, and strengthens me.
Out of my reflections came this poem which is written as though Jesus is speaking the words:
In the midst of your whirling thoughts,
Do you feel my pain?
Is your distracted focus
The agony of my heart
For women oppressed
By men with no respect?
Do you hear the cries
Of those who are abused
Forced and then abandoned
To bear the guilt
And hatred of society?
My heart aches,
As my father Joseph
Ached for my mother Mary,
Accused and blamed
Without reason or understanding.
In his love,
He reached out with embrace
And not accusation.
Loving caring, protecting
Until the wonder of God
Was birthed through her.
Christine Sine August 2020
I chose the photo above because I wanted to express my awareness of the fact that we do not stand alone in our struggles and our vulnerabilities. A loving spouse, close friends and community members have all been instruments of God’s healing for me. I hope that you can say the same.
So my question for you today is: What do you have trouble naming and how is it restricting you from becoming the person God intends you to be?