Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


Psalm 10:17-18:

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.

I'm going to be honest; I'm not a big one for "causes." But this is one that if I pretend to look bored, I'd be the world's biggest hypocrite. I've been in too up close and personal when it comes to domestic violence and abuse.

I have helped someone steal their children back from an ex-husband who stole them from their custodial parent.

I have helped more than one woman escape an abusive home life, whether that violence was physical or psychological. I even helped one man escape an abusive home life!

I have taken on bullies who bullied my childhood friends.

I have had friends who were raped and molested. Sometimes by family members.

And sadly, I left a home rank with alcohol-fueled violence 32 years ago and never lived in that home again. I am still dealing with the scars of that life, sometimes in ways I can't believe still dog me after all these years, and come out in the weirdest ways.

I could tell stories. Lots of them. Gruesome and sick stories. I have told a few to trusted friends. Unfortunately, sometimes I have told them to people in power who used them as a blueprint for how to psychologically weaken and sicken me to feed their own sicknesses and make me feel like I was the "sick" one, and re-ignite the cycle where I did behave like a sick person, and hurt others. I am still learning, 32 years later.

But I don't tell the stories publicly because I have mostly made amends with the abuse, and frankly, we are now talking about elderly people, so in my mind, there's nothing to gain by my telling the stories. But I will tell you the big message the stories told.

The stories told me:

Girls are expendable.

Girls are a nuisance.

If you want to get ahead in the world, you'd better man up, because it's a man's world out there.

We expect you to be the man in the family. Never mind you're female.

Career comes over family if you really want to be a breadwinner and move up in the world.

You better be smart, because you're sure as hell not cute.

It doesn't matter how you feel, because you are supposed to be taking care of us. Our feelings matter. Yours don't.

You'll never get a man because you don't know how to let men win.

Respect my authority or I'll beat you.

Respect my authority or I'll ignore you and all that is good within you.

Respect my authority or I'll humiliate you, or abandon you.

You are less than a real woman because you're not all "girly."

Friends, these are the messages abuse sends to women and girls. Not all of these messages are delivered by men. Sadly, some are delivered by women.

The messages are not always sent by words. They are sent by hands and fists and blunt objects and guns and knives and by messages of absence, rather than presence.

No girl--no woman--deserves to hear these messages.

What saddens me, as a spiritual person and a practicing Christian, is that some of these messages are sent from pulpits. Some of these messages are sent through the books of the Bible. Some of these messages are claimed to be from St. Paul.

For some women, the notion of God they've developed is that God is just another abusive son-of-a-bitch, but a cosmic abusive male, which is worse than one on Earth, in some ways. Just another man who will say, "You're not good enough," in an ultimate and eternal sort of way...and who wants to spend eternity like that?

I'm going to be way up front here--before I could even begin to heal those scars in my own life, I had to heal the scarred way I felt about God. I was one of those people who hid from God for decades until I found a church that could help me begin to think of God in terms other than male. That God was neither male or female; that God was both male and female. I am grateful that God has a different role in my life other than "just another man I will never be able to please." But I had to learn to trust God before I could even begin to trust other people.

It's why I still get irked when people rail about "political correctness" in gender neutrality in addressing God in church. I don't mind that we often think of God as "father" anymore, because we have other times in church where we use a gender-neutral term, and I know now there are many names for God, and male ones are ok, as long as we are using other ones, too.

But I confess it is hard for me to think of God as a loving father. I don't really totally have a frame of reference. Likewise, phrases like "...and we are God's children," are kind of lost on me. I don't really have a frame of reference of what being a loved child is totally like. I barely remember even being a child. I was pretty much a "little adult."

But my story is not to evoke pity. It's to aid in understanding why churches need to stand for social justice, and why a lot of women avoid their doors.

The Episcopal 16 days website has several ways you can participate in this campaign. See what you can do as an individual and as a parish. Please join me in trying to spread the light of a loving God, one person at a time.

3 comments:

Those are words we use to induct young girls to get along in our culture --by well meaning parents and people for the most part....

sigh...

Thank you for this, Doc. Powerful. Painful. Important.

You're both welcome. Lots.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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