“I have a miracle to share with you.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard that, sometimes I roll my eyes at what people think is a miracle.
It was the end of the women’s conference in Chicago when the woman approached. Over the years of speaking I’ve learned to look for God’s thread. There’s always a theme that keeps coming to light through out the weekend. Sometimes the theme is women who struggle with fidelity, or insecurity, or grief, or prodigal kids; regardless, with the stories women privately share over the weekend there emerges a common thread.
The thread this weekend was domestic violence.
My husband was abusive and he shot me in the face. I thought I had heard everything over these twenty years but this one was new. I had never had a woman say, “my husband shot me in the face” and then point to the scar below her chin and follow her hand as she pointed to where the bullet came out above her eyebrow. Nope, this was a new one. A shocking one.
Assuming the violence occurred years ago I asked if her experience led her to work with other victims of domestic violence.
No, she wasn’t there yet. She had just come through several reconstructive surgeries and her wounds (and I’m talking about way more than her facial wounds) were still fresh. This hadn’t happened a while back, it was recent.
She really was a walking miracle. No brain damage. She could walk and speak and think. A miracle.
There I was listening to her and my heart burned. If I could take this away I would but I knew the healing that would need to happen was way deeper than a bullet wound. The violence. The betrayal. I didn’t have anything to give but a big fat hug that didn’t want to let go. I whispered, “This will take years. Be patient with yourself.”
But one woman’s sharing doesn’t make a thread does it? – Even if her story is “my husband shot me in the face.”
During one of our sessions we went around the table
introducing ourselves. One woman introduced herself as a “single mother” and I could tell there was a whole other story to that statement. In my opinion single mothers are the new version of “widow” in the Scriptures so I immediately asked, “Do you have a good support system.” Tears welled, as she bravely said, “No, I don’t have a support system at all.” I could see the terror and desperation in her eyes. I hate when I see that in another human being’s eyes. Ugh.
Later she tugged at my shirt and asked if she could have a few minutes of my time after the session. After teaching I was surrounded by women who wanted to share a story or have me sign a Lime Green book, she waited patiently. About 30 minutes later she and I grabbed a glass of wine as I listened to her unfold what was behind those welled up tears.
She was a virgin on her honeymoon and she found sex to be very painful. She kept asking her husband to slow down, be patient, she couldn’t bare the pain. I’m sure a confusing event for both of them. In frustration (and I’m sure a sense of feeling rejected) he screamed “I’m going out to find someone who wants to have sex with me.”
That was the beginning of the marriage. Over the years there were other “events” that confused her. Something wasn’t right but she had been taught a woman is to be submissive. When she finally raised concerns she was hushed.
After a decade she left her husband. And as a result of her choice to divorce her faith family abandoned her. Now she was trying to rebuild her life with her kids. Alone.
And then I get on the plane and plug into what’s happening in the world while I was away speaking and find a Facebook war waged over a statement made by Doug Wilson.
Wilson’s theology suggests Christian fathers then Christian husbands provide protection from women. When a woman acts “independent” she goes “unprotected.”
I’m not interested in offering up my voice – others have spoken more eloquently than I – but I am wondering when we will recognize that being with a Christian man does not equate to protection and provision. Women like I mentioned in this blog suffer at the hands of Christian men. In fact one of the women I mentioned shared her abuse with her pastor father and he advised her to “submit.” Not sure I would say; she was well prepared and trained by her father, “would you?” (Refer to his intro)
And I wonder if Wilson is aware most women in American (51%) don’t live with a significant man in their lives. No husband. He calls these women “independent” and therefore out from under the protection of their father or husband. But what does that say about the family of faith? Are we saying her Christian brothers (and sisters for that matter) shouldn’t be a way she finds “protection and provision?”
My fellow Christian sister is a 48-year-old successful businesswoman – not married. She is not under her father’s authority, as some say she should be. For those who argue for that position, I would like to know if she’s suppose to submit under the authority of an abusive, unbelieving father? What’s a woman to do? This kind of theology makes women confused and scurry to figure out whom “to get under.”
My “independent” sister is not out there unprotected because she has a family of faith in which she exists and lives. Unlike what Wilson depicts, she’s anything but independent; she’s interdependent in the body of Christ. She has brothers and sisters in her corner. People who will wipe her butt when she’s aged and unable to care for herself – brothers and sisters, who protect, provide, love, serve and walk with her. She doesn’t need a father or a husband; she has us, her faith family. Jesus demonstrated this radical family of faith living with his disciples.
Theology like Wilson’s, although I’m sure it’s not his intention, is dangerous for women. It’s of the same vain where a pastor-father tells his daughter to submit to her husband’s abuse.
I’m not sure how to grapple with all of this. My heart bleeds and my mind rages. I know anger is not the answer and to be heard we must be deliberate and wise. But sometimes I just can’t cope with what the conservative faith community does to women (and men quite frankly!) It breaks my heart and I cry out, “Lord when will this be over?”
My husband shot me in the face.