Who will give us permission to ask for the things we believe we are unworthy of?
One of the most beautiful and relevant poems I have read.
For the woman gangraped by the tribe of Benjamin.
Silent you were. You were
silenced. Not a word given you
in the whole merciless narrative.
Not a movement credited you
except one: prelude to the tale,
you returned to your father’s house
for four months. And one more
movement: footnote at the end,
you reach forward a hand.
Between that you are moved
as a pawn by primary players.
Nameless you are. You were
unnamed, called “concubine” and
“slave-woman” . Your “master”
was honoured as a “son-in-law”
yet you were no wife.
The whole story you travel between and with
the men meant to protect you. Father. Master (husband). Host.
They brutally betray you.
Father and son-in-law dine nightly
feast again and again, the two of them
then he takes you and “his other servant”
departs. Arrive in Gibeah.
Dialogue between master and servant.
Dialogue between master…
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I think one of the hardest things is to climb inside of your own pain and be okay. To accept it finally so that it no longer has so much power over you. It almost feels like climbing into bed with the enemy. You want to remain mad at society, at your culture, at your parents, your pastor, at God. We’d rather lash out and seek vengeance on what hurt us. But the only way to be free is to climb inside your own pain and forgive them all.
In the caverns of my mind
amongst ruins of scattered opulence.
How brilliantly they shined
how final their destruction is.
If You are to live in here
then please restore my soul.
Set me as a seal upon Your arm,
a royal diadem in Your right hand.
A second pair of footsteps echoes in the dark,
I imagine them.
And if one day you can’t find
a single star in your black night,
’tis only due to their eclipse
by your own beatific light.
Come one morning upon waking
you’ll find that life’s unsteady shaking
cast up diamonds in its wake;
And ‘twixt their birthing and your death,
when all the world held its breath
the Master quietly brought forth
His own Soul for you to take.
*I generally dislike rhyming poems but for some reason this one was birthed in my mind and I didn’t fight it.
Reading the comments section of a youtube music video really stopped me in my tracks this morning. Someone’s carefree comment of greeting all the beautiful readers spurred an onslaught of responses from people claiming they are ugly and awkward and everything opposite of beautiful. It really caught me off guard and left me wondering how many of us are walking around believing the worst about ourselves?
Our beliefs are intangible, yet they have the ability to wreak so much havoc or bring so much joy to our lives without us doing anything more than simply believing it to be true.
One of the lessons I had to learn in the most brutal way was that my emotions and everything I think about myself are master manipulators. It’s as if they take on a life of their own and start telling you things about yourself that are not true at all. One day I decided to revolt and start acting in a way that was completely opposite to what I actually believed about myself and what my circumstances were reinforcing to be true. I would consistently talk to God about this as well and ask Him to help me reinforce positive beliefs and self awareness. One thing that I did not count on is the sheer amount of bravery that would be required to consistently wake up and choose to believe the best about myself in the face of overwhelming odds.
Social media, Instagram models, and our own doubts (to name a few) are giants that have the ability to morph into monstrous proportions if we give them the slightest ability. (I wasn’t able to keep any social media accounts for the longest time due to this.) Let’s agree on one thing, if we must agree on anything at all, and it is this—the world is just waiting to pounce on you and tell you that you are not good enough, do not meet anyones standards of beauty, are not interesting enough to merit anyones attention, and are generally a failure. But there exists a small truth that, if given the opportunity, will change your life forever. You don’t have to agree with the world’s definition of you.
I recently started noticing a difference in the way people have been approaching me, and it has caused me to stop and take note. It revealed a dynamic about ourselves that we too often forget:
We are mirrors.
And people will always mirror our own beliefs back to us without even realizing they are doing it.
If you truly allow yourself to believe that you are beautiful, people will notice your beauty and treat you accordingly. If you respect yourself, people will treat you with respect. If you are kind to yourself, your kindness will overflow to other people and they will in turn react kindly to you.
So ask yourself—are you brave enough to take a stand about what you believe?
Sometimes God places us in tumultuous waters not to punish us, but to push us forward into a better place where we wouldn’t have ventured ourselves due to being complacent with the status quo.Continue reading “Suffering as a Christian”
If you’ve never truly hated someone with the deepest of bitter resentment and the hottest fire of burning rage–then do you truly know what it is to love someone?
If ever the black crashing waves of the purest loathing have never pummeled you, sucking you under in the fierce current of their bottomless depths, then tell me–how do you ascend into that sweet paradise of sublime beauty in equal measure?
To love deeply is to risk letting the pits of hell take you into their unrelenting embrace.
To crash unexpectedly into that fiery inferno, arms and legs akimbo as you pinwheel helplessly through the air.
To feel a thousand deaths as you watch your dreams sputter and die, winking out one by one.
But the glaring tragedy here is not having to survive such unbearable loss, no–the real tragedy here is to never have felt that kind of consuming love at all.
I’ve been doing this kind of roundabout study on some things in the Bible that pertain to women, and what I’ve found has blown me away. I didn’t set out to study this, actually, I sort of stumbled upon it over the years through various other studies. What has really taken me by surprise is that God created the woman with incredible power. The reason this surprised me as much as it did when it was fully revealed to me was because religion and culture has claimed such a total hold on women that it has effectively stunted their full potential and growth.
Ever since my teen years, I was completely fascinated with the Proverbs 31 woman and fervently prayed to God that He would transform me into her. (Little did I know what, precisely, that transformation would entail.) But over the course of the years, as I was put to the test and subjected to battle upon battle, I was bewildered and confused and disheartened, and there was many a time I cried out to God, “God! What is the point of these exercises?! All I do is continue to fail harder every time I try harder!!” (Strangely enough, I was failing up towards success–but that is a different topic altogether.)
One day I was listening to a sermon on Hebrew roots in the Bible, and the preacher stated that a word in the Proverbs 31 chapter had been incorrectly translated–the passage that asks, “A woman of virtue who shall find?” The Hebrew in that passage is actually, “A woman of VALOR who shall find?” Okay, at face value, that seems kind of odd. Valor means to have great bravery in times of war or an intense battle or danger. A courageous warrior displays valor when he performs feats of great bravery in securing victory in a battle. So why would a woman have valor? Better yet, what would she need it for? So digging deeper into this question, I uncovered the roots of the formation of woman, and what, exactly, was in God’s mind when He was creating her. When God said, “Let Us create a suitable helper for Adam,” the Hebrew word for “helper” there is ‘ezer.’ Loosely translated, it vaguely means “helper.” But that is not the actual and correct translation for that word. The roots that are used in the Hebrew to make up the word ezer mean “strength” and “power.” In other instances of the Bible where ezer is used, it is describing an encompassing power that surrounds the godly person to protect and shield him from danger and harm. With that being said, I am pasting this passage from an article I read that summarizes everything up quite neatly:
“Therefore, could we conclude that Genesis 2:18 be translated as “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.” Freedman even suggests on the basis of later Hebrew that the second word in the Hebrew expression found in this verse should be rendered equal to him. If so, then God makes for the man a woman fully his equal and fully his match. In this way, the man’s loneliness will be assuaged.
The woman was never meant to be an assistant or “helpmate” to the man. The word “mate” slipped into English since it was so close to the Old English word “meet,” which means “fit to” or “corresponding to” the man which comes from the phrase that likely means “equal to.”
What God had intended, then, was to make a “power” or “strength” for the man who would in every way “correspond to him” or even “be his equal.””
Okay, back to my own voice *wink* –After I realized the full spectrum of intent that was in God’s mind when He was creating the woman, I understood fully why the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of valor. If she is to be a power and a strength unto her husband, (coupled with the godly mandate to be his protector) then she is supposed to come equipped with the courage it takes to head into battle and overcome it with victory. We are all in the war, and we each also fight our own personal battles. Our foes have many faces–fear being chief among them. The fear of social rejection, stigma, what other people will think, being branded as this or that, etc. etc. etc. I listed those fears specifically because our culture has made those fears into an Olympic sport.
“A woman of valor, who shall find? Her price is far above rubies.”
*Note–I carried this over to my blog from my personal journal. I apologize for not citing my sources, I was pouring this down into my journal and simply copied and pasted there.
“Let me share with you the riddle of the vine, mistress. The vine needs to suffer. Going down into this earth-fighting to survive among the stones, among the lime rock–this is what gives it its aroma. Its taste. Its unique character. These grapes will create a wine few other vineyards can compare with–not because their life was easy, but because they had to struggle to survive.”
-Tessa Afshar (Harvest of Rubies)