Wednesday, June 21, 2006

moment of despair


“I Do”
by Late Tuesday

I do … for a while
I promise you … at least for now
And I’ll love you forever … or until I say otherwise
But I do … for now …

Don’t these lyrics describe our culture today? We may not say these words when we vow our undying devotion but don’t our actions scream that these words are actually true?!! The world today is not the same as my mother’s or my grandmother’s. Women today are confused and lost. Where do we belong? So many of us do not fit into the traditional roles of the women who went before us.

Carolyn Cutris James, author of Lost Women of the Bible, is not afraid to ask the hard questions … questions my heart has sought answers for but out of fear has not vocalized them.

“Is there only one biblical track for women, or does God intend and take delight in our great diversity? Are women second-class citizens in God’s family, or does he value us as much as he does our husbands and brothers? Does God have large purposes for his daughters, or does his Word limit our options? Is the Bible relevant for women in the third millennium, or have we outgrown its message?”

Carolyn grew up with every intention of following the traditional steps of her foremothers.

“My life plan was clear. I would be the next in a long line of women devoted to husband, home, and hearth, volunteering countless hours of ministry in the church.”

But when ring still wasn’t on her finger after she graduated from college, she got lost.

Had God forgotten her?

“I played by the rules, dated only Christians, wasn’t wild or rebellious, read my Bible, prayed, and faithfully served the church. Yet, instead of building my life around a husband and children, I was on my own, protecting and providing for myself. Who was I as a woman and what was my purpose in life if I never married or had a family? Had I misread the Bible’s teaching about women or was something wrong with me?”

When I read these words, my heart rushed. I felt cold sweat beads form on my brow. Like Carolyn, I grew up hoping for a husband, marriage, children, ministry. Like her, I graduated from college with no prospects. Like her, I entered the workforce. Like her, I pursued a Master’s degree at seminary. Instead of caring for a home and husband, I face a life of caring only for myself.

After ten years of independence, Carolyn married. Yet, even then her ideas of traditional helpmeet were questioned.

“My husband appreciated a fine meal as much as any man. But he wanted more of me than cooking, cleaning house, and raising kids. He wanted (he says ‘needed’) the experience and knowledge I brought into our marriage. He sought and valued my interaction in his work, my counsel in decisions, and my collaboration in tackling the problems that came our way. He wanted a partner, not a dependent. Instead of rendering my career temporary, unnecessary, or possibly a threat, marriage gave my vocation, gifts, and contributions a new sense of mission.”

By this time, I was driven to my knees. Yes, Christ is sufficient … but in a moment of despair I yearned for what Carolyn had. Did I dare hope, pray for, such a man? A man who valued what I had to bring to the marriage. Or am I to continue on this journey alone?

Over the years I have invested much into the lives of others. I believed in them. Championed them. Friends, like my dearest little Dolly, were always there to return the devotion. Some, however, sucked me dry, leaving me cracked and broken.

As I contemplate this lonely road ahead of me, who will sustain me? Who will me MY ezer, my ally, my champion?

“When our lives turn out differently than we expect, when we believe we’ve missed our true calling as women or that our contributions aren’t important, it’s easy to get lost. The questions that trouble us when we’re lost in our own lives take us deeper in our relationship with God.”

Psalm 13

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

38 comments:

sajini said...

wow!!! Christine, thanks for sharing that. I like Carolyn Cutris James too. Her book was given to me by my sweet Meredith before she left for England. I cant speak for most women but these thoughts have gone through my mind too!! Hope I get to see you this september!!

RodeoClown said...

Hi CK,
Don't stress too much - a couple at my old church didn't get married till they were (well) into their 40s. If God decides you should remain unmarried though, then so be it.

I hope that you can though - it does bring great joy (and pain).

-Ian


I fixed the spelling of depair over on 10k words btw...

Ruth said...

Hey Christine - I prayed for you this morning when I was having a shower. I prayed that God would use you mightily in Washington, and that He would fill you with contentment.

I will also pray tomorrow, that He will raise up a great and Godly man for you to marry when His timing is right.

(I can also pray that His timing happens soon if you like! :-) )

ckhnat said...

tee hee ... thanks, Ruthie

I have a friend who is praying that a guy friend of mine will meet someone would meet someone wonderful this summer so i don't have to marry him.

Another is praying that Mr. Right comes to the Seminary next semester ... fresh off the boat from Germany!

ack! how horrible would that be? he'd be perfect in every way ... but GERMAN!

Sob! I love you but I can't marry you.

Why?

You're German!

Ruth said...

Why couldn't you marry a German?

ckhnat said...

it's a vow i made years ago.

plus, my dad would never let me.

Nixter said...

What a wonderful post Christine thanks!

This a great quote My husband appreciated a fine meal as much as any man. But he wanted more of me than cooking, cleaning house, and raising kids. He wanted (he says ‘needed’) the experience and knowledge I brought into our marriage. He sought and valued my interaction in his work, my counsel in decisions, and my collaboration in tackling the problems that came our way. He wanted a partner, not a dependent. Instead of rendering my career temporary, unnecessary, or possibly a threat, marriage gave my vocation, gifts, and contributions a new sense of mission.”

Something to think on and remember.

Thanks again

onlinesoph said...

This was an honest, thoughtful and heartfelt post that brought tears to my eyes.

Priscilla said...

Be careful, Christine. Years ago I made a vow that I would never marry a short man!

lol! I narried Jamie and he is 5'6"!

Chris said...

It's funny, but I think we all (men and women) have times like this. I know men don't really tend to feel like "I'm never going to meet her;" at least, they won't admit it. But we do tend to feel like that along lines like, "I don't know if I'll ever figure out what God wants me to do in my career," or "I don't know if I'll ever figure out who I am," or ... well, you get the idea. Not that I, um, have personal experience. Or anything. Nope.

Anyway, resonated strongly with this post, thanks :)

Carmen said...

Amen, Christine! That was so timely for me, I've been feeling the same way lately, and that's just what I needed as I am learning to rejoice in my singleness.

Donners said...

Excellent thoughts Christine.

Particulalrly this...

"Did I dare hope, pray for, such a man? A man who valued what I had to bring to the marriage. Or am I to continue on this journey alone?"

"Over the years I have invested much into the lives of others. I believed in them. Championed them. Friends, like my dearest little Dolly, were always there to return the devotion. Some, however, sucked me dry, leaving me cracked and broken."

It is very difficult when you are a very giving person, and I found the same thing when I was working at a church, some people drained me terribly, and unfortunately, no-one told me I needed to create boundaries in serving, except my fiancee, now husband.

Some people I have had to cut ties with altogether, which was horrible, but unfortunately necessary.

It is important to have friends/roomates, family and team members who can help you and give to you, if you stay single for any length of time. And even if you do get married!

I'm with Ruth in terms of prayer.

jennifer said...

Like someone mentioned earlier, it's an honest and heartfelt post. I've always appreciated your attitude on this whole singleness business. But this "human" side of you encourages me even more.

The Borg said...

Great post Christine. Thanks for being open like that.

What made you make the vow not to marry a German? Isn't that ruling out a potentially godly, hot husband?

Just btw, it would be nice to marry a man who valued my contributions, but I wouldn't want him to depend on me too much though. Like directing his life or making decisions for him. Blech. Someone please reassure me that they don't want a woman who completes them in this way.

mike said...

So you are going to the US via Germany Borg?

I'm interested you expnading on this

"Just btw, it would be nice to marry a man who valued my contributions, but I wouldn't want him to depend on me too much though. Like directing his life or making decisions for him."

Bron said...

I don't want to speak for the Borg-frau, but there's nothing like being pathetic to bring on the cold contempt of a woman.

CraigS said...

I like the association between "German" and "hot" - ahem, notice the last name...

there's nothing like being pathetic to bring on the cold contempt of a woman

Absolutely Bron...

G. F. McDowell said...

I'm really, really not trying to be mean here, but is it possible you're pouring out a little too much of yourself in this post? It sounds as though you are hurting. Might it perhaps be wise to process that hurt in a more private way? A humble suggestion.

The Borg said...

Ha ha Mike. No particular preference for Germany. I would say missing out on a "potentially" hot husband about any country Christine wished to rule out with a vow.

Happy to expand; I guess I wouldn't want (to phrase it selfishly) a guy who relied on me to provide him with interesting conversation and ideas, or entertainment, or direction or a plan for his day or week or life. If he liked me because I seemed to have it together, I'd run the other way. Like Bron said, if that's what she meant. :)

Does that make sense, or would you like me to expand further?

The Borg said...

Don't get me wrong though; I'm not saying there are NO ways a man could depend on me. He can rely on me to listen to him, trust him, obey him and he can depend on me to not have a cow when he leaves the tiolet seat up.

Ruth said...

he can depend on me to not have a cow when he leaves the tiolet seat up.

Funny you should mention that...

It's important to be married to a man, not a mouse. It's what often creates fights, but is also simultaneously exceedingly satisfying.

Christine - what made you vow not to marry a German (hot or otherwise!)??

Ruth said...

NB - toilet seat comment was about living in a house with boys, not a go at AB. I've just realised the last few weeks, why it's so important that the seat goes up...I'm going to have to 'retrain' my boys!!

G. F. McDowell said...

I figure I might be able to finagle a "compromise" on the great toilet seat debate: If I get a urinal, she can have the toilet seat BOLTED down. This would be after the all-out highlands wedding in my kilt with my cousin playing the pipes. Ah, the idealism of bachelorhood...

CraigS said...

If he liked me because I seemed to have it together, I'd run the other way

ROFL!!!

just somebody said...

Christine, I appreciate your honesty and openess. I believe that no matter where we are in life we can all relate to feeling lost sometimes. Finding "Mr. Right" will never fill all of your emptiness and neither will a house full of children. A career can leave one feeling insignificant and insecure too. I think that even when we belong to Jesus, there may remain a little empty spot inside that keeps us running back to Him.

Bobby said...

This is a great post, Christine. I'm stealing some of the quotes for my own blog, but don't worry, I've credited you and provided a hyperlink to your post.

Good stuff.

CraigS said...

He can rely on me to listen to him, trust him, obey him and he can depend on me to not have a cow when he leaves the tiolet seat up.

Us guys really need to step up to the plate, don't we?

Anonymous said...

I respectfully and completely disagree with the comment that suggested that you should deal with your hurt privately without letting others see it in such a public forum. I think it's very brave and transparent of you to allow others inside your head like that, and I find it encouraging to know that I am not the only one who sometimes feels that way when I consider that I may never marry or have children. I think it's a common quandary, to be torn between knowing God's sufficiency at the moment and wanting desperately to pray for his blessing in the future, as if the two must necessarily be mutually exclusive. I thought your post was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I'm also disagree with that comment you should deal with issues privately. One of the best things I have found with blogging is that one is able to talk about their feelings. Not all of us are gifted or eloquent communicators. Blogging has been a way to deal with the hurt and pain and I’ve experienced in my life. It has given me peace and great healing.

sajini said...

Hey Christine, I just want to say again that I appreciate your honesty in this post!! Mcdowell, people deal with issues in lots of ways. show grace will ya? :)

ckhnat said...

Why I will not marry a German: I'm not so sure I should say ... it might offend.

pathetic behavior yields contempt:
spot on! it lessens their manliness. and goodness knows, all of us strong women don't have the energy to be your mommies, as well as your lovers

McDowell - no worries, McD. I'm not hurting. It was merely a matter that cause a lot of thought one evening. I thought others may be going through the same process of thought and might be encouraged or might have insight for me.

Just Somebody - what a wonderful way of putting it! if we had everything we desired, our hearts would be tempted to turn from God.

Kelli B said...

Simply put: I loved this post. Grabbed my heart. I am near to you in Spirit - this was BEAUTIFUL.

I trust in God for you, I really do.

ckhnat said...

In response to the Borg's comment about dependence:

I've always longed for a "complimentary" union. However, as I look at it now, the scale in my mind was heavily weighed down on my own side. I longed to nurture, support, encourage, cheer, defend, etc. my husband ... but expected little in return. I would be his "helpmeet", afterall. But now I see a recipe for fatigue and burnout.

Imagine, then, my shock and awe when I continued reading to find how Carolyn's husband supported her:

"Many of the churches we attended were inquisitive and eager to employ Frank's gifts, but showed no interest in mine. I'm embarrassed to admit this didn't bother me at first. I thought this was how things were supposed to work. My husband was the focus of attention now, and my job was to promote and encourage his ministries."

see the similarities?

cont...

"He couldn't have disagreed more. He was interested in my calling as a Christian too and challenged me to develop and use my gifts. Certainly, if we take seriously New Testament statements about the Holy Spirit giving spiritual gifts to each member of the body of Christ, then every believer who crosses the church's threshold is bearing vital gifts for our spiritual welfare."

Carolyn's husband urged her to explore new opportunities to use her talents and gifts within a career and in ministry.

In the end, Carolyn had everything she had dreamed and prayed for, a husband and a daughter ... but none of it came to her in a way that fit into her "preconceived Christian categories."

ckhnat said...

I believe Carolyn and Frank were unable to conceive and adopted their little girl.

Ruth said...

They're good quotes Christine - it is really important for a husband to bring out the best in his wife - to encourage her Godliness - and this will mean that he pushes her to using her gifts - and frees her up to do that....it's hard for us to work that out in practise because AB is a minister - so one of the main ways I serve the church is looking after my boys so that it frees him up to have good conversations, prepare for church, etc etc etc.....but AB is also keen for me to serve in other ways too, so has helped settle the boys if I am playing the piano at church....it's important that we both use of God given gifts to build God's church - and a wise husband will encourage his wife in that.

A good man will also appreciate a wife that uses her brains, that grows in understanding of the scriptures, that reads books, so that he can have good conversations with her - he doesn't want someone to just be his personal maid - part of being a helpmeet is being a source of encouragement and inspiration to his growth as a Christian.

Donners said...

"A good man will also appreciate a wife that uses her brains, that grows in understanding of the scriptures, that reads books, so that he can have good conversations with her - he doesn't want someone to just be his personal maid - part of being a helpmeet is being a source of encouragement and inspiration to his growth as a Christian."

I agree. One thing I really hoped for in a husband was that he would ask me "where is that verse about X in the bible" because I tend to remember quotes and concepts and I wanted to use this gift.

I love that my husband does this when he is writing a sermon, or a forum post...

I think its also important for men to encourage women to pursue their interests. If one is a mum, you are going to be extremely busy ( I'm not yet, but it appears hugely busy to me!), so you will need your husband's support if you want to keep your interests. I.e paying for childcare some days so you can go to a class, or visit friends, ect.

This enables you to keep developing who you are, I think, to grow as a human being, and therefore, as a christian. My husband goes out of his way to try and keep me playing the guitar, singing, reading, writing, running. It really strengthens me to keep serving him!

G. F. McDowell said...

Sajini (et al), I'd like you to know that I made my comment out of love and a real concern for my sister in Christ. Christine did not think my concern that she may be hurting was well-founded, and I have allowed her assessment to stand. I understand that people process things in different ways. In what way have I failed to give grace?

sajini said...

G.F,
"Might it perhaps be wise to process that hurt in a more private way? A humble suggestion."
You are giving her suggestions on how to process her hurt or vent. I do see that you are commenting out of love and you are looking out for your sister. Its all good. Maybe you were showing grace!! i could be wrong!! :)