Chain Link Fence

My week has been uneventful but revelatory. I opened up to the Rolling Prayer Request list that my friend set up on Facebook. I started to write my prayer request and deleted it several times. It dealt with an issue that I wasn’t keen on letting people know about—after all, I don’t know the majority of people in the group. I was aware that I would be recognisable as the girl with “that problem” if I ever went to a national church event. I’ve already made friends with people in the real world because they recognised me from the list. I didn’t want to be branded with anything.

I’ve really built this up haven’t I? Anyway, this is what I wrote:

 

Please pray for me. I suffer from low confidence and low self-esteem. It shows to other people and gets me in compromising situations, I guess. And I’m too sensitive. My sensitive nature has had me holding a grudge for years whilst the people involved just carried on with their merry lives. Basically, just pray for me to be more Esther-like or something. I feel as though my current personality, one of “fear” and “worry” completely contradicts the Bible’s standard of having faith and being bold. After all, if I have a strong relationship with God I shouldn’t be so emotionally weak. Thanks xXx

I got a lot of responses that really touched me. The same people I was weary of before took the time to message me privately with words of encouragement. It really gave me a boost. I then saw that there were people who were also going through the same state of mind but had been worried to ask for prayer about it before. I hope that this helped them in some way.

I would like to end on a thought about how we build and break each other in church. In a place where everyone wants to be seen to be doing something for the work of the Kingdom, I reckon it can be easy to heap too much praise on an individual when we like them or magnify their open sins when they look like a spiritual threat. This boils down to our natural sinful nature and is something we will only overcome by completely surrendering to Christ.

But it really hurts me when people say ridiculous and demeaning things just to ensure their own delusions of piety and status. I’ve just read a quote from an unknown person (and to be honest I don’t want to know them) fundamentally saying that the church needs men to stop the drama that women generate and this is why women don’t make good leaders.

As a young woman in church, when I hear things like that, how can I possibly have high self-esteem? If I’m being judged and broken down in such a way by the brothers in my own church, I don’t think it’s surprising if my morale is a little low. I feel more anger at such statements initially, along with the drive to prove the speaker wrong—at the same time, I feel terrified. I’m supposed to pick a husband out of this bunch.

I’ll be away for a week on Monday, so this is my last post until the 24th. I’m going to a church camp meeting in Wales. Hopefully I’ll have lots to talk about when I get back.

xXx

 

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Proverbs 31

It’s a beautiful passage in the Bible in which the image of a “Woman of God” is described. Sometimes, though, I wonder whether this emphasis on young women in church being a “Proverbs 31 Woman” causes more harm than good.

There are constant pressures in the world telling us what women should be. Modelling agencies tell us to be size zero; everyone else wants a “real woman”: curvy and rounded. We shouldn’t be sluts, but we also shouldn’t play hard to get; we should either straighten our hair or be “natural beauties” and join the movement of big chops and dreadlocks. Going into the realm of Ethnic minorities, we should remember our places in the home and not follow the western women into wanting independence and equality. I get annoyed at these pressures, as would a lot of people—man or woman—and I know God alleviates some of this by setting equal requirements in the Bible for what a man and a woman should be together.

It’s just starting to niggle at me that there is now a requirement within church to be the Ultimate Woman. The Proverbs 31 Woman. Hey, to me, there’s nothing wrong with women encouraging one another, praying and helping one another to hold on to Christ, but I’m noticing that the level of a woman’s virtue, her sexual purity and her obedience is starting to cloud the desires of women and men in particular. These things shouldn’t be a man’s concern, but similar to the world, the church places a lot of value on a woman’s sexual prowess. I know males who have had their “fun”, they’ve been out in the world, sleeping around, breaking hearts and whatnot, who would have a real problem if their future wife wasn’t a virgin. Not only is that hypocrisy, it’s sexist and downright hurtful: it’s in her past. Let it go.

I do find it strange when I hear young men going on and on about pure, holy, submissive and virtuous women. It sounds oppressive. Life is hard enough for women without us coming into church and being told we need to be virtuous and pure. The more I hear such things is the more I feel a life of celibacy is the one for me. Perhaps God is calling me to that life? I’m not sure.

But anyway, this is just something I was thinking about today. I’m beginning to feel the pressure, I suppose. I’ve been called a “humble” and “virtuous” woman, amongst other things (by men), and I still don’t know what that means. Is it because I’m quiet? That I don’t wear high heels? That I wear a hat to church? That I wear knee-length skirts? That I’m a virgin? Or that I’ve never been in a relationship? Or am I being overly cynical?

The mind wanders.

Something Slightly Annoying…

Feminism. I’ve been struggling with this for quite a while. When I say to Christians that I’m a Feminist, they seem to have a problem with it. I’ve always wondered, is it un-Christian to believe that the sex you were born into should NEVER determine how much freedom and respect you’re allowed to have? I understand that there’s a lot of ignorance surrounding the subject: before I did my Sociology A Level I assumed that Feminists were just angry man-haters. Then I discovered just how unfair this world is to women—through unequal pay and glass ceilings to more extreme cases: Female Genital Mutilation; prostitution, female trafficking and the atrocious hold the Taliban have over women in the Middle East. I saw a documentary a few years ago where the women in Afghanistan were so distressed by their mistreatment and abuse that they were killing themselves by self-immolation.

And let’s not forget that 400, 000 women are raped a year in the Congo. Ah, and in our wonderful, forward-thinking country, the conviction rate for rape cases is 6%. Result!

When I think about these things, I get so angry and I just can’t understand why everyone isn’t a Feminist. Christians should be getting involved with it, letting the world know that these things just aren’t on.

But what do you do when you’re part of one of the world’s oldest misogynistic institutions?

God is for women, obviously. God loves women. But in the Dark Ages and other times when Christianity was the main religion in this country, you would have thought the opposite. It was well known back then that women were sinful by nature; seductive little creatures whose only purpose in life was to lead men astray. You can even look for examples in the Bible where women were abused due to the religious nature of the time: the woman who was caught in adultery and thrown in front of Jesus to be stoned couldn’t have committed adultery by herself, yet there she was, surrounded and humiliated by men who should have known better. This is the problem with religion: it’s a man-made concept, so you get people who’ll twist God’s word to their own ends. Sadly, women have always had the short end of the stick because of it.

What I don’t like is when people in church outwardly deny that these things happen. It’s almost stupidity.

One of my biggest gripes in church these days is the whole ‘women you can’t wear this because the men can’t handle  it’ thing. I’m not being unreasonable–I understand that men are wired differently; that they’re Visual Creatures™ and get more easily aroused than women, but it’s really frustrating that when I’m picking out an outfit I have to think about all the men that might be aroused by it. Surely the onus is on the man to control himself? Some guys just get lazy, they don’t take responsibility for themselves and blame the woman for every lustful thought that goes on their heads. I thought men were supposed to be the Leaders, the Heads of the family? What kind of leader blames the woman for all his wrongdoings? It’s especially annoying when you’re curvy and certain clothes would just automatically look more sensual, even if you don’t mean it to. Yes I know there are some women who dress for male attention—actually, I think we all do, at least sometimes. It’s nice to get male attention (and I mean from a gentleman. Most of time some intimidating man just comes up to me and starts pestering me for a number, and once I was followed halfway home before he left me alone. But when a gentleman does it, it’s nice: a guy just held my hand once and told me I was beautiful. It was sweet…)

I’m gonna be completely honest and say that I like things that show a little bit of cleavage—if I’ve got the boobs for it, why not?

I had a long chat yesterday about this topic. I suppose my problem is that I keep refusing to see it from the Man’s Perspective. My friend said that if I really thought about God in all these gender politics, then I would automatically think about the guys I might make things difficult for and I wouldn’t mind if I had to cover up a bit. I honestly hadn’t thought about it in this way before. It’s just that, when I hear people say “you’re going to cause your church brother to sin”, all that goes through my head are those misogynists who believe that the woman is to blame if she gets raped. Surely if she just wore a long skirt then the poor man wouldn’t be forced to do that to her? ‘Cause men are different from women, aren’t they? And, like, you know—women in burqas have NEVER been raped, right??

*Sigh* I’m rambling. Mutual understanding, Baker, mutual understanding. I would never want to make a guy feel uncomfortable–honestly I wouldn’t. I’m just tired of women always bearing extra burdens. And I’m becoming a bit of a broken record nowadays. I’ve discussed this with people time and time again and it’s always me against five or so others and I end up feeling inadequate. It’s got to the stage where someone might say something slightly inflammatory about dress, or women, and people just stare at me, waiting for an entertaining rant. I don’t want to become a predictable joke, so I’ll just leave it for now. I was worse before, believe me. In fact I think at one point I was guilty of misandry (although I still don’t see what’s so bad about wanting men and women to be equal and I don’t think my thoughts are extreme).

Ah, and one more thing:

WOMEN LIKE SEX TOO. Remember that it’s always been seen as un-ladylike for a woman to talk about sex, to be openly sexual. Men have always had sexual freedom–why do you think when a guy sleeps with ten women he’s a hero and a woman is a slut if she does the same? Look at it Biblically as well: how many women did Solomon have at his yard again? Hundeds, right? Don’t let tradition turn into quasi-scientific facts. Men, just because you’re allowed to be open about sex, doesn’t mean us women don’t think about it or that we don’t get turned on; doesn’t mean women aren’t visual creatures either.

So next time it’s SEC Sports Day, and y’all start strutting around the park, six pack and all, think about how many of your church sisters you’re causing to sin.

Mutual Understanding, yeah?