Friday night I spent time with a group of Christian women and got to participate (though my input was minimal) in a phenomenal conversation about sex and marriage. I went to bed unaffected, but I woke up Saturday morning filled with sadness, regret. The sweet and precious joy my friend will have, that so many women in that room had, is something I threw away. My rash decision is impacting my life all these many years later.
To top things off, that night I watched a movie that awakened in me a sleeping giant of anger and bitterness. (Well … the giant had been taking a restless nap. It was sleeping with one eye open. It was pretending to be asleep.)
I have never had a relationship with a man who was faithful to me. Not my father: I haven’t seen or heard from him in more than 33 years. Not my step-father: I never felt acknowledged or accepted by him. And not the men with whom I’ve shared my most personal self. All these were the men to whom I had entrusted my heart and life and being.
Wasn’t I ever of value to any one of them? It is horrible to realize, to acknowledge, that the answer is no.
Last night I was finally able to just admit to myself that I am bitter. I am in so much daily emotional pain and so weighed down by bitterness that these feelings seem entirely normal. I don’t know how it feels to be without them. They’re an inseparable part of me. Like my limbs, or my brown skin.
Those men saw me as a means to an end: Just one female among many hundreds of females, serving no purpose but to satisfy an immediate need.
Yet as a woman–as a wife and mother, and now as a Christian–I have been entrusted with the responsibility to minister respect, honor, servanthood and submission to my husband. I am also to model these things to my sons and daughters. I’m failing miserably. How can I be that woman? I want to, but all I have is this armor of anger and bitterness. I don’t know how to put it down. I don’t think my muscles and joints know how to move in such a strange way.
Of course, there’s God. The Bible says he’s different than men. He’s faithful and loving; he’s my father and my husband and my friend. These are good things. I know God is good.
But I feel like he sees me the same way as every other significant man I’ve known.
If not for the covering of Jesus’ blood, I’d be one indistinguishable dead body in a mass grave. A ragged tangle of muddy arms and legs and faceless faces, like those horrible pictures from Nazi concentration camps. Instead I’m one person in a living, moving crowd of arms and legs and faceless faces in the World that God So Loves. As an individual, I have nothing to offer, no intrinsic value. When God’s eyes roam to and fro over the earth, they skip right over me.
This me, unembellished, is not enough. Add to all this ordinary shabbiness the fact that I’m bitter and angry, and I’m utterly useless.
I know what the Bible says, okay. I know that my heart is lying to me. But this is just … where I am right now.