Helpers, Not Footstools

Read Genesis 2:21-23, Ephesians 5:21-33, Zechariah 2:8

Never tell a little girl that she is ugly, or that she will never find a man who will want her. For me, hearing those words from a beloved aunt meant that, as a woman, I had no value or worth in my own being, but only became valuable if a man thought me beautiful and wished to marry me. It also meant that I had no calling in life greater than finding a man who would validate my existence by marrying me and loving me. What I failed to realize was that God created woman from man’s side, to stand with him and help him, not from man’s feet, to be held down and battered. I did not realize that helpers are valuable in their own right.

Having read the Bible and learned that wives were to be submissive to husbands, and that husbands were to love their wives, by the time I was age 16, I was obsessed with finding a boyfriend who one day would be my husband and love me. Having never dated by my senior year in school, and never hearing my mother or father tell me that I was loved, I thought that I was the ugliest girl in the world, and that if  I found any man willing to date me, I would be submissive to him, no matter what.

No one explained to me that this was not a healthy way to think. So, when I finally met someone willing to be my boyfriend, even when the beatings started, I would not leave the relationship. I thought he was the answer from God of my prayers to send someone who would love me. I did everything he asked, even when he placed his feet on me, kicking me in the side. I told no one of the violence, because I was afraid of being seen as unlovable again. But, one night, as I prayed to God, I felt His presence, and I knew that this was not the kind of love God wished for me.

I just knew that love that hurts is not God’s way, for Jesus loved the church and He cared for it, not causing any pain or hurt to it. So, I asked God to give me the courage to end the relationship.  Two weeks later, I refused to submit to the guy’s request that I wash his sister’s dishes. I would be beat either way I chose.  In response to my saying no, unlike other nights, this time he hit me only once, but so hard I was in the hospital for the next seven days and I needed surgery for my injuries. Afterwards, I had to rethink how I saw myself as a woman and as a person of value, to prevent finding myself in another violent relationship.

I heard a preacher one night tell a congregation of women that no matter what your husband does, you continue to submit to him because woman came from man. I went to him afterwards and told him my story, and I asked him to reconsider his approach to the message. I said that many women will remain in abusive relationships, if there is no clarification that husbands are to love their wives as God loves the church, and that means husbands should not batter their wives’ bodies or souls.

As a minister and teacher, I tell the young women in my classes and congregations that they are the cake! If you have someone in your life who acknowledges your value and worth, supports your ideas and dreams, and who does not cause you physical or emotional pain, then that is the icing on the cake. But, too often, the icing overpowers the cake, making it impossible to know just how good the cake is. That is what an abusive relationship is like. I explain that the cake is edible without any icing on it, and that women are valuable separate from their roles in men’s lives.

I tell them that if a man gets past his conscience and hits them once, he will do it again, so leave the first time. I remind them that we were not created as women to be footstools, but helpers. Zechariah 2:8 reminds us that whoever touches us, as God’s daughters, touches the apple of God’s eye. Just knowing that God always loved me helped me to finally see myself as a diamond of great value.

Father In Heaven,

   Thank you for always being there willing to save us and help us know our value and worth. I pray today for every woman (or man) who are in an abusive relationship, because You let me know that love never causes us tremendous physical and emotional pain. Let angels encamp around them, and then, Lord, and deliver them from these bad relationships. Let Your love envelop them and keep them. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

 

 

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