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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I'm a Bird

I’m sorry.

You were sold the story, hook, line and sinker. Do this, don’t do that, build it, tear it down, cover it up, write it over—do it all and then this...

This will happen for you. Or this bad thing, that won’t happen for you. Obey, honor, submit, then shut your mouth, don’t ask questions, don’t dare defy. Do all that and it will go well for you.

And then it didn’t. It didn’t go well and it went really bad. Really, really bad. On the other side you stood there with nothing. No morals, no laurels, no crowns of glory, all your delight in shambles and your hope in rags. They said it would go well for you and then it didn’t.
The above excerpt is from Lore Ferguson's post, An Apology to the Wounded Birds. And oh, wow. Finally somebody understands.

I'm a bird.

Image source.

"Don't," they said.

"Trust. Wait," they said.

"You have power, you have rights," they said. "But you must serve Jesus by giving up those rights. By never using that power. Just wait. Trust God. And you'll suffer alone, quietly, but God sees your sacrifice and will reward you."

"Don't be too direct, too forceful. Just wait, and God will work it out, if it's his will. Just trust."

And so I did. So I looked at my clothes and I gave up my right to be beautiful. They said my female body had enormous power over boys. Enormous power, and I needed to never ever use that power. Many times as I chose my outfit, I made the difficult decision to NOT be beautiful that day. To interpret my desire to be beautiful as nothing but selfishness. No, I needed to think of the guys first. And I made the sacrifice, and I chose the baggy t-shirt, and nobody knew except Jesus.

But how could I know? How could I know if it mattered? How could I know if I was "helping" any guys by rejecting my cute (and non-revealing) shirt and choosing one that was completely un-feminine?

Just silence. No feedback. The only things that kept me going were my belief that God did see and value my sacrifice, and those reassurances that "guys really DO appreciate modesty."

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And I believed that God controlled my love life, that God had a plan, a particular guy in mind to be the perfect one for me. Any other guy I liked besides "the one" was a temptation I must reject.

I had to follow God by shutting down my heart, by praying and praying about every crush, by deciding the answer was "no" if there was any imperfection in said crush. Because of course God could do anything, so he could set me up with a guy who DIDN'T have that imperfection. If I wanted to be with this imperfect guy right in front of me, that was only because I didn't trust God, because I was selfish. I just needed to wait. And trust. And do nothing.

Do nothing. That's how girls ended up in perfect marriages. Just wait, and trust, and do nothing, and shut down your heart. And God would do all the work.

Don't ask a guy out. Don't say anything. Just wait. Trust God and wait.

I remember several years ago, I happened to read a blog post where a Christian blogger challenged the idea that that's how it works. The idea that God would give you that perfect marriage if you waited and waited and waited and did nothing.

And I was TERRIFIED. What if God didn't have a plan? What if I was on my own? What if there was no guarantee of a perfect marriage and a life free of heartbreak? What if God didn't care, didn't care how hard it was for me to force myself to give up those feelings? What if my sacrifice never even mattered?

And now I've come a long way. I don't believe any of it any more, all that modesty and purity stuff. And I'm angry.

Because I'm one of those wounded birds in Ferguson's blog post. And I want to fly and follow Jesus. But not by holding back. Not by "waiting" and "trusting" and not doing anything. Not by believing that my desires and dreams are just selfishness and temptation.

I want to be free. I want to fly and follow Jesus.

2 comments:

  1. I think it's interesting that I read this directly after perusing the current Set Apart Girl's magazine (from Leslie Ludy); there was an article in it from a counselor in which she discussed the advice she gives to young women who are "struggling" with attraction to a guy who may not be "the one." I found most, if not all, of the advice to be stifling and ridiculous. I think cutting off all feelings in the effort to "save ourselves" is foolish; there is nothing gained from stopping ourselves from feeling deeply, even if it goes nowhere. I mean, I met my husband in January 2007 and as soon as I knew I was attracted to him, I started dropping hints that I wanted more than friendship; turns out, he wanted more as well and we were dating less than a month later. So, anyway, all that to say: I appreciate what you have to say on this topic and agree with you-- "I want to be free. I want to fly and follow Jesus."

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  2. Thank goodness more women are coming to realize this. We are people, and God does not grant us with a perfect spouse, because there is no such thing as a perfect person. Women aren't supposed to wait quietly for Prince Charming. The stupid modest-to-the-point-of-hating-yourself thing is ridiculous too. *facepalm* Can't everyone just be first and foremost a person?

    Instead we, both men and women, are supposed to love each other despite flaws (to an extent- I mean, use your best judgement while dating to determine if it's a flaw you just aren't compatible at all with). I think we're supposed to try and love each other like God loves us. As best we can anyway.

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