Monday, February 18, 2013

A Woman, A Christian, AND Angry? Oh my!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Christian culture, specifically the fundamentalist/evangelical branch of it, you may not be aware of this, but Christian women are apparently not supposed to get angry.  Yeah, I know. I was shocked, too.  Apparently, it isn't godly, or feminine, or cool to be a woman, a Christian and pissed off. Oh, and yeah, we probably shouldn't say things like "pissed off" either.  My bad.

I have had Christian men come across the table at me in anger during Bible studies because I disagreed with them and wasn't convinced by their arguments.  I have been called a "Monica Lewinsky" at a board meeting of mostly men...I'll let you figure out the reference.  I have had to listen to a male lay leader make an angry public announcement that accused me of adultery and deceit, in a meeting full of people that included my 12 year old daughter.  In all of these instances, I had to bite my tongue. Swallow my anger. In the church, as a woman, I learned early that if I allow myself to get angry, I immediately lost any credibility that I had.  Not that I had much, but still...

Later, I listened to a lay couple counsel my husband and I, a couple who were clearly untrained and unfamiliar with the domestic violence issues that we were dealing with.They counselled me to avoid making my husband angry. When I got angry at this advice, it felt very much as if my "female" rebellion was exposed. It made no difference that my rage-obsessed husband was sitting across the table from me in a seething fury.  My anger was abusive. His was justified.  What evil, deviant, horrific words did I spit out in the verbal abuse that I was accused of? Recently I asked my ex-husband what I had said that was so abusive.  His reply? I called him a bully.  A liar.  Lazy.  This is what constitutes angry, violent abuse in a Christian woman.  Apparently, a Christian man can get away with anything.

I say this now because I am angry.  And fighting the urge to apologize. Recently I wrote an email telling a friend of mine that if she has any knowledge about who might be supporting my "bully" in his threats against my daughter and I, she should share it with me.  When I read the email now, I am sickened at how apologetic I sound.  Like, if you're comfortable sharing...maybe you should pray about it...whatever you think is right... Seriously?  Everybody I have told about the threats I received on Saturday, including the police, were deeply concerned for the safety of my daughter and I. And I know things that make the threat even worse.  Why the hell am I being apologetic about asking for info that might protect us? Why do I even have to ask?  Damn!  I am angry!

You know what I love? I wrote about this situation to my pastor last night.  My Presbyterian pastor is a woman.  And you know what? She was angry. She wrote in caps and everything, and used lots of exclamation marks.  She was royally PISSED!!!!!  How brilliant is that?

As I read her email, I swallowed the urge to console her and instead, allowed her indignant fury to minister to me.  And then I heard from my best friend, and lo and behold, more exclamation marks of anger!  There are no men in my life who are close enough to me or brave enough to be moved to protective anger.  Sometimes, it is hard to feel God's protectiveness, when everyone is trying to be rational and safe.  But  when people we love are being threatened and wounded, the fact that we love them makes us angry.  If we are not angry, then we either do not love them out of apathy, or our fear has squelched the love.

 I am surrounded by brave, loving, compassionate women who see the danger that my daughter and I are in, and who are angry about it.  And their anger is a balm to my soul. It is not out of control. It is not hate-filled. It is love-induced. It makes me feel valued. Loved. And so not alone.

 How can I ever trust the powerful, holy, protective anger of God if the men in my life don't care enough to bother and the women are more interested in being safe and accepted than they are in being real and alive?

My pastor and my best friend have showed the heart of God for me, when they react in anger at the injustice and hate that has been directed at my child and I.  They give me freedom and courage to be honest about my own anger.  The truth is, I trust God more now than I ever have in my life.  God is giving me courage to do things that I need to do to protect myself.  Including calling the police and telling them the truth no matter what vengeful ramifications might come my way.  My bullies may see my anger as rebellion, abusive, demonic...I see it as a God-given reaction, a mother charged with protecting herself and her child, and a loving call to action and courage and strength.

I have no desire to hurt anyone.  I am not responsible for the behaviour of the bullies who threaten me. I don't want to be here any more that anyone else does.  But I promise this.  If anyone knows anything that might serve to protect my daughter and I, and does not share it with me, and if we are harmed in anyway because of their silence, I will be angry.  Seriously angry.  I'm a Presbyterian now, and apparently we're allowed to be women AND angry. So be prepared.  There are laws for a reason.  God is a just God.  And I am not alone.

Peace out.

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