Bold and Beautiful

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I haven’t written much here lately as there is a paper on New Monasticism that I need to write. Every time I sit to blog, I feel guilty for writing for pleasure when the pages of my paper are empty. Alas, my mind is wandering too much today and I thought I would write to rein it in and to hopefully get the creative juices running.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Typically this is one of the hardest days in the calendar year for me because I am estranged from my mother and not of my own choosing. This year I have been filled with confusing feelings as I have been intensely dealing with issues around my mom through this intensive program. Much has been stirred up for me – feelings about her not getting me help when I disclosed, for not protecting me once she knew, for her siding with my dad, for her reactions in the days after I left home, for her having another child with the man who abused me. This year there is an added layer as I just found out that the appeal regarding my dad’s conviction and sentence has just been booked – I feel for my mom, knowing that this could be the last mother’s day that the family stays locked in the dissolution that this is all just a fictitious story that I have made up in revenge. I worry about her – there is so much denial and so much trying to protect an image that has been shattered that I think if my dad goes to jail, then this will come as a shock. My only hope is to pray that somehow she spends the next few months preparing her heart and mind for this and to pray that there will people who will come alongside her as things crumble.

I went away for the weekend with my housemates to a cottage and spent time reading, laughing and relaxing. I led prayer time on Saturday night and the assigned Psalm for the evening was Psalm 27 which is beautiful for many reasons, but there is a verse that has held me over the years: If my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up. On the weekend of mother’s day, this was a helpful reminder. But it was also cool to be reading this with some of the ‘family’ that I have created for myself and to be able to look around as that verse was being read to take in how the Lord has provided for me.

Still, I was not looking forward to Mother’s Day. A day of sentiment, mushy feelings, of all the facebook posts of what a wonderful mother everyone has and the loneliness of not having a mother to call or to cook for.

and even though I helped plan the Mother’s day service, I *still* was dreading it.

But I was surprised.

Did you know that Mother’s Day was not really invented as a way to shower mother’s with cards, chocolates and flowers?

It began as a political statement against war and has been renewed by strong woman who have stood up for justice and taken risks to speak against injustice in the world. Mothers have banded together regardless of nationality as the mothers of “our” children who go to war, recognizing that the pain and injustice of losing a young child in war is universal regardless of what side you are fighting for.

We had a guest preacher who spoke to this and spoke of bold and beautiful women. I think too often we ‘domesticate’ the woman. She is supposed to be meek, supposed to submit to her husband, she is to be the nurturing force in her family. I know in my family this was the case. Now, I am not a feminist really. I hold on to a high view of the role of the man in marriage and family and I think when the man takes on the role that Paul speaks of in Scripture, this can be a very beautiful and wonderful thing. Also, I think it is equally beautiful when a woman lives into a nurturing and caring role. But in my family, the role of the woman was to submit to the man. Often my dad was ‘right’ even if my mom and I disagreed with him. Maybe it was easier that way. I spoke out against the injustice about what happened to me. I went against the domesticated female role and found voice that shunted my dad’s ability to have full decision making power. And that has come at a cost. A huge loss – I lost my immediate family. I think as a result, I have not seen courage, strength, power, boldness as feminine qualities.

The sermon on Sunday though spoke not only about women who have broken the domestic mold and made change in society and the church, but also challenged me as a woman to live into this. It challenged me to see that God has given me courage, strength, power and boldness as a woman and that I need to live into who God has made me to be. For me, this means using my voice and my writings to speak out against injustice in the world and to use my strength and power to challenge structures and foster change. This is my calling as a woman and as a woman who has been rescued and loved by God in the midst and beyond horrible circumstances, injustice and pain.

And so this is the calling to which I respond: to be bold and beautiful. To use my experience and gifts to speak for those who have no voice, to protect those who need protection and to challenge structures that continue injustice.

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  1. Barb
    May 15, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Elizabeth you are able to express your thoughts and feelings in such a clear way. You are clear on right and wrong but not judgmental. You are able to look at your birth family and see clearly who they are. I jus wish i was able to reach through my iPad and give you a big hug. Your family has lost a beautiful daughter. I think this therapy is helping you to face the unpleasant with your Mom instead of only looking at the situation with rose colored glasses. Your pain must be really difficult but I want you to know that there are those of us who want to be there for you. You are loved and respected. God has plans for you

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