‘Till The Last Petal Falls…

Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose

GUEST POST

Far More Precious
Elizabeth Rose

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10

All my life, I was told that God was the God of Love. I was told if I loved my neighbor, in return I would be rewarded with love. So when in high school, when I was lured into what would become a four-year abusive relationship, I found myself at a complete loss.

“This could not be what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to turn the other cheek,” I thought. I was spiraling into a cycle of being hit and then forgiving my abuser, hoping that my ‘love’ was enough to save him from his sinfulness. I could have gotten myself killed for it.

Many of my Christian peers at the time congratulated me for having the humility and patience required to remain with my attacker. To them, my suffering was just another cross that I needed to take up in order to bring more people to salvation. Surely, through by persistent example, my abusive boyfriend would see the light and come to Jesus. He would eventually have no choice but to see how I had stood beside him and never wavered in supporting him, wouldn’t he?

It would take a nasty break-up, a restraining order and several years before I would realize just how wrong I was. So today, I want to share some things that I have learned, in the hopes that it may be used to save others the same, long road of injustice:

• Christian love does not require women to remain in abusive relationships, no matter what the circumstance.
• A Christian woman knows that, just as all other children of God have an intrinsic worth, so does she. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 As God has commanded His children to protect life, and the dignity of human life, so does He command us to respect the dignity of our own persons.
• Christian love does not mean giving in to our beloved’s commands, nor does it mean retaining possession of our beloved. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do, especially in abusive relationships, is to keep ourselves from enabling attackers. Even Jesus rebuked Peter out of love (“But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”Mark 8:33) when Peter insisted on his ‘humanly concerns.’ In that circumstance, Jesus compared Peter to Satan in order to show Peter the errors of his ways. In a way that seemed harsh, Jesus helped Peter become more of a Man of God.
• A Christian woman knows that she has been charged to be submissive to her husband (“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18). At the same time, she also knows that God has charged her husband to love his wife as himself, and to behave himself as if he was Christ (“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” 33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-23, 33). Women do not have a responsibility to submit themselves to the good of men who do not attempt to make themselves Men of God; and men of God command respect from their women through love and care, and not physical or mental violence.
• A Christian man knows that an ‘excellent’ wife, though hard to find, is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10 see above). An excellent woman is one who is allowed to follow her vocation as she is called to by God, one who is allowed to flourish in her family, in her Church, and in her larger community. A Christian man, therefore, should take care to cultivate his wife into such an ‘excellent’ woman through upholding her dignity.

God wishes for none of His children to suffer at the hands of another of His children. He died for the dignity and salvation of His creation and it is up to us to make sure that we are protecting those among us who are most vulnerable. This includes those in our community who are trapped in abusive relationships, and kept there in the name of being a ‘good Christian’, or a ‘good wife’, or a ‘good girlfriend.’

A good woman knows her worth and she protects it. A good man knows the worth of a woman and he protects that. Abuse is never acceptable. And by the grace of God, one day the world will see that. But it takes someone standing up to it. That someone can be you.

Elizabeth Rose, a twenty-something college student and the author of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. Available now from Mockingbird Lane Press, 10% of all author royalties will be donated to local battered women shelters.

Worship in Silence

This was originally posted on Jebaire Publishing’s website. Unfortunately, due to hard economic times, they will be closing their doors in 2013. They have served me beautifully as a writer and author. They published my second book God Whispers: Nudges, Fudges and Butterfly Moments in 2012.

Worship in Silence

By

LizThompson

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Going to church was part of growing up for me. The sound of our church bell roused me from sleep on Sundays, sending out a reminder to come worship. I didn’t even think about not going to church—it was an integral part of my life, and I loved everything about it. From walking in the doors, seeing familiar faces, listening to the music and singing in choirs since my youth, to listening to sermons—even when I could not understand everything said—and returning later for youth group meetings or other events at our church.

Music was a huge part of my worship. Singing was as natural as breathing for me. Walking two by two into church in our choir robes and holding our music high, we would sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” marking the time with each step. The words of the hymns soaked into my heart and soul comforting and teaching me.

Looking back, the ritual of worship and familiarity was something I sought out when I was an adult and on my own. There were times I moved far from God. I’m not proud of those times, but I know I learned from them. Those were lonely times thinking I could do things on my own without seeking God for answers; without looking for a place to worship with others and not listening to God’s direction.

But today I know God never moved. He was right there waiting for me to wake up and listen to His voice.

Listening was a problem for me physically since at least fourth grade when I was told what I already sensed:  I had significant hearing loss. The 50′s were not a time when technology would have helped me very much but acknowledgment from my family would have helped. Yet, I became stronger and learned to read lips and body language as my hearing worsened. By 29 I needed hearing aids but waited 10 years before taking action on this knowledge. The doctor told me my ears were 80 years old. When I asked what they would be like when I was 80, he said, “Learn sign language.”

With my first hearing aid, the world opened up for me, and I was better able to live in the hearing world. Then a few years later, a second hearing aid helped even more. About this same time, God inspired me with lyrics and music, and I performed them with my guitar. After six years of this inspiration, it stopped as suddenly as it started. That’s when I started taking American Sign Language (ASL) classes. If nothing else, I would sign the music.

Soon I realized I could no longer hear my own voice when I sang, especially in choir. So I relented and sat in the pew with my husband. Soon after, I was deaf with only about eight percent of my hearing remaining.

How would I worship without music? Without hearing? All my life, worship involved voice and now mine was silent. My life was silent with only snippets of sound.

God reached me in my silence. He spoke in a silent language of my heart. He taught me to listen in new ways and gave me courage to move on in the hearing world.

In the late 90′s, attending church meant my husband repeated the sermon highlights when we went home and the bulletins were how I obtained church news. People were kind, knowing I couldn’t take part in conversations and hugs were plentiful. I was part of a team that sought FM Listening Systems for the hard of hearing in our church. That helped me for a time but then, no longer. Life was silent and I sat in the pew praying while others sang and spoke.

One Saturday, I drove past a church I’d seen often and my car seemed to steer into the parking lot. I took a deep breath and walked to the door and knocked. No answer. I knocked again, knowing there were people in the church. Nothing. I peeked in the window and saw people and knocked a third time and someone saw me and opened the door. I was so nervous and embarrassed. Why? It was a church for the Deaf and I had been knocking!

Using my rough ASL, I asked a few questions about services and told them my husband was hearing. “How will he know what is happening?” I asked. The pastor spoke and signed back to me, “We speak and sign and have many hearing in services.”

We attended for a year, I grew and learned that worship wasn’t all about talking and music; it was about praising God and letting his love shine into the world.

God continued to reach me in silence, but in 2002, I had my first cochlear implant restoring 95 percent of my hearing. Thank God! Sound was back in my life, but I am still deaf when the batteries die. Music didn’t return with the implant, but I have a new appreciation for sounds of nature which is truly music to my ears.

Our loving God knows all our lives. He knew I would become deaf and need to learn the music of my heart—His heart. Over the years, my love of writing was developed through poetry, music, essays and various writing venues. Now I know why. One doesn’t have to hear in the true sense to write. But since I hear God in my heart, mind and soul, His messages come through loud and clear. And I write.