Gender Confusion. Part I

From my earliest memories I felt that I was a disappointment to my parents. As the first child I was a girl. I wasn’t valued as I believed I should have been. For example, when it was time for bed Mom let me get in by myself while she turned the lamp wick down low. When the wick sputtered out I would call her and she came back into my room where I slept alone to relight the lamp and again turn it down to a sputtering glow. I didn’t wonder why she didn’t tuck me in or why she didn’t take time to play with me. I just thought I wasn’t worth the time.

Mom’s parents lived across the street from the town school where I attended first grade. There was an iron stair fire escape from the third floor to the ground and when there were no classes we played on the metal stairs. One day Mom called me to her and told me I couldn’t climb the fire escape anymore because the boys could look up my dress. I was mystified. Why was that an issue?! No explanation was forthcoming but I felt left out of the fun.

Later, at a one-room country school to the sixth grade, we all played together, boys and girls. One day I played particularly rough and noticed stained underpants. We lived just north of the school so I asked permission to go home and change clothes. Mom helped me clean up and sent me back to school. There was only the ominous comment that this was going to happen once a month from now on. Because I was a girl.

As my body matured I caught the attention of my father who thought I might be fun to play with. Fortunately he reached for me in front of Mom who was preparing the evening meal and she spoke his name sharply (which she rarely dared to do) and he immediately stopped. I was still playing with paper dolls and made clothes for them which I designed. The dresses were deeply cut in front to show cleavage and Mom was so upset when she asked to see my clothing designs that she cried.

Stamps were an adult commodity and very closely controlled but I managed to get one when I was around 12 and wrote to my favorite male singer asking for his photo. When it came in the mail Mom nearly had a stroke and made me promise to burn his picture. By this time I realized that she was keeping things from me but I didn’t know what, so I was becoming rebellious against her unreasonable restrictions. At least, they were unreasonable to me.

My sisters and I were not allowed to attend school functions or date, so my sisters learned to be deceitful, but I was passive. The fights were not worth getting things I wanted, such as playing in the pep band at home games or being in the high school chorus and class plays which required night practices. We could not catch rides with classmates or their parents, only with older adults who had no children in school. I learned to be afraid of the opposite sex and disrespected my own gender because of the perceived weaknesses in the adult females I was acquainted with. This attitude stayed with me throughout my adult years.

In my 30s I learned to upholster while the United States was in a recession. Since I had no routine, I bought a horse which I broke and trained myself and showed. I bought a horse trailer and towed it behind a station wagon. A station wagon extended over the rear axles making turns and backing up difficult while towing but I had an ability to gauge distances so it was fun when I pulled into a show grounds towing the trailer. Men would come running to offer to park my car and trailer for me but I smiled and retorted, “No help needed.”

As you could guess, my heart was stone down inside a misleading exterior. My attitude was, “Anything a man can do, I can do, even to heavy lifting and strength (within reasonable limits) as a farm kid. I don’t have to look or act like a man to do those things, either. I can still look and act like a lady.”

During my time in China it was a revelation to me that not all men behaved like my father or most American men do. Because my education was in the sciences, the Chinese government placed me in positions of teaching English scientific vocabulary to mostly research scientists and engineers – men – who treated me with great respect. God knew years before, when He called me to China as a ten-year- old the healing I would need. Slowly the transition from a stony heart to one of flesh began.

Part II next week.

 

Aphids

In a vision I was looking at a patch of green grass when I noticed some little white specks on a few blades of grass. As I studied the specks I realized they were aphids. Aphids come in various colors and are parasites, sucking the juices from living plants. They are fairly easy to get rid of by spraying the effected plants with soapy water, but left undisturbed they can reproduce rapidly and kill their hosts.

This brought to mind a situation I had been praying for. An individual had been attacked by a witch and had defended themselves by cursing the witch. Some time had passed and the individual was experiencing a variety of incidents intended to cause them to lose their joy and bring about anxiety. The “aphids” multiplied rapidly and the believer was losing strength and energy as the life was being sucked out of them.

This brought to my mind that we reap what we sow (Eph.6:7) (https://www.intouch.org/read/life-principle-6-the-principle-of-sowing-and-reaping) but it takes awhile for the seed to germinate and put out leaves, then flower, then bring on fruit which takes time to mature. “Aphids” that are left to reproduce quickly gain in numbers even though they are tiny, and can bring down a once-vigorous plant. By that time the curse can have been forgotten but the seed will still bring forth a crop multiplied by 30, 60 times or more.

Take the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15) (http://biblehub.com/songs/2-15.htm). Small distractions can take our focus off Jesus’ face for only a flash, but as we allow those tiny diversions to multiply they can lead us away from the love of our lives: Jesus. We can have as much of Jesus’ presence as we want – He gives His precious Spirit without measure – but we are often hungry and thirsty for Him without realizing how the little foxes, the tiny “aphids”, have sapped our vitality. Jesus hasn’t moved away from us; rather, unawares we have moved away from Him.

Reading too much secular material, especially novels, can dampen one’s appetite for reading the Word. Too much time on social media can saturate one’s mind and time. Any other activities that take time away from the priority of our Lord and Master can be considered “little foxes” or “aphids” that suck the vitality out of our most precious relationship, Jesus. As we drift, we lose sensitivity to Him and have little awareness of His grief.  He will not interfere with our choices, but He yearns for us to make Him our foremost relationship in all things.

Patched Screen Door

In the early morning I saw an old fashioned screen door with a neatly sewn patch covering a hole in the wire screen. A screen door can represent a filter but the patch could symbolize a couple of situations. The individual could be concerned about accepting what he enjoyed about a situation and wishing to refuse what he did not like about that same situation. Or the hole could symbolize the individual’s yearning to receive all that was about to break through the filter. Eventually the patch would fail to hold back the yearned-for, looked-for-with-anticipation, impending blessings.

Sometimes God’s rich resources absolutely destroy our boxes (assumptions, logic, etc.). Understand this: God cannot be put in a box. That very thought is foolish, for He is the Creator of all and far exceeds our restraints. He is the Lion of Judah. That is, He doesn’t wear a collar. He is not tame; He is not predictable. His ways are far above our ways and our thinking. And He is love. He can be depended on but not controlled.

Anticipate God’s presence with expectation of blessing. He is creative and comes with richness and unimagined ways of doing and being. He satisfies every longing deeply and He knows what you long for, yet unexpressed. Yes, He is risky, and sometimes He requires all that you have to give and that little bit extra that only the precious Holy Spirit can strengthen you to come up with. Dare to trust Him. He Who gave His life for you can be trusted to watch over you with intense jealousy.