As I read each contribution from these lovely friends who have so graciously shared their stories with us for this “Wild Rose” series, I’m so inspired and in awe of the diversity God created in each one of us! Today, meet Kristenn. This is a joyful mom of three, loving wife, and an encouraging friend to many. She is a student of light.. through her hobby of photography and in a deeper way as she studies the Word. Kristenn knows how to laugh at the days to come, because she knows who goes before her.
As you know, this is an installment in a series titled: To A Wild Rose. My friend, Joani Burchett, challenged me to offer something on the subject of women, to encourage those who feel the hurts that this world throws our way. I was blank for a while and then the following words came. I do hope it is encouragement to you all, who feel anything but hopeful, and redeemed.
Early one morning last year I was taking some time to study scripture, followed by prayer. As I prayed an image flashed through my mind. The best I can describe it is that it was impressed in my spirit and understanding. It certainly wasn’t my own thought, and didn’t pertain in the least to what I was studying or praying about.
If this has ever happened to you, you recognize something unique about it. It’s a quickly passing thought, unlike the norm, it’s clearly not your own, and it does not feel as though it came from your imagination. I believe it’s God revealing.
The image was that of a young woman. I could only see her back view from head to mid-thigh. She was wearing a historic dress corset. The corset was rapidly tightening down around her waist, and her blonde hair was growing just as quickly to cover it.
I immediately wrote it down because it was such a fleeting sight, I was sure I would forget it. Without question, I understood the corset represented bondage. As the months passed on and I would periodically think and pray about its meaning, I came to understand the hair growth was an effort to cover the bondage taking place.
Easy right!? God wants me to know that people are in bondage.
Not so much. He was beginning to show me myself. As the year passed that message continued to unfold, and I would find myself in unplanned discussions, bible studies, meetings, and scripture readings that opened my eyes to the deceitful, hidden, bondage that sneaks in, and takes over.
How did I get there? How do I get out? Here’s hope, I do have a direction to share with you today. I want to first say you are in good company, so many great women I personally know, and women of scripture, and women of faith have been victim to numerous types bondage.
Bondage comes upon us like weeds in a rose garden, wrapping itself so closely it almost appears to belong. It is defined as the state of being a slave, in servitude, subjection, oppression, domination, exploitation, and persecution. It comes to entangle a life with and without consent. It comes in the form of harsh words, criticisms, violation, victimization, unwanted attention, regrets. It sets up a camp in our emotions, and then it gets to determine our actions, and self-worth. It’s relentless, and holds us captive. Good news, scripture says, “Jesus came to take captivity, captive.”
Every moment you’ve ever lived, good or bad, has molded you.
But we are to be clay in the Potter’s hands. To often the enemy, and this world get its say in our mold. Not what God desires for us! In the words of Joani Burchett you are, “a wild rose, beautifully wrapped up each one individually with different layers of petals…variant sizes, hues, and even scents.” I hope the following will help you embrace the layers but enjoy the change that all our life circumstances can ultimately bring, even the hard ones.
I’d like to lead off with some scriptural examples of this, straight out of the genealogical line up of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Unlike most Jewish, scriptural genealogies Matthew choose to list women in his. He listed the generations from Abraham to Jesus, five women popped up in those verses detailed in Matthew, chapter one. We see Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. I’m going to give you a PAINFULLY short description of their lives. It’s really hard to shorten these women down to a few sentences but I’ll try. The words you see in parentheses are the emotions I imagine likely fit their situation.
Tamar was a two-time widow of brothers (sorrow/depression). She was refused her cultural right to marry the last living of the brothers (cheated/fear/alone). This left her with no inheritance, protection, provision, or children (desperate). Tamar posed as a prostitute, and sold herself to her father-in-law (shame). She became pregnant, in return he hated her (rejection). He eventually accepts her as his wife, and they raise their son, Perez, who carried on the lineage of Christ (redeemed).
Rahab the harlot was a resident of Jericho (used/depressed/shame). The scripture does not tell how she became to be a prostitute, but we do know she lived with her family and helped support them in this way (stuck/desperate). Soon she was given a chance to help two Israelite spies hide for protection (fear). She became a hero, and had a crucial role in the Israelites coming to the promised land. She eventually married Salmon, an Israelite, and saved herself and her family from the lifestyle they were stuck in, and bore a son named Boaz to carry the lineage of Christ (redeemed).
Ruth was a Moabitess who married an Israelite in her own country of Moab. Moab is described as a sinful, despicable people who worshipped false gods (hopeless/deceived). Ruth became widowed at a young age (sorrow/depression). Her sister-in-law, and mother-in-law also become widowed. Her mother-in-law decided to return to her homeland. Ruth went with her, thus leaving behind her blood family, and all she had ever known (fear/vulnerable). She soon found herself in a land where she was and outcast who was judged by her roots (depression/alone/animosity). By bold, faithful, and relentless action she married Boaz, and they bore a son named Jesse to carry the lineage Christ (redeemed).
Bathsheba seems to be known for her beauty (pride?), and adultery with King David (shame). Adultery, coercion? I’m not sure which it was, but I tend to see her as more a victim (used). She became pregnant by David, which carried the death penalty due to being an act of adultery (fear). Soon enough David arranged to have her husband murdered to cover the sin. Bathsheba was a widow (sorrow/guilt). David took Bathsheba in and she became one of his wives (jealousy/anger). Their son died as an infant (sorrow). She and David later bore another son, Solomon who would carry the lineage of Christ (redeemed).
Mary, mother of Jesus, a 14-year-old girl faced with the ultimate honor and dilemma. She was God’s choice to carry out a virgin birth of Jesus (shock/fear/confusion/denial). I do write Mary’s emotions with a bit more hesitancy. I can’t know what the understanding and knowledge she felt in the moment she learned that she was to be the mother of the Savior of the World. She soon married Joseph (lineage of David). He sought to protect her reputation, and the fall out that it would carry if it became known as a sexual scandal of becoming pregnant out of marriage. We know Mary wasn’t sinless, but scripture does leave her as a great example of faith and virtue. She would eventually see her Son punished, tortured, and killed for the sins of the world (I’m not sure there is a word in our vocabulary for this). Prior to His death, Jesus entrusted her to the care of one of he beloved disciples (redeemed).
Did you catch the words in bold? Do you know some or all of them all to well? Life sure has a way of slipping those things in on us. If you’re like me, you carry plenty of scars from the past. Plenty of baggage that became bondage that could have long since been left behind. We unknowingly hold tightly to the handle of things that have been said and done to us, things that we clearly remember, things that are not so clear but came into our life and colored who we are and continually impact us, things we had a say in, things we didn’t! Some of these things obviously make us who we are, some we carry around unaware. Some of these things we stuff deep down, and never discuss. This my friend, is bondage. Just as easily as a rose may fall prey to the bonds of overpowering weeds, we too fall prey to the bonds of life’s challenges. As I said you are in good company. The women who stood in the very lineage of Jesus, faced these things head on.
But God, always had a plan and a way for redemption. He holds the “spiritual garden shears”. He wishes to see us all free and redeemed. It comes at a cost to you though. It will cost you the relinquishing of your control, it will cost you putting your trust in the One who knows best, it will cost your time, and maybe your pride.
But the benefit….will be that of a rose, brightly bloomed, every bit as vulnerable as it is strong, growing in a garden, trusting the Gardener to meet its every need.
*Lineage of Grace, a book by Francine Rivers, is a wonderful resource to get a picture of what the lives of these women were like. Francine gives her insight based on what she knows from scripture and from the historical times.