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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Serious Sunday - Broken, Not Crushed

My Inner Frenchman here.

This is kind of a downer, but it's been haunting me all week. I have to write about it.

One of the links I followed while getting to know Pastor Anderson, Zsuzsana, and Brother Stucky took me to a "quiver full" blog by a mother of 14 children (Let's call her Mrs. X.) I won't post a link, because I think she's so depressed I worry that she might be suicidal. Now, I know my readers are a curious bunch--curiosity is at the root of intelligence, after all--and you'll probably search for a phrase I quote below. Please don't do that; it will have the same effect. If you must read her blog, it's listed in the sidebar at Zsuzsanna's blog (And, yes, that link takes you to one of her gems). The link to Mrs' X's blog begins with the word, "Large."

Here's what Mrs. X has to say in two recent posts. First lets look at what she has to say about having so many children. It's titled, "Broken, Not Crushed:"
The message, if any, that should be drawn from the testimony of who I am is this: She trusted God and surrendered, and it was good.


The number of children is not the issue--it is the brokenness.

To be broken--to accept the hammer and chisel--this is the life of the true believer. And for me He has seen fit to bless me with wonderful children, and I enjoy them and relish in their beauty and companionship--but I also feel the pain.

I feel the pain each time I become pregnant and endure the months of illness. I feel the pain when I become to big to sleep or eat. I feel the pain of childbirth and recovery. I feel the afterpains, of early nursing, of sleepless nights.

And as the children grow and move away, I feel the pain of separation. And it is all part of the brokenness--the brokenness that allows me to become a fit vessel. This is the brokenness that produces the joy, the pain that gives the reward.

I have recently rejoiced with the Duggar family over the birth of their 18th child. Many others are not rejoicing--they are pointing fingers and cursing. Others are jealously desiring what Michelle has--they want to have the joy and the peace that emanates from her. But do they realize the price?

This is from a post about her husband.

Some have often seen him as a cruel man lording it over me, forcing me to have baby after baby. But what they don't see is that it has been my heart's desire to have babies, and that I have been blessed with a man that supports me in my "career". He seems to have ears that are sensitive to my needs, and works tirelessly to ensure that I suffer no lack--even when that means swallowing his own pride with others.

The builders of the Parthenon are long dead, their whole culture only preserved in the dusty pages of books. Yet all in turn have passed into eternity, where they have met their Creator and the judgement that is due them. What did they bring with them?--certainly not the crumbling trigliph of a temple fashioned for a god made of stone.

But my husband will have treasures to lay, and crowns to cast, at the feet of Jesus.
She reminds me a lot of my mother, seeking happiness by desperately trying conform to a rigid set of principles that are more about controlling women than achieving bliss. That happiness never comes, because the strain of being a factory womb destroys their bodies and the stress of trying to conform to such rigid, unrealistic ideals claws at their souls.

They are constantly told that happiness comes from living these principles, that by obeying God and their husbands, they will find joy. If they are miserable, it is because they have not attained perfection. Such thinking leads to guilt and even more unhappiness Or as may be so in Mrs. X's case, misery is equated with happiness and the resulting cognitive dissonance destroys the self.

That's the danger of religion or any other ideology or philosophy that claims truth as its own. There is no space within them for people to live. The most idealistic and believing are slowly crushed by the weight of the certainty.


Cpl Nobby comments:

Some are not put into chains by others. They put them on willingly themselves and wonder why others are unwilling to do the same. They can rarely be saved from this, often fight with all their might to stay chained.
None other than themselves can truly free them. And this is one of the more pitiless parts of the world we share.

While it is true that, in the end, we are all individually responsible for our own beliefs and actions, it's very difficult for some to understand that there are other options for them. Many of the more strict religious communities work to isolate the individual by defining any outside influence, including education, media and associations and relationships with non-believers, as being sinful. That is true to some extent with Mormonism, especially in rural Utah, and certainly with the more fundamentalist Baptists and charismatics. Growing up in such isolation makes it very difficult for one to breakaway, or even imagine the possibility of breaking away, from such beliefs. They know no other way of life.

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