Sunday, May 3, 2009

Damaged?

I met with a man last week who was interested in what I am working on. He wanted to know if his wife could use it to minister to women. So my husband and I met with him.

Five minutes into the conversation, I walked away angry. I hid it well. Even my own husband did not know I was angry.

I paced the washroom with steam coming from my ears. It took a few minutes before I could rejoin them at the table.

Why?

One of the things I am working on is aimed at women - primarily women who are hurting.

This man sat down across the table from me and talked about how his wife has begun volunteering at a shelter for battered women. Good. Then he went on, "There are a lot of women helping there, but my wife is the only one there who can really do any good. You see, she is the only one there who is not damaged so can really minister to women. The other women who try to help are all abused themselves and are damaged, so I don't know how good they are - they won't be able to bring any real hope to these women because they are too messed up themselves." So, he went on, as if that was not bad enough, "I told my wife not to be ashamed to tell everyone that she has never been abused by her father, her brother or her husband, and eventually, all the women will come to you to see what you have because they will want it."

Steam rose from my ears, and I excused myself. It is not a culture where it is appropriate for me to bite off his head... but, I was tempted.

I eventually came back, but did not pick up the conversation again.

Ah, but that hurt. I was deeply hurt. To be called damaged again, once again.

And I was angry. Very, very angry. What is it with this requirement to be perfect to minister? So what good news do we really have then? "God can save you, but you will always be a second class citizen"? Not a "good person".

Damaged?

I still have steam rising from my head. I left angry. Hurt. Deeply, deeply angry. Deeply hurt. Feeling small, worthless, looked down on. Hurt. And very angry. As I drove home, I cried again to God... why? Why do people see us like this? Will I be forever "damaged". I looked up at Him and said, "here is Your damaged daughter crying to You again." And He answered and said, "And here is your scarred Savior answering." Then, then I took a deep breath, and cried.

But, as far as ministering.... I think being perfect should be a criteria for disqualification for ministry. In reality, we are all damaged. Sin damages - all of us. Some it damages in ways that men think are important, and other times it damages in ways that men think are unimportant, but we are all damaged by sin. I think the only one who is disqualified to minister is the one who has not yet seen his own damage. Hope is often best given by people who can say, "I know my God... He can..." better than the people who say, "I've heard my God can...." I don't think living and not being abused disqualifies you, only in not realizing that you are also damaged by sin. We are all damaged.

7 comments:

junglewife said...

How could that man even think that what he was saying was right or appropriate?! I agree with you - we are ALL damaged. Maybe we haven't all been abused, but we are all sinful, damaged creatures - even that man's wife!
God is so gracious to remind us that in HIS eyes we are healed and whole. ALL of us.

Karis said...

Before I got to the part where you spoke of your emotions and thoughts on the matter, I was thinking the same thing. As I read his words, I was thinking, "Wow. I would say exactly the opposite of what he is saying especially about who God uses to minister to people." 1 Cor. 5:17 also came to mind about becoming a new creation in Christ and old things are passed away and all has become new.

I am very impressed that you held your tongue! :-) That would've been very difficult for me too.

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

This is obviously coming from a man who has not experienced anything "abusive", or has, and doesn't have a clue how he could possibly be a positive force in a fallen world. So, give grace to the man, pray for him, and know that those who are hurting are one of the best for those who are hurting.

Cindy said...

I recently read in a devotional book that God can't use us for great things until we have been broken in some way. I thought about that a long time...because to think that God can't do something might be limiting who God is....and yet...I think there is really something there.... I believe God can use anyone He chooses to minister....but there really is something to be said for experiencing God's grace first hand and ministering to others.
So, sometimes it seems that the broken ones must minister to the unbroken.

Becky Aguirre said...

Oh, boy! My mind jumped to the post that Lisa wrote about Mary Magdelene over at The Task at Hand...talk about a damaged woman being made whole! And what a high regard Jesus held her in...that's the type of person others should go to...to see how healing can take place in a person's life! It's the love of Jesus that should attract others, not whether we are "whole" or not...none of us are "whole" anyway whether we've been "damaged" or not! So sorry you had to listen to that...

Ellie said...

You know, that is exactly what my mind kept coming back to. What did Jesus do? How did He react to His world?

It seems like Jesus almost went out of His way to interact with (or at least record His interactions with) "damaged" women. He could have shown Himself first to a man or even to a "good" woman. But it is to this "damaged" woman that He comes and speaks tenderly to after He was raised from the dead. He entrusts her with the first message of "I have seen the Lord!"

These things - they comfort me. As if Jesus is saying loudly throughout the gospels, "I am not those men. I am not even those women who say these things."

It is amazing, though, even within churches, missions, and groups of believers that we find this concept of "second class citizens" applied to women. Interestingly, it is not often applied to men.

I'll blog more about this sometime when I sort out my thoughts.

malianta said...

Wow, talk about being clueless. This guy has no idea of how to minister to "damaged" women. What hope can his wife offer, if what she has is unattainable to the others?
It makes me so mad, too. And I am sorry that you had to put up with this.
I am so thankful to remember that Jesus came for those who knew that they are damaged, not for those who thought they had it all together. And do not notice how "damaged" by pride they are.
And concerning the second-class citizen, I can recommend a great book: Edwards, Gene. The Christian Woman ... Set Free : Women Freed From Second-Class Citizenship in the Kingdom of God. 2005.