Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: girls

Belle Plaine years

In 1966 Belle Plaine had all of 16 houses, two grain elevators, three other small businesses and a school that was no longer used. UGG rented one of the houses for their elevator manager.

I had learned the basics of weighing and unloading grain by now, how to grade it and determine dockage and how to load it into boxcars for shipping to ports for export. I was also selling fertilizer, herbicides and other farm supplies. Saskatchewan seldom gets an abundance of rain, but the land here was heavy clay, making for good crops every year and the farmers were prosperous. I got to know the people in the community and soon felt at home.

I was 24 years old and didn’t own a car. I soon remedied that, buying a 1956 Oldsmobile that let me travel at my convenience, not someone else’s. I could buy some groceries at the little store, cafe and post office in town, but did most of my shopping in Moose Jaw. I did my laundry in Moose Jaw, too, at my parents.

I began to do some serious drinking, spending at least one night a week in the bars of Moose Jaw or Regina. My drinking buddies were Joe Zagozeski,  a local farmer, Henry Antemuik, a supervisor at the Kalium potash mine near Belle Plaine and my cousin Dennis in Moose Jaw.

UGG bought a lot in Belle Plaine, built a basement, moved in a house and thoroughly remodelled it. In 1967 I traded in the Oldsmobile on a 1965 GMC pickup. I needed to haul water for the new house as there was neither running water in the village nor a well. UGG had a warehouse in Regina and now I could simply drive in and pick up whatever was needed and bring it home.

When I made those trips I often stayed in Regina enjoying the night life until midnight. On nights like that I found it hard to keep between the lines on the highway and in my befuddled mind it seemed like a logical thing to speed up to 80 mph. I found that concentrated my attention sufficiently to keep in my own lane. I would often wake up in the morning unable to remember coming home. I thought that was evidence that I must have had a good time the night before.

Other things were going on at the same time. I was reading all kinds of stuff, from occult to Ayn Rand and none of it impressed me as offering any real hope to me or anyone else. Then I began to get interested in church history, which also seemed like kind of a hopeless mess until I got to Mennonite history. Here I found people who really believed and lived what they professed and suffered persecution without hating the persecutors. I began to think that if there were any real Christians left anywhere on the planet, they would be found among the Mennonites.

The couple who ran the store, cafe and post office had a teenage daughter named Christine. I didn’t pay much attention to her, she was just a young school girl. But girls don’t stay young and after a couple of years she began to seem interesting to me.

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The devaluation of women

Here in Canada the media has paid considerable attention to a sordid case where a well-known media personality was charged with sexual assault. The charges outlined incidents of kinky and violent sex involving several women. Unfortunately things unravelled at the trial. Emails and other evidence indicated that the women were willing participants and that their initial statements to police were not fully truthful and had omitted many details. The accused could not be found guilty on such untrustworthy evidence, even though most of what was described undoubtedly did happen.

Why would seemingly successful young women willingly subject themselves to such degrading experiences? A story from California helps to explain where this begins. It tells about young teen girls who post nude photos of themselves on Facebook. Many of them admit they find it degrading, but the social pressures are so enormous that they dare not refuse to participate. Such refusal would cause them to be rejected and ostracized by their friends.

It seems to me that this is how the devaluing of women begins in our society. Surely a girl, and a woman, is more than the sum of her body parts. She is a person worthy of respect, she has a brain, and is a soul of such value in the eyes of God that she is worthy of the death of His Son to redeem her.

But who is telling girls and women about this? The schools take no such responsibility. Many churches have veered off on causes that seemed more important, and thus these churches became irrelevant to the real needs of people.

Eventually though, the devaluation of women in our society points to a catastrophic failure of the home. Not all homes, thankfully, but so many that the behaviour I have described seems to many young girls to be the norm. (Boys and men are being devalued too, but I want to focus on the girls in this post.)

The well-being of our society depends on having parents who believe they have the ability, the freedom and the duty to provide a safe haven for their children.  A place where girls are respected as persons of value, where they can talk freely of their fears, their struggles and the pressures they face outside the home. Parents that do not push their children to get out there and compete for attention, but help them think through what is really important in life. Parents who encourage their children to be kind and caring toward others and to develop the abilities and qualities that will make them useful citizens.

I’m afraid that being a Christian does not automatically make us superior parents. It is good and right to teach our children to love God and to understand the way of salvation so that they may respond when the Spirit calls. It is good to teach honesty and sound moral principles. But all that is not enough. We need to be examples of all that we teach and above all we need to listen to our children with patience and sympathy and let them know that we love them no matter what happens to them.

Anorexia of the soul

I once knew a Christian lady whose husband was self-centred, domineering and prone to uncontrolled fits of rage.  She, on the other hand, was unselfish, capable and self-controlled.

At some point she developed an interest in fasting.  After a time it became apparent to brothers and sisters in the faith that she had become extremely thin, even emaciated.  We admonished her that this was not a healthy way to live, she needed to keep up her strength to care for her children.  Her response was that she felt so much closer to God when she fasted.  She felt that she was really much more spiritual than the rest of us; we were all much too ready to satisfy our carnal appetites.

After much counselling from a group of brothers and sisters, she began to let go of her attachment to fasting.  I felt at the time that the reason it was so hard for her to let go was because her out of control husband was making life miserable and this was one thing that she could do to feel she was in control.  And we were trying to take that away from her.

In Girls on the Edge*, Dr. Leonard Sax writes about anorexia among teenaged girl;s and young women.  The cases he describes sound very much like the situation I just described.  Girls say that when they don’t eat for a while their mind becomes really clear; they feel calm, relaxed and at peace.

Dr. Sax also writes about girls who cut themselves.  When a friend of my wife’s first talked about this, it seemed so outlandish that I could hardly fathom that such a thing could be happening.  Yet is has become an epidemic among teenage girls, with estimates that upwards of 30% might be doing it.

Dr. Sax says that many girls report feeling a sense of dissociation from their bodies, not really feeling the pain, but rather feeling a sense of euphoria.  Apparently the cutting releases opiate-like chemicals in the brain that give this sensation.

The mother of one of Dr. Sax’s patients described what was happening to her daughter as “anorexia of the soul.”  I have borrowed that phrase for the title of this post.

Anorexia and cutting are not social activities.  The girls that do these things are feeling anxieties and pressures and don’t know how to cope with them in any other way.  They don’t want others to know what they are doing.

Girls growing up today are pressured by the zeitgeist in many contradictory ways.  From a very young age they are pressured to dress and act in a sexually provocative manner, yet the nurturing side of femininity is disdained.  They are taught that their sense of worth needs to come from achievements at work, thus they are expected to be high achievers in school and at work.  Women who choose to dedicate themselves to home and family are almost viewed as being contemptible.   Is it any wonder that girls are confused and stressed beyond their capability to endure?

For those who are able to cast off the blinkers of the zeitgeist, it should be obvious that a Christian stay at home mother makes a greater contribution to the well being of our society than a career woman.  Mothers who are there when their children need them are rewarded with honest, conscientious young men and women who will not be a drain on the budgets and resources of the police services and social service agencies.   As Christian men we should be letting the women in our lives know how much we value their contributions.

* Girls on the Edge, © 2010 by Leonard Sax.  Published by Basic Books, New York

 

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