“Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.”
2 Samuel 22: 37, King James Version
“Pushed To The Sidelines”
“What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
What do I think of when I try to define the word “marginalized?”
“To have one’s individuality completely ignored is like being pushed quite out of life. Like being blown out as one blows out a light.”
As we begin today’s devotional, I invite you to take a moment for quiet silence and then let your mind wander through the passages of your past. Down through the darkened corridors we label our history. As you think back over times gone by, I want to ask you, “Does any person or any situation come into your recollections that made you feel lesser than you are? Has anyone in your life pushed you to the sidelines?”
The best way I know to explain what I mean comes from my own visual image of kids on a playground choosing teams for a game of “kickball.” There always seemed to be at least one or two people who were left “on the sidelines.” They were passed over repeatedly as other kids were “chosen.” Finally the teacher would say, “OK Joey, you go to Team A and Sally, you go to Team B.” These kids were treated like leftovers. Due to less than adequate physical ability or not being part of the “in crowd,” they were “marginalized.” Pushed aside and overlooked.
I know all of us, to one degree or another, have been made to feel less than in some type of situation – at home, at work, in a social setting or at school. And the reasons we are pushed aside can be as varied as jealousy or prejudice.
As we find today, one of the saddest transformations that took place in the relationship among humankind after the fall of Eden was the marginalization of women.
Sometimes, I think society has taken out of context the words of God to Eve in Genesis 3: 16, (K.J.V.) will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shall bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Somewhere, somehow, this statement, in a godless world, has been turned into a slogan, like “Me Tarzan, you Jane!” type of behavior, seemingly giving permission to the unrefined heart to debase the very gift given by God to man as a solution for his aloneness. A gift that was designed by God to be earth’s Life-Giver and provide a solid structure for home and family. In the garden – that beautiful, harmonious place of intimate joy and peace – God’s plan was that man and woman, as equal partners would, with each breath, live to bless the other.
But now, sin entered. “Labor” was required to give life – by the woman. And “labor” was required by the man to sustain life. As God told Adam in Genesis 3: 17 (K.J.V.) “Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it:’ cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
We as women labor to bring new life into this world and men labor by the “sweat of their brow” to sustain life.
All of a sudden, Adam wasn’t in the peaceful garden enjoying the care of an idyllic home alongside his wife. He was out killing for food. Tilling the soil for food. The life of peace became a life of difficulty and in this time of separation, a division arose.
In the Hebrew translation, we find that the words used by God to Eve, “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” have a meaning that gives this paraphrase to the text: “And your (longing) will be for your (mighty man), (your champion), and he will have (power) (concerning) you.”
I had to think about this text and its meaning for awhile. I’d like to offer this thought for consideration. After the fall from Eden, the world changed. Once tame and friendly animals became the enemy of man, who now hunted and killed them for food and clothing. The earth, so lush and alive, became filled with thistles and thorns. No longer was planet Earth a safety-zone for God’s daughters, the Life-Givers. And it wasn’t safe for children, the offspring of the Life-Givers. Danger stalked the land. God, in His merciful kindness, asked Adam and his male children to be protectors. God asked them to be “champions” who would use their power to protect and care for the Life-Givers and their children.
But as I studied, I found that there is also a very “negative” side to the word “over” – and they shall rule “over” you. This word can mean that “power” might be used to “bring you down.” Sadly, throughout history, power has been used to “marginalize” God’s daughters.
But don’t despair my dear sisters. God’s plan was never the misuse of power, as we will see in the coming days.
Historians and archeologists tell us that some of the earliest figures carved of women were designed with large breasts and wide hips – focusing on the fertility aspects. Yet many of these figurines had no faces or holes were carved in the heads of the statues. And as I shared with you, from Eve to Sarah, Abraham’s wife, there are only three other named women in Scripture all who are identified by their association with a male person. What were created to be God’s Life-Givers were defaced and demeaned as brainless bodies used only to provide heirs for the male members of the family. This was not God’s way. It was not His longing. And as men and women again set their eyes on obedience to God, their Creator, the use of power became a key element in elevating the lives of all God’s children – both daughters and sons, who are called “heirs of salvation.”
If ever you have felt “marginalized,” I invite you to pray this beautiful prayer today. For our Father, God, longs to lift each of His beautiful daughters into His strong arms of protection.
“God of the Night”
“God of flowing skirts and tender eyes, you fill the dark places of my life with power and compassion. In your presence I am a child, naked and vulnerable. Yet you find me, and your strong hands lift me into your presence. You are as large and indecipherable as the night, yet as near and touchable as a mother’s hand. When you lift me, I am suspended in the midst of that night; but your eyes as well as your hands hold me, and my fear is contained in your tender compassion. As the stars twinkle with delight, your love clothes my nakedness with joy. God, you are so enormous and so full of power. Once I thought that your grasp might destroy me and that your voice would be like thunder. Yet you stoop to earth and open yourself to my presence. You speak in tones that I can hear and hold me safely in your presence. God of the night, I praise you.”
The Reverend Elizabeth T. Wade
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.