Monday, April 16, 2007

Joe and Margaret - December

Chapter 3 December

Friday, December 1, 2000

Margaret wondered the whole day, Something's changed with Joe. I know it. He's been irritable all this week, well ever since the accident and yet yesterday that changed. What happened? He hasn't said anything. Surely if he'd had a message from God he would have told me at yesterday's Bible study, but he didn't. He just seemed more gentle and patient and careworn. Do I dare ask him? Or will this be another "when I'm ready?" Maybe he's finally ready to talk about his troubles and what has happened or even if not talking ready to resume marital relations. His hugs and kisses and massages are fine, but they get me ready for something which doesn't come and I never thought I'd miss that something, but I do. I do! Maybe Joe is finally ready. Is that the change? Oh, I'm so ready for some improvement. I thank God that Joe has never beaten me or required sex from me that has been such a relief, but I do want to have marital relations, they keep our marriage strong as Pastor Larry keeps pointing out a wife and husband have duties for each other, but oh it's not a duty, never a job with Joe.

At supper Joe started to speak several times before coming out and saying, "Margaret I need to apologize, I've been mistreating you, I've ¼"

"Oh no, Joe, you've never mistreated me, I've never felt like you were even thinking of raising your hand to me."

"No, Margaret, I have. You deserve more than what I've given and I've not given you what I promised. And I've mislead you. I've finished the physical therapy and I didn't let you know that I've been taking another kind of therapy. I started going to someone about my emotions over a month ago. The doctor thought I should make sure I didn't go into depression, but I let you think I was still doing physical therapy and that was wrong of me. I've had pride in my honesty, but I wasn't honest with you about my life. You don't deserve that. I know all about your past but I've not told you what I'm doing presently."

Margaret finished the meal in a daze. I'd hoped for an explanation, but had never thought Joe would apologize. How strange, I never really expect a man in my life to apologize. To blame, to go on, to explain what changes need to or are going to happen, but apologize, let alone put himself in the wrong. That's new.

Saturday, December 2, 2000

Margaret woke up in tears as she remembered Joe's apology. I was focusing on our marital relations but Joe apologized for our relationship. I thought it was my fault and Joe says it isn't. I thought it was the accident, but Joe says there is more going on. It's not just me. I never knew what it felt like to have someone - the head of the household - someone in charge apologize and it feels wonderful. It's amazing

Joe came in from his shower and quickly asked, "Margaret, what's wrong? You're crying."

"Joe, nothing's wrong. I'm just happy and I'm crying."

"But you never cry."

"I'm sorry, now I am."

Oh Margaret, don't apologize, I was just worried about you. I've been ignoring your feelings and now you're crying and I don't know what to do."

Joe, oh Joe, you don't have to do anything. I'm fine. I was just thinking about how no one in authority over me, no man, had ever apologized to me and I'm crying but it's over stuff that is in the past. It's over how good you've been to me and never held my past against me. It's over how blessed I am. And don't worry or I'll just keep on crying in joy and relief."

Sunday, December 3, 2000

Pastor Larry started his sermon with "My text for today is I John 3:9 - 'Whoever has been of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.' This is an important text for our congregation. It goes along with 'ye shall know them by fruits.' (Matthew 7:16) We do know each other by our fruits and the true members of our congregation do not sin because they have been born again through Holy Spirit; they have been born again through the blood of the lamb; they have been born again through God the Father. True members have been born again and cannot sin. And so we must be wary of those who are false members of our flock. The elders must be stringent in helping the pastor root out evil-doers and each one of you must go to your neighborhood elder whenever you think someone in our church is doing wrong, be it your wife or your husband, your child or your parent, your brother or sister. For we are not true brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus unless we help each other see whether we are born of God. We are not true brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus unless we root out the sin that is so deeply within the human race. We are not brothers and sisters unless we become one just as God the Father calls us to be one.

Margaret's began to lose track of Pastor Larry's sermon. Am I really free from sin. I don't think so. I keep going against Joe in little things like those slacks I made. And a woman is supposed to obey her husband and I just don't. And Joe does love me, I know he does because he humbled himself to apologize, something I'm just not worthy to demand. And yet Joe chose me out of all the women he could have had.

Margaret caught up with Pastor Larry just as he was saying, "And we have help in finding out what sin does to us. Sister Margaret has bravely volunteered to tell us about the sinful nature of her past and the degradation that she experienced before coming to Christ and how a good man, our brother Joe, helped her confront her sin that caused her to go to all sorts of men and degrade herself with disgusting passions and dress in an unseemly manner before all the world. Sister Margaret will really help our women who are wavering and inclined to wander.

At that Margaret's thoughts exploded, WHAT IS PASTOR LARRY THINKING?! I was more sinned against than sinner and what about all those men who were right there with me having sex. I was willing to talk about my life, but not if it just focuses on the sins of the women. Men were right there with me in that prostitution and fornication and their money is what paid for the drugs, and their money is what I needed to get by without any skills, and their money is what made me feel as if there was something that I could do. And my gone straight to hell father is the one who first raped me and I don't think I had any choice about that when I was six or seven even if I did get out of there and to the street where at least I was paid and somewhat protected by my pimp.

And then Margaret noticed that Joe was turning colors and clenching his hands and thought, at least Joe is with me on this. He knows how much and how little control I had over my life. I can get through this bastard of a sermon as long as Joe is beside me and, oops, my language has slipped, maybe I'm not born again. Maybe that sin is still at work in me and I am not as free from sin as I thought, not as free as I'm supposed to be from evil. But that evil was not in my being a prostitute, I was getting out of even more evil when I became a whore. And for all the mentions of the whore of Babylon my days as one were not of leading men astray. Those idiots came looking and shopping and thinking they gave us excitement or looking for their own desires the sick bastards. Pastor Larry is a man of God but what he knows about the life I led is less than nothing. Even Joe knows enough to know how wrong Pastor Larry is. And both of us deserve better. But O God forgive me for questioning a man of God but O God he is not right on this matter and if You care for me please correct Pastor Larry so I don't have to listen to this any longer.

Monday, December 4, 2000

After Joe had finished the Bible study with all the names, and all the appointments and all the mentions of Solomon's wisdom, Margaret ventured, "Joe, are you having problems with what Pastor Larry is saying?"

"About what?"

"Oh, I don't know? Just what he said about the woman being at fault for prostitution and some other things yesterday about being sinless. It all seems a bit much to me. I know he's wrong about why I was in the life I led."

"I'm sometimes bothered, but I keep thinking he's a man of God and he was chosen by the leaders of this congregation, so I try to work with what he says. Yesterday's sermon really bothered me. I wanted to protect you and didn't know how. I'm sure Pastor Larry meant well, but it was painful for you and he could have avoided a lot of that pain by just saying what he said to me about your talk. Talking about the horrors is different than the sin. And I know how long it took you to get over that life."

"And Joe, I'm so glad you waited and let me take my time in getting over it. I just don't feel I was the sinner so much as the sinned against. And I know that the men were after sex much more than me or the other ladies. It wasn't about sex for me, it was the money and that was all I knew besides cooking when I ended up on the street. And I was underage and looked it so cooking was not a way I could get enough to live. I know I keep repeating myself to you. But you're not like some of those people who just want to spy on the details so that they can feel better because they haven't done that, or superior because they've can say they never knew of such."

Tuesday, December 5, 2000

"Margaret," Joe said, "I'll be in therapy today. This time I'm really going to work. I need to tell my therapist that I've been avoiding talking to you about seeing her and I think that may help as I work on our problems."

"I'm so glad you're getting help. I've been praying that you will be healed and we will become what we were." Margaret said, but was also thinking. He's been getting help and not telling me, why hasn't he talked about it before this? He knows that I've wanted him to get help, but just let me go on thinking he was in physical therapy and not that other kind. Doesn't he know I wouldn't mention it to Pastor Larry. I know we're supposed to be able to tell our Pastor everything, but Joe knows that I'm not ready, or maybe I'll never be willing, to talk all about my past life with Pastor Larry.

After a few moments Margaret continued talking, "I'll be praying for you today, what time is your appointment so I can pray for you while you're there."

"It's at 1 p.m. You do know that I may not want to talk about it afterwards. It takes me time to deal with what the therapist says."

"Yes, Joe, I know. And I can be patient. I will wait until you're ready."

Wednesday, December 6, 2000

"Margaret, the therapist has put me on some anti-depressant. She's been wanting me to start it for awhile, but I remembered Pastor Larry about spiritual healing and thought I was going against him too much just by seeing a therapist, but prayer is not changing my feelings and I'm ready to try something even if Pastor Larry is not for it."

"Oh Joe, that's so encouraging, thank you for taking the trouble. How can I help?"

You've been great through this time, but it's things I need to work out and I will be working on our problem and the therapist is telling me I need to talk with you. So don't give me thanks just yet. I've not been doing what the therapist is asking and the trouble has been for you, not me."

Margaret began to hear Joe saying it was his problem and thought, I've been blaming myself and wondering what I could do, but Joe keeps saying that it's not me. Maybe I'm so used to being blamed that I'm blaming myself when I'm not wrong. But a wife should support her husband, Pastor Larry says. And if Joe is having trouble coping with the accident it may be that I've done nothing wrong. But oh I pray that I can help Joe recover. He's been so good to me, he's helped me so much.

Thursday, December 7, 2000

"I've got another therapy appointment today, Joe said to Margaret, I'm so thankful that you've been so patient. The therapist is helping me, I really feel that, and I'm going to talk about it some day. I need to talk about what's happening with you, but I'm so afraid."

"Joe, you know my past, what could you have that's any worse than I experienced. I'll be here for you when you're ready. You waited for me, you waited so long for me to be ready, I can wait too. I took you for better and worse. You've gone through my worse and given me better I can wait through your worse whatever it is whatever it may be.

Margaret went through that day with resolve. Joe is being so honest. He's taking responsibility and not blaming me. There must be something I can do for him. There must be some way I can be a better wife for him. I'll wait for him. The lack of marital relations is not as bad as having sex forced and I can tolerate what I do not want. I will be the wife that Joe needs. Joe took me from nothing and it's the least I can do.

Friday, December 8, 2000

Margaret went to her private prayers after their Bible study and began. O God write your words on my heart as solid as the tablets of the law which Solomon placed in the temple. Make them a light at my feet and a lamp to my eyes that I may know your way and follow your path. Regard the prayer of Your servant and listen to my supplications dwelling within my heart that I may pray aright and understand what you would have me do. Condemn me when I fall into wickedness that I may see the error of my ways and reward me as I do your will that I may be encouraged in the path of goodness. Teach me the good way to walk. For I was a stranger to Your Word and a foreigner to Your Name and I heard of you from one of Your people, even that one who is now my husband. Grant that I may help build him up in his time of need that his body may be a temple to Your Word and lead others into Your Way. I pray that all peoples may come to know Your Word and Your Way. And oh especially I pray that I may know how to help Joe so that we can be a family and a part of Your people. Amen.

Saturday, December 9, 2000

Joe sat down for Bible study but didn't begin, he said, "Margaret, I know you're having problems with what Pastor Larry says, I think I am as well. My therapist also says I need to start talking about my frustrations with you. She says that from what I say about you you're well able to handle my problems and I've been too protective. I'm not ready to talk about my problems in having marital relations, but I can talk about my questions about Pastor Larry. I admired him so much, but lately I just have questions. He gave me all the answers I wanted. The fir foundation on which to stand and yet I'm frustrated because what he says doesn't always meet with what I need. And I don't know how to talk about anything more in particular except that I'm frustrated. You help me, you know exactly where Pastor Larry frustrates you. Your comments about what he knows about the life you lived are one example. The passage today is about building the temple in Jerusalem and my therapist says we need to build our marriage. I hope I'm doing the right thing. I've been so frustrated trying to do this on my own and with the therapist and I want to protect you since Pastor Larry keeps saying that men should protect women, but I think I need to know what you think and I've tried Pastor Larry's suggestion and they just aren't working for me. So what do you think?"

Margaret sat for a few minutes, "I'm not sure what to say, except I like the idea of talking together. I wasn't ready to do that when we first got married. I didn't feel as if I knew anything. But now I do. You've helped me get my G.E.D. and then some of the people I care for think I know something. And I find I have some thoughts. They may not be right but they are thoughts. And I don't know where to start. But maybe tomorrow we can try again. Or maybe tonight you can tell me what you can about Pastor Larry? Is it his talks about something? Or someone? Or the way he treats someone? Or the way he treats you? Or the way he treats me? Are these questions helpful? I'm not sure I know how to talk to you except that I want to talk. I really do like talking with you. That's one of the things I miss most from before we were married. We had such great talks as I was coming out of the life.

Sunday, December 10, 2000

Margaret began praying after reading the lesson for the day from I Kings 10 and thought about Pastor Larry's insistence that women should be ruled by their husbands. Surely the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon, but it never really says that she is ruled by him or gives up her rule. Yes, he's known for wisdom, but that doesn't mean she gives up any control. I ask for advice sometimes even when I want to decide myself what to do.

Margaret thought about the passage through the day and finally put down some words -
Parading elephants
And prancing horses
All follow a queen

A procession in grandeur
With jewels and gold
All follow a queen

For questions and answers
A tale of wisdom
They come to a king

A queen comes in wealth
To a king known for wisdom
And so the story is told

This isn't really poetry, she thought, it doesn't rhyme and I was so bad at English or any other subject for that matter that I couldn't really write anything worthwhile, but maybe I can show it to Joe. But I'll skip that last verse -
But coming for wisdom
Is not giving up ruling
And kings and queens can be equals in power
It just doesn't fit the rest of the piece and besides it seems to question Joe and I really shouldn't do that for Pastor Larry says that a wife should not question her husband. And then Margaret went to prayer saying, O God, I am such a poor servant I question Your will that the husband be the head of the household and then I hide things from Joe. I still haven't told him about the pant suits I wear at work and I don't talk to him and tell him I'm failing our marriage in questioning his decisions and most of all I fail to respect Pastor Larry chosen by You to lead this congregation. What do all these questions mean? I know I needed to question bad men like my father and the pimps, but I didn't do that then. Is that why I'm questioning good men. I am questioning good men who try to do your will such as Joe and Pastor Larry. Does that make me such a bad person. I do only question Joe in private instead of speaking up in church so I am trying. And I have agreed to do what Pastor Larry wants and speak on my past life, but I feel so rebellious and that's not what a good wife is supposed to feel. O God, help me.

Monday, December 11, 2000

Margaret thought _ I liked writing the poem yesterday. Even if it's not a poem, it doesn't really rhyme and I don't know anything about poems that don't rhyme I still like it. I know my thoughts and, even if they're not proper for a good Christian woman, I still like them.

I Kings 11

So he went after foreign wives
But why didn't they question it then
It's only later in history books
That the condemnation begins

And yes, there's the son
Who lost all those tribes
And yes, there's descendents
Who lost all those lives

But why, when it happened
To that very wise king
But why - when it happened?
Didn't they question it then-
Didn't they question them?

I need to begin to do that more. I need to question. Joe is a good man, but he lied to me. I asked him to go for help and he didn't tell me when he began seeing someone who wasn't a physical therapist. He's so antsy about being honest in every penny, but he just didn't tell me what I would have wanted to know. I owe him so much for helping me get out of the life. But I don't know whether I trust him any longer. Oh my ¼ I don't trust Joe¼

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Margaret reflected, I know Pastor Larry would disagree but if Rehoboam's answer isn't telling someone to give another the middle finger I wasn't living the life of a prostitute. I'm so glad we're back to the stuff that's down to earth. I don't think I could have stood one chapter relating the beauties of the temple. People are what speak to me. I want to hear the stories of people in the Bible. I can understand them better than rules and regulations. Maybe these stories will help me understand. Should I tell Joe that I don't trust him? Do I want to wait until he's finished with therapy. But he's not telling me about what's going on with the therapy. O God, I don't know what to do. Help me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Oh, God, is this your word to me. I've been having so many doubts about Pastor Larry and here it is - vs. 18 one prophet lies to another. Pastor Larry may not be lying, but maybe he's mistaken. I Kings 13 - vs. 18 is this your word. Does this mean I can question what others say about God and go to what I think God is saying to me? This is real life stories about real people, not those lists of names that we were in for so long. And these people are making mistakes and getting out of them and sometimes not even realizing that they've made a mistake. A prophet I told to do one thing and another prophet says differently and he believes the other one and.. O God, maybe I don't have to listen to all of what Pastor Larry says, maybe I can make up my own mind.

Thursday, December 14, 2000

I wonder if that lack of trust I have is the reason Joe isn't interested in me any more, Margaret thought. But today's word seems to say that hiding won't work. Jeroboam's wife disguised herself and that prophet found her out. God will find out all my feelings and even Joe has to sense some of them. I need to tell Joe about my lack of trust but, O God, let me know the right moment to do so. And I so hope that my lack of trust is not what is holding Joe back from healing, but who can I talk to about this. Pastor Larry is not the one to make excuses about lack of trust in a husband. He will simply say that I have to trust that my husband knows what is best for the family and I do think Joe knows what is best for a family - I just never learned what a good family is like and Joe is so good and so patient - but I still don't trust what Joe is saying to me - not about family but about what's going on in his life and how that affects our relationship, our family that I hope to have.

Friday, December 15, 2000

This is strange, Margaret thought, as she finished reading I Kings 15. The wife of the king isn't mentioned. The grandmother is and she's referred to as the Queen Mother. That's almost like a title. But it couldn't be, could it? Men were the rulers and the men do things in the world. A woman's place is in the home, unless her husband allows her to work outside of it, but the queen mother isn't she the mother of the king and wouldn't her husband have to be dead? And here she is almost the same as the king.

But today we see a lot of women working outside the home and doing things. Pastor Larry says women were more obedient back then and there weren't women working outside of the home unless they had to and that we should go back to those days, but here is a woman who has a job and no husband and is removed from being the Queen Mother almost as if she were a politician gone bad like Clinton and his problems with sex in office.

Saturday, December 16, 2000

Margaret just couldn't concentrate on the Bible study. Ahab and worship of Baal just didn't speak to her the way that learning about a Queen Mother - a woman who had power even in the days when women didn't - did. And so she prayed, O God help me to understand Your Word for me today. I know I am so distracted and I'm not paying attention to the chapter we're studying today, but help me understand, help me be Your faithful servant, Your handmaiden of mercy and love, a disciple like Mary Magdalene even when I lose sight of where You would have me go and what You would have me do. Amen.

Sunday, December 17, 2000

Pastor Larry said, "I know I usually want to give us a variety of passages to read. We read all of the Bible not just the parts we like, but today I'm going to take as my topic our passage for home Bible study - I Kings 17. It is important for us to remember that God will punish our nations for its apostasy. We see that in the rise of so-called homosexual rights as if any one committing such depraved and pedaristic acts that are so demeaning to children could ever be considered among the law-abiding and righteous citizens of this nation. Those so called liberals who worship nothing but their own sin and their own political correctness are no liberals for they are not generous to others and they cannot even claim to be conservative for they do not keep any of the good old religion that was good enough for our forefathers, instead they are like that worshipper of false gods who mistreated his own queen mother and deposed her, but then equaled her vicious and cunning devices and went into his own particular longings that ignored the great God Jehovah is His name, even that evil king Asa. And God in those days rose up prophets even as He raises up men as preachers and teachers in this day to call the people to repent. And I call on you not to repent for you have already done so but to go out and tell others about God's saving power and the damnation that is in store for sinners of all types. Those who worship foreign Gods and not the God that the Pilgrims and the founders of our nations worshipped, even God our father, will be cast into utter darkness. Those who cause us to go into even more darkness than our parents knew the liberals, the radical feminists, and the homosexual will be left gnashing their teeth as the devils torment them forever and ever. And before that happens the country will be cast into despair as our enemies triumph over us (but only until we repent when they in their turn will be cast down) and our land dries up into a wasteland."

"And we know that sinners can repent and receive the Word of God within their very own hearts for our dear brother Joe brought forth a whore of Babylon and a prostitute among the nations to become his very own dear wife and our sister Margaret. And we know that they will raise up their children as should each of you in the duties towards God and the righteousness before men that is the mark of those who are saved unlike those visible marks of Satan that unbelievers put on their skins forbidden in Leviticus 19:28 and that leads to the even greater sins such as what Margaret's father did to her by making her a scarlet woman and temptress in the streets of our fair city from which she has been raised up to tell the story of how she degraded men and women in her life of evil to be a meek and mild woman - a paragon of virtue - who speaks with one voice with her husband to tell the story of how she was saved from horrors by Joe's work for and in the Lord Jesus Christ."

That night Margaret was still in a fury. Redeemed I certainly am, but I was never the whore of Babylon tempting men into sin. They came willingly enough and brought their own temptation with them in the money and to hold me up as a role model of what people can do for me. Joe helped me and I am grateful with psalms of thanksgiving every day of my life, but if he had approached me calling me any of those names that Pastor Larry had used I would have sent him away with his tail dragging and been even rougher on anyone who tried to talk about the Word of God. I wouldn't have put up with it before I was saved and I don't see why I should listen to that garbage now. I am going to have to talk to Joe about this because I am not going to be in that church much longer. I know that they saved me and they keep telling me about the evils in some other so-called Christian churches, but I'm going to find some God-fearing congregation that does not give me such shit.

And then Margaret heard herself say that word and went to prayer, O God how can I say such things about my pastor, but I shouldn't say that if I'm so upset I should talk with him or ask Joe to find us another church, but I'm calling what a man of God says, oh I shouldn't use such language. But this is the end. I've thought about how I don't trust Joe anymore, but I don't trust Pastor Larry and he has made me furious. I got out of being abused, I got out of prostitution and I can get out of this church, which for all its talk about righteousness and love is showing not a whole lot of consideration for me. Why even Andrew does not do this to me and he knows how much we disagree on religion and what my church thinks of his lifestyle choices.

Monday, December 18, 2000

Margaret thought, I ought to be ashamed of myself. I will have to spend sometime in prayer. Why would it seem to me as if our worship services are sometimes like those priests of Baal. We whip ourselves into a frenzy, even if we don't ever bleed or use knives. And all that happens is a lot of noise. O God, I know you are there, but sometimes I just don't hear an answer. It's as if you were off sleeping in some far corner of heaven. I want a family with Joe. Joe has done so much for me and he keeps saying he wants a family too. But I don't see him doing anything except asking for patience. How long must I wait O God. How long must I cry out. Joe seems to get more caring day by day and yet he is moving further away. He no longer snaps at me for small errors, but he doesn't talk to me about what else is going on and he seems so sad and bewildered. He says he's wrestling with some demons, but just won't talk about them to me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Margaret prayed, O God, as I read the passage today I don't know who I am. Am I the Jezebel who in seeing my faith struck down seeks to kill the prophet or am I the prophet fleeing in distress and wondering if there is any left like him. I feel as if I am both. I want so much to have children, but if it is not what Joe wants am I pressuring him too much. I know we both agreed about that before marriage and even before we had sex in the marital bounds we talked about wanting to have children, but is it me who got Joe to agree and how can I respect him as a husband if he agreed just to please me and doesn't know how to tell me so. I'm just going to have to be a more obedient wife, supporting Joe as he wrestles with his own demons. Surely an angel of the Lord will come down and provide sustenance for I feel as if I have been on this journey so long that I am losing strength and I do need strength for the journey. My call and baptism seem so long ago. I thought it would all be so easy once I found Jesus and yet sometimes it is harder than my former life. I didn't have to think of anything except survival and getting what I wanted. It is so hard to have to think of what someone else needs instead of how to please them. O God, help me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

"Ouch," said Andrew, "What's wrong today? Margaret you've been distracted and now you're not paying attention. Just because you have to move my legs doesn't mean I can't feel them."

"Oh, I'm sorry Andrew it's not you, it's me, or it's just me and my life. I'll try to do better. I thought I was paying attention and then my mind just went back to church."

"Well, then, sit down and talk to me about it. If you're distracted it's not going to do either of us any good."

"Oh, but I can’t talk about it with you. It's not right. It's about religion and I'm not supposed to impose my religion on you. I'm supposed to help you and besides I don't want to bother you with it."

"Margaret, I'm asking, you're not imposing. And unless you get over being distracted it's going to bother me whether you mention it or not."

"But Andrew, you don't know what it's about and you're gay."

"Margaret, if it's about what you're church thinks of gays, I've heard something like it before."

"But Andrew they think gays are evil and I shouldn't bother you with my problems when you're sick."

"I'd already figured out that your congregation has a problem with homosexuals from the way you've avoided talking about your church, but can talk about your life as a prostitute. I don't know exactly what they think, but it can't be that different. Your pastor can't be that much more bigoted than someone like Fred Phelps. What would your Pastor say? That you shouldn't be helping out gays like me, those who are dying?"

"Oh yes, but you're not that bad. You're not like that guy, that King from the Old Testament who demanded riches and women and anything his followers wanted, but I know that Pastor Larry would think my helping you is like Ahab giving Ben-Hadad a break and letting him live. Pastor Larry says such nice things about my filling the womanly tasks of helping and nurturing, but he also says I should be wary and give more to the ones whom God loves, the chosen people and save myself for those who deserve it. Not to slack off or anything, but that I don't need to go the extra mile. But when I think about Joe spent so much time helping me even before I was a Christian I can't help but try to help you and that's tearing me apart today."

"Well, Margaret, I can't deal with all of that. I can only say that I trust you to do your best. You do know that I attend a church that doesn't quite believe the same things as your pastor does?"

"Yes, I know you go to church, but you know Pastor Larry would say that you're worse than the pagans, you are those who would deny the true faith."

"I'm not surprised, but Margaret, now that you've told be what's bothering you, do you think you could concentrate on bathing me?"

"Oh yes, I'm sorry you had to hear about my questions, you have so many problems of your own."

"But Margaret I deal with my problems all the time, it's sometimes easier to deal with other people's problems than the ones I have to deal with."

Thursday, December 21, 2000

After reading about the false accusation that Jezebel plotted, Margaret continued to wonder. Pastor Larry kept saying gays were bad, but the ones she knew were just like other people. Of course, they weren't interested in her, but that wasn't all that bad considering what some of the men interested in her had wanted. I know Pastor Larry means to do what's best, he says so himself when he says that he makes mistakes, could this be one of the things he doesn't understand fully. I know he's mentioned that he now sees in a glass dimly and longs for the day when he sees face to face. He's mentioned often enough that the brass and silver mirrors of Paul's day obscured the picture so that face to face was the way to be seen, and how much of this could be a misunderstanding. But Pastor Larry says this from the pulpit and there he is divinely inspired as we are inspired to hear the Word correctly. But then how can Andrew's church teach something so different. The questions went around and around until Margaret got up off her knees and went to sweep and mop the basement floor, before scrubbing it on her hands and knees. She knew scrubbing anything would take her mind off of those ever-increasing questions and she wanted so much to have faith instead of doubts.

Friday, December 22, 2000

My God, Margaret thought, a lying spirit in the mouth of a prophet. Does Pastor Larry know about this possibility? Of course, he does, he's reading these passages along with us. But the passage doesn't say how you find out which prophet has God's spirit and which has a lying spirit. How can Pastor Larry be so certain that his is a spirit of God and not a spirit of untruth? He's told us enough times how tricky the devil can be inputting words and actions into people so that they become of the devil and here's proof that even God's anointed, how else could they be prophets?, can be possessed of a lying spirit. Am I going to have to scrub the basement again to get these questions out of my head? Instead of scrubbing the basement Margaret went to her sewing room and gathered up the pieces for another pant suit that she'd been putting off making and threw them away.

Saturday, December 23, 2000

Oh, Margaret prayed, to be a woman of God who when attacked could call down fire unless the person begged forgiveness. Or even to have the certainty of an Elijah. Joe is kinder than ever and yet the distance remains. God, how can I go on when Joe doesn't talk to me about his troubles and doesn't seem to talk about anything in his life. He is so kind and gentle, he doesn't nag about the small problems with running the house. I remember how he used to get so uptight over the least little money problem, but he was talking to me then. He doesn't do that anymore. He just goes to work and goes to therapy and comes home and seems worse. He cries, so silently he cries, he talks of the Bible with such love and then goes and cries some more. How can I bear it. And then, church, I keep wondering if Pastor Larry is going to use me as an example of the fallen woman redeemed. And yes, God saved me and Joe helped me get out of the life I was leading, but I'm not such a great woman and what will happen if I do something other than what Pastor Larry thinks is godly. Is he going to condemn me as a woman possessed by Satan. I know that I should be afraid of God's wrath, but with Pastor Larry even one mistake or slip seems to lead to a sermon on judgement day when all the righteous will be eating and feasting and the unrighteous burning in a lake of fire before them. O God I want to do Your will and follow in Your path, but I'm not sure that I can make every step righteous. I wear pant suits even though they are men's clothes. I wonder about my husband even though I'm supposed to trust him. I question what he wants me to do even though I'm supposed to obey. These questions trouble me. At least on the street all I had to worry about was getting the money for the next thing, but here in church I keep having to worry about everything I think. O God I want everything to be just right for you and it isn't.

Sunday, December 24, 2000

Pastor Larry finished reading from Matthew 1 and put down his Bible with a thump. “You may rightly wonder why such a reading for our Christmas Eve service. Wouldn’t the story of Jesus’ birth be more appropriate? But we are talking about how Jesus saves even the worst of us and this genealogy illustrates that perfectly. Out of the worst and not so bad women and men came this Savior of the world. This Savior who saves even the worst of us and makes us perfect. - Remember that we are called to “be ye perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. – This Savior came through fallen women. Who are these four women that were saved from evil and then became the line of David? They are: Tamar who committed incest with her father-in-law, Rahab who while a prostitute saved the men of Israel, Ruth who while a good woman was not one of Israel’s people, and Bathsheba who committed adultery.

“These women immersed in evil (Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba) or of a family of evil (Ruth) show how God can call the most evil among us. These women, who through their evil actions were condemned to hell, have been called out just as each of us is called out of an evil world. Those women were called out and became the mothers of Jesus, just as each woman in our congregation is called out to nurture her children so to provide strong men for our faith in Jesus.

“We have women who have come out of such dreadful pasts. And they have been changed; they have been regenerated and have grown up to be the mothers of our faith, submissive and humble. One of the m in our congregation is so humble that she had her husband come and ask that she not be used in my sermons as an illustration. She said there are so many other good Christian women and I still have so far to go. She like all of you here today is a fine example of Christian humbleness, not thinking how far she has come but how many others display even more goodness. We are not like those outside who speak only good of themselves. We have confessed our sins and been baptized in the blood of the lamb. That some of us have come out of great evil like this woman who committed incest and was a whore is only to show how mighty the one who can save is.

“And who is that one who has saved us?”

The congregation shouted, “Jesus!”

Margaret was thinking, “He told Joe he wouldn’t identify me as a former prostitute!” as she mouthed, “Jesus.”

Pastor Larry said, “I can’t hear you!”

And the congregation got louder with another “JESUS!!”

And Pastor Larry shouted, “You can do still better!! WHO SAVED YOU?”


Margaret felt fired up with all that enthusiasm, as she felt angry at the betrayal. But it couldn’t be a betrayal. Pastors did not do that to their congregations. That didn’t happen in a God fearing church. Yes, her father had betrayed her but not her pastor. Margaret began to lose herself in the rest of the service as Mildred began to play a hymn of praise and others began to be slain in the spirit. This was really worship, she thought.

Their daily Bible study only confused Margaret. Joe was talking about how God's anointed would be protected just as it said in II Kings 2 where the bears ate children teasing Elisha. And Margaret thought, isn't that what I'm doing. Pastor Larry is God's anointed and what's going to happen to me since I disrespect him by getting angry at him. Even if he doesn't do what I want, isn't he one of God's anointed. Pastor Larry is chosen to lead this congregation and all I do is get angry. He's so inspiring sometimes. I am so moved in the spirit and the whole congregation rings with our shouts of praise, but then I just can't get into them and I feel like I'm mocking God and Pastor Larry when I'm so angry. I feel as if a fire is about to burn me up as happened to those who came against Elisha and bears are gnawing at my insides trying to get out. I've been given so much with the love of Joe and I want to give that back, but I get so angry and Pastor Larry says that's not seemly in a woman.

Monday, December 25, 2000

That's a disgusting finish to the chapter, Margaret thought. I wonder how anyone even a pagan king could offer up their child as a sacrifice. It's like giving up on the future. No wonder the Israelites left. And Joe and I have worked so hard to have children. Joe keeps saying how much he wants children even when he's unable to do his part. And to have to read this on Christmas Day when we are celebrating the birth of one who saves us. I suppose in some twisted way this could be a son who is sacrificed to save his people and that's what we talk about God doing. God come down in Jesus Christ and then killed so that we might be saved. But was this son, this heir even old enough to understand what is going on? And Jesus went to the cross to save us, he wasn't forced into the decision. O God I want children so much and I know I'll do a better job than my father did with me but how can I have them if Joe won't cooperate. If I could I'd be like the woman Hannah who cried out in the temple until Eli thought she was drunk. But if I did that Pastor Larry would say - it just isn't your time and be faithful to your husband and it will happen. We'll I'm faithful and trusting and praying and crying and it just isn't happening and Joe's not coming to me so that it just can't happen. And Pastor Larry would say that I've just got to be a good woman and Joe will be attracted to me and perform his duties as a husband. And it just didn't seem to be a duty when we got married.

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Margaret prayed, O God if only the miracles of yesterday could happen in my life today. I know it is a miracle that I ever got out of the life I was in. I just didn't know that married life could be this good or that someone could treat me as nice as Joe does, but now that I'm out of that life I want so much more. I want to have a child, I want to have Joe communicate like we used to -like the way we did when we met. And I'm so upset and I don't know why. I have more than I thought I could have and I want more. I'm not like that woman who had no money for survival. I have a husband who's alive, who's kind, who brought me out of darkness. I don't have a child, but I have a house of my own, a real house that I own and property and a job that would support me even if Joe dropped dead today. So God, how can I ask for more, how is it that I desire more now that I have more than I ever dreamed I could have. It's like everything I ever wanted came to me like a winning lottery ticket and it's even better since I know I worked for every step. Joe cared for me from the first and he helped me every step of the way but I didn't just do nothing I know the cost for everything I've achieved and I've paid it gladly and I'm not going to throw it away just because I don't have everything I want but, O God, I do want, I desire, I dream, I hope, I want so much more.

Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Oh I do love a good story, Margaret thought, as she finished reading about Naaman and Elisha and the little servant girl who told Naaman about the prophet and Gehazi who sought after money and the king who did not trust in his own prophets. She went on thinking and finally wrote-

There once was a mighty king,
well¼ maybe not so mighty
who was asked by another king
and this one really mighty
to heal a well-loved servant
who commanded lots of armies
and this somewhat mighty king,
who didn't have those armies
he wondered what to do
in the face of this request.

But the prophet to the king
a man they called Elisha
sent word unto his king
to not fear the other armies
for the prophet would do what a prophet could do
and the commander of armies would be healed.

Well! This isn't poetry, but I'm not sure what to call it. But it expresses how I feel about the story. I do wish Joe were here to share this story with me. He's been gone in the evening so often recently and then he doesn't want to talk when he gets home. He says that the counseling is helping him and he is more gentle and kind and tells me of his love but he's gone more often and we never have marital relations any more. I wonder if I've failed him even though he tells me I'm not the one causing his problems. I wonder if it's something I'm just not seeing. Oh, I do want this marriage to work so that we can be a good Christian family with lots of children to love and nurture and bring up in the faith.

Thursday, December 28, 2000

Golly, thought Margaret, as she poked her head out of the library book, to think that an iron axe head was worth so much. This makes it even more of a miracle. It's like saving the price of a new tractor! I wonder if Pastor Larry knows about this. The materials he sent out talk about how great the army was, but I don't really understand armies. I do understand losing something borrowed and having to try to pay it back. I owe Joe so much for having rescued me from the life. But I don't want to feel like I have to pay him back. Sometimes this waiting for him to love me feels like repayment for the days and months he spent in rescuing me and then waiting for me to enjoy marital relations, but Joe has always enjoyed being the husband and I miss that part of our lives.

Friday, December 29, 2000

Food when you're hungry. Food at a price anyone can pay. That's a miracle story that I understand. And then those who are haughty and proud and don't believe - they are the ones who get trampled underfoot. Oh thank you, God for this story. I have to tell Andrew about this story. I'm beginning to think more and more that God doesn't condemn him. Andrew is such a good person, he listened and asked about me when I hurt him the other day. And he gets angry but he gets over it and apologizes when it's his fault or finds excuses for me when I've done wrong. He and Joe couldn't be more different. Joe likes to work with his hands. Andrew can barely move. Joe's married to me. And Andrew is gay. But they both care and even if Andrew can't get married he says he was faithful to one man until that one man died. And God knows he can't get out of the house to get into any trouble since that death. And in a way even their differences match up. Joe may not read that much but he knows everything to do with tools. Andrew may not do anything handily, but he knows everything to do with books. Joe loves to sing and Andrew can't sing but listens to all sorts of music. Joe can't talk about his feelings but does small things to show he cares. Andrew can talk, but knows when to be listen. If it weren't for Pastor Larry's teachings about homosexuality I'd introduce them, but I can't do that.

Saturday, December 30, 2000

O God, I wonder if I am being called to leave my home, just like that woman in II Kings, Margaret prayed. I'm no longer being fed by Pastor Larry's sermons. They seem like bitter herbs and noxious weeds. He is supposed to be a man of God and I know I should listen to him. But everything within me is so angry at him. He just doesn't know what my life was like and talks as if I was this woman who had everything just for lying on my back. It was easier than living at home, but Pastor Larry has no idea what my home life was like. If he had had to put up with what I went through he would know how much a relief the streets were. And this life with Joe is just heaven. I have a house, I have a job, I have a husband, I can say no without fear. And yet I want more.

Sunday, December 31, 2000

Pastor Larry preached a sermon about Jezebel being the whore of Babylon. He didn't mention Margaret by name, but everyone knew her as the fallen woman redeemed by the love of a man.

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