Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Women and Men

Beginning from scratch

Beginning from scratch
A thousand times over
The pioneering woman
Keeps her head low
Her determination high
Her feelings under control

How strange they said
When they saw
And took her seriously
Or not as it pleased them
In the moment
That always belonged to them

Changes unfold so quickly
Her memory can’t keep up
With constant expectations
That she’ll have all things under control
And can start or stop on a dime
Without missing a beat

‘Our little angel’ they call her
Responsible and diligent
If a little obsessed with things
Others think inconsequential
Until they wake up one day
To truth they can’t believe

I’ve been thinking about the trajectory of my life. In particular, how difficult it was back in the 1960s and 70s to be a woman in a so-called ‘man’s world.’

It required a kind of focus I don’t remember having. Still, I see it when I read my old class notes, papers and exams from that era. It seems there wasn’t much room for being average.

Virtually every woman admitted to college, university or seminary was considered somewhat strange. Why would we do this? Why take the risk of failing, especially if we’re married?

It’s simple. Women often have more to gain than to lose, no matter how things turn out. There will always be failures and successes. However, in my lifetime there haven’t been many opportunities for women to stand up and be taken seriously in a world dominated by men.

Whether we succeed by their terms or not isn’t the question. The real question is what have we learned about ourselves and others along the way? And what will we do when, in our later years, we must begin yet again from scratch?

Hoping you’re feeling stretched and pulled toward things that matter in the long view, no matter what the short view looks like today.

Thanks for stopping by!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 September 2020
Nora Ephron quote found at momspark.net

For tongue-tied women of a certain age

Oh, Honey!
How polite we’ve been
All these years
Voices tripping lightly
Over rotten eggshells
And around huge cow pies
Plopped in our paths
Unceremoniously
By fawning faces
And genteel souls
Killing us softly with
Promises and thinly veiled
Threats cold and dagger-sharp

These words came springing to mind yesterday afternoon. Here we are in the 21st century, deep into the age of Trump, and I’ve been taught to be polite. To defer to those in authority over me, and keep my mouth shut.

Not that I’ve always been a good white girl. Still, on the scale of niceness I’ve probably been about 9 out of 10 on the side of the angels. Especially when dealing with men intent on keeping me in my place (wherever that is), or promising me heaven on earth.

Strangely, my father comes to mind, right up there with my worst boss ever and other men who tried over the years to shame or sweet-talk me into compliance with their wishes.

Today I’m wondering what I have yet to say to my father. Not to scorn or shame him, but to turn the tables and own the power of my voice. Along with the power of truth and good will. Not just for his sake, but for mine.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 February 2019

In the Driver’s Seat | A Nightmare

Here’s a short version of a response to my recent nightmare, beginning with two uncomfortable facts.

  1. I’m the leader of this group.
  2. This nightmare is primarily about my voice, not a musical program.

In addition, I can’t ignore these realities:

  • Human body parts lying around the house
  • Men sitting on the sidelines, not at the table
  • The atmosphere: Sullen, Passive, Disengaged, Heavy, Disconnected, Disinterested, Bored, Dangerous

Here’s what I would do differently, as of today:

  1. After I see the first body parts, I consult with D. We’re in agreement. This is not a safe place.
  2. I ask D to contact the proper authorities immediately. He might need to call my contact person for help with this. Tell the proper authority that there are human body parts lying around this house and that we need someone to come immediately, without a siren.
  3. Introduce myself briefly to the group, and begin circulating a sign-up sheet to include everyone present: name, address and contact information – printed legibly.
  4. Read names aloud, connect them with faces, and welcome them to this meeting. (There are less than 20 people in the room.)
  5. Invite men sitting on the sidelines to join us at the table, or leave now.
  6. Tell the remaining group what I’ve seen in other areas of this house, and that D has contacted authorities. We won’t work on a musical production at this meeting. Someone will be in touch with you about whether another rehearsal will be held, and where.
  7. If and when we reconvene, we’ll create our own musical program, drawing on input from everyone. I urge you to think and write about what you’re thinking and feeling right now. What music, poem, or other creative writing might respond to and honor the bodies and lives affected by this tragedy?
  8. If you’d like to stay until authorities arrive (assuming they haven’t arrived), you’re free to stay here with D and me. If you need to leave, feel free to do so.
  9. For those who remain, we’ll be thinking and talking about how we’re feeling right now.

I’m not sure about letting the men and even group members leave—perhaps before the authorities arrive. But I have no grounds for keeping them, and have collected their names and contact information.

Perhaps this seems morbid for Sabbath reading. Nonetheless, it puts things into perspective for me. This is about giving up my need to survive, or to change situations. It’s also about speaking truth in a clear voice. A spiritual skill each of us needs in today’s world, whether we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ or not. Even a nightmare can lead to productive reflection and dialogue.

Thanks for reading and commenting if you’d like.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 November 2017
Daily Prompt: Atmospheric

Going to Seminary | Part 10

Cherish Children

In 1973 I arrived at seminary with an empty bucket. Indeed, when I married D I was already lugging it around. I thought marrying D would more than fill my empty bucket. I needed to be cherished. Read the rest of this entry »

Contempt wears many faces | A Dream, Part 3

Courage doesn't mean...jpg verybestquotes.com

If I could make only one wish for the New Year, it’s that contempt and self-contempt would implode. Just wither up and die in the face of courage.

In the meantime, Read the rest of this entry »

Going to Seminary | Part 3

 

70's Elouise

Fuller Seminary Student ID Photo, Fall 1973

It’s fall term, 1973. I look calm and reasonably mature. Inside, I’m a boiling cauldron of fear and anxiety.

I don’t belong here!
I’m too old.
I’m the mother of two young children.
Don’t ask me why I decided to come to seminary.
I don’t have an answer.

I feel apologetic about taking up anyone’s time. Read the rest of this entry »

Going to Seminary | Part 2

FTS Women, Color, T-Women-Collage-min

~~~Women students, staff and faculty at Fuller Seminary through the years

I thought it would be easy to move into my new Going to Seminary series. But it isn’t. Why? I think because this wasn’t an easy or seamless transition in my life.

Compared with getting married, this felt like an earthquake. A seismic shift. I didn’t understand this back then. Today I understand at least the following.

Being a Faculty Wife was a fairly low-profile role. Even though people were suspicious about women with minds and lives of their own, they were still courteous and polite to women who ‘knew their place.’

As long as I kept my head down, took care of our children and showed up at the Bible College to contribute my musical skills and presence, things went smoothly enough.

Nonetheless, sometimes I felt lost and misunderstood. Especially when I described to friends how I felt about not-so-public parts of my life. It seems I didn’t fit the pattern.

But then again, I never did fit the pattern. My father knew this and did his best to change me.

My family upbringing prepared me to survive and even flourish in the Deep South 1960s culture of the Bible College. It was all about being a proper lady, whether as a student or later as a Faculty Wife. I knew how to play the game and succeed, at least on the outside.

Now it’s 1973 and I’m on my way to seminary in California. I don’t have the home team advantage, and the seminary doesn’t have second-class expectations for women. When it comes to academic work, I have to pull my own weight.

When I take a course, D won’t take it for me. He won’t write or edit my papers. He won’t think for me.

This is a seismic shift, though I didn’t appreciate that back then. Gone is the world that groomed me to marry a good Christian man and follow him to the ends of the earth, bearing all the children he might want to beget.

Now I must stand on my own two feet and do my full share of caring for the children, cooking, and housecleaning. I must earn my own grades, write my own papers, make my own oral presentations and take my own exams.

At the Bible College, theology and Biblical studies were supposedly the domain of men like my father. Though women weren’t unwelcome intruders, they were foreigners from another planet.

Women belonged in clearly defined domestic roles, supporting their men who were doing the really important thinking and doing. If married women absolutely had to work outside the home, fine. Just don’t let it interfere with domestic duties.

At the Bible College, most men had no problem with women studying the Bible. Nonetheless, if women had questions about the Bible or theology, they should ask their husbands or their male pastors or professors. Why should they need to bother their pretty little heads with anything difficult or contentious?

As one of my theology professors at Bible College announced: “The next topic is for men; you women can ‘go pick daisies’ if you’d like.”

That didn’t mean we could leave the room; it meant we didn’t have to understand the next topic or take extensive notes about it. We could think about whatever we wished during the next half hour or so. It shouldn’t be of concern to us. The topic? The end of the world (Eschatology)!

When I was accepted into the MA in Bible and Theology, I was elated and terrified. Nine years had passed since I graduated from the Bible College. I was about 10 years older than many if not most other students in my courses. I was also the mother of two young children.

The stakes were high, no matter what I did or didn’t do with this degree. No wonder I was anxious and self-conscious. My life was about to change.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2015
Collage image thanks to http://www.fullermag.fuller.edu

Faculty Wife | Part 15

1972 Oct Cowboys Blocks and Trucks

…Keeping the home fires burning. That’s my hat, not yours! October 1972

By summer 1972 D knew things might not work out for him at the Bible College. I wasn’t sure they would work for me, either. Read the rest of this entry »

About You and Human Trafficking | Truth #2

Truth #1 – When you or I touch the life of just one person who has been trafficked or who is at risk of being trafficked, that’s more than enough!

Truth #2 – We need trafficking victims as much as they need us to remind us of our deep need for healing of all kinds.

This includes sexual healing Read the rest of this entry »

Working for the Lord

I gave this slightly tongue-in-cheek yet totally earnest devotional at a faculty meeting in April 2000. It’s about the way I want to work.  I wrote it because I was struggling with boundaries. Read the rest of this entry »

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