Friday, August 16, 2013

Becoming the Rib

As I was on my way home from work and the grocery store today, I heard an amazing interview on the radio.  The show was on the Q90fm (90.1 in Appleton/Green Bay) Naomi's Table show.  It truly inspired me to stop and think about how we as women view men and relationships.  It also validated a conversation I had yesterday with another truly amazing and strong woman who has helped me immensely, whether she is aware of it or not.

I am a strong woman.  I have the tendency to crumble under high amounts of stress, which leads to panic attacks and sometimes even tears, but I am highly independent.  Throughout my relationships, one theme has resurfaced over and over again:  I hate relinquishing control over myself and my home.  I would very much prefer to do everything myself.  Men have a strong desire - no, need - to be providers and protectors within their families and relationships.  They want to fix everything.  Men need to know their purpose as a strong, solid rock within a relationship.  It's a woman's role to nurture and protect this within him.

Biblically, a woman is to be submissive. I'm not talking about cowering in the corner and obeying his every command.  For a very long time, that's exactly how I saw that Biblical view.  Part of it has been my own personal experiences, but there is a big difference between survivor and victim.  I took the definition of survivor to an extreme.  It was the means to my survival to be so strong and in control of everything.  

It was a good thing to take these last two years off and remain intentionally single.  It was good for my heart, for my mind, and for my own healing.  It has been good for my children, they've needed this time.  I needed to be in control and strong to defeat the doormat syndrome I'd held for far too long.  It has been a means of finding my heart, healing the scars, and moving on to a healthier, more stable life.  I have chased dreams and accomplished goals I never thought I'd actually achieve.  Though I still have far to go, I feel successful.

There is a time for everything, though, and the time has come for me to relinquish at least some of that control.  I will always be independent and strong.  I will always have my sense of self.  It's simply time to be womanly again - and I now understand that to be womanly does not mean being weak.

The interview on the radio show today was about the relationships between men and women.  One of the points that really hit home was about woman coming from man's rib.  Not from the head, to lord over him, not from his foot to be walked on.  From his rib.  Why the rib?  The rib is a strong, but flexible bone.  The rib's function is to protect the heart and lungs. 

So how does this correlate to our relationships as women?

It is a woman's job to protect a man's heart.  I'm not just talking about the wishy-washy function of the emotional heart.  The physical heart pumps blood, which is one of the basic essentials for human life.  The stronger our blood, the stronger we function.  We strengthen our relationships with our womanly capacity to nurture.  A woman's strengths lie in compassion and understanding.  We're sensitive to everything around us, to the emotions of others, as well as our own.  We need to be in touch with those abilities, and to work with them to nurture our relationships.  

The ribs also protect the lungs.  Our lungs re-oxygenate our blood.  We breathe in cleaner air, and exhale what isn't useful.  Woman, with her capacity for compassionate understanding,  have the ability to be the voice of reason.  Men are typically action-oriented. They fix things.  Women who take control are also taking away some of that vitality from a man, by not allowing them to function fully in their roles as protectors and managers in relationships and in life in general.

The woman being interviewed (I wish I would have heard the beginning, or at least a name, so I could give her proper credit) spoke of relationships as a garden.  Gardeners know to prune unwieldy, wildly-growing plants.  The parts that are pruned are called "suckers" - literally sucking the life out of the rest of the plant.  We need to prune ourselves, as well.  We need to remove some of those untamed parts of us which keep us from growing stronger and more beautiful.  Pruning isn't always pretty.  We're sometimes left barren, feeling ugly and raw.  That's exactly where we need to be.  We need to cut off all that excess and return to the person we're intended to be.  We need to grow from those unruly life-suckers and become stronger, more full and well-developed human beings.

Over the past month, that's exactly where I've been.  I've been pruning.  It's sometimes been ugly, and sometimes very raw.  It's also been a beautiful growing and learning experience.  It's been about finding myself, truly and meaningfully, and growing into someone better and more fully developed.

view blog reactions | tags:


Anonymous said...

This is so insightful and amazing. I have struggled a lot with allowing my fiance to take care of me and be more in charge and of action in our relationship.

I was single until just before my 29th birthday. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. My parents split up when I was 14 and my mom left my brothers and me to be with a man who treated her like a doormat.

Seeing this, I prayed that I would not be the kind of woman who let a man dominate me. Back then, I saw being submissive as you did. That's how many southern men see it too, like the Bible gives them the right to walk all over a woman. They fail to read how they're to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

So anyway, I took this and put this wall around me. Tall and strong and fiercely independent. I learned how to take care of myself. Lived on my own. Handled my own finances. Basically, I got my sh*t together.

I met John and even though I knew he was different from the men I'd grown up around, I still kept a clenched fist around my independence and need/want for total control.

When I struggled to open something (which is rare as I have unusually strong hands, lol) or had difficulty with something, he would ask to let him let him do it. Inside of me screamed, "NO! BACK OFF! I CAN DO IT!" because I thought if I let him do one thing, he might take over and render me useless.

But instead of following that voice, I took a deep breath and exhaled then stepped out of the way for him to do it.

In the past two years, I have slowly opened my fist to him. Does this mean I have no control anymore and I can't do anything on my own and I am totally dependent on John?

Nope. That's not who I am and not who he wants me to be. There are times I will tell him, "Please, just let me do this. I can do it."

I can cry in front of him, which I never imagined I could ever do.

I let him take care of me. I took down the walls and let him in. It took nearly two years to fully do this. And I take care of him.

The difference in him and the men I grew up with is not only does understand what it means for a woman to submit to him, he also knows he's to love me as Christ loved the church.

I am not over him and he doesn't walk all over me.

I think it took all of those years of taking care of myself to protect myself from men like the ones I grew up with and to be strong and independent enough to be healthy in a relationship.

Our relationship is all the better for it. I'm not afraid to tell him what I want and when I think there's something he needs to talk to me about or do with me to strengthen our relationship. He knows I will hold him accountable to our relationship just as I expect him to hold me accountable.

So long story short, go you for setting aside this time for yourself and thanks for sharing this story.


Blondie said...

Amy, thank you. That overbearing woman is exactly who I've been in my own relationships, and for exactly the same reasons.

Amy Spreeman said...

Thanks for sharing! The name of the program is Naomi's Table, and our guest was Sunny Shell.
--Amy Spreeman