My Courtship Story ~ Part 2: Waiting and Hoping

by Permission to Live

Now that I had given up on being anything but what my parents wanted from me, I began to gain some sort of sense of contentment. I was still afraid that I was going to be a stay at home daughter the rest of my life, but I had hope that “the time of the singing” would eventually come. So I poured myself into being the best daughter I could be. I had discovered some food allergies that had been impacting my health, and after removing the troublesome food from my diet, I had more energy. I got better and better at cooking and cleaning, I dreamed about how I would run my own house someday. I was usually too tired to work on anything for my hope chest, but I was “happier” than I had been in a long time.

When I was almost 19, my family started going to a church for the first time in 10 years, and I looked forward to the service and fellowship every single week. Breaking out of the isolation my family had been in for so long was making a difference in my life. My skills at the violin were improving, and since music teaching was something I was possibly able to do out of the home if my husband ever needed extra money, I was allowed to get certification in Suzuki Violin Training. I had half a dozen students and I taught once a week at a local music group. I was good at it, and I enjoyed the chance to have an outlet.

I tried not to think about how long I could be waiting for the “time of the singing” to arrive, and spent the time as best I could. I got up early every Sunday morning and my sisters and I tried to get everything ready so we would be able to go to church which was almost an hour away. Every Sunday I would hold my breath and wonder if any of the young men would notice me. We were even allowed to participate in the bi-monthly Young Peoples group since it was attended and led by the parents. So I was getting more time around other teenagers than I ever had.

I had hopes for one young man, but he never really showed any interest. There was another young man I’ll call “Dave” who came over to say hi almost every Sunday, and I hoped that perhaps there was something there. I wrote down everything he ever said to me in my journal, hardly believing that anyone actually sought me out to talk with me. But months went by and nothing further ever happened, no other prospects appeared.

******************

The pastor’s son (who was planning on going into ministry himself) offered a class in biblical Greek, and my Dad decided that this was a great chance for all of us to get better at it, so two of my sisters, myself and my Dad all went together each Monday night to study Greek together.

It was an interesting class, and the teacher was fun. “Hunk” was my age, but I never really considered him as a potential mate. He was tall and had tons of poofy blond hair that stuck up all over his head. He seemed to be a decided nerd, always dressed in dress pants and a polo shirt. He was very smart, and when we had been to dinner at their house earlier that summer, he and I had ended up talking for some time about the Greek language and the recent reading I had been doing on the history of Israel. But he had been interested in another girl from the church, and I was sure that they were going to be together soon, if they weren’t already. Plus he was kind of loud and energetic. You could often hear him talking from the opposite side of the room, and that made my serious reserved self a little uncomfortable.

After awhile, my Dad started to make it to class less and less, he was busy with work, so he would send us girls by ourselves. Sometimes after class we would all hang out for a few minutes and talk before heading home, and I liked this teacher. “Hunk” was interesting to talk to, and he was considerate and smart. But I still never thought of him in a romantic way. Class ended early in the year, and “Dave” who had continued chatting with me every Sunday still hadn’t made a decisive move. I was starting to think that there was no one in our church for me to marry.
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My Courtship Story ~ Part 1: Listen for the Singing

by Permission to Live

I begged my Mom to let me go to high school when I was 14. She was shocked by my request. How could I fail to appreciate all the time they had invested in homeschooling me, she told me how the school system was filled with evil, and how easy it was for a young girl to get taken advantage of. She promised that if I worked hard to finish my schoolwork, I would be able to go to college anyways, so why bother wasting my time in high school? I gave up.

At the age of almost 16, I was allowed to go to a small “homeschool” college that was holding it’s first ever summer camp for teens. The camp had strict rules about dress code and interaction with the opposite sex, and it was supposed to be very academic. I was squeezed into the Journalism Camp at the last moment. I was gone for one week and I loved it! I wrote and wrote, and attended every class. The articles I wrote were approved and put into the miniature “newpaper” that each group put together.

I made a few friends. And since this was still in our pre-church attendance days, I was thrilled to attend the nightly “chapel” time and sing praise songs that I had never heard before. (We were only allowed to listen to instrumental music at home) Those songs fed me so much, I remember I actually went up to the worship leader the last night and asked if I could write down a few of the songs so I would remember the words. They were songs like “In Christ Alone”, and a slower version of “I want to know you”.

I went home full of dreams, showing my parents my writing and talking the advice my teachers had given about getting into the door for journalism. It was no use. My parents continued to criticize my writing like they always had. I was reminded that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom someday, so there was no point in my getting into journalism when I would only have to quit at some point. I was depressed, I pleaded with my dad for alternatives, I promised that I would not make this into a career, I would just explore writing further and see what I could learn from it, maybe I would even write books from home someday! I brought him newspaper clippings of job offers for part-time columnists for our local paper and free workshops offered in our area. The answer didn’t change. Eventually, I gave up.

***************
I had not yet realized that I was never going to be allowed to go to college. My parents still acted as though this was up to me, but it had never truly been an option. My Dad told me I would be allowed to take online courses IF I managed to complete my two years of Latin and Greek, plus Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus, and Biology. He explained that the only way I would be smart enough to keep up with college level courses was if I completed all of my home school and “applied myself for once”.

I came up with endless schedules and plans to complete all of my schoolwork, but it was never enough. I couldn’t seem to make any progress. I was working hard around the house, and it was difficult to keep up with any schoolwork, much less complete the list that my Dad had put together. The math and science were way over my head, my homeschooling had not included any formal science or geography, and we had never managed to get past ancient history and what I now realize was some majorly revised American history.

I became more and more depressed. I was never going to get out of there. College was not going to happen,

I just wasn’t smart enough.

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It's About the DAUGHTERS

[Note: This piece is being crossposted at No Longer Quivering as a way to introduce NLQ readers to guest writer, Libby Anne's new blog: Love, Joy, Feminism. Read Libby Anne's "The Beautiful Girlhood Doll" series here.]

by Liberty

When it comes to the multitude of problems with Christian Patriarchy, it is the position of the daughters that I am most passionate about. The patriarch has it pretty good – he’s the one who gets to call the shots. The sons usually don’t have it so bad either – they’re patriarchs in training. The mothers may spend their lives having baby after baby and they may believe that they’re to submit to the patriarch in everything, but they generally chose this life at some point, and knew what life was like before on the outside. Then there is the daughter. Unlike her mother, the daughter of Patriarchy has no choice.

She is told that all she is ever to be is a wife and mother. She may someday run a home business, selling herbs or dresses she’s made, but she may never work outside the home or – god forbid! – have a career.

She is told that an education is a dangerous thing. Education in the Bible and in homemaking skills are a good thing, but worldly knowledge is dangerous. The daughter of patriarchy learns early that she must guard her mind from evil thoughts and any question or doubt.

She learns early the importance of submission. She must submit to her parents, and, even when she is grown, to her father. She is taught that women must always be under male authority, and that an independent woman is a dangerous thing.

She spends her days helping her mother, cooking and cleaning and changing diapers. This is her destiny, and it is what she is put on earth for. She has little time with friends, as her mother is busy with baby after baby and she must be counted on to keep the house running.

She learns that the world outside of her patriarchal bubble is an evil and dangerous place. Feminists are selfish and ungodly, girls who wear tank tops and short skirts are sluts and whores, and the world is descending into chaos and damnation.

In sum, she is taught to believe what her father does, do as her father says, and stay in line. Any sign of independent thought is immediately squelched. She is taught a skewed view of the world, brainwashed into believing that those who might be her greatest allies are her enemies, and that to be different is to be evil. She knows nothing of the outside world save fear. Her education is often deficient, and even if she is educated well, she is taught to shoot low and her potential to dream big dreams is stifled, thus sabotaging her potential to even consider a worthwhile or fulfilling career. Thoughts normal girls have never enter her mind.
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The Beautiful Girlhood Doll ~ Part 6: Joy & Friendship

by Libby Anne

The woman of God is joyful and seeks companionship with those who share the same vision. For the daughter who has embraced the beauty of Christian girlhood, the richest friendships begin within her family, where she learns to love and honor, and first learns the joy of belonging to another.

I had a lot of friends growing up, and they definitely all shared my vision. In fact, they were all exactly like me! All of my friends were white, middle class, and homeschooled, and they all shared the same religious beliefs that I did. This is because I only ever met other girls my age at church or in a Christian homeschool co-op, and I only ever got to see a friend frequently if our parents were also friends and our families got together regularly. Thus my friends were generally the children of my parents’ friends.

All of my friends were girls. This was probably largely a result of the strange coincidence that none of my parents’ friends had sons my age, but it was likely also furthered by the strong belief in different roles for boys and girls. I also think that the concern that if I knew a boy, I might somehow end up falling in love with him or kissing him or something, against my parents’ wishes, contributed to my not ever going out of my way to seek friendship with any boys my age. And in reality, I would not have known what to do with a guy friend if I had had one. After all, guys do not generally have tea parties, play with dollhouses, cook, or sew. Regardless of the reasons behind it, the fact that I only had girlfriends meant that eventually, when I went to college, I had to figure out how to deal with guys my age from scratch.

My friends and I often discussed our beliefs, but because we were in agreement on all the particulars the result was that we simply moved ourselves further and further into Christian Patriarchy. We were all devoted believers, and our discussions made us only more fervent. Head coverings, skirts only, staying at home rather than going to college – it was all on the table. It was like we had somehow tied our worth to our level of devotion, so the more devoted we could prove ourselves, the more holy we would be. Because of this, several of my friends almost talked me into staying home and not going to college. I admitted to them that they were right, we as girls shouldn’t go to college and should instead spend those years serving others. Yet at the same time I had to reconcile this new-found realization with my parents’ strong assumption that I would go to college. In the end, my parents expectation won out over doubts that had built up in my mind, largely planted there by my friends.

For the large part of my childhood, my friends ranged from one year older than me to three years younger than me. However, when I was in high school a number of factors resulted in my not seeing my closest friends very frequently. In response, I made several new friends, but they were six or seven years younger than me. This meant that at seventeen the friends I spent the most time with were ten and eleven years old. We had good times, tea parties, dollhouses, and all, but our friendship caused some interesting dynamics. For example, they looked up to me a great deal and this both gave me a lot of influence over them and meant that they would affirm pretty much anything I said or did.
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No Charity in the Remnant ~ Part 5: They had freedom and liberty and so many choices …

by Whisper Rain

Whisper’s parents went to the church they’d heard about on Sunday morning. When they got home, they were cautiously optimistic. Maybe this was the right place for them. Maybe the Rains could finally fit in somewhere, and be a part of something that would be a good, godly influence on their family. Maybe some new friends would be good for the children, especially Whisper. It was drastic… but it seemed like it was time for something drastic.

When the next Sunday rolled around, Whisper’s parents were much more picky than usual about the kids’ clothes. Yes, the girls were wearing skirts but… they’d better take off their jewelry too. And the boys had better wear button up shirts and keep them tucked in. Whisper started getting worried. It was a long drive to this church, and before they got there, her parents turned around and gave everybody another nervous once over.

They pulled into the parking lot. The church building was very plain and immaculate white. Even the gravel in the parking lot was flawless… not a pothole to be seen. The parking lot was full of well-kept vehicles. There were a lot of maxi vans there. A few people were standing around talking while they made their way to the building, and at the sight of them, Whisper’s heart fell into her shoes. Beards. Carefully combed hair. White head coverings. Homemade dresses. Charity people. She could hardly breathe. No… she wouldn’t go in there.

They parked the van at the end of a row of other vans. Whisper was rooted to her seat. No. This couldn’t be happening. Her parents and brothers and sisters got out, and waited for her. NO. “Please,” her parents said, “give it a try. It couldn’t hurt to give it a try.” NO. “Please?”

She looked at her parents. She knew they were doing their best. She knew they loved her. They thought this was a good place. These people apparently knew something special about God. Her parents were trying to do what was right- and it couldn’t have been easy for them to walk in there either. Whisper got out of the van.

They walked into the building, past the stares. Even in their long denim skirts & button down shirts, which had seemed so conservative… they stood out in the crowd. People made a path to let them through… or was it to stay out of their way? Whisper couldn’t tell. Not many people smiled at them. A few men came to greet Dad, but their wives and children hung back and tried not to stare.
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