Exposed & Exhausted Part 2
Feminists, stop reading now. This is not a fun paragraph for you. But the annoying truth of the matter is that being ‘covered’ by a respected man in the community does in fact bring you a much higher level of honour. This idea of ‘covering’ might leave a sour taste in the mouths of us millennials, but does in fact line up with the biological drives of both men and women. A man wants a woman he can pursue, provide for and protect, and a woman wants a man to do those things for her. Both men and women spend most of their lives trying to attain this!
Think of the story of Ruth and Boaz in the Bible, particularly chapter 3. Ruth was a widow who went back with her widowed mother-in-law Naomi, to a land that was not her own. And with Naomi’s wise instruction, Ruth strategically positioned herself to catch the eye of a local man ‘of standing’ who was in line to be her ‘kinsman-redeemer’ (a man whose link to Ruth’s late husband obligated him to take her in and care for her). Naomi knew that they needed a good man to marry into the family and become responsible for them, so she didn’t mess around.
You probably know the story….when Boaz discovered that Ruth was lying at his feet, essentially offering herself to him in marriage, she said to him: ‘spread the corner of your garment over me’ (Ruth 3:9). In Biblical language, this means ‘please marry me’. We can see that God himself uses this metaphorical language in Ezekiel 16:8 when he speaks to the nation of Israel, saying to them: ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you…and you became mine.’ This is a clear image of a husband taking a wife. So when a man ‘spreads his garment’ over a woman, he is covering her vulnerabilities – she is no longer exposed.
As women, we need this covering. Being exposed to the elements is exhausting and scary. We need a good man who will look after us, protect us, and ensure that we are treated with dignity and respect. We need a man who will stand up for us and fight for our honour. It is not wrong to want this. Feminism has shouted at us for so long, telling us ‘You don’t need a man!’ ‘You are strong!’ ‘Girls rule the world!’ But unfortunately, this is not true. Trying to look after yourself is so exhausting. Not only do you have to work to provide for yourself, you have to protect yourself as well! It’s like trying to hack through a bush with a machete, while holding a shield in one hand to ward off the attackers. Not exactly the kind of thing that enhances the feminine spirit. The thing is, we do need a good man to ‘cover’ us, and to do the hard work of looking after us.
When you are young, this man is your dad. When you leave your dad’s covering, you need to enter someone else’s covering – ideally, your husband’s. But if you leave home and enter the world as an independent, single woman, you may eventually find yourself with that untethered feeling. (You may have also experienced this feeling if you lost your dad in your childhood or youth.) You do get used to it, and might think it’s just normal – but I think it carries with it a constant, underlying anxiety and tension. And it’s when something bad happens that you realise how much you need that man in your life, and you will run back to the best man you have. This could be your dad, grandad, an uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, pastor, mentor, boss, friend, or even an ex-boyfriend. Think of the last time something happened that you couldn’t face on your own. Maybe your car broke down. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe someone broke into your house and stole all your stuff. Who did you turn to?
Let me conclude these thoughts with a really important point: it is normal and okay to want a man to ‘cover’ you. You don’t have to be the strong one. I am praying for you that God will bring a good man into your life to pursue, protect and provide for you. And I pray that you will let him in to do those things for you.
In the meantime, I have two pieces of advice:
1. Remember that God is always there for you. He covers you and he is strong and powerful. Although you can’t see him, he is working in your life, and if you let him, he will keep you safe. But you do need to take his advice and do what he recommends! Get out those Bibles!
2. Stay in contact with your parents or ‘covering’ family members. Tell them what is going on for you, and let them speak into your life. Don’t think that you know best all the time! If you don’t have a good relationship with your parents, or they live far away, find a good, stable couple in your Christian community who can be pseudo-parents for you. Ask them to ‘take you in’. Go to their place for dinner once a fortnight or once a month. Let them speak into your life and pray for you. Take your questions and hurts to them. Be ‘covered’ by their reputation, and their relationship with you in the community. (And ask them to help hook you up with a good Christian man!)
Be blessed. Love Ruth xo