In December, I watched the Potter’s House rendition of the birth of Jesus, their annual Christmas production. It was entitled the Gift of Love. The way in which the story was narrated forced the viewer back to creation. The production was wonderful as it helped all viewers understand the power of choices, and that all human characters made choices that resulted in the need of God to put on flesh, step into time, and become Jesus. The reason is made clear in Genesis chapter three; the woman ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge and so did the man. This is often referred to as the original sin, which lost humanity paradise with the sentence of suffering until death. The retelling of a story that I am so very familiar with immediately got me upset. You see, in my adolescence it was drilled into me consciously or subconsciously that the woman messed up, and the fall of humanity was indeed her fault. Growing up I never understood why the woman had to stand in that shame alone. The woman made a choice and so did the man so why all the scrutiny for the woman? As I became older, I began to understand playing martyr was safer than being responsible. That victimhood allowed for a perpetual cycle of blame and required far less emotional internal work. Whereas responsibility required action; the action of owning fault, processing pain, and being committed to healing.
Unfortunately, in todays society we have glorified victimhood: especially in women. In the name of love we have tried to undo our teaching of shaming the woman in the creation story by making her permanently weak. Instead of making Adam and Eve both responsible for each of their choices, we have told women since you have been the scapegoat, you have the license to stand in victimhood. Instead of understanding that shame is a form of suffering, which allows us to see God more clearly, we have determined to be God ourselves and remove the sting of shame. In our quest to protect women, something Adam should have done in the garden, we have re-injured women with the permanent place of being powerless. I believe the maturation of shame is first suffering, realization, and restoration that results in healing. We have societally stunted this growth process used to make butterflies. Consequently, we have found ourselves with a host of beautiful butterflies, stuck in exploitation, who cannot quite fly: beautiful uselessness.
This is the thing that we have come to celebrate beautiful uselessness. We are more concerned with what a woman looks like, be that sexual or nonsexual, than what she thinks. We tell her thinking is what got you in trouble in the first place so sit, stand, exist: in shame. I want to make it abundantly clear that being a victim is real. There are countless stories in the Bible that make men and women martyrs. The most prominent martyr story in the Old Testament is that of Job. For those that don’t know the story he loses everything to prove the devil wrong about who he would serve and lost everything but his life to prove God’s point. I don’t know about you but I don’t know if I would have been strong enough to say, “ ...The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” ( Job 1:21 ESV) and really mean it after losing everything! It is undeniable that Job was exploited but he refused to stay delicate.
The land of victimhood is akin to living in a neighborhood with self-righteous cantankerous neighbors who are bitter and want you to suffer with them instead of being happy; like trying to live for Christ does not require enough suffering: they want to inflict more. We ALL have had friends, who I hope you have gotten rid of in 2020, who enjoy staying in the place of being hurt or offended because there is no way they have, or could have, possibly done anything wrong. Amongst women it normally plays out like this: Sharon is mad with Tina and if you do not side with Sharon and subsequently hate Tina like Sharon does you cannot really love her and y’all’s friendship is now on life support. Now Tina could have really hurt Sharon. Yet instead of confronting the pain, taking responsibility for the role she (Sharon) played, and working whatever it is out with Tina, even if that means ending the relationship in love, Sharon comes to you emotional wanting you to defend her. Not only is Sharon living in the land of victimhood, she has weaponized her persecution as a way of an insulating shield that only the love of God can penetrate.
The problem is while in the land of victimhood, you cannot recognize the people God sends into your life to help you get closer to your purpose! Each of us has a purpose. Something is divinely established for each of us to do with our gifts and talents to serve God. I’m blessed to know that my purpose is to educate, but I would not have become so resolute in my purpose if I allowed everything that I have been through keep me in the place of a permanent martyr. What I have learned is that God doesn’t always talk to us he usually talks through us and through the spirits of other people. I did not quite understand this until the end of 2019. Every time I heard the voice of God, I heard it through my own voice. I’ll give you an example, I secured an academic book deal in October of 2019 with a manuscript deadline of March 2020 that requires 300 pages. I knew to make the deadline I needed to use the first part of the month of December to research. I heard myself saying.... “Sherice the only place you must be to accomplish this task is in Washington D.C.” That was actually God talking to me. I tried to ignore it because I did not have the finances. Every other plan I tried to work out to research anywhere else failed until I finally surrender to his purpose, and suddenly finances divinely aligned. When playing martyr speaking to you through you is a failure because the part of you he needs to do it with, you have killed.
We, like God, are composed of three parts body, soul, and spirit. When becoming a child of God the spirit in you is transformed into his Holy Spirit. Yet if you stay in victimhood you kill his Holy Spirit inside of you because you have denied his sovereignty. It does not mean he is no longer a sovereign God it means you have denied his ability to reign over your life. The glorification of our own pain is a choice unpleasing to God because it places you in bondage; the exact same bondage he came to set you free from. Don’t choose bondage over freedom; let his love for you speak through you so you can live life in his purpose for you.