New Woman, Part 1
If you’re someone who doesn’t believe in miracles, consider this: a woman who’s been a feminist, child-of-the-sixties lawyer, an individualist who believed she could make a difference, and lived that way, chooses to abandon all that, to give it all up in favor of a simpler life, one devoted to putting others ahead of herself, and to submitting her own independence to the judgment of her friends, all of whom are committed to the same purpose.
That was in 1985.
That purpose is to make the universe be whole and united in peace, as it was meant to be: men and women living together in harmony. Since even before the Sixties, that has been the longing of my heart. But I’ve come to see that before the entire universe can be unified, the true relationship between men and women must be restored.
Therefore, I’d like to share with you the truth about why I’m here, living in this community of people who believe with everything in them that we were created to love one another.
My life may not have looked like much when stacked up beside the world’s greats, but I can tell you that I liked it; I was not unhappy. For me, it was a lot to give up: a job that I truly loved, was good at and respected in, a job in which I got equal pay with men; a new small house with forty acres of land situated in a beautiful rural setting that was ideal ... there was nothing more I longed for on that front. I had wonderful friends and neighbors close by, throughout the state and beyond; and most importantly, the perfect relationship with a man I loved and lived with for nine years. It was equal, caring, sharing, loving, communicative. It diminishes the turmoil and anguish that every ounce of my being experienced to say merely, “It was the hardest decision of my life” to give it all up and follow the gospel I came to believe.
Now it is 1987. I had to follow the longings of my soul and see whether or not what drew me was really what it appeared to be. I can assure you it was not the words of scripture which drew me, nor was it the community’s belief that “God is the head of his Son, his Son is the head of man and man is the head of woman,”[fn]1 Corinthians 11:3[/fn] that had any appeal whatsoever. In fact it repelled me greatly. For nearly a year as I got acquainted with members of the community and their “philosophy,” I deliberately avoided discussion of such topics because such talks would only cause my emotions to boil, so much so that I couldn’t even hear what was being spoken.
However, I could not deny the life that I saw. I could not forget the way people simply were. Many of their words seemed to me to be the language indicative of female oppression, but I saw men treating women with respect, dignity, sensitivity and care. It was not mandated; it was real. Men regularly and routinely did piles of dishes without resentment, cared for children and changed diapers as if it came naturally, were gentle and asked the opinions of their wives before making a decision. It was a marked contrast in a world influenced by feminism such as chore lists free of sexual bias, child care schedules focused on “equal time,” and enforced quotas of women on decision-making boards. Deep inside, as I both participated in and observed the feminist movement, I was always bothered by the apparent necessity of forced measures to guarantee fairness. It weighed me down because it smacked of a subtle hopelessness founded in the intuitive knowledge that “if I had to force someone to treat me justly, it couldn’t be worth very much.” The method lacks love, and so does the product, the fruit. Without a heart for justice, a spirit of righteousness, what hope is there for unity and love between men and women.
Feminists are right about a lot of things, a lot of true facts, but their anger is inadequate and faulty as a motivation for change. Women have been abused, mistreated, and violated by men for centuries, throughout human history. Our pain and suffering is great; the injustices are many. The same is true for men, however. That fact cannot be ignored or discounted. Women, in angry rebellion against being oppressed, sometimes behave as if they are the only ones wronged. That is not true. The truth is that the whole human race suffers, albeit in differing degrees and varying forms. Men and women are not in harmony anymore. There is strife, contention, competition, demands for “quality and justice under the law,” none of which is founded in love. If each of us truly loved one another, that love would inevitably be reflected in the way we treated each other. We wouldn’t need legislation and court decisions to try to force it.
Here in the Community we don’t have rules and regulations. We don’t need them because we have true love for one another. That gives us eyes to see and ears to hear each other and meet one another’s needs. We trust one another. It is not blind or foolhardy trust, but trust that is built one day at a time, as we live with each other. Our lives are totally exposed and we are honest with each other. We are not perfect, and neither are our lives. We make mistakes but we can trust that out brothers’ and sisters’ love remains. We forebear with one another’s weaknesses and encourage each other. We become true friends. The emotional, psychological, and social “baggage” that each of us acquired in the living of our individual lives is not magically erased upon entering the Community. What there is however is the commitment to learn tolove our brothers and sisters as our Master Yahshua loved us, and to make that the most important part of our lives every day, in every encounter. He went to death for us, so we choose to die to our selfishness and put each other first. This is no idle platitude or fine-sounding theory for utopia: it is the gospel of the kingdom. It is how each of us was created to exist.
I have found that the people I live with are committed to doing that, That commitment means giving up your own life, your own agenda, your own independence. The cost is dying to yourself daily. It is not mystical or highfalutin. I used to live my life believing that freedom was being independent enough to “do my own thing,” being confident enough not to be afraid, and being self-reliant enough to stand unequivocally on my own judgments. Now I see a better way. I know that this way is the truth.
Not only have I seen it, but I have experienced it. It is worth it; I am happy. It is hard; it costs everything you have. The man the world calls Jesus was right. I call him Yahshua because as he walked on the earth as a Jew that’s what he was called by those who knew him. As the Word of God promises, I have found him to be the way, the truth and the life.[fn]John 14:6[/fn] I’m not religious and for years I was prejudiced against the words in the Bible. But now I am oh-so-thankful to see that this life cannot be judged by those who distort it or misrepresent it. That is the lie; religion is the lie; his life was the truth. He gave his life to his father’s will because he trusted him. He died without any just cause and he gave himself to that death. By today’s standards, he would be judged a fool.
Do you know that his submission, that total ultimate submission, is the only thing that allowed him to conquer death? A word of hope: don’t be discouraged (or turned off) if you don’t now believe in God or Jesus or the resurrection. You don’t believe it yet because you haven’t seen the truth of it, of its power. Nevertheless, it is real and it is the truth. I have seen it. That is why and haw I am able to submit my life to my brothers. They are men whose lives I have seen and know I can trust. They are not the men whose lives you see all around you, those oppressing and being appressed. These are men who have new hearts because they too have submitted themselves to a just government, one governed by the standard of the man Yahshua.[fn]Yahshua is the only man who perfectly loved like that. All others have failed, and will fail to love except by the power that He gives.[/fn] I know I can trust them and it is wonderful. They listen to what I say because they love and care for me. I don’t have to scream to be heard.
If you are skeptical of my testimony, I understand. Two years ago if you predicted I’d be living as I am now I would have called you a fool. To me, it is indeed a miracle. They can happen. Ask me anything you’d like. Come visit and see for yourself. Know your life might change if you do.