Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life As a Working Woman

Awhile ago, I mentioned that I had gotten a job. I'm currently Assistant Night Manager of an ice cream/burger place.
   Let me start out by saying how much I love my job. It's amazing. Yes, sometimes customers (or co-workers) are pains, but that's the price one pays to work in customer service.
   I was job hunting and browsing Craigslist. I came across an ad for a shift supervisor for the company I currently work for. I sent in an app, and got a call 2 days later. I went to the interview. I rocked the interview so hard, they offered me a position 2 above that which I applied for. I was told that I was guaranteed 45 hours a week, and would be making more than I've ever made in my working life. Of course, I took the job.
   I had been Assistant Manager of a pizza place prior to this (and prior to foster kids), so I've had managerial experience. But being in charge of 7 other people whose only job is to make pizza is a lot different than being responsible for 15, doing jobs that range from grocery to fryer/grill to sundaes and drive-thru. 
   My manager and regional manager (who sat in on the interview) are really impressed with me. As in, are actively planning to have me move up the ladder very quickly. This is a lot of pressure! Not only did I have to learn how to do things like spinning milkshakes without making a mess (still in progress on that one), making burgers, and dealing with a drive-thru headset; but I have to manage things like speed of service, shrink, and customer service. I average 50 hours a week-48 of those are on my feet. For a 360lb girl, that's a lot!
   It's interesting, because all of the things that I felt made me a horrible foster mom, are an asset in the working world. I'm very honest, I'm very focused, I am good at finding work for people to do, and I can multitask. As much as being a stay-at-home mom made me feel like a failure, my job has given me confidence.
   I've wondered why the Mormon church (and other conservative religions) preach that stay-at-home wives/mothers is the highest ideal. I really think that if women got a taste of recognition outside of their homes, few would want to deal with laundry, spills, cleaning, and cooking. 

   I am lucky that I have gotten to experience both sides. As frustrating as being a SAHM was, it has opened my eyes to what makes me happy. And that's managing people, and assisting customers. I'm grateful that I've had the chance to deal with foster kids, because that's made it easier for me to relate to some of my co-workers. (Because this is fast food, and they are teenagers at their first job) I'm thankful that my husband supports me in whatever I've chosen.
   Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. When I'm stressed, I sometimes get waspish and snarky. My bipolar sneaks up on me sometimes and sends me from exuberant highs to crashing lows, all in the course of an hour. I sometimes ask 3 different things of one person, and then get cranky because they don't get done.
   But you know what? At the end of the day, I know that even if I started less than 2 months ago and have moments of snappishness, I have the respect of my co-workers.  When I suggest things to my manager, he considers my advice seriously. 16 year olds tell me about their problems at home and 22 year olds ask my advice in their love lives. 5 days a week, I am enmeshed in a community that not only needs me as a manager, but wants me as a person. That's something that I never felt as a trophy wife or foster mom.

   Am I saying every woman should work? Of course not. I think every person should find what works for them. I also don't think that people should be pigeonholed into small boxes simply because they were born with certain sex characteristics. If staying at home with your 6 kids is how you find fulfillment, then I'm happy for you. But if you're like me, and would rather conquer the glass ceiling than clean the glass windows, then I hope you have the support from those you care about. I hope that you can find the confidence to do what speaks to you, and not listen to people telling you how to live your life.
   And to those of you who aren't sure what makes you happy, I hope you have the freedom and support to try things out. Make some mistakes, learn some lessons- but do what is best for you. Don't let anyone tell you what to dream.

Whatever your dreams are, I'm rooting for you! I wish everyone reading this the support and love that I am currently feeling. :)

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 6 (Obey vs. Submit)

pp 180-182

This chapter is called Obey, Indeed?, and there's been some confusion-mostly due to Michael's writing-about the difference between obeying and submitting. However, say what you will about Michael, he is decent at solving problems that he creates. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the stirring difference between obeying and submitting.
Text is in purple

Your Helper, Not Your Slave
The people at No Greater Joy work for me. I am their boss. Many of my employees are smarter than I, and most of them have talents and abilities I do not posses. I trust them to fill their respective jobs, and I seek their advice in their area of expertise, often deferring to their judgement in a matter. Sometimes they even question a decision I make. I counter-challenge them and expect them to argue their point. I would be foolish to treat their opinions lightly. I would be cutting off my own success if I didn't treat them with respect.
   I'm wondering how many of these respected employees are women. Because I really can't see him allowing questioning from a woman-regardless of her "expertise". Although I don't disagree with what he's saying. I'm a manager at a fast food place, and sometimes I trust the expertise of my employees. I know, for example, when somebody orders 15 burgers to go, it is best to get out of the way and let the grill people handle it-because anything I do will throw off their groove.
   This sort of sounds like what Michael is advocating, but I really don't' like the comparison that's about to happen. One's spouse should be an equal partner, not an employee. And as delightful as it is that Michael claims to have such a great relationship with some of his trusted colleagues, I just don't see there being much respect for Debi, or her having much opportunity to question Michael's decisions.
You are not her master; you are her partner in sanctification. As head of the family, you are responsible to be an example and to patiently encourage your wife to grow as a person and to help her understand and perform her duties as your chief helper. Your role in marriage is not that of enforcer; it is that of encourager.
   What worries me is how often Michael has had to tell men in this book that they aren't their wive's master. Isn't that telling of where the actual problem is? Unfortunately, Michael undoes all of this "you're not their master" by reminding them that women are their employees, helpers, and servants.
   Another thing I'm curious about is how the man is supposed to grow as a person. I mean, if the only way wives grow and change is at their husband's insistence, are we to assume that men are just such natural leaders that they will lead themselves in the right direction? And if women aren't supposed to question, how is a man to know that he's in the wrong? Especially if his wife is "properly submitting"-which I interpret to mean "Yes dear"-ing. Or is that the part where God steps in and helps the man with his "head of the household" part?

Submit, not Obey
Several passages in the Bible instruct wives to submit to their own husbands, but obedience is only mentioned twice, and each has its own unique context. Following is one of the many commands that a wife should be in subjection, but it provides an example of Sarah going even further in an act of obedience.
1 Peter 3:1, 5-6
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the world, they also may without the word be won by the conversion of the wives; For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (emphasis his)
   OK. So women are supposed to be in subjection to their husbands, but their husbands aren't their masters? Does this make sense to anyone else? Because no matter how much Michael talks, I'm really getting the feeling that the difference is all in semantics. "No, she's not supposed to OBEY you, she's supposed to joyfully submit to serving you. See the difference?", not really. Thanks for trying, though.
The Bible records just two occasions in which Sarah obeyed Abraham, so one of them will of necessity be the even to which Peter is referring. The second episode is not significant; he commanded her to prepare a meal and she did. Of course, if your wife doesn't prepare meals that verse will be more relevant to you.
   I imagine him chuckling at that last line.  "Heh heh heh...glad I got me a woman who will cook for me!"
The first event recorded in Genesis 12 is no doubt the experience in question. When visiting Egypt, Abraham feared that Pharaoh would see his beautiful wife Sarah and have him killed so as to make of her an eligible widow, so Abraham commanded her to lie, saying she was only his sister. Sarah obeyed Abraham, lying as he commanded, calling him "lord". And though she was in jeopardy of being taken to Pharaoh's bed, she was not "afraid with any amazement" at the position her lying husband had put her in. Her faith was justified when God intervened and struck the Egyptians with diseases. Pharaoh divined that it was God's judgment on his nation and discovered the ploy. He so feared God that he released Abraham and Sarah and after a stern rebuke sent them away unharmed with their goods.
   This story has always irritated me. When we would go over this in Sunday School, my Mormon teachers would hold this up as an example how sometimes following the prophet doesn't make sense, but look how well it worked out for them! I, personally, have always thought this is why you shouldn't trust authority-I mean look at how much work God had to do to fix Abraham's mess! Instead of coming up with an elaborate ruse, why didn't Abraham just cover her with blankets or something and say that she has a pestillence or something? Or have her stick blankets under her robe and say she's pregnant? Surely there were a thousand or so other options Abraham had than forcing his wife to lie. Heck, they could have just avoided the city Pharaoh was at. Problem solved!
Why make an issue between the very similar words "obey" and "submit"? Because though they can be used interchangeably in many contexts, they are different in connotation, not only in English but also in Hebrew and Greek. (I make reference to Hebrew and Greek for those of you who are foolish enamored with two of the original languages.)
   Ooooh, oooh, ooh, pick me! I know someone who is enamored with Greek and Hebrew. Want to guess who? Nah. Just watch this video.
A quick review of every use of these two words readily reveals a wonderful distinction. We get the same results in any language. Webster's accurately represents the differences, as does Strong in his Greek word definitions, not that we can fully trust either of them. Get a concordance or look them up in a Bible program and read every use, noting the differences. That way you won't have to take my word for it or A. W. Strong's or Webster's, or any one of your favorite mothballed Greek scholars.
   So we shouldn't take his word about translations of various words, but we should read his book and apply EVERYTHING he says because he's right? That is some magical thinking, there, Mike. Heh. Magic Mike.
Or not. Ewww.
I won't go through all the proofs. It would be too long. You can research it as you will. Obey has a much lower threshold than does submit. It can be impersonal and devoid of heart motive. In Scripture, the winds and the sea obey him. Devils obey him. A slave obeys his master. A child, through constraint, obeys his parents. The church is to obey them that have the spiritual rule over them. We put bits in horse's mouths and they obey us. Sarah obeyed Abraham in a very difficult situation. You could call that blind obedience, much like a slave renders to his master, or a child renders to his parents. No questions asked, no answers given.
   I see. So the real difference between submission and obedience is the heart motive. Apparently Michael has no idea that people can put on a fake face and pretend to be submissive when they are really just being obedient. But what I find most interesting is in Debi's book. She freely uses the term "obey" as something wives should routinely do for their husbands. She doesn't talk much about submission, funnily enough.
   The discord between the two books is staggering. Debi's book says to obey the husband. Michael's book says that obedience isn't as good as submission. Does anyone else see how this could be a problem? And, once again, there is no oversight in these relationships. Unless one takes the Sarah/Abraham story at face value, and I'm sure many do, that God will step up and patch things up when the man gets them wrong.

Holy cow. I just turned the page and realised that this section goes on for another 2 pages. I think this is enough bananas for one day. So, until the next post, ladies, think of how you can turn your obedience into joyful submission. And men, think of ways to "encourage" your wife into being a more submissive helper.

Nah, just kidding. Everyone should just think of ways to show and give respect to their partner, regardless of gender. (And you didn't even have to buy a $12 book for that advice; you're welcome).

Monday, June 9, 2014

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 5 (Let's Talk in Circles!)

pp 179-180

In case you were thinking that men in the Christian Patriarchial culture sure have it easy, Michael is here today to tell you that you're wrong. Being a man brings with it the great, great burden of responsibilty. Poor things, it almost makes me want to serve my husband more...

Text is in purple.

Not Created to Serve
My wife is telling your wives to serve their husbands. I am thankful she serves me, but we need to keep in mind that being born a man is not a license to be served. I have worked on construction sites off and on since I was ten years old. There are times when you must leave one of the regular hands in charge of the construction while you get materials or bid on another job. Some employees are so immature that they see their leadership role as a chance to tell other people what to do rather than as a responsibility to get the job done correctly. They get heady with power and act the fool to the detriment of the project, making it very difficult for the other men to obey them. The job suffers and the designated foreman blames the workers.
   As usual, I am struck by how little introspection Michael has. Debi is a great servant, telling other women to be servants to their husbands (and if you think I'm overexaggerating, read her book), yet Michael claims being a man isn't license to be served.  I'm confused as to how he came to that conclusion. Literally 5 or 6 times so far IN THIS VERY BOOK, he talks about what a great servant Debi is. Yet the only time he discusses what he's done in his marriage to deserve being served is when he talks about "cleansing his wife's spots", or encouraging her to write and publish a book. So I'm trying to figure out why he thinks he deserves to be served, if it's not because he's a man. Anyone have any ideas on this?
   As for the construction analogy, it makes sense. I've worked at a few places, and there are always people that think leadership=bossiness. I'm currently assistant manager of an ice cream/hamburger restaurant, and let me tell you, leadership is far more than being bossy. Effective leadership is about helping; pitching in everywhere for the good of the team. It's about noticing what needs to be done, and finding the best person for the job to do it. It's about balancing constructive criticism, praise, and professionalism.
   But this idealistic view of leadership isn't even covered in this book. No, Michael thinks being a leader is changing one's wife to suit his needs. Or "encouraging" one's wife to find a hobby that he approves of. In short, despite his pretty analogy, Michael thinks being a leader is being the boss. I've spent more time with this book than is probably healthy for me, and not once has Michael talked about constructive criticism, or even praise. He never encourages men to build up their wives, or support them in their choices. He's all for support, as long as HE is the one choosing, but he rarely advocates giving the woman the choice.
   Oh, and the line "the job suffers and the designated foreman blames the workers"? Read Debi's book. If a man is unsaved, mean, abusive, manipulative, or a jerk, it's because the wife wasn't submissive enough. And even in Michael's book, if the marriage is suffering, it's because the wife is spotted, blemished, or wrinkled, and the man needs to fix that. So who, really, is being blamed here? Oh, that's right. The woman (or the worker, to hold to the analogy). Way to prove your own point, Michael.
Likewise the leadership role God gives a man in marriage is not a privileged position; it is a great responsibility requiring sacrifice and service. I am embarrassed by the attitude of actions of many preachers and laymen alike. Some misguided men see the world as divided into the served and the serving-male and female. Women are not created to serve men any more than men are created to serve women. There is nothing in the Scripture that suggest the female gender is to be subjugated by the male.
   I agree that there are sacrifices that happen with leadership, but, to be honest, I don't see Michael making them. Especially in marriage, sacrifice usually means compromise, and that word has not appeared once in this book. I'm not even joking here. Compromise isn't an option, according to Michael.  I'm amused that he's embarrassed by the attitudes of other men, because it sounds like he shares those views. Why else would he continually call women servants and weaker vessels?
   Then he truly loses me. Women are not created to serve men, and yet the title of Debi's book is "Created to Be His Help Meet." Which almost literally means "created to serve", doesn't it? And of course men aren't created to serve women; if this book is any indication, men are created to need a servant (help meet).  Here's some marriage advice, Michael. Why doesn't each party try to serve/help/support/love/accept the other? If you're going to make such a fuss about not seeing the world as male/female, then why not hold each partner to the same standard?
   And shall we talk about the scriptures that Michael has named that suggest females are to be subjugated by the males? I don't think I have the stomach for it today, actually. So here's a link to a few sections back where Michael makes this point.
Both are created to meet the needs of the other, which means that each voluntarily serves the other, but to reduce either to the role of servant is a perversion of nature.
   Head/desk. Read the first two sentences of this section. In the text, those sentences are literally 2 paragraphs up, and yet he doesn't seem to recall reducing his wife to the role of a servant. I'm actually getting upset at how little Michael seems to recall his own text.
Your wife is not your assistant. She assists, but not as a business assistant or domestic servant would. Her assistance is first on the level of soul and spirit, which may then result in gracious, voluntary serving. If not, you have no right to intimidate her and certainly no power to constrain.
   Alright. How can a wife assist the husband on the level of soul and spirit? Is that mentioned in Debi's book? Because from what I remember, she assists by cleaning, cooking, sexing, and obeying.  Is that how to assist the soul? Because if I could describe what my soul needs from my husband, I would say it's validation, acceptance, love, and honesty. Which, frankly, seem a lot less tangible than Debi's list. And isn't that the point? The soul, an intangible (and debatable) thing, has intangible needs. Except, I guess, chicken soup. But that might be just good marketing...
   I think it's amusing how gracious, voluntary serving is not optional per Debi, but "may" happen says Michael.  You would think that a husband and wife team writing books about marriage would...I don't know...agree more about marriage. I'm not even going to touch on the subject of intimidation or constraint. Because it should be obvious.

   I hope you're ready to throw up a little in your mouth. Because what comes next is only for those with strong constitutions.
Upon marriage, my wife immediately commenced serving me, but it was years before I would learn that it was a gift from someone who wanted to bless me, not a woman doing what women are supposed to do. For years I thought it was all about me. I was the head and sh was...well, she was there to make me happy and successful, to help me do whatever I wanted to do. It was her role to be happy serving. Somebody has to be boss, and, imperfect as I was, God appointed me to be the head of the home and her know, cheerfully do her duty. I knew that when a woman gets right with God she stops complaining and nagging and starts serving her husband without question. But then, I acquired my views from my culture, not from God.
   Yes, you read that right. If this isn't a humblebrag, I will eat this book. The worst part about this last paragraph is how true it is! And still, Michael never comes out and says "I was wrong! That's not what women are for!" Oh sure, he may call it a gift, but dollars to donuts, if Debi suddenly took that gift away, there would be (probably literal for her) hell to pay.
   And I swear, the "cheerfully do her duty" part means sex. Did anyone else get that vibe? When a woman gets right with god, she stops complaining and nagging? He truly believes this stuff? Because Debi's book pretty much says "TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD, DO THIS". I am just so confused and disgusted right now. Because it seems, though Michael approved "every word" of Debi's book, that he didn't read it. I'm just so taken aback by how differently Michael and Debi view their marriage, and marriage in general.
  All I can say is, thank goodness that my marriage is nothing like this. Who's with me?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 4 (Love never enslaves!)

p 177-178

Today we're distinguishing between women being subservient to their husbands, and women being subservient to all men everywhere. Oh, and the fact that Michael thinks women and children deserve dignity. Cuz that was news to me.

Text is in purple.

Domestic Subjection Only
In the Christian world there exists a general concept that women are privates walking among an equal number of generals, all of whom must be saluted and obeyed. The curse did not place women into the position of surrendering to the rule of men in general-only their own husbands. Peter addresses wives, telling them to be in subjection to their "own husbands"-not to every husband and not to every man, just their husband. Just in case we missed it, he repeats the phrase in verse 5, "their own husbands". (Emphasis his)
   I must be in a snarky mood, because I giggled when I first read that the Christian concept of women seems to be privates walking about. Because that sure seems like what Michael and his ilk advocate. But then I get confused. Is Michael saying women and men are of equal rank? Because his book would indicate otherwise. Is he saying that women are privates, but the only general they salute to is their husband? This seems more likely.
   Speaking of privates and generals, did you know that private is the lowest ranked soldier? People just entering the military, or graduating basic training are usually privates. And check out this snazzy page on military ranks (see the ARMY section) to see how far above private a general really is.
   Here's where I get disturbed. Either Michael didn't bother Googling military ranks, and just subconsciously put women so far beneath men, or he knew what he was talking about and honestly does think women rate that low.
1 Peter 3:1,5 "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands"
Paul also emphasizes the fact that wives should be subject to "their own husbands" and not to men in general.
Ephesisans 5:24 "therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."
   Ugh. I despise these verses. Especially the undertone of "convert/change your sinning husband by your joyful submission". Not only is that unhealthy, but it's probably not accurate, either. In my experience, people stop being trodden upon when they stop insisting that they are a doormat. Providing no incentive to change is a good indicator that change is likely not going to happen.
It is quite clear. The Holy Spirit did not want any misunderstanding on the issue. Knowing the propensity of men to rule over everything, and the vulnerability of women-the "weaker vessel"-he inserted the world own after their in every text where he commands a wife to submit. I know of many churches that assume a general policy of women being in subjection to men in general. It reminds me of the old European class system where the lower class should "know their place." Likewise, in the Old South, blacks were told to "know their place." Old social customs also dictated that children "know their place." In each case it is an attempt to protect elitists in their privileged positions. It is fear that creates and perpetuates layered social order. The top of the food chain fears loss of prestige and control, and the subjugated fear the hands that feed them. The system loses its cultish powers when all believe in individual dignity and equal worth before God.
   Holy cow. He really doesn't get it, does he? The very act of repeating "weaker vessel" when talking about women is an attempt to put them in their place (under man). And anyone who has even a passing knowledge of his child-rearing book knows that the point is to put the children in their places, and not control the adult by screaming, crying, arguing, or rebelling. I'm trying to figure out how Michael's teachings (that women are spotted, wrinkled, blemished, full of lady hormones that make them gullible and sensitive) is NOT putting women in their places. How is saying "find your wife a productive hobby, but one that doesn't make her leave the home" not telling men that their wive's place is in the home? Or insisting that women put out on demand, and encouraging men to keep their wives pregnant to avoid that PMS stuff?
  Though he hit the nail on the head with his fear sermon. It really does seem like men in this culture are afraid of what a woman could do if she were given the chance. Why else would they preach "Women are nurturers in the home"? What if a woman found a job that she was good at and felt validated at work? Would she want to come home and cook, clean, and raise kids-because those jobs offer little to no validation or support. How would a man in Michael's culture react if his wife made more than he did? I'm guessing not well.
   The point of this tangent is to show that Michael, while sitting on top of the food chain, is claiming that he's not really on top, because everyone hs dignity through Christ. I wonder if he realises that he himself is stripping away the dignity of women and children through his teachings.
   Yeah. Probably not.
Love never enslaves; rather it seeks liberty and free expression for all. If God gives worth and dignity to men, women, and children, by what right does another human being take that dignity away? Again I say, marriage is a corporation requiring a hierarchy of authority, and God has designated the man as the head, but his headship is limited to his family alone.
   Love might not enslave, but apparently it can: guilt, manipulate, punish, threaten, force, and control. All under the "hierarchy of God". I'm once again struck by the thought that Michael doesn't think words mean what everyone else thinks they mean. I'd be curious to learn how Michael defines "dignity". Because, while he says everyone deserves it, why does he spend half this book telling men that their wives are flawed and need to be changed? Or his other book where he insists that all children want to be beaten. News flash: that's not dignity, or benevolent hierarchy. That's abuse.
A woman may chose to obey God and therefore her husband, as did Abraham's wife Sarah, but there is no connection between the political structure of a marriage and the population in general.
   Oh sure. Women aren't subservient to EVERY man. Want to know why? Because they aren't allowed to talk to men. Women can't speak in church, can't venture out on their own, need "accountability" buddies when shopping, and umbrellas of protection/authority from the moment they are born. Women in this culture aren't interacting with very many other men. It's easy to say "See? My system works!" whenever that system suppresses an entire demographic. Of course it works! Because women aren't given many other options.

Urgh. I was going to keep going, but I've forgotten how ticked off Michael makes me. Next installment is over the section called "Not Created to Serve". I'm sure it will be full of the fabulous logic Michael is famous for.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I'm Not Dead!

Wow. It's been awhile. A lot longer than I thought, actually. I'm sorry for not posting reviews regularly, and not updating at all in the past 1.5 months.
   One reason for the lack of reviews is that constantly being in PearlWorld is really awful for my marriage. I read what Michael writes about how he expects women to act, and I realise I'm so far from that, I may as well be another species to him. Then parts of me wonder if he isn't as full of bananas as I think; what if he's right? Honestly, I see why people buy his stuff. Because of the undercurrent of "Well, what if he really DOES speak for God?" I needed a break to clear my head, and my marriage.
   The next great thing is that I found a job! I'm assistant night manager of a burger place/ice cream parlor. I work about 47 hours a week. I love it. I have never felt so competent, intelligent, and necessary as I do when I'm at work. That's been putting a strain on my marriage. Because when I do something at work, it's noticed-either a kid is happy that they got their ice cream, or a co-worker is grateful that I helped with their work. Yet, at home, on my days off, I can clean the entire house, do laundry, and cook enough to last for a few days, and all my husband notices or comments is: "Oh. You cleaned off the table."
   For me, being a stay at home is so very unsatisfying. I'm so grateful to find a job that I'm good at. Plus having an extra income is nice. Part of me feels guilty, because I am so happy without kids (and without church). I look back a year ago, and I can't believe how much I've changed. I'm so much happier with who and where I am than I was back then. Thank you for all of you who supported me during this transition.

   As for reviews, I will post them Tuesdays and Fridays. And if I'm going to skip a post, I will let everyone know.