One of my favorite possessions is a photo of my grandmother from back in the late 1920s. I'm not sure it's pre or post Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929 but I think it's likely pre. I've heard horror stories from that grandmother my whole life about two or three of her brothers jumping out of windows after losing fortunes in the market. I know her family was wealthy right up until Black Tuesday. The only one to come out financially unscathed was my great grandmother, but only because she owned many rental properties and farms. She didn't trust in stocks.
My grandmother is wearing a flapper style dress in that photo, stockings rolled just below her knees, a long necklace and a feathered headdress. She's smiling, posing with one hand on her hip and the other behind her bobbed hair head and feathered headband. She could have been straight out of 'The Great Gatsby'. She radiates confidence, happiness and value.
Too bad I never knew her that way. By the time I came along in the 1960s she was a bitter, complaining, lost soul, someone who have had every morsel of self confidence and worth quashed within her for many years. She held a masters degree, was a debutante from a wealthy family, and taught school for many years, but behaved like she believed the sky might fall at any minute, sidling around like a whipped dog.
What happened to her? I don't really know for sure, but if I had to guess it was my alcoholic grandfather that happened to her. They married in the thirties because she was pregnant and I know from family lore that most everyone in the family thought she'd really come down in life by marrying my grandfather. He was the son of a preacher and worked at Jax brewery in New Orleans.
I loved my grandfather but I did witness all the times he simply cut the hamstrings of my grandmother Vivian's emotions, needs and self worth. A murder by a thousand million tiny paper cuts. I didn't understand it as a child but many times I remember him doing things like turning the lights off in the kitchen while she was reading a recipe to make and saying she wasn't worth the electricity.
Recently reading through the blogs of Lori Alexander, Nancy Campbell, Debi Pearl and Steven Anderson, among others, I can see that this is pretty standard operating procedure for evangelical quiverfull too. It uses up women and warps them terribly as much as anything my poor grandmother experienced.
When you leave that type of toxic faith environment one of the biggest struggles, at least it was for me, was to regain your self worth, to realize you are valuable in your own way, a way that cannot be measured against anyone else standard of value.
It's one of the reasons I started going back to the gym every single day now, even if I get annoyed with folks that treat it like a social club or deal with weirdos in the hot tub. I have come to realize that instead of sacrificing for everyone else I must carve out daily time to take care of myself because I have worth. It's self care I must do to help out my asthma. I do it for me. No one else.
If you cannot believe you have worth then you cannot possibly do the things you need to do to keep yourself healthy, physically, emotionally or spiritually. Listening to the cultural enforcers I listed above you will never be able to believe in your own self worth because they preach the dangerous chorus of sacrifice it all.
They don't even realize that by teaching that type of submission they're thinning their own ranks significantly. Don't you think if God wanted workers in the field He might expect them to realize their worth and maintain their own bodies and minds in a healthy state.