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Spinster Is An Ugly Word

 

 

Spinster Is an Ugly Word

Recently, I watched a BBC video of Jane Austen narrated by Lucy Worsely. For almost an hour, Worsely explains what it would’ve been like for young women to live in the British social class of the 19th century. In short, Austen never had a chance at the life she dreamed of. Daughters were to be married off, but Austen mostly due to her father being a pastor couldn’t offer much in a dowry to any eligible man who had an interest in her. It was also a hard sell for women who wanted to write and sell fiction. As they weren’t taken seriously as a man would’ve been in her position. I suspect it wasn’t expected for women to dream of more than a husband and a family of your own. I wonder if she had married, would we still know Jane Austen the author who changed the world of literature.

At the relatively young age of 41 years, Austen died penniless, alone and a spinster. Never to experience the life and lavishness that the characters in her books did. From a quiet and unknown woman came stories that have and will continue to entertain and foster her reader’s appetite for the kind of life that she hoped and dreamed of but fell short because fiction isn’t reality.

Austen was so much more than just a spinster, she had written novels that would transform the world of literature and even beyond. Sadly, she was never able to see or enjoy the status her writing gained years after her death. I could say I have a lot in common with Jane Austen but I don’t. She didn’t live past her 41st year, she lived in the UK, and most importantly she in the 19th century. But as I watched this video, I realized how fortunate I am to live in the present. I don’t know where the ideas came from those women who in the eyes of that particular era had no potential beyond the roles as a wife and mother.

Dejected and Sad

That was the one emotion that fluttered its wings inside of me as I watched an actress play act out (in the documentary) what Austen might’ve been thinking or hope for. In her situation, hope was in low supply. She didn’t leave home to start university or, nor did she harbor dreams to live on her own, however, Austen did for a period of time. She worked on her writing and kept sending her manuscripts out to the publishers.

I’m single, and I am 41 years old turning 42 in less than two months. As I viewed this video, I didn’t see the similarities to Austen rather all the opposites. If I had been alive in the 19th century I might be more like Jane Austen relying on the kindness of others. Instead, I live on my own and I don’t rely on others to pay my rent, bills, groceries and any other extras. When I think about all I have compared to young women in the 19th century without a substantial dowry to catch the eye of an eligible man of the marriageable age. I don’t have a lot in savings, I have a school loan that I am slowly chipping away at. I would like to plan for the future but I don’t have plans for the single version of me. I have plans for the married version of me, and even that has grown smaller as I am trying to remain in the present, trying to enjoy myself now. I love living on my own and having my own space. In the last ten years, I have been able to see why it’s good to be single, and just do what I want and when I want.

Sometimes I feel this stigma of being single, even though statistics tell me that I’m not in short supply. But I am not a part of the hookup era, nor am I looking for a filler until the real deal comes in. I’m in this obvious meanwhile I wait phase, the place where you wonder, you dabble in things that you might not do when you’re otherwise married. This is my time to fly, to flourish but like Jane Austen, it is a hard place to occupy.

A lot of women like reading about the Regency era because it’s time period has this romantic element to it. It’s so foreign to our understanding. There was no rush, no time restraints as we experience them now. We have answers to a lot of what made life hard and difficult. I could list pros and cons to both periods. Most women want the romantic daydreams of their childhood even if no one is able to truly live up to those ridiculously handsome and debonair men.

And sometimes I have these tiny voices echoing all over the place reminding me that where I am and who I am isn’t enough when I know it is more than enough. Just being in a place and liking, even enjoying where you have been placed. Not worrying about society’s expectations. Don’t get me wrong it is important to keep those hopes and desires, but to many of us, it’s a heavy burden to carry as the years continue to pass. I’ve told God more than once to take the desires away, but they remain and so it tells me a couple of things…

Persist. Hope. Trust.

If you were in my interior like God is, you would know this not what I want to do. This is not natural to me because I have made living my life the very opposite of these three things. It’s slightly annoying but I think it’s a bit of an inside joke on me. I can’t see my potential but I am going forward blinded to what is possible. What is conceivable is that yes my prayers will be answered. If I have learned one thing about God it is that He isn’t in a rush. My perceived deadlines are just my impulse to want to control a situation that isn’t in my doable skills set. I don’t think I will next Jane Austen, far from it, but her tenacity to continue writing despite her situation is a token to me that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed to least of those.

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Not Yet

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In the beginning, when I began working in my current job, most clients would ask me if I was married, did I have children…but as time passed, it happened less. Just this past week, I gained a new client and she asked the question of the hour:  Was I married?

I told her no.

“Good for you!”  This answer shocked me because I wasn’t expecting from it her. She is Muslim, so it really mystified me. I have never had a client be happy that I was still single. It threw me off for a minute.

Before I continued the conversation, I choose my words carefully, “Did you choose your husband?” I asked this question gingerly because she is Muslim, and I didn’t know what might be the custom. She is originally from Iraq

“No, I was in love with my husband for four years before we married.” She paused and then continued. “When l married I died.”

She didn’t offer anything else, and I didn’t ask since this was my first time meeting her, and I thought  curbing my curiosity would serve me well.

I must admit I don’t know much about the Muslim religion except what I hear from media, online resources and acquaintances

Usually my clients want to know if I’m married, or when I am getting married. If I knew God’s whole plan for me, I would be planning ahead, but I don’t so…I wait and persist.

I am not really that good at being persistent or persisting in an activity, or situation, but I have also learned that God is not in a hurry, at least not in my life. Maybe in yours He speeds through all the red lights, but in mine, He stops when he sees the green light turn to the yellow caution. If I was in charge, God would only get green lights, and there would be no reason or thought to stop. So I am trying to take pleasure in all things, even the not so good because this time won’t ever return to me.

From outside appearances, everyone looks polished and great in their spiffy new outfit, but I am still wearing the same tops that I had last year. Truly, I shop at second-hand shop which is by necessity and choice. I love scoring a deal. Last Saturday, I bought three tops, one skort and one pair of slacks for $18.75! Yes, living below the poverty line does have its advantages. It allows one to live simply without out all the deemed ‘extras.’ And right beside me is a list of all the things I need when the Lord deems to give me my very own money tree.

As I wait for the Lord, he reminds me to thank him for everything, even the things I  do not like or want. I am thankful for what he has done in my life. For all the things I didn’t think of, like him healing my heart that needed a lot more attention than I was willing to give it. For over ten years, God hasn’t been idle in my life, not that I can say the same thing about myself, in my trust in Him and to see how He can truly make the broken pieces in my life to appear better than they were.

I am starting to see why I need to trust, why I need to wait because whateverHhe has planned, it will take my trust and His strength to bring everything together in His timing.

 

 

 

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Not Left Behind

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He chose not to pursue her.

Still he waited at the starting point as the afternoon sun hung at an angle that blinded him. His heart pounding as the poison of fear mixed with the life-giving blood that coursed through him. He looked the other way as she walked down the opposite hall where he watched her disappear. He wanted to say more, do more and, he didn’t want to pretend he didn’t see her. Part of him didn’t understand why the words were so hard to come by. The game they played; the covert glances, the slow emergence of a smile on her lips. Hope rose inside of him but the taunting became louder, the accusations roaring, and eventually drowning out the hope that struggled to thrive inside of him. All of a sudden whatever it was; the joy or the hope, it shriveled up and his decision was made. He didn’t try anymore because that reservoir of whatever fueled him became a mirage in his head. It wasn’t real, but the wall of rejections that he kept walking into was all too familiar.

Most women have equal opportunities alongside their male counterparts in careers, and in just about anything that a woman can dream about. No longer are women expected to stay at home, and take care of the house and children. Women are being urged they will and can have it all because the feminist movement told the world that women are just like men. We can do anything that men do – at least this is what being advocated to us.

When I was a little girl, I had a small suitcase full of Barbies, along side with clothing, shoes, etc. I loved playing with my Barbies, helping my mom bake, playing dress up. I loved doing what little girls normally do. It didn’t seem odd to me to dream of getting married, having a family and staying at home to take care of them. No one told me what I was supposed to want as a little girl. It was just what I wanted. I didn’t look for the reasonings or studies to prove it was right, it was a desire that welled up from within me.

It wasn’t until I had my conversion that I was reminded of the desire that began as a little girl. My desire to marry and have a family. You see I thought I could have it all, and of course that meant having a career. I don’t know where the idea of a having a career came in, but somehow it seemed the thing to do, it was what every other woman was doing. She could have it all like men. I’m not against having a post-secondary education, but I think a lot of women get sidetracked into believing that this is what they have to do. We’ve told we can have everything. I believed this for so long, and it was hard to reconcile with the fact, staying true to my original dream, the one birthed in my childhood meant more than having a career.

Observing people is something I like doing a lot. When I was younger I could tell you what everyone was wearing on the bus. Thankfully I don’t do this anymore. Even though we would all do well to not judge others on outward appearances, it’s something we all do. What we wear expresses to the world who we think we are or aren’t. It’s a barometer of sorts that gives a shout to people who don’t live inside of you; ‘this is what I am believing about myself right now.’

It’s something I have seen in men and how they dress.  It’s as simple as the suit that they’re wearing, and trying not to cringe at the fact that their dress pants aren’t long enough to cover their red striped socks. I’m not trying to be picky because I’ve seen this example many times. A lot of times, how someone dresses does reflect their personality.  However, I am not hinting that how you dress determines your sexual interest, or highlights all your issues, but it does provide a window into some people.

Yes, men in the past haven’t always treated women well, but there are the men who have learned from the other men in their lives how a woman is to be treated. Men are lost in a culture that doesn’t encourage them to take their role seriously. We dumb photo-1436891620584-47fd0e565afbthem down and we want independence from their protective natures. Just like woman, men are confused as to what their roles, and these definitions vary to who talk to. I think the Lord has placed this burden on my heart to pray, pray that men will understand how important of a role that they have been given.

His love perseveres until the brokenness of our heart can no longer hide from His careful and persistent probing. He never forces anything on us, and if he has chosen you first before you chose Him then He will not relent until you are his completely his. He sees past all the appearances, and all the choices that you thought you had to make in order to be what everyone else dictates.  I have been purposely, in the the last year, surrendering all my worries, doubts, fears and desires, in other words dumping all of my stuff onto him, and it has transformed how I feel about myself. I’m believing things that seemed completely out of my reach, but now they seem just within my reach. Remember He chose you first, not the other way around. John~15:16

 

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Coming of Age

In my senior year of High School, I had a placement with a organization called (Ontario) Public Research Interest Group ([O]PRIG). They are a grassroots student-based organization committed to struggling for injustices in the environmental and social justice, radical research, community engagement and popular education. At the time, I was completely unaware of how left-sided this organization is, but at that point I was a clueless pagan. I was 18 years old and desperate to graduate from school, and if I could be earning credits while not in a school building – I was in.

Even though I didn’t go onto university, though in an alternate world I would’ve earned my BA and MFA. (useless information – I photo-1431051047106-f1e17d81042fknow!) I was introduced into a world that I was not familiar with, and one that intimidated me. I assume they were all these super smart intellectuals with their heads in the clouds. Not really.

At the time, I was a little starry-eyed because I love information, and this organization was packed with all of what I was interested in at the time like; the environment, health, gay rights and ecojustice, etc… It was right around the time that McMillan Bloedel was clearcutting the temperate rain forests found in British Columbia, in particular, in and around Clayoquot Sound. Being around people who I knew to believe in the same things that I thought to be important was huge for me.

As I got settled in and began pulling together articles and assisting in their newsletter, The Radical Chameleon. I got to know the two women, Sandrine and Judi who ran OPIRG on a full-time basis. They were the only two people who were paid,everyone else like me, was a bonafide volunteer.

Some of the students were in and out, but I remember one who I actually spoke with quite a bit. I think his name was Alex, however his face and his voice are very clear in my memories of him. I’ll admit in the beginning, I was a little apprehensive of him. He expressed himself quite vocally, and was willing to argue with anyone who disagreed with him. Still I had some good chats with him, while he worked on his writing. He was the first person that I knew was a gay man, he didn’t hide it at all. He talked often about his partner. The gay rights activist weren’t as busy as they have been in the last decade and a half, but I was brought up to respect others, and not tell them what they believe isn’t right. Interiorly,I didn’t understand where I stood, but something didn’t sit right in me, yet who I was to say it was wrong…

Fast forward: Friday June 26, 2015. I work half days on Fridays, so I was headed to my last client of the morning. This client normally watches CNN, and while I don’t watch news,or have a TV, the majority of my clients do, and sometimes there are things that I would rather not hear or see. Only in snatches had I heard something about the Supreme Court in the U.S. and same-sex marriage. When I came into my clients apartment, I walked into a situation where some kind decision had been made, and clearly the supporters were joyous and celebrating their victory.

Quickly, I understood that my neighbours across the border were rejoicing because their Supreme Court had made same-sex marriage law throughout their land. No longer in just some states was it legal, but in all fifty states. I felt this deep sadness interiorly, and I kept praying for His mercy to be poured out. I felt this silent outrage at their apparent joy. They believe it is just a matter of time that we’ll(the dissenters) realize that they’re right, or otherwise we’re bigots. Love is just love, right? Most of us don’t even know what or how to love others. I know that I am still trying to figure out how to love others, and my past choices hinders this simple act. We have a choice in how we love, and just because our perspectives may differ that doesn’t mean we can’t still be acquaintanced or even friends.

In a perfect world, it would be a place of changing perspectives, a coming of age for all ages, not just teenagers on the edge of adulthood. The mystery of God doesn’t prevent us from experiencing this, but many of us limit ourselves once we reach a certain point in our lives, and slow down to a halt, we get stuck in routines, and forget that God has a plan for all of us.