Gentle Spirits, Shrewd Hearts

By Rachel Dinkledine - Posted at Gentle Reformation:

Reckoning with personal vulnerability, human depravity, and the call to serve.

...Over the years, I’ve met a few women who adopt a mindset rooted in false-assurance. Because they are serving God, they believe He places a forcefield around them. As faith-filled as this may sound, it’s a bit naive. Evil is real. I’m petite. How was I to reckon with my own vulnerability and God’s call to serve?

Growing up, I was taught to expect suffering. Head colds, flat tires, false accusations, and betrayal are all part of the Christian experience. Yet as I entered adulthood, I encountered a kind of suffering I couldn’t fully explain, that of sexual harassment. The suffering of harassment was compounded by my confusion--how should one united to Christ think about harassment anyway? I knew that if I couldn’t articulate a biblical answer to this question, I probably wasn’t living a biblical response either. For years, I searched the Scriptures and wrestled with ways to apply the principles God provides. Assuming others wrestle with this matter, I’ll recount some of the questions I’ve asked, and I’ll share the truth I’m learning to preach to myself. I invite you to listen in. Only promise me this--that you’ll read my conclusion at the end of the article. Actually, please read it twice. Think about it. Talk about it. Act on it. But first, my musings . . .

About 10 years ago, I entered the healthcare field. While I didn’t realize it at the time, it is a well-documented fact that healthcare workers experience high levels of sexual harassment, mostly from patients. I quickly learned techniques for managing the harassment. Take two people into Mr. X’s room. Stay between the patient and the door. Stand where he can’t grope. Ask for a change in patient assignments.

While these techniques were valuable, they only helped when I was at work. Harassment showed up other places too--at the gas station, in my neighborhood, and occasionally even in church settings. I began to ask questions. How do I treasure what is pure while facing the ugly realities of life in a sin-stained world? Should I avoid harassment at all costs? Should I live in my parent’s basement until I’m no longer seen as an object? How would such isolation fulfill the Great Commission? Is there a place for Christian women to take calculated risks to serve others? How does Jesus want me to respond to harassment? Can I have a “gentle and quiet spirit” and still stand up to harassment? (1 Peter 3:4).

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