Happy Mother’s Day - In honor of the mothers who died in the line of duty.
Reading stories of recent domestic violence victims, one gets the impression that born-again Christian women are especially vulnerable. This vulnerability could be attributed to the sect’s: (a) over-emphasis on a wife’s unquestioning submission to her husband; (b) blind obedience to leader/church edicts to the exclusion of all reason; and (c) trans-fixation on miracles. Simply put, the over-emphasis on a wife’s unquestioning submission forces abused wives to tolerate whatever their husbands dish out regardless of the impact on their families or lives. Blind obedience to leaders reinforce the preceding in that when a wife runs to her leader, battered and bruised, he advices her to continue to submit to her abusive husband with the edict that “God hates divorce!” Finally, the sect’s miracle-focused faith lures the woman into believing her abuser would miraculously be ‘delivered’ from the demon of abuse and they will testify as they renew their marriage vows. Thus, instead of looking for alternative remedies to her domestic mayhem, she prays tirelessly that God perform a ‘midnight hour transformation’ on her marriage. So she hangs in there, slap after blow, believing her day of salvation is nigh.
Unfortunately, her salvation comes but not in the form she’s expecting. Rather, her abuser hastens her footsteps to heaven’s pearly gates. At her funeral, the leader extols, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord.” And the church agrees that “she’s gone to a better place.” No one admits that the outcome could have been different or that she should not have ‘gone so soon…’
Indeed, the story of Abigail, wife of Nabal in 1 Samuel 25: 1-42 presents an alternative outcome to what would have been a catastrophe. To summarize, David, who became king of Israel is running for his life, from the current king, Saul. Along with his men, he becomes hungry and requests nourishment from Nabal, a prosperous farmer. Nabal, also a notorious as**le, refuses to feed David and his men thereby treating them like nonentities. David is so outraged that he determines to obliterate Nabal and family. But Abigail saves the day by sidestepping her husband and providing to David and crew, more victuals than requested. Consequently, Abigail’s maneuvers saved her family and are instructive to women in similar circumstances; married to Nabals:
- Abigail acknowledged her reality. She did not delude herself into thinking Nabal was not who he was nor that he didn’t put all their lives into jeopardy. If he punched you last week and slapped you today, he’s an abuser. As the saying goes, “love is blind; marriage is an eye-opener.” Even if he was an angel while courting, the beast has since revealed himself in marriage so treat him as such. Don’t participate in the charade that you somehow bring out the worst in him. If he was not a beast before you, he will not be a beast with you. So, know the beast you live with and get smart.
- Abigail colluded with her household. A servant reported Nabal’s folly to her. Others carried out her orders without informing her husband. They were close to her and trusted her direction. Be the mistress of your own home! Befriend everyone under your roof – children, servants, visiting friends, etc. If you befriend everyone, you defeat your bully husband’s strategy to isolate you and ensure you’re not the last person to know he is planning to sell your car.
- Abigail did not provoke her husband. She didn’t include him in her plans nor flaunt her success in his face. As much as was in her power, she kept the peace of her household. Similarly, whenever you interact with your abuser, do so in humility and grace. The Yoruba saying is sound, “ka pe were l’oko iyawo ko le je a r’ile gbe.” As much as possible, do not goad your husband into attack mode. Let sleeping dogs lie.
- Abigail acted to avert catastrophe. Think, strategize, do everything to prevent calamity! If someone is beating you, don’t run into the room; run out of the house yelling and screaming. Get away from the beast as fast as possible. This strategy likely saved the life of the late Deji of Akure’s ex-wife? When the beast went to pour acid on her in her family home, she ran out into the streets and was delivered from his hands by neighborhood youth. Additionally, don’t hide from those who can help you. If he tore up your arms, wear a sleeveless gown so you can tell the story to everyone who asks; the shame is not yours but his.
- Abigail took decisive action. Note that she did not ask God to deliver her household. She did what needed to be done. James 2: 14-26 warns us, “Faith without works is dead.” So go with God. Be clear-thinking, composed, and take action. If yours is a situation that requires fleeing, then plan ahead. Plan when to go, how to go and where to go. Keep your plans secret. Save money for your escape. Liaise with people who can help you and avoid those who will send you back into domestic hell.
- Abigail moved on. After the Lord has delivered you, find ways to live well and in peace. Don’t shrivel and die or live in bitterness. Live on. Live well. After all, Abigail became a queen after God eliminated Nabal!