On the Importance of Wanderlust (and Why the “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” List is WAY Off Base)

Jan 18 2015

I read a terrible article yesterday titled 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. It made me crazy because it was so full of judgement, teeny, tiny boxes in which to shove women (and God), and proof texts, that poorest form of theology which makes the Bible into a rule book instead of an epic love story and makes a mockery of Jesus’ life and the way he championed people again and again.

To spare you reading it, the author’s list of women who make poor candidates for wifery is as follows:

  1. The Unbeliever
  2. The Divorcee
  3. The Older Woman
  4. The Feminist
  5. The Sexy-Dresser
  6. The Loud Mouth
  7. The Child-Hater (aka, any woman who’s unwilling to procreate)
  8. The Wander-Luster
  9. The Career Woman
  10. The Devotion-less Woman

He includes Bible verses after each category and explanations.

After I finished reading the list, gasping aloud in horror (honestly, I sounded like I was watching a YouTube video of serial kitten murders), and then checking the internet to make sure it wasn’t some sort of satirical joke, I realized I’m 40% a Good Wife Choice by this man’s measure. After all, I cling tenaciously to the ideal of equality between men and women; I wear v-cut t-shirts regularly (sexy, baby); I am very, very loud, although I’m certain the man who wrote the list would be somewhat relieved to know I used to struggle with accepting the enthusiasm and volume at which I live life; I’m a career woman; and I discovered years and years ago that the rote morning devotions I thought I had to have to be a good, Christian woman don’t have as much to do with faith as letting God out of the box, discovering that Love is sanctuary in the midst of the storm, and letting grace unearth the light and not just the darkness inside me.

I shared this guy’s article on the Five Kids Facebook page, because I just couldn’t stand it, and I am so grateful for all your “wows” and “what the…?s” because I felt so much less alone. But someone asked why I’d even bother to give this guy publicity for his article, which is a really great question that deserves an answer. My answer is this: there’s an enormous amount of garbage and judgement that happens in the name of Jesus these days from voices so loud they drown out the rest of us, and I’m not willing to allow this man or those who believe like him to speak on behalf of Christians like me who try and fail and try and fail and keep trying anyway to love each other well, and love each other loudly, and love each other with wild grace, which is the greatest commandment, above all other “rules.” (Matthew 22, etc. Proof text that, dude.

But the thing on his list that just astounded me — even more than the prohibition against Older Women which is just laughable — was his denigration of Wanderlust.

The more I thought about it, though, the more Wanderlust’s place on the list made terrible sense. It made sense because, of course, when we keep women only home, only focused on husbands and children, only giving of themselves and never caring for their own needs — when we feed women the ideal that their fulfillment comes solely from being a wife and a mother — when we tell them their dreams of both/and — both home and travel, both family and friends, both children and career, both God and grace, both boundaries and freedom, both our dreams as a family and my dreams as a person — are rich and full and a reality to reach for, we risk losing women to the wilderness. We risk losing women to complexity. We risk losing women to the place where they’re both human and divine — utterly fallible and also made in the very image of God — full of grit and grace and gratitude and grime and gory and glory all at the same time. We risk allowing women to be more than Stepford Wives and participate in the mess and find magic there and learn that there is that of God in everything. Just all of it. God in everything. Or Love, if you, like me, like to use God’s other name when The Whole God Thing becomes too muddied to understand.

It is easier, of course, to keep women contained. To squash the wanderlust that takes us physically away and the wanderlust of our hearts which lets us dream. It’s easier to keep us only home. To keep us feeling guilty when our entire fulfillment isn’t found in being a wife and a mother. Because when we women are set free to be fully who Love intended us to be, we are a force. WE ARE A FORCE to be reckoned with, and there are men and women in this world who are unwilling to do the reckoning.

To be clear, I am a woman who finds my greatest joy in my family; and they also drive me up a freaking wall. A FREAKING WALL, friends. Because my family is made out of humans, and I’m one, too, which is as awful as it is awesome, but my simultaneous desire to snuggle all five of my babies on my lap and also run away screaming to Mexico has nothing – nothing – to do with the depth of my love for or devotion to Jesus, nor my worth as woman, nor my value as a wife and a mom.

Truth is, I am a better mama and a better wife when I escape from time to time. To recenter. To rest. To live. To wander. To wonder. To think. To find myself beyond wilderness boundary and also longing to come home. To be terribly, deeply, beautifully both/and. And to be a woman fully loved and worthy of choosing, exactly as I am. 

………

P.S. After I read The Terrible Article, I offered to divorce Greg and remarry him ’cause I had an enormous urge to be an even bigger disappointment to the guy who wrote that drivel. 

P.P.S. Greg hasn’t responded yet, so I assume he’s considering divorcing me just to make me happy. That’s why I love him, and I’ll never leave him.

P.P.P.S. I’m writing this as I’m wander-lusting to Australia.

P.P.P.P.S. These are some pictures of me leading my daughter, Abby, astray and teaching her to be wanderlusty, too: 

AbbyBeth1

AbbyBeth3

AbbyBeth4

Because if I bring a child up in the way she should go, when she’s old she won’t depart from it.