Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Secretiveness

The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I am running away from my mistress,” she replied. Genesis 16:8

Amal who is an abused wife wants to be safe and secure and avoid a backlash of anger or being beat for displeasing her husband. The first time I picked her up she said, “Next time please pick me up on the other side of the building. I don’t want my husband to see.” She also told him another reason why she was going out which was not true. It did not take long until I discerned that Amal was living a secretive lifestyle of giving false impressions, conniving, lying, and pretending. Even though she had knowledge of women’s shelters, emergency help phone numbers, and protection laws she did not want to make use of them. She resigned herself to this way of life which had now become a habit. She would just learn how to live secretively as smart as possible.

Ibtisam is the picture of a subservient wife. She has learned it is advantageous to keep silent than to argue. One day I began to see Ibtisam was scheming secretively how to get what she longed for but was being denied of: a separate bank account, her own phone, and some pocket money of her own. She wanted to know how to go about getting all those things accomplished without her husband knowing. I explained about her rights in our western nation but I knew she would not pursue them because to her that would mean she is a “bad woman” – a Muslim woman’s greatest fear. So, she resorts to a secretive lifestyle.

Fawziah was desperate to get away from her controlling mother. She was determined to disappear without her knowing. I tried to explain that she could always leave but she should honor her mother by at least letting her know she was leaving. She would burn her bridges for any future communication if she would leave without saying goodbye. But she found someone(a Christian, unfortunately) to help her plan a secret escape and left without letting her mother know. She was angry with me for not being willing to plan a secret escape for her.

When we reach out in friendship with Muslim women we will surely hear sad stories of abuse, control, duplicity, secretiveness, and schemes. Hagar in the Bible reminds us this is nothing new. She had her own scheme the first time she escaped an intolerable situation but God met her on her escape route.  I ask God for wisdom and discernment in dealing with secretive schemes and lifestyles. It is important to have a conversation about control and fear issues which are at the root of secretiveness. I have learned what advice to give. There were some situations previously where, unfortunately, I actually reinforced secretiveness. Many times Muslim women want us to make decisions for them rather than learn how to take the responsibility of decision making themselves.

As children of God we walk in the Light.

Dear heavenly Father, I need wisdom to know how to help troubled fearful Muslim women. I really want to walk in the Light and not participate in any deeds of darkness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.