Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Training up this child – Part 14 – The Vows Go Unbroken

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The days and weeks passed by and things went the way they always went. Tiffany and I became good friends, especially with me going to her place on my own more often. I was working on my housekeeping skills and progressing. My parents were relatively satisfied with me. Harry too grew happier and happier. I was recognizing that he started to make real plans for our future. He was planning to rent a house the next year, looking into buying property and even asked me for my opinions.

The weekend where Harry and his family came to visit came around. We prepared the house as we always did and I was actually looking forward to it. I was looking forward to seeing Beth, hearing her engagement stories, I was looking forward to Harry, who I began to like in a friendly way, though it was far from love. I was still hoping that magically I’d be crazily in love at some point.

As the family arrived, the good mood at our house changed. Something was wrong with Harry’s family, but I couldn’t tell what it was. We welcomed them, the kids were sent playing, the men went to discuss in the living room and the women and older girls of both families went ahead to do some cooking and preparing for tonite’s dinner. Beth hardly talked, but her mom and my mom went chattering away. When we were finished with the preparations and weren’t needed in the kitchen anymore, us older girls were dismissed to look after the children. As we were about to leave the kitchen, Beth’s mom told her that they forgot something in the car, asking her to get it. Beth went outside. Her mom held me back from leaving, talking quickly. “Lisa, listen, you and Harry are having such a good relationship with each other, and Beth is having somewhat cold feet. Could you talk to her and reassure her?” Of course I agreed, now eager to find out what Beth’s worries were. Beth returned and we left for the garden.

After a few minutes of talking to the smaller ones, Beth and I sat down out of hearing distance of the smaller ones. I told Beth that I knew something was up, asking her what exactly went wrong. She said, “I’m just not sure if I should get married. I’m not sure at all.”

I started telling her that from my point of view, everything about her courtship was very biblical and seemed to be God’s plan. Beth just listened silently, nodding here and there, as I explained her how she’s doing the right thing. After a moment of silence, Beth said “I’m not in love, I don’t love him.”. I told her that she of course loved him. “You know, love isn’t this fuzzy emotion that the worldly people talk about. Love is so much deeper, it’s God’s plan and doing everything he tells us. You’d be a great housewife and mother. You’d love him.” I was still defending that love was only actions, not emotions. Beth again said “But I don’t love him.” I went on telling her how I thought she had been deceived and blinded by worldly impressions and that she needed time to find her path again. I told her not to throw away what God had planned for her out of some wicked heartfelt emotion.

She went quiet and so did I. Then she stared at me and said: “I need you to take a vow of friendship for me.” I was quite shocked at that. You shouldn’t vow. “What…? I can’t do that…”. Beth answered “You can, you can keep it, it’s not hard. Harry can release you from it once you’re getting married.” Beth was right, it was biblically possible for a woman to take a vow and be released from it by her husband. I was ready to listen to it. “So what do you want me to vow?”. She explained: “I will give you something that you need to keep for me. You can’t tell or show anyone. If you and Harry marry, he must release you from it and you will destroy what I’m giving you. If you need it, you can use it. But only you, nobody else. And you can’t tell anybody. Can you do that for me?”. I was scared. “What is it that you need me to keep?”. “It’s just a piece of paper” Beth said. “It won’t hurt you.”

I thought about it for a while. All of this seemed beyond strange to me. I couldn’t place anything Beth has said the entire day. But at the same time, I was afraid that if I did not make that promise to her, she and I would never be the same. Out of blind fear of losing my best friend, I agreed. “Ok, I promise I’ll do what you want from me.”

Beth fumbled around on her dress, and held a tiny piece of paper out to me. She said: “Vow to me that you will keep this paper secret until the day you get married. On that day, you will be released of this vow by Harry and you will destroy this paper. If you need it, you will know what it’s for.”

I said “I promise, I vow to you that I’ll do that.” She gave me the piece of paper. “Can I look at it?”. Beth smiled and said “Sure, go ahead.” I unfolded it and on it, it had nothing but a lot of numbers. “What’s these for?” I asked. Beth just smiled again and said “You’ll know when you need it.”

I stuffed the piece of paper into one of my pockets, very scared of what I just had done. I realize that this seems like a childish situation but looking back, Beth did the smartest thing she could do. She knew I couldn’t say no. She knew I would talk if I didn’t vow to keep silent. She knew I’d need it. Yup, Beth was definitely out of my league when it comes to smartness.

Dinner time came around and we all sat down on the table. Beth’s dad stood up to say the prayer for everyone. But instead, of just saying a prayer, he gave us a small speech. It went something like this:

The devil is after us. He’s trying to win our souls over, away from God. He comes when we don’t expect it. Even in the midst of godly families like ours, he sows his seed and comes to reap. As you know, women are especially easy for him to win over. That’s why he mainly attacks women. Young women.

Just a few days ago, I heard of yet another family whose daughter has left to live in the world, to delight the devilish seed of sin inside herself with a worldly life, filled with abuse, fornication and drugs. It breaks my heart to see godly daughters turning into women of the world, leaving the narrow path God is showing us. We aren’t safe either. Let’s pray for the lost daughters, that they may be freed from their sins and evil desires to return back to their families and live the life God has planned for them.

This wasn’t a very uncommon thing to pray about. We heard of many daughters who left their families. In our minds, they committed a terrible sin and needed all the prayers they could get. It didn’t raise any suspicions in me.

Our family meeting was relatively quiet for the rest of the weekend. Harry and I spent a lot of time talking, Beth kept rather silent. I was still confused and puzzled when they left.

 

A few days later, Harry and I had one of our phone talks. He sounded strange and tense. “Harry, you sound bad. Are you feeling ok?” I asked. He answered “Yes, well, I’m not sure, we’re just having family problems.” I didn’t want to be nosy so I told him I was there to listen if he felt like talking. He went silent and then said “You’re right, you’re almost family too. Well, yesterday, there was a huge fight at our house. Beth left the family.”

10 thoughts on “Training up this child – Part 14 – The Vows Go Unbroken

  1. You’re writing is fascinating. Thank you.

    • Hah, I was actually hoping that the “magic” and shock of these bunch of days would come across as they seemed to me back then. I don’t think from an outsider’s point of view, it would have looked so intense and ceremonial. Probably more like children taking themselves too seriously. But it was an important bunch of days for me which changed my thinking, and I hope that shines through.

  2. Yes. I can understand that. But, keep in mind, with this fundamentalist, patriarchal, “biblical” male chauvinistic lifestyle, words and actions carry a much heavier significance AT ALL TIMES, compared to real life. It gets so tiring. Your depiction is spot on. The little happenings of normal every day occasions get written down to be regurgitated later in a rosy way when “they” can make a buck, or when the event suffices to control others by depicting their world as the only good way.

    • I entirely agree with that. It happened to me a lot of times in my life and I know it happened and happens to others many times too.
      Things that I felt were “bad” or “embaressing” would be later dragged out of the basement for everybody to see. Things that I said thoughtlessly could lead to hours of bible study and making me and my siblings feel miserable.
      You are living in a field of mines, tiptoeing around all day long, and the slightest mistake will set off an explosion that you won’t forget.
      If my dad had known that I agreed to make a promise to anyone really, oh my, I can’t imagine his anger. I think I would’ve been up for hours of biblical brainwashing.
      Not to mention that I myself still believed leaving the family was the worst thing a daughter could do. If you told me back then that I would sit here today and talk to a worldly, wicked person like you (no offense, you know what I mean), I think I would have locked myself up in the prayer closet.

  3. Um. You can’t do this. I’m on pins and needles! What happens next?!?

  4. Forgive me for being “worldly” but I’m glad you are talking to us “worldly” people! You do a wonderful job depicting what life was really like for y’all!

  5. I loved this story, but where is the rest of it?? I need to know what happened!

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