Let your voice be loud in song, O woman without children; make melody and sounds of joy… for the children of her who had no husband are more than those of the married wife… Have no fear; for you will not be shamed or without hope… For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of armies is his name: and the Holy One of Israel is he who takes up your cause; he will be named the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:1,4-5)
“I tell pushy door-to-door salesmen that they’ll have to come back and talk to my husband.”
“When I’m bartering, I’ll say, ‘My husband said I can only spend this much’ and the shopkeeper is usually very sympathetic.”
“It’s better to go there with a man.”
“Oh, I just let my husband handle that.”
When I stumbled into South Asia, I was disappointed by much of the advice I was given because it often revolved around a husband… either having him present or referring to him. Sometimes these well-meaning married women realized the inapplicability of their advice mid-sentence and brought it to an abrupt close. Sometimes they obliviously charged through their solution to my problem and went home glad to have helped. Either way, I would leave our conversations still with no idea how to resolve the problem and a growing sense of inadequacy.
I’ve just moved into my third location in as many months. New faces, new places to explore, new roles and jobs. I’m extremely excited to be here, but the weight of starting over (again) is amazingly demotivating. Sometimes I wish there was one familiar face that traveled with me from place to place. A constant friend in the middle of brand new ones.
A South Asian friend and I went to see a movie together. She was excited to see our favorite actor’s newest film together, but also nervous because the theater to which we were going has a reputation for housing mischievous young men. We’d tried to convince her brother to come with us – for protection – but he wasn’t interested. Her mom charged us strictly to sit far from boys and we duly found seats somewhere in the middle, away from crowds of boys that looked like they could “get rowdy”.
As we waited for the movie to get started, a couple of boys came in and the way they eyed us made us both instantly uncomfortable. “What will we do if they sit near us?” my friend whispered, panic filling her voice as they made a straight line for us.
Under my breath, I was already praying that they would find other places to sit. My friend was astonished and delighted when they diverted themselves to a row several down from us and didn’t ogle in our direction again.
I told that story to a married friend the other day and received a dumbfounded stare in response. That was when I realized how odd it must sound.
Just as strange as advice involving a husband sounded to me.
God as husband is a theme throughout Scripture and throughout the early church and monastic traditions. Early female monks write at length about experiencing God as the lover of their souls, their intimate friend, their husband.
He is the constant, familiar friend in the sea of new people.
He is the protection I seek when married women call their husbands to escort them.
I ask His wisdom and boldness when interacting in a situation that would be better handled by a husband.
When I am alone and have no one to share the burden of a decision with, He is Who I seek as a sounding board.
God promised to be everything we need, our Sustainer, our all. In this culture that’s male-dominated, harsh to women, and a life of constantly changing faces – I often need a husband. And when I do, I run to my Maker.