|Posted by God Loves Women on July 19, 2014 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
This is an guest post from a wonderful friend of mine.
I was walking towards my mum's yesterday when someone tapped me on the shoulder, while saying my name. As I turn, he steps back. He asks if I remember him, says it's been a while and tells me his name.
I didn't recognise him at first. But a second or two after I hear the name I do. It's the guy who I was once friends with who wanted to have sex with me so much that he ignored my lack of consent.
We actually have a conversation... of sorts. How is that?
Internally I think I'm wondering how I feel about it all. And I want to know what he'll say... Sorry? I admit it? Anger that I called the police? What?
I'm watching him and feeling nothing. Nothing that I can place. But yet I'm shaking. I know what I'm not feeling - no fear, no anger, no hate, no revulsion - forgiveness worked for me then! but I do not know what I am feeling. Once you let it go, what's it replaced with?
It's been 9 or 10 years.
Do you know what he says to me?
"I haven't spoken to you for years. I know it went a bit wrong. I can't remember why though"
Really?????? You forget what you did? Getting arrested. Denying it all. Calling it consensual.
He goes on to say "maybe we can talk it through and bury the hatchet".
The words "...In your head...?" Bounce about in my head. I've still got that smile on my face I get when faced with any uncomfortable situation. I'm weird like that.
He keeps himself far away from me. As if he is respectfully / cautiously aware of the fact that I really may not want him anywhere near me. His body language is submissive, passive and open - kind of like "I'm not carrying anything". He's kind of bowing slightly. I notice all of this, I'm known for not usually noticing anything like this! For someone who doesn't remember raping me, he's trying very hard to make me feel at ease and to appear... safe.
I think I was still standing there because I was wondering if he's changed. In these years past I've changed in various ways. People change. Has he? He answers my unvoiced question by standing up straight, submission forgotten briefly, and saying "you look really good" with that look of lust that regardless of generation, ethnicity, shape, size or status yes all women have experienced. I know that nothing has changed. He'd do it again. He has no desire to control his desires and my opinion doesn't matter.
He offers his number and I take it because I think that when shock has passed I might have something to get off my chest - I might really tell him off maybe - but the morning after there is still nothing to be said and that feels wonderful.
I am totally surprised by my response having spent a significant amount of time for a good couple of years thinking about what I'd do if I see him again.
It's now quite likely I'll see him again. He says he's often in a place very close proximity to my mum's. I would ask him not to speak to me if he did again.
When I left my mum's I felt watched. I probably wasn't. I didn't want to leave there with my daughter. I was relieved I wasn't with her when he approached as I think I'd have been fiercely protective of her, not wanting her to be tainted by engaging with a rapist.
I'm not sure why I was not also that protective of myself. Is it because I've already been raped? Or because I'm curious to a fault; to the extent that it overrode my fight/flight urge? Or because I am not as bothered about me as I am about her?
I put my hand out to shake his hand. How do you end an unexpected encounter with the man who raped you? He hugs me. I don't feel as dirty as the last time he touched me, but I really wish I'd rejected it. I'm not beating myself up about that... like the last time he touched me. I think he may have taken some meaning from the fact that I didn't pull away. Like reconciliation, like he's made his peace with me. But he doesn't know my mantra. Forgiveness doesn't have to mean reconciliation. Especially when the person is not safe / hasn't changed or repented in the biblical sense. To which I can add Especially when he is a rapist. Forgiveness stops what he did from getting in the way of God and me.
What he did is between him and God. I'm free. :-)
|Posted by God Loves Women on May 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM||comments (0)|
My husband (Mr GLW) has asked me to host his first blog here. Hope you all find it useful!
So, this is the first blog I have ever written. I confess, I don’t read too many other blogs so I’m hoping and praying this follows any “rules of blogging” which may, or may not, exist. My wife, Mrs GLW is very good at blogging and blogs frequently. We often read and comment on each others work before it goes to press but I’ve asked Mrs GLW to only correct the spelling and any really bad grammar in this blog as I want to be as unbiased as I can.
I felt the need to write this blog as Mrs GLW and many other campaigners (I’ll define what a campaigner is very soon, just hang in there) were getting very negative feedback and comments especially from pastors. Now, to be fair, any campaigner expects a fair amount of flack, which is very unfair as they do such a good job and change the world. But a lot of pastors, specifically pastors were taking issue with Tweets and blogs and the like from campaigners. This set me thinking about why these two groups of marvellous people are at such loggerheads over important issues. And so this blog is my thoughts. Let’s go for it!
Firstly, a couple of things I’d like to say (before I say lots of other things): Not all pastors are having a go at campaigners. They are not natural enemies. I just noticed out of all the negative comments Mrs GLW and her campaigner friends get, a fair percentage were from pastors. I didn’t scientifically measure it but was there. Also, even though I’m going to, I’m not a great lover of labelling people. I think personality types have a role but I do understand that people are complex and saying “you have an X personality therefore you think like this” isn’t doing God’s varied creation any favours. I’m also not saying that people are either a pastor or a campaigner. I’m neither and again, these are only broad terms.
Also, dear reader, you may recognise yourself in this blog. If you do, that’s unintentional. I did write this blog from my real life experiences but it’s certainly, honestly not aimed at anyone in particular. Honestly.
I’m also going to talk about victims and perpetrators. Now in case you didn’t know, Mrs GLW and I campaign to end violence against women. And coming from that world (I call it the EVAW World) I do know better than to use the term “victim”. There are much better words that describe people who have suffered at the hands of all different types of perpetrators. However, if you don’t mind, I’m going to stick with victims, just this once, as I want to capture a whole host of campaigns, not just our one and victims seems to be the best word (just this once).
So what’s what? What is a campaigner and what is a pastor? Like all of us, my definition of any thing really is shaped by what I’ve experienced. In the grand scheme of things, I probably haven’t experienced a lot. Because I’m married to a campaigner and live in a world were I interact with more campaigners than pastors, I know a lot more about campaigners. So I’ll start with pastors first.
A pastor, some times called a Vicar, Minister, Preacher, Pope is basically a church leader. The stereotypical ones stand at the front and spout forth God’s word on a Sunday morning. They are very very good at loving everyone and anyone. They want their church or group to be open and welcoming to everyone. They love the victim and the perpetrator and both are welcome. Shouldn’t we all love everyone, I hear you ask? Well yes, but remember this point for later. Most of the pastors I’ve come across are very good speakers. I think it’s part of their training.
You don’t have to be spouting God’s word on a Sunday morning to be a pastor Many people I’ve met are pastors but aren’t ordained, they don’t have or go to a church. They are made to be pastors though and some may be doing God’s work in a place far from the church, like a bank or the government (only joking!). But they all have a pastor mentality – that they love everyone.
So what is a campaigner? Listen and we will hear (a little C of E joke there). A campaigner is someone who is very passionate about a particular subject or cause. They will use any opportunity to tell anyone about it. Sadly, they can sometimes come across as fanatical, always taking about that one and only subject, especially on their days off. (Though like pastors, campaigners never seem to get a day off!) They may not get many opportunities to speak because they come across as slightly mad and, let’s be honest, we all know what they’re going to speak about anyway! Sometimes, campaigners aren’t as articulate as our pastor brothers and sisters (in Jesus, obviously). This is normally due to lack of training which may not be possible due to time or finance or both. Importantly, campaigners are on the side of the victim. The immediate welfare and the restoration (big Christian word there) of victims are their primary and sometimes only focus. They can sometimes come across as hating or having no compassion or love for the perpetrator. They can appear judgemental towards one particular group, normally those they may be campaigning against.
I’ll give you a real like example. I haven’t changed any names to protect the innocent as I haven’t mention any.
I was in church the other Sunday and it was prayer time. Our minister sent up a few general prayers then asked a particular women if she would pray for a particular country way out east which is going through some problems at the moment. This women had left England some years ago to set up an orphanage in this country way out east and quite rightly she was best placed to pray for this county way…you know where.
I smiled as her prayer turned in to a mini sermon about the needs of the people she was serving. She stumbled her way through a list of what needed changing in that country (mostly the government of a bigger country next door) and what her centre needed to survive. I also, disappointingly, noticed a few people sighing and rolling their eyes to heaven. A good reason to always pray with your eyes closed. She was a true campaigner being given a rare opportunity to share her God given passion.
That Sunday’s prayer time (it’s not really called that in our church) brought home to me how sometimes campaigners are perceived: The passion perceived as rambling on about that same subject for far too long, given half a chance. The wants and needs of the cause being seen as perhaps something else to donate to. The way she was ranting at a government (aren’t all governments allowed by God? Even UKIP?) And yes, she wasn’t the most eloquent speaker in town, especially compared with the pastor. I suppose it was that Sunday that was a light bulb moment for me. It really helped me connect the dots on why these clashes between pastors and campaigners occur.
(Just so you know, there was no clash between our pastor and campaigner-woman. I’m sure our pastor knew what was going to happen when he asked her to pray and I salute him for letting her do so.)
And so here’s where the clash occurs: love. Not to trivialise but to explain, (and this is a well known story for many in Campaigning World) most of Mrs GLW’s clashes go like this: a Christian organisation or a well know individual makes a comment which does not help the EVAW cause. Mrs GLW nicely (she can do nice, normally on only Mondays and Wednesdays for some odd reason) informs the person or organisation why their comment is problematic. Sometimes they come back “I’m really sorry, I didn’t realise. Thanks for the advice.” and life’s merry (at least for a few hours). Other times a Twitter mini riot ensues and many people will accuse Mrs GLW and other campaigners of basically not being loving, either towards other Christians or those poor perpetrators (sarcasm intended). And perhaps oddly, or not if you’ve read the above, many pastors are in the “You’re not being loving!” brigade.
So here’s the whole crux of this blog: I think that a lot of pastor type people think that campaigner type people don’t love perpetrators. Not true. I know many courageous people who have been seriously harmed in many ways by a perpetrator and have whole heartedly forgiven them. I also know that the vast majority of campaigners are very aware of the principalities and powers of this word that encourage bad behaviour. They just don’t condone the behaviour and want it to stop.
A cute example: Smaller GLW (our youngest child if you’re not into Twitter speak) sometimes has a paddy and throws things and himself around. I love him deeply but I still tell him to stop this bad behaviour because he may hurt himself, or more likely, someone else. I’m not judgemental towards him as I’m aware of his age, his immaturity (compared with an adult. Well, most adults) and why certain situations set him off (normally Small GLW, his sister). I think I’m right in saying this a very typical parent’s way of thinking.
So is it as simple as that? Pastors are designed (by God) to love everyone and they expect campaigners (and others too) to love everyone and never say a bad word against anybody?
Well for starters, most campaigners I’ve come across do love “the other side”. It may not be the “Let’s all be bestest friends!” sort of love. In most cases of past abuse, that wouldn’t be appropriate or helpful. But there are a lot of people who once experienced horrific abuse who now forgive the abuser. They may never want to interact with the abuser again but that act of forgiveness is still love.
I believe that campaigners are made to see what and who needs changing in the world. Pastors are made to love and welcome everybody. They were both made this way by God to complement the Kingdom. Jesus, who I believe contained every personality type as he was 100% God and we were made in God’s image, displays both pastor and campaigner (and many other) traits from what we read about Him in the Bible.
So what’s the way forward? Once we really recognise and properly appreciate our different jobs and roles in The Kingdom, this should lessen the pressure on ourselves when we see a brother or sister (in Jesus) doing something we don’t agree with. Perhaps our first question shouldn’t be “Should they be doing that?” it should be “Are they being called to do that?”
At this present time, with the current setup in our churches, pastors are gatekeepers a lot more of the time than campaigners. They have more power to decide who preaches and who doesn’t. And because pastors are, well, pastors, you’re always get a pastor’s perspective in a Sunday sermon. I’ve noticed we’re all drawn to parts of the Bible that fit comfortably with our personality type or our calling. Therefore it figures that pastors will always bring a pastor’s perspective to any preach. Now, a few notes about what I’ve just said: Yes I know we have PCCs, Elders, Deacons etc. but in most churches pastors do have a big say. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Also “power” is sometimes a dirty word. A lot of people won’t acknowledge they have power and therefore won’t use it appropriately and that in itself is not helpful. Mrs GLW went on a course about this and is much more qualified to talk about this than I am. Suffice to say, recognise the power you do have (and we all do) and use it for His work.
Anyway, to get back on track, pastors – please recognise those campaigners in your mist and allow them to speak. Recognise that historically most campaigners were shunned and ridiculed by the establishment. Don’t be the establishment!
|Posted by God Loves Women on May 12, 2014 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
It seems at the moment that everywhere you look there are debates on the issue of gender boundaries categories for children’s toys - challenges of Lego’s recent addition of ‘girl’s’ Lego, comments on how some stores layout their merchandise or complaints from authors regarding how book covers try to suggest which gender of child ‘should’ read their books.
Quite rightly so, a lot of people would say. But why does it matter so much? Some people might think that ‘making a fuss’ over something like this is overkill, but the answer is it really does matter.
Now don’t get me wrong - I am not saying that we cannot admit men and women/girls and boys are different. As Jenny Baker says in her excellent book ‘Equals’:
“We’re clearly different in lots of ways. We have different body parts, grow hair in different places and the difference in our chromosomes is reproduced in every cell of our bodies. In almost all sports, whether it’s running, cycling , swimming or jumping, men are consistently faster than women: they jump higher, lift heavier weights, throw further and score more. That pattern of men and women achieving differently is repeated in lots of different spheres of life. How can we say that women and men are equal?”
There are clearly differences between men and women, particularly if you look at physical - that is ‘body’ factors. There have also been argued to be cognitive - that is brain - differences between males and females as well, although this remains a hotly controversial topic. But two vitally important facts need to be emphasised.
The first is that although there are some differences, there are a lot more ways in which we are NOT different. This is particularly true if you consider that differences claimed in scientific research look at averages - the statistical centre of natural variation along any given skill/measure. Taking that natural variation into account there is an awful lot of overlap - plenty of women who do not demonstrate the more classically ‘female’ trends; plenty of men who find that they identify with some ‘female’ stereotypes.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the fact is that equality does not need to assume that there are no differences. Quoting Jenny Baker again, she says:
“Equality is the belief that all people have the same value, regardless of any other defining characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and age… equality is about treating people fairly without prejudice or assumptions and it’s the essential foundation on which all fruitful relationships are built. Equality particularly when we’re talking about women and men, is about being free to choose the direction your life takes and having the encouragement and opportunities to enact that choice, rather than being constrained by stereotypes or cultural convention. It’s about everyone being able to flourish.”
So why do these gender stereotypes matter so much? Why not create brands and toys which are pink and feature more classically ‘female’ play types like cooking, fashion or looking after babies? Why not separate ‘boys’ from ‘girls’ toys in stores and supermarkets? Why not brand and design books according to which gender is more likely to want to buy them?
There are lots of answers to this, but one compelling one lies in the psychology of humans. One thing that cannot be denied about humans is how we prefer to simplify the world by making generalisations. One way we display this is in our tendency to form ‘groups’ in our minds for people. We tend to classify these groups fairly simply - as either ‘in-group’ (that is, of the same group as us) or ‘out-group’. You can see this in all kinds of things - social class stereotypes, our love of forming and supporting specific football teams, what newspaper we read - it happens all over our society.
A series of studies both historical and more recent demonstrate how easy it is to induce people to form these kinds of group identities. Perhaps the most famous, called the robbers cave experiment, took a bunch of 11 year old body on a summer camp in the USA. When these kids arrived, they were randomly allocated to one of two groups. At first on camp, simple steps were taken to enforce these group identifies. Each group didn’t know the other existed, but they ate together, took part in activities and chose group names and emblems. Its not that surprising that the kids really took on this group thing and started to share a real sense of group ‘togetherness’.
What’s interesting about this experiment is what happened next. When the camp organisers revealed the existence of the ‘other’ group, what developed was almost immediate hostility - mainly in the groups calling each other names. Once the groups then started to compete against each other this inter group rivalry got more significant. When one group eventually won the ‘camp cup’ this sense of superiority was marked and the hostility increased. It wasn’t long before the groups refused to even eat in the same room as each other.
This famous study then began to explore how best to break down this inter group hostility. But the reason I’m talking about it now is to look at what happens when we strengthen group identity and draw attention to or exaggerate perceived or real differences between two groups. Very quickly a sense of hierarchy develops, particularly if one group, for whatever reason, can be perceived as ‘weaker’. Once that sense of hierarchy is there, it grows. The outcome of this can be very powerful - more than once psychologists, researchers and even school teachers have attempted repeats on different scales of this kind of experiment, and had to interrupt their plans because the degree of hostility was alarming and unexpected.
There are differences between men and women. But the more we exaggerate these by slipping into stereotypical shorthand in order to simplify our world, the more we risk building an ‘in-group’ mentality that can foster and encourage feelings of hostility, negative behaviour and unhelpful beliefs about the ‘other’ group. The more we teach people - however implicitly - that boys are totally different from girls, the greater the chance then members of one group will start to foster and justify cynical or unpleasant beliefs and behaviours toward the other - and thanks to the historical discrimination against women it is usually this group that comes off the worst.
There’s plenty of evidence for this happening. Take some of the classically quoted stats about men and women - such as the claim that women use thousands more words per day than men as a fairly non-controversial example. I know I’ve heard this quoted so many times! And yet, as Deborah Cameron explains in her very interesting book ‘The Myth of Mars and Venus,’ this statistic has no empirical basis at all - in fact studies tend to find little or no difference in the average numbers of words used per day by men and women. So why is this so widely believed? Because those subtle, subliminal messages we see everyday teach us that men and women are much more different than they really are, making us much more likely to believe messages like this that then exaggerate a difference that was never really there in the first place.
Genesis 1:27 states clearly that men and women are made in the image of God. The Message puts it beautifully translating God’s command ‘make them reflecting our nature.’ We need to be really careful about how and when we subconsciously or deliberately separate two groups of people who were created, not identical, but equal. It is in the combination of men and women, in the God ordained harmony of both working together and in real equality that we see the entire reflection of the image of God, not in separating them.
It isn’t just gender stereotypes in kids merchandise that risks this. I’m urging caution on a whole realm of ‘for women’ or ‘for men’ stuff. Of course there’s no harm in us meeting sometimes as guys or women only - sure, we have stuff to talk about that the others may find a bit bewildering or irrelevant. But lets work together and not be defensive to good challenges where perhaps things need to change. Lets take appropriate caution that we are not slipping into lazy stereotypes that risk at best alienating those who do not conform or excluding some who would otherwise have benefited, and at worst building up group identities that may foster and encourage very negative attitudes. Lets celebrate our amazing, God reflecting, common humanity rather than separating what God made equal.
Dr Kate Middleton is a church leader & psychologist with a passion for applying psychology and faith to real life. Although working mainly in the UK, she is currently based in Paris and balances commuting back to the UK with building links there. Kate is one of the leaders of ‘Mind and soul' & regularly writes for their website. She also speaks across the UK on a variety of topics & has written several books. In the UK Kate works with the Hitchin Christian Centre where you can find articles, talks etc by her. On Twitter she is @communik8ion.
|Posted by God Loves Women on March 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
This is a guest blog from Dave Meldrum. He offered to write this blog after writing this piece on restitution.
There once was a woman. Think of a name for her.
She lives in a decent area of the city, attends a lively local church and is an enthusiastic runner. What does she do for a living? That's also your decision. For the purposes of our story, it should be a job in a company or firm of some kind. She's not high-up, but she is a step or two beyond the lowest rung.
She's a good networker, so she's one of the first to hear news of an impending vacancy. Richard, the man who's moving on, is well-liked and respected and no-one bears him any ill-will for taking the lucrative offer made to him by a rival company. Everybody feels he deserves it, as well as a new challenge, what with the third child on the way.
When the job is advertised, our heroine's CV and letter of motivation is ready to go; hers is in fact the first to land in the appropriate inbox. She knows she won't be the only applicant, but this company has a policy of seeking to promote from within and she knows she's the best qualified on her level. Interviews come around; two external applicants, and two other internals competing with her. The internals are, as she expected, good workers but not on her level. Ian is too new to the company and a little too inexperienced in the field to be a realistic contender - he's probably applying to get a feel for how things work round here. He's ambitious and in the future he'll do well. Stephen is an able and affable kind of guy; sharply dressed, a touch less experience than her but with a winning smile and charm interpersonal manner. Her results have been better than his, consistently. She is not worried that he'll compete with her for the promotion. All things being equal, she's the best suited.
The interviews proceeds without surprise. She has acquitted herself well and she is at peace. The next day the email arrives at the expected time. Thank you … good candidate…add value to company … unable to offer …
As she scans the scarcely credible words, Stephen walks past her desk, beaming and gently pumping his fist. It shouldn't make sense, but somehow she's not surprised.
On the train home she sits next to young man lingering over the third page of a tabloid paper. In the stuffy and stuffed carriage she feels middy nauseous; she tries to manoeuvre herself into the hint of a breeze. She momentarily dozes off, awakening with a start as the train pulls into her station. She opens her eyes to see those of the man next to her lingering on her chest. She pushes past him (which seems to be unnaturally difficult to do), and stands on the platform catching her breath.
She'll be late for the church home group. She had thought of skipping tonight, but she wants company and dinner. She can't be bothered to cook for herself anyway. She arrives just in time for a refreshingly simple bowl of soup to be pressed into her hands and sits quietly as the gentle buzz of ten people catching up with each other drowns out her own endlessly circling thoughts. She comes to full attention as they talk about making plans for the arrival of the new pastor. He's married, with three kids and a reputation for growing churches quickly. He doesn't like women preachers - which is a blow to our heroine as the previous pastor had helped her hone a gift of preaching she'd only recently discovered - but that's OK, insists John, the co-leader of the group with his wife Helen (she's in the kitchen sorting out the tea and cake) the new pastor will be quite happy for our heroine to speak to women's groups and Sunday School.
Our heroine doesn't enjoy teaching at Sunday School; and she's never been to a women's group. Which is what she'd meant to say. Instead it came out with a minor (by her workplace's standards but major by this group's standards) expletive and clearly voiced disappointment. She voices a vague sense of wondering if the local C of E place is any different.
John tells her not to get too emotional, there's plenty of opportunities for her besides preaching and besides you don't want to go to the C of E place because the vicar there is a bloke who wears a dress on Sundays. He laughs as he speaks, and the group seems to all join in.
That's enough for her, and she says so.
John's a good guy, at heart. I'm sorry he says. Sorry. I know this hard for you.
Thank you. I mean it, thank you, she says. But what are you going to do about it? I mean, it's alright for you. You're doing well at work, and nothing at the church will change for you with the new man. But what about me? What can I do?
We can pray for and with you, says John, with his kind smile and gentler tone.
And then? And then … what?
Dave was ordained in the Church of England in 2001. Since then he's worked in churches in London, until he and his wife Bev moved to Cape Town in 2010 when Dave became the Rector of St Peter's, Mowbray, a diverse Anglican church in an urban context. He's passionate about justice, films, sports and the interaction between all these (and much more besides) and Christian faith. You can find his blog at www.davemeldrum.com. Bev tells the stories of social enterprises through photography. They have no children and 2 dogs. He blogs at www.davemeldrum.com.
|Posted by God Loves Women on May 20, 2012 at 2:30 PM||comments (19)|
A wonderful friend of my has written this blog, but she wishes to stay anonymous.
(Warning this blog discuses miscarrage and child loss)
Ever heard a preach on the Father heart of God? Ever heard a father preaching about how horific it would be for him to loss his son. Probably. Ever heard a mother preach about child loss? I suspect if you have it will have been less often.
I find it hard to spend any length of time in worship at present without experiencing substantial amounts of pain. God is gracious and let's me run away and run back and slowly I grieve.
God chooses to reveal himself in scripture in both terms of father and mother imagery. So here is a mothers perspective on the cross.
I had a child wrenched from my womb, I watched as I lost all ability to nurture, care and grow this precious being, watched it poor out of me. I lost the possibility of holding that child to my breast, to nurse it with its ear next to my heartbeat to stare into its face and see my own emotions mirrored back. I lost the oppertunity to suuround them with love, joy and goodness.
I had nothing to hold or bury so vast was the seperation raught between us so I buried a box of memories in a garden I will never walk with my child in. But I have hope. God gave me a picture of the future and when I get to glory there's a child waiting ready to run towards me arms wide open shouting 'mummy'. Because God's love can reach right down into the depths of this broken world. Right down to a collection of cells that could never have lived, that had the 'wrong' combination of chromosomes that lacked what it took to be a viable human. Yet still God breathes life.
Both my children have taught me so much about the love of God for us. What my child Eden has given me a glimmer of is the cataclismic pain God bears when his children are taken and the eager anticipation with which God longs to be reconciled.