She Drank from Puddles

She wandered half-naked in the hills outside Redding, drinking from puddles and finding shelter in a burnt-out tree. She was discovered and rescued by a family looking for a Christmas tree.

I first heard this story on the radio about two months ago. At the time, I was surprised by the sharp sting of grief. I think my heart was already raw from all the breaking stories from women who had suffered sexual harassment and even assault.

I have resisted writing about this for weeks, but the story has haunted me. I haven’t posted on this because I have more feelings than thoughts. I went to look up the story online and first found a news story about an Alabama woman who was discovered naked, sick, and half-starved after being lost in the woods for three weeks. She was able to get water to drink by wringing out her hair when it rained.

I am not certain why my heart has been pierced by these stories. Terrible things happen to women all the time. In both cases, it seems these women were hanging out with some sketchy people. The first one was dropped in the woods by a man and woman who thought she had stolen their drugs. The one in Alabama was riding with some guys on the way to commit a crime.

I think for a moment my heart refused to be numb to the terrible vulnerability of being a woman in this culture. I had a visceral reaction to how toxic our culture is for women. I know that most of the toxicity has rightly been thrown at men, but I have been struck by how much larger the problem is than the bad behavior of men.

So many families are broken—so many daughters don’t have fathers who honor and protect them. Too many men have become nothing more than sperm donors. Too many good men, and even some women, have looked the other way and in silence enabled abusers and harassers.

But it is also true that sin—simple sin has ravaged our culture. My county here in Oregon has the highest rate of child abuse in Oregon. We also have high levels of alcoholism and methamphetamine addiction. We have a do-your-own-thang lawless culture here.  On our streets walk slack-jawed women whose meth addictions have rotted their teeth. People who love women should hate sin. Everyone’s sin.

I love my daughters-in-law and my granddaughters. I want them to be surrounded by the love of fathers and brothers—even brothers in Christ—who will be fierce protectors. I want them to love holiness and seek holiness in the men they love. I want churches that never tolerate, enable, or conceal those who abuse women.

I want them to be strong, but to never have to use their strength to survive injustice or abuse. I want them cherished and honored—never degraded.

They are daughters of the King. They should never drink from puddles.

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About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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