Taming the Dragons: He Can't Hurt Me Anymore

This is a story from my book Taming the Dragons: Powerful Choices for Women in Conflict and Pain, a HarperSanFrancisco original soon to be republished by Redemption Press. 

► THREE: ORPHAN - DRAGONS OVERWHWELM, But There is Always a Hero to Help
“Someone please rescue me from this dragon!” - Ruth the Orphan

Brenda, 1985

Sweetbriar by Brenda Wilbee

Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allow]d him to harm me. -Genesis 31:4-7 (NIV)

AS A SINGLE MOTHER, I related to Jacob and his feelings of being cheated. In my first three years, child support had changed thirty-eight times. I lived in constant economic upheaval. There are other ways to be cheated, too. We can be cheated out of recognition, time, honor, even love. In the business world we can be cheated when someone takes credit for something we did. Gossip robs us of our reputation. A busy boss may fail to be appreciative. Employees fudge on their time slips. Beyond the workplace there are even more ways to be cheated. Everyone has horror stories of car mechanics, attorneys, and politicians. And yet God did not allow Laban to harm Jacob.

I remember one early spring day going out to my mailbox to look for a very late child support check. I was upset and even angry. Laban, it seemed, held all the cards. But when I opened my box, instead of a needed check, I found a copy of my very first book. I remember looking at the cover, the sun warm on my cheek and reflecting off the glossy print; I saw my own name in big, bold type along the bottom. He can’t hurt me anymore. The thought came out of nowhere and I stood stunned by the force of it. When I went back to the house, the thought tumbled around and around inside my head. He can’t hurt me anymore. He can’t hurt me anymore.

I plugged in the teakettle, realizing for the first time just how great, how dreadfully deep, how black and immense my fear as a single mother really was. I’d been living in the shadow of starvation and homelessness, worried too about medical expenses, and my children’s welfare, fear always driving me to work harder, save more, juggle, skimp, go without. But as I stood waiting for the water to boil, the only thought racing through my mind was, “He can’t hurt me anymore,” racing and racing and picking up speed until goose bumps stood up on my arms and I sat down at the kitchen table and cried in relief.

Unlike Jacob, I didn’t have a Rachel to talk to, or even a Leah. But I had God. “If he wants to cheat, that’s his business,” God whispered gently in the warmth of that early spring afternoon while bees hummed at the window sill and the scent of new growth from the garden outside mingled with the dust motes, “but, Brenda, l will never let him harm you.”

There is relief in knowing that while God does allow others to cheat us and make life wretchedly difficult, he will never allow them to truly hurt us. Gossip, lack of understanding, unnecessary car parts, empty promises—we can feel abandoned and orphaned, unheard from and insignificant in the great big world. But God whispers, the teakettle whistles, and we know we are safe, because none of us are ever without help.