A Damaged Jewell
Hanna went with Stan into his room and sat next to him on his sofa. It wasn't quite how Stan had wanted it to be but we had manoeuvred him into leaving him little chance of escape. He wanted to bring in another wife, for no other reason than to avoid the appearance of evil, but dared not do so. Stan could be quite a stickler for rules, and with good reason on the majority of occasions, but there was little danger of an 'evil eye' roaming about in our own home. He left his door open as he always did when he had female guests in there who were not his wives.
Despite being the husband of eight wives and radiating confidence and maturity, we often forgot that by nature he was quite a timid man, something that at times was hard to believe. He was not a woman-chaser even remotely and usually left prospective wives to take the initiative.
Up until now there had never been a problem. This time, though, he had a woman who was seriously in love with him and dead keen to marry him but before being completely converted to our beliefs. He would take no unnecessary risks until he was quite certain that the Lord had given him the green light, which he did not feel he had yet received.
Hanna was, as I have said, very beautiful. Tall - almost Stan's height - slim, blue eyes, with dark blonde hair, a large mouth, ruddy cheeks, a generous bust, and when in make-up, easily of model quality. But Stan would not pay much attention to her appearance until that spiritual link had been made. Though Hanna had been visiting us for many months now and was on intimate speaking terms with all the wives who had recently given birth, she had, until this day, been under the control of a cultic demon. Stan knew only too well how long it would take to retrain her thinking after being raised in a distorted mind-frame.
It had taken Suszana and Isabel the best part of 15 years to be completely free of the Jehovah's Witness mentality and Stan was not too keen to go through all that struggle again. Now, of course, he has us sister-wives to help him tutor newcomers, feeling quite confident in our abilities. It is actually astonishing how fast you learn when you are united in love and how eagerly you want to teach too. Every new prospective wife has a much easier time than the one before because she has the benefit of so much knowledge, experience and love of so many others. Thus Stan left more of the one-to-one teaching to us as he had his hands full with so many other responsibilities. If he had something new he wanted to share he would usually wait until the evening Bible class when he knew we would all be present, to save having to repeat the same thing over and over again.
The more wives a family increases by the more effective it becomes in many ways. It's like having money in the bank - the more you have, the more interest you earn. We became a little congregation in ourselves with all the various ministries present, which is the true model of the end-time Church.
Hanna was nervous as she sat across the sofa from Stan.
"What is it you'd like to ask me, Hanna?"
Hanna burst into tears, sobbing heartily, making Stan feel uncomfortable. He gently took her hand and pulled her over to him and lay her head on his breast. She clutched him tightly, still unable to control her crying. There she remained for a full ten minutes before she finally calmed down. But she did not move and just lay there like a child in the arms of a parent. Stan patiently waited, knowing that matters of the heart couldn't be forced. He wished that another sister-wife had been with him to help steer Hanna in the right way.
He lifted her head up and smiled at her as he looked intently into her eyes.
"Are you OK now?" he asked kindly.
She nodded with a weak smile and took out a paper tissue to wipe her face with. She was still holding his hand and showed no signs of wanting to let go. It was obvious to Stan that she wanted him to take a strong male position and tell her what to do, a common symptom of those coming out of cultic movements who look for dominating substitute father-figures.
It was one thing to be a temporary father-figure - Stan didn't mind that, for it was part of his pastoral calling - but not when the one seeking such assurance and safety was also in love at the same time. Stan knew only too well that Hanna might just be infatuated. He begun to wonder if he had made a mistake bringing her into his room. He would have taken her outside only it was bitterly cold. And there was over an hour before the family Bible Study started at 9 p.m. Hanna was gently squeezing his hand which made him even more uncomfortable. Lesser men would have been sexually overwhelmed whilst having such a beautiful woman so close and so willing. And perhaps Hanna thought she could win him by carnal wiles. He had to make a snap decision and change the environment which was not spiritually healthy. Whatever questions Hanna had wanted to ask seemed lost now and it was obvious to him that they had just been a screen for physical intimacy. He prayed to the Lord for a solution.
Suddenly, and without warning, Kryztina's eldest son Tytus rushed into the room all excited, saving the day.
"Daddy, daddy, daddy, come quickly - look out of the window!!" he cried.
Stan leaped up and there in the inky-black sky was a meteor shower. Tytus seized his father's hand and dragged him to the window in the library. Hanna was furious and didn't even see the spectacle but stormed out of Stan's room and out of the house to the Nilssons. It was fortunate that Stan had briefed the whole community of his concerns about Hanna's principle motive for being amongst us, for she had gone up to her room cursing under her breath about how terrible Stan was. After the meteorite shower Stan had come to my room, woke me, and told me what had happened.
"There's the Jezebel spirit in that woman," said Stan sternly. "She may be converted in her head but her heart definitely belongs to the flesh. And if we're not careful, she could turn out to be a serpent in Eden."
I was tired but I could see that the matter was serious, especially if she decided to turn against us. If there was a demon in her, she would most certainly turn and persecute the family. Spreading ugly rumours about us in Börlange could make things very difficult for us indeed. Stan left me so that I could rest for another quarter-of-an-hour and the matter was brought up in our 9 o'clock meeting.
"I'm afraid we may have a Jezebel in our midst," said Stan seriously, and shared with the rest of the family what had happened that evening. "Praise Yahweh that Tytus came in when he did otherwise she might have placed me in a compromising situation. This is a very serious situation because I feel she could turn one way or the other. Getting rid of that Armstrongite demon wasn't enough. There is certain to be at least one other and we need to find what its stronghold is."
We all, except Isabel who remained in bed, shared our views about Hanna and discussed what we should do. About half way through Bente Nilsson came over and told us what had happened.
"She came into the house in a furious temper," she said slightly concerned, "slammed the front door, and was cursing Stan under her lips. I was so shocked. She went up to her room and remained there. I went into prayer for her and stayed in the house in case she should come down, but after an hour I thought I'd come over and find out what happened."
I told her what had transpired.
"Let's wait and see what happenes tomorrow," suggested Suszana. "She's probably letting off steam in her room. This may be the Finnish temprement we've been trying to uncover."
Bente went home and we chatted for another quarter-of-an-hour, not feeling much like a Scripture study. Stan led us in prayer and interceeded for Hanna. Then he looked up.
"Has anyone had a word from the Spirit on what we may be dealing with?" he asked, and started scribbling on a piece of paper which he had taken out of his jacket. Andreea and Kryztina had felt something during the prayer and Stan invited them top write down their impressions.
"Sarah-Jane, would you read out what we've written, please?"
Sarah-Jane unfolded Stan's paper and read it out loud: "Unconfessed and unrepented sexual sin."
She opened Andreea's: "Unchaste."
Finally, Kryztina: "Unnatural physical affections."
Stan glanced at us all one by one. "I think this is the problem and in the morning I will deal with this in the assembly."
Stan went to be with Isabel that night to help her with Benoni as she was still worn out after the birth.
We all assembled at the Engström's building for the morning service at 11 a.m. Władysław arrived by car just in time for the meeting. Hanna was there looking vaccant and tired and seemed to have placed herself next to Karl as if to provoke Stan. We were pretty certain that we knew what the problem was now.
Stan was the main speaker with Björn giving a small introductory discourse based on John 12:25 which was excellent: As it wasn't Stan speaking, Hanna paid some attention.
"We have a choice," Björn began. "We can live for self, take good care of our lives by keeping ourselves out of danger, by not making sacrifices, by looking out for our best interests, and we may do well in the world. People will think we are sensible and congratulate us when we are successful. We can reach old age with reasonably good health and enjoy all the things and money that we have saved. This is one way of living. It sounds quite a pleasant life, I think. But when you think about it, it's just the grain of wheat that the farmer put to one side and prevented from falling to the ground. The life lives all by itself, well kept, but there is no increase. It has been no blessing to anyone in the world. It has done nothing for the glory of Yahweh. It has fed no hunger, it has won no reward. That is the final result of selfishness: 'He who loves his life shall lose it'".
Stan was impressed and nodded in complete agreement. Björn had really turned out the way he had hoped and was making great progress in the colony.
"The other way of life is to forget self. To not think about our own life but to throw it away in obedience to Yahweh and give it in unselfish service. People will tell you that you are stupid to waste your golden life opportunities in that way, and mock you for sacrificing yourself for the sake of others or in the cause of Christ. But is that so stupid? Was Yah'shua stupid when He went up to the Cross? Were the early Christian martyrs foolish when they threw their lives away for Christ's sake? The Church father, Ignatius, when he was facing the fierce lions in the area, said: 'I am a grain of God. Let me be ground between the teeth of lions if I may thus become bread to feed God's people.' Did Ignatius waste his life? Was it thrown away? Was it useless? Is any life wasted that becomes seed-corn to produce bread for the world? The way to make nothing of our lives is to be very protective and careful with them. The way to make our lives an eternal success is to do with them just what Yah'shua did with His."
Everyone said a loud "Amen!" as Björn went to sit down. Stan invited anyone who felt they had a word they would like to share to come up to the front and speak.
Lars spoke, reading from the Scriptures: "'Blessed are the pure in spirit: for they shall see God'" (Mt.5:8). He looked up towards us all. "If we are not pure, we are blind, and God will be hidden from our spiritual eyes. Other translations say 'pure in heart'. It's no use having clear thoughts if your heart is polluted. We must get our hearts right with God otherwise we will lose our way off the road that leads to eternal life. That's what I wanted to share with you. Amen."
Hanna was looking up, listening. She loved our Sabbath meetings because she said it was solid food for her starving soul. The question now was whether she would still keep feeding whilst she was controlled by such a dark spirit.
Władysław stood up, which was unusual for him as he was quite a shy young man, and read from John 3:2 - "'The same came to Jesus by night'. I've been thinking about Nicodemus this week who came to see Yah'shua by night because he was afraid to be seen by daylight. I suppose it's better to come by night secretly than not come at all. The trouble is, Nicodemus kept on coming by night - he kept his faith a secret. Yah'shua said we must confess our faith publically for everyone to see otherwise we're not a true disciple at all. I think it's interesting that two secret desciples made their faith public by collecting Yah'shua's dead body after it had been crucified - His death must have touched their hearts and made them come out into the light. In the end, they couldn't repress the true love in their hearts. If they had, it would probably have killed them. If we don't confess love, I really believe it turns to hate. It's like manna - if you don't use it when you're supposed to, it goes rotten. If we don't give the love that Yah'shua has put in our hearts, it will turn bad. So I just want to say that I believe Yah'shua is the Messiah and that I'm not ashamed of it."
Władysław sat down. Stan was radiating happiness because getting Władysław to speak in the past had been tough. He had kept his faith to himself until he was 19 so that nobody knew what he really believed. Hanna was looking very serious indeed.
Misha Engström stood up and thanked Władysław for his confession of faith. "Paul says that until we make a public confession we aren't saved and I'm so glad that Władysław has reminded us how important it is to confess our faith, and to do it often. Confession is a hallmark of true discipleship. It doesn't matter how much you believe until you put that faith into action, and the first and most important action is public confession followed by public baptism. It doesn't have to be to unbelievers neccessarily though there are times and places for that. I confess my faith in Yah'shua before you all today and am so happy what He has done to my life. I want to thank Yahweh publically for my little child. Hallelujah!"
Everyone said "Amen!" Some others came up front to speak until the half-hour period was over. Suszana played the piano whilst we sang another song of praise.
Stan went to the podium to give the main speech and everyone settled down wondering what he would bring us that day, especially in light of the Hanna affair. He began by reading from Luke 4:18-19:
"'He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." He paused, as if to emphasise the final verse: "To preach the acceptable year of the Lord'.
"If there is a time which is acceptable, then there must be a time which is not acceptable. From the day the people of Judea nailed their Messiah to the Cross, the acceptable year was at an end. From that hour they were doomed. And yet life seemed to go on as normal for a few years. Looking at Roman-occupied Judea in the years immediately after Yah'shua's death you wouldn't think that any curse lay on the nation. The people were prosperous, and the people lived in their homes in relative peace. And yet, in spite of everything that took place on the visible plane, these people were doomed. The day they rejected Yah'shua and put Him to death the day of their merciful visitation was over. Finished. One might even argue that their doom was sealed before that fateful execution for when Yah'shua stood on the Mount of Olives and looked over the city, He said: 'If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from their eyes...' Even before they cried for Yah'shua's blood, they had rejected Him. From the moment Yah'shua finished speaking, their doom was sealed. One or two would repent at the last hour, like the centurion or the thief on the cross, but for most the fateful decision had already been made in their dark hearts.
"There is, brethren and sisters, an acceptable year for each soul. The decline into sin begins with our mind, manifests in our heart, and then in our daily deeds. This acceptable year begins when Christ first comes to us and offers salvation. It continues while He still stands at our door and knocks. It closes when we drive Him away from our door by utter and final rejection, or when death comes and hurries us away for ever from the world of mercy.
"But even after we have received the message of salvation, the acceptable year still remains with us so long as we have a chance of rejecting it. It is quite possible to cast away our salvation, in spite of what some sectarians may teach. It may be that we do not have a full salvation because we have not accepted Christ into every room of our soul, in which case Christ remains knocking at our door asking access to that locked room in our heart. And if we do not respond at the acceptable time - at the time which Yahweh has designated - then He will go away, and that room will in all probability be occupied by a demon.
"There are many Christians who think it absurd that a born-again believer could have a demonic presence, but I assure you most soberly that he can. If a believer looks at pornography on the side, for example, then the devil has a foothold in his spiritual house and will torment him. If he secretly beats his wife, then Satan had a legal right to live in his soul.
"Have you ever seen a fox amongst chickens? Allow a demon into your life through some unrepented sinful activity and that demon will wreck havoc. He won't just sit in the room where you have invited him in but go around all the rooms of the house making mischief.
"There is a kind of naïvity - even stupidity - on the part of some Christians who believe they can do a little habitual sinning on the side and basically preserve their spiritual life. But I tell you most assuredly that if you let one demon in others will follow unless you throw him out and close off his entry point.
"I meet Christians who have troubled lives because they read all this secular romantic fiction. It fills their minds with garbage and they wonder why their marriages suffer. They wonder why they start getting unhealthy sexual cravings when they watch the muck fed to us on television these days.
"I'm thankful for Brother Lars' thoughts for every word was true. Let a demon in because of some impure practice and before you know it you are blind not only to other people but to yourself. You get confused inside and don't know what's going on.
"And before you know it, you're biting the hand that's feeding you. Some of the easiest military victories have been won by sowing confusion in the enemy. The nazis routed the French in the last war by sending spies posing as French officers behind French lines who gave instructions to military units to withdraw. The nazis occupied key military positions without firing a shot in many cases!
"Satan will do that if you give him a chance. Refuse to repent of a habitual sin and a demon will start sending you false signals that cause to you to turn against your real friends. Divide and conquor was one of Napoléon's mottos and it was very effective. Before you know it, you've joined the enemy's side, perhaps not intentionally, but without knowing it. Look at Judas! He got really confused - he thought he could force Yah'shua's hand and make a bit of money at the same time."
Hanna was visibly shaken. Stan continued preaching but I don't think she was listening any more. Not only had Stan announced her sin but also warned how she would turn into a persecutor if she didn't repent. It was now up to her to make her choice. It was a 50:50 situation.
When the meeting was over Hanna went back to the Nilssons' home for lunch and we did not see her for the rest of that day. We learned that she had played with the Nilsson children but had said very little to Lars and Bente themselves. She didn't even come to see how Isabel was doing, which surprised us a little bit. So we went into intercessory prayer for her during much of the day.
Sunday - still no sign of her in the morning. Straight after lunch Stan went over to the Åkerstedt house to talk to Bengt about some business matter before he returned to the farm. He had noticed Hanna look out from her window, apparently alone. He had waved to her and she had waved sheepishly in return. By the time Stan emerged from the Åkerstedt home Hanna was waiting for him on the drive.
"Hello," she said to him and in a way that gave Stan the impression that absolutely nothing had happened on the Friday evening when they had been sitting together. She was wrapped up in her sheepskin coat with a large hood over her head as it was twelve degrees below zero.
"May I walk with you?" she asked, to which Stan had given his consent. "Where are you going?" she asked as they walked towards the house.
Though Stan had thought and prayed alot about Hanna the last couple of days he had come to no certain conclusion as to what, if anything, should now be done. Sometimes people lack the will to make dramatic changes in their lives and are waiting for a helping hand, or sometimes a good push.
"I am going to a place where only those who are willing to walk in the Lord's will can go," Stan suddenly said without thinking, making a Hebrew drash on her question, "and to which you cannot go unless you come clean with Him and change your life around."
He stopped walking and looked intently into her face. She looked pale, obviously not wanting him to be so direct. She looked down on the snow as she had looked down on the carpet before.
"Hanna, look at me," he said earnestly, and she lifted her head up and let her eyes slowly drift to his. He could see the shame on her face.
"I can't help you - and the Lord certainly can't help you - if you don't want to help yourself. I can't drag you to confession or bring you to a state of repentance, neither would I attempt to. You have to have the courage to stand forward and let the light of truth shine on you. It's going to be a humbling experience for you but one that will bless you in a way you never dreamed."
She was still looking at him but now there was an expression of hopelessness.
"Contrary to what you may be thinking," Stan continued, discerning her thoughts, "I am not rejecting you, nor any ambitions you may have in regard to my family."
Her eyes lit up for this was the first time anything about marriage had ever been even intimated between the two.
"But until you have walked through the valley of the shadow of death by relinquishing the hold Satan has on you, I cannot permit you to come anywhere near what my family has. I cannot even interest myself in you in any other capacity as a brother until that is sorted out."
She began to look sad again.
"There is hope, Hanna, but it is not as you are now. I can prophesy to you in the Lord's Name that if you do not make that decision to renounce a life of sin and make an effort to stand by your covenant, that the devil will have you for breakfast and you will leave this place and return to goodness knows what in the world. If you want to talk to me about your problem then it is has to be in the presence of one other adult of your own choosing in this community, except Isabel who isn't well enough. It will mean surrendering your resistance and accepting that there is no way back if you go forward. For if you turn around after you have done this, the chances are that your problem will get a lot worse, for Satan will want his revenge."
"Please help me," she pled and took his forearm: "I don't know of anyone else who can help me."
"Do you agree to my conditions?" asked Stan, and she nodded vigorously. "And who would you like to be with us?"
"Hélène," she replied immediately.
"Alright," said Stan, "let's go back to the house and see if we can find her and if she's well enough to talk."
The family were having their after-lunch lie-down. Stan left Hanna in the living room and found me in bed.
"I'm so sorry to disturb your siesta, darling," he whispered to me, "but Hanna is ready to confess and wants you to be with us. Are you willing to help?"
I jolted upright in bed: "Of course, honey, of course. Can we go to your room and put the baby alarm system on?"
Stan agreed and I was soon downstairs. Hanna seemed glad to see me again. Once we were comfortable, Stan opened with a word of prayer, and the session began.
"Hanna, it's important that you lead this conversation to some extent. Whilst I am happy to prompt you from time to time, you must take the initiative. Please understand that no matter how bad you may feel in making your confession that there are few things I haven't heard in my life. I've heard confession made by witches who have made child-sacrifices and fallen evangelists who have been to homosexual orgies. There isn't much that can shock me."
She gulped, apparently reassured.
"You've always known, haven't you?" she said rather timidly, her head bowed.
"A little," I replied, "but even so it's important that you say it in your own words. We're not here to condemn you but to help you get through this."
She looked up and weakly smiled, grateful, I think for my promise.
"I'm a bisexual," she almost choked the words out and, for the first time it occurred to me that she might be attracted to both Stan and me. I'd never experienced someone of the same sex being attracted to me and it left a gnawing feeling of disgust in my stomach. I silently prayed for grace.
"Have you ever had a sexual relationship with anyone - are you a virgin?" asked Stan quietly and soberly.
She was looking at the carpet again, head bowed in shame. "No, I have been physically chaste, and yes, I'm a virgin. But I've been been sexually attracted to men and women since I was a young teenager. Lots of them. I've always known it was wrong and I've fought it, but it has torn me apart. You know, with my upbringing in the WCG and all that...."
"Yes, I understand," said Stan sympathetically.
Hanna looked up, surprised, I suspect, by the mildness in Stan's voice.
"Then you don't hate me??" she asked, slightly stunned that she hadn't been harranged for her sinful tendencies.
"Of course we don't hate you, Hanna," said Stan. "We love you as a sister in Christ who has a problem that needs resolving."
Hanna looked at us, and especially at me, to see if I agreed with Stan.
"Me too," I added to reassure her.
"Well, I have these bisexual feelings and I don't know what to do about them. I'm in love with both of you..."
She looked at me pleadingly but at that moment in time I felt hopeless. Never had we faced a bisexual before, at least not one that wanted to be a part of our family. So that's why she was so interested in me in the beginning! It wasn't that she saw me as a 'queen wife' at all. I had not discerned her true intention.
Stan started talking again: "There is no harm in your being in love with both of us only you can only have sexual attractions for me, but even then this is really not the right time. I am sure you know that. Women can deeply love other women and men can too so long as there is no homosexual or lesbian relationship or feelings. What we have to do is discover how the lesbian tendencies in you all started. The fact you are a virgin helps a lot, incidentally, because the problem lies only in the mind and heart for now."
Hanna indicated that she understood.
I was still stunned by Hanna's confession of her same-sex attraction and was at a loss for words. I had little knowledge about ministering to homosexuals and bisexuals though I knew Stan did. Even so, it was a ministry that he did not particularly like, more so as the counsellee had affections for him, the counsellor. He had wished to pass Hanna on to someone else whom she was not emotionally involved with but there was no-one with the necessary skills.
"In view of the fact that you are emotionally involved with both of us," Stan continued, "it's important that I bring a third person into this session - someone you do not have such feelings towards and who can be a father or a mother figure to you. As it is, you are looking up to me as a potential husband, and to Hélène...we'll, you're looking at her in an adulterous way. It may also be a good idea if Hélène is not a part of this counselling process."
Hanna looked alarmed. "Oh, no, please, I don't want anyone else to know about this..." and looked pleadingly into Stan's eyes.
"That can by no means be, Hanna, "said Stan firmly. "If you are seriously interested in being a part of my family, all my wives have to know about this. They already know there's a sexual problem because the Lord revealed that to three of us in a prayer meeting and everyone was told."
She was at first alarmed and then looked resigned.
"They will all look down on me." Hanna started sobbing. "And they'll veto me coming in the family."
Hanna was feeling sorry for herself and her pride was getting quite a rubbing, but I knew this was actually good for her. Stan had always insisted that in any counselling session, no matter the nature of the problem or problems, pride is always the biggest hurdle. Once you have conquered that, matters are made much easier. I was to learn that a homosexual or bisexual convicted or his or her sins has as one of his greatest hurdles actually admitting their sin to a heterosexual, because it makes them feel worse than inferior. And it's a hundred times worse if a life has up until that time been used to justify the sinful inclinations and practice. Though Hanna was physically chaste, the emotional wrestle was no less for her than it is for a practicing bisexual.
Stan carried on talking. "Every woman coming into my family was, and is, a sinner. Though none has ever had lesbian tendenceis, two have lived sexually immoral lives before and in that respect had a far greater problem of pollution to overcome than you. You can't make comparisons or think they'll reject you just because you think they think you're a worse sinner. But you're right about one thing - if you don't face and deal with your lesbian tendencies, they will probably not want you in the family".
"But I've heard that many lesbians take years to be healed and some never get healed completely at all," moaned Hanna. "And I think I would go mad if I had to live a life of celibacy."
Stan looked keenly at her. "Bisexuality is a much easier spiritual sickness to cure than lesbianism because it's not pure lesbianism. You do at least have feelings as a normal woman. The main problem for you, as I see is, is the fact that you want to become a part of a polygamous family where there will be lots of women around all the time and where, if the problem remains marked, you will face daily emotional temptation. But you will at least have nine adults supporting to you and fighting for you in prayer, plus the three other families here. You will have the thought reinforced in you all the time that there will be no possibility of your having any lesbian wishes fulfilled which may make you feel rejected at times on the emotional level.
"Your problem is that you have a damaged view of women and have, in the process, damaged yourself inside. That healing may take place suddenly or over a long period of time. There is without a doubt a demon that is plaguing you, causing your violent mood swings and encouraging you to curse. You are going to have to fight those tendencies hard. There can be no playing of emotional games here like you have been doing since you first arrived. You must be truthful at all times, and when you have a negative thought or feeling about anyone in the family, to confess it immediately and repent. You will not be able to use me as a refuge point in not dealing with any relationship difficulties you may have with the others because if I sense that you angry, uncharitable or deceptive with your sister-wives, it will break our relationpship and I will not give you that refuge until you have made your peace with them.
"The problem as I see it, Hanna, is that you have over the years worked out mechanisms in your mind for dealing with your pride and with emotionally tough situations. You may think you have managed to conceal your inner turbulence but here it will stick out like a sore thumb. We've noticed your unusual behaviour ever since you've been here. So if you're dead set on being a part of this family you have to accept that we won't accept devious behaviour. It will mean that every time you do you will be exposed each and every time until you learn to deal with yourself. You will probably think that we don't love you but even that escape route you won't be allowed. In some ways it will be hell for you but it is the only way out. Your whole thinking and feeling life has to be reprogrammed. It's going to be like a school crammer course - having the same information rammed down your throat again and again until you remember it. Are you sure that this is what you want?"
Hanna was stunned and wondered if Stan was just trying to scare her but the earnestness in his face dispelled all doubts. I could see that thoughts were racing around her mind like rush-hour traffic in Kansas City as she tried to calculate all the possibilities.
"What if I can't cope?" she said.
"If you sincerely believe you might not be able to cope then you have lost the battle already. You have to believe in victory. More importantly, you have to believe that Yah'shua can do this for you. It's His strength you'll be leaning on. Your own will-power will take you only so far, but it is the atoning power of Christ's blood that will finish this business off finally for you. It will be a daily exercise. I honestly don't know how long it will take, but I do know that if you enter into this with determination, courage and faith that you will overcome.
"I will expect you to enter into covenants of complete obedience to my authority at all times and that faithfulness to this covenant will be the condition for your continuing application to be a part of this family. Once I've consulted with the rest, and if they are agreed, I am prepared to be dedicated to you - a covenant to seek for marriage. But I can't promise you any more at this stage. I can't guarantee that it will lead to full mariage, and I can't guarantee that it will happen quickly either. You must be prepared for this engagement to last as long as necessary, even if it takes several years...."
Hanna gulped and I could hear her repeating those words "several years" in her head.
"I am not sure it would be a good idea for you to sleep in our house in your own room yet and I want to propose that you stay at the Nilssons' for a while longer. There may be some other conditions that I will want to impose on you, especially as far as Hélène is concerned, such as not being allowed to touch her for a while. I shall certainly expect you to divide your attention and time equally with all my other wives."
"What about my job in Bolänge?" asked Hanna. "It's such a long way away."
Stan thought for a moment. "I understand that you would want to be around us a lot more but I don't think it would do you any harm to keep on visiting us at weekends as you have been for a while longer. If things don't work out - and you have to accept that's a possibility - you don't want to throw your job away. There's a Health Centre in Mora which is half the distance from Borlänge and maybe you should see if there are any openings there. It's less than 40 km away from Kadesh-Naphtali, a not unreasonable distance that might allow you to commute here every day. It would be wrong of me to integrate you into family life and business here until you are betrothed, which I think you can understand.
She nodded slowly. Now, though, there was hope. Getting her problem into the open and offering her the possibility of marriage had given her something to strive for.
Stan convened a family meeting and laid Hanna's case before us all and wanted to know what everyone felt. There was initially some unease - nobody had really had any experience of lesbianism and this would be uncharted waters for the family. It would mean challenging us all to be consciously aware in a new area at all times and to be on the alert spiritually.
"This family is about redemption, isn't it," Suszana asked us all. "We all have had problems, some serious, and we have all supported one another. And we're still doing it. I don't see Hanna's problem as being potentially any more difficult than what we've experienced already. True, it's a completely new type of problem for us, but that shouldn't make any difference. I think we should give Hanna a chance. She believes the principles we espouse, she loves Stan, and I think she will try to love us all too. And she's a believer. I think we should support Stan in this dedication."
"But I do think there should be a goal she should be working towards," added Kryztina. "When Stan proposed to me, he gave me a fixed period of time to make up my mind. That helped me get focussed. If he hadn't done that, I might have kept on postponing my decision. What I mean is, I think the dedication should be for a fixed period of time, so that, say, if after 6 months there has been no change, that it should be dissolved. That will give her something to work for."
"But it might also put her under unbearable pressure," insisted Andreea. "She might even be tempted to work out even more sophisticated deception to convince us that everything is going well."
"No, I don't think so," interrupted Kasia. "We'd pick up anything false pretty quickly. I don't think we'd be fooled. But I agree about the pressure - that mighn't work out too well for her. She's so dead keen to be part of the family that if the dedication was cancelled, she might be crushed inside."
Some eager discussion followed with us wives divided into three different camps or points-of-view. Stan then entered the fray.
"What this woman needs above everything else is love. Kryztina, I gave you a deadline because I perceived at that time that you were a procrastinator and that's what you needed personally. Hanna's motives are entirely different. She wants this to work. One thing which none of you seems to have mentioned is whether I want to be married to her."
We all went silent, and were slightly ashamed.
"But she's lovely," chipped in Anna, "surely you're attracted to her?" But Anna knew she was not thinking along the right track. Stan frowned a little.
"Her physical attraction has nothing to do with the issue, as you well know. Nor do I have a problem with her doctrinal beliefs, at least not now, though there is still lot of work to be done. The problem is that she is sexually and emotionally damaged and this could damage our unity as a whole. You must all understand that the forces of homosexuality are powerful and destructive if not kept closely in check. This will inevitably create strains for all of you. I for one cannot be fully attracted to a woman, let alone unite with her, if her personhood is skewed. In other words, to put it bluntly, her lesbian tendencies repell me like the north poles of two magnets.
"Yes, she is beautiful on the surface, Anna, and there's her real self buried away in there which is beautiful too, but it's been horribly distorted. My relationship to her has to be as a father and a brother initially. In that respect, I have to confess, that any Dedication feels unnatural to me. But I am willing to do it if it will give her an anchor whilse she gets sorted out, but I cannot go further into full marriage until she has at least got rid of the demon, or demons, and the demonic strongholds are well on their way to being demolished. That is my position.
"But even more importantly than me is Hélène because she's the one who will be at the receiving end of a lot of powerful and unharmonious psychic energy. I am concerned mostly for her. She has just given birth to a child and doesn't need that sort of pressure right now. For that reason I want to postpone the Dedication for at least three months so that she'll be better able to cope. I am therefore going to suggest a Dedication Day for 15 April and am going to make it a condition that Hanna continues working at Borlänge until then, coming here at weekends only as she has been up to now. If she can then get work nearer then she can be here every day.
"I want to teach you all about homosexuality and counselling first and I think I am going to need a few weeks to do that effectively, which will be made more difficult if Hanna is here every evening. What do you all think?"
We all looked at one another and talked about it a while longer. I was so grateful for the way Stan had taken my situation into consideration for I certainly didn't feel up to a big struggle just yet, and I know Isabel didn't either. Andreea and Anna also agreed that they need a little time too as their babies were only one and two months old, respectively.
Hanna had waited at the Nilssons while we were in conference about her and came over when we buzzed their house on the intercom. She looked very anxious indeed and embarassed - this was the first time she had confronted us all with the whole matter revealed. We tried to be as warm and as accepting as we could, though I admit that I was slightly distant.
Stan explained what we had decided and Hanna seemed relieved though I think she had hoped for a dedication ceremony there and then. The wisdom's of Stan's decision proved itself over the coming months.
Hanna worked quickly to change jobs and though there was an immediate vaccancy for a nurse at Mora she delayed moving from Borlänge until the day before the dedication, when she also vaccated the apartment she had been renting. The Nilssons generously gave her one of the rooms in their house and all her surplass furniture and other belongings went into temporary storage in the herrgård.
I admit that I was a little uneasy during the dedication ceremony on 15 April. It's not that I didn't think it was the right decision to be making but the fact that in a way I was the 'victim' in the middle of her problem, which I didn't like. Though I'd had had boys put pressure on me back in the States, there had been nothing abnormal in their intentions, though in reality I suppose anything that is not godly should be seen as 'abnormal'. The carnal in me had been flattered then - but there was nothing to be flattered this time. The very idea of her attraction made me feel sick just thinking about it and I know that when Stan himself let himself become aware of such thoughts that he felt repelled from her as a man. In this respect, Hanna's relationship with the family as a whole was very unbalanced in the beginning, and we sensed it accutely. By remembering prayerfully that this was not just an engagement to be married but also a ministry helped us get things into perspective. It was a wholly new experience for us and, ultimately, very instructive and rewarding. I suppose, in reprospect, we took a grave risk allowing her to come so close to us - what if the dedication had fallen apart? She might have left Kadesh-Naphtali a bitter and vengeful woman. And yet there can be no doubt that the Lord was in control of the situation all along, but only because Stan had played his cards carefully and taken all of our needs into earnest consideration. I am sure things would have turned out very differently if he had been dedicated to her back in January, for she most certainly was not ready then. An important drama had to be played out in the meantime.
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