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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Anything But Old Maids

Some may consider Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, old maids.

The traditional meaning of this derogatory term is a woman no one saw fit to marry. The phrase is rarely employed these days, as many now embrace the single life by choice. However, such was not the case in the Ten Booms’ era. The ideal for most women in the early part of the 20th century involved marriage and motherhood. That was not to be for Cornelia and Elizabeth ten Boom.

Corrie endured a broken heart in her youth when a man she had every reason to believe intended marriage chose another for his wife. Corrie turned to her father, Casper, for solace. He offered her the option of transforming her thwarted romantic love into love for God. Fortunately, she heeded his wise counsel, and humanity is richer for that.

Corrie and Betsie were denied success as the world defined it. Rather than becoming bitter, they found contentment and happiness in caring for their family of origin, pursuing careers in the family watchmaking business, and studying the word of God. When opportunity met necessity, they built a secret room in their house and conducted speed drills with the Jews they took in to see how quickly hunted humans could cluster behind a fake wall.

I submit that these women were anything but old maids. Had they married, their attentions might well have remained on the care and nurturing of their families, rather than saving God's chosen people from the evil inflicted on them by Hitler's henchmen. They likely would have been safely tending their own hearths when Nazis raided their childhood home, the Beje, in Haarlem, Holland. They undoubtedly would have remained ensconced in household duties, rather than ministering to broken people behind barbed wire fences.

And Corrie might never have learned the message she delivered to untold numbers of thirsty souls in a post-war world shattered by violence and grief: “There is no pit so deep, that God is not deeper still.” 


ann falli said...

"There is no pit so deep , that God is not deeper still!!" Amen..
Love you and Thanks always for the great reminders and lessons which we all at times need so desperately

thea williams said...

You are such a faithful reader, friend, confidant, cheerleader. What would I do without you, Anna?

Lisa said...

Powerful sharing. I was musing the other day that I suppose I would be a "spinster" in olden days. Like women have nothing to to do but spin yarn when they are older and unmarried, LOL.

I have heard, rightly or wrongly, that Quakers consider marriage a calling and that singlehood is considered a gift. Married people's live are such that they love a handful of people deeply, and single people are free to love a whole lot of people deeply. I try to remember that that is my calling: To love a whole bunch of people deeply :-)

I like the "bunch" that I have collected, including you, dear Thea :-) Keep up the good work. I've been musing on a possible guest editorial for you. I'll let you know when it takes shape.

Mary Dolan Flaherty said...

Thank you for that biographical information, Thea. Corrie ten Boom is a favorite of mine. And as usual, your post is so well written.

thea williams said...

Excellent points, Lisa! I love having you in my "bunch" too. You're one in a million.

thea williams said...

Thanks, Mary, for reading, and for your encouragement. We are now sisters of a sort, both writing for Ruby for Women. Yay, us!