02 December 2014

Peninnah: Insecure

1 Samuel 1

It slips out of me
a comment here,
a snide remark there.
I don't even think -
it just blurts out
and when the regret comes
it's already too late.

Why must I be
so horrible to her?
Why can't I be friendly,
why can't I be nice?
Sometimes when we're together
mending clothes
or cooking stew
I think I almost like her -
but then it comes again
like bile:
a hateful word
I should not have said.

I know,
deep down,
I'm insecure,
afraid of just being
Number Two.
It's as if
if I don't bring her down
she'll bring down me
and he'll love her more -
the one he fell for first.

Who can tame
this dark creature in me,
this insecurity,
this fear of being second-best
to the man that I love?
One of us
must come second
and I don't want it to be me -
but is hurting her
really the right way?

I want his love
so desperately
but nothing can change
his love for her,
and all my attempts
only backfire
as I pace up and down
night after night
plagued by my conscience.
This can't be right.


[August 2012]

 Peninnah is the "rival" of Hannah (mother of Samuel). She was nasty to Hannah because Hannah had no children.

I had to think a bit about polygamy while writing this one. What does it mean to be Wife Number Two? What does it feel like to have to share one's husband? I'm sure there must be lots of competition and insecurity involved (one can see that with quite a few OT wives, e.g. Sarah and Hagar, Rachel and Leah, Hannah and Peninnah). I can imagine that Peninnah pestered Hannah not so much out of spite as out of insecurity and wanting to prove herself against the first wife.

Polygamy is no longer so common, fortunately. But I think we can still get into similar situations. Marrying a widower or divorcé for instance, and having to deal with the memory of the first wife and all that she could do better. Or being someone's girlfriend and knowing there's still an ex or more out there whom he might just still have feelings for if only she was willing to take him back. Men probably go through such insecurities too, though I guess they react differently. Then there's insecurities about other things, too.

What do we do with our insecurities? Do we, like Peninnah, try to make ourselves feel better by bringing the other person down? Or do we take our insecurity to God, who knows how we feel and can heal all our pain if we just let Him?

No comments:

Post a Comment