I am not my own. And I have nothing.
I have no choice. I had no choice when I was taken from Egypt and I have no choice now. Have I ever really had a choice of my own?
Not even my life or my own body belongs to me. I have no choice in what I will do with either my life or my body. I should have known that when I was taken from my mother and given to Sarai, but I didn’t. It only came home to me that I was not my own the day Sarai gave me to her husband.
I know that she wanted a child – more than anything, but why didn’t she ask her God? Was He angry with her? Was He powerless? Maybe she should have tried Isis or Amun or Heget. Surely one of our gods would have given her a child of her own.
Instead, she decided to use me, her slave, to get what she wanted. She did not explain. She did not ask. She did not see that I was frightened to be alone in that way with the master. I was only a girl, but she simply saw a vessel that belonged to her and that could deliver what she wanted.
And so it was.
What Sarai had waited for…what Sarai had hoped for…was happening inside me so easily and so quickly.
I should not have done what I did. I knew she could have me killed. After all, I belong to her. But I couldn’t help myself. She had used me and now I was carrying the child she wanted so badly. Her old body was useless while mine was young and strong and fertile. In a thousand little ways, I let her know what I thought about her and her ridiculous hopes and I flaunted my belly which was quickly becoming round with her husband’s baby.
Any fool could have predicted Sarai’s decision to complain to Abram, but I was more than a fool. I thought that Abram would spare me because of his child. I forgot it was only the offspring of a slave girl. He didn’t want to be bothered with a squabble between women. I was Sarai’s slave and she could do what she liked with me.
And so she put me out to go who knows where. Where is there to go in the wilderness when you are nothing but a useless, pregnant slave girl? No food, no water, no protection from the elements or wild animals or ruthless men?
Once again I had no choice because I was not my own.
Discarded by my mistress. Abused by my master.
Even a foolish slave could foresee the end.
Until…a voice…in the middle of nowhere, I heard a voice and it said my name.
Do you understand? The voice spoke my name. My hands still shake when I think of it. The voice – it was the angel of the Lord – knew me…me – a lost and rejected slave girl.
He asked, “Where are you going?”
A question I couldn’t really answer – just away from my mistress. As far away from her as I could get.
And then he made a request that should have seemed impossible to me, but somehow it didn’t.
“Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”
If anyone else had said it, I would have turned away in disgust. Or I would have protested. I would have said, “You don’t know my mistress. She will kill me if I go back. I can’t go back. I won’t!”
I didn’t say or do any of those things. I only listened to his words.
“I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
Before that moment I had only scoffed at the God of Abram and Sarai, but now I knew this was His voice. The LORD! And He knew me! He listened to me. He knew my child that was yet to be born. And we were His – His to look after and to care for.
The God who sees me.
I am still not my own, but it no longer matters. It is actually good because the One to whom I belong sees me. He told me to go back and so I can. I know I am safe in His care.
As I turn my feet back in the direction of Abram’s camp I know that my troubles are not over. My mistress will not be happy to see me. Nothing has really changed…
Nothing except that now I know that I am not my own because I belong to the God who sees me.
This is the fifth story in the series: Through Her Eyes. Click here to find the rest of the series.