the mantle

by Suzannah Paul



Her heart cried for him to assume the mantle of

Spiritual Head of the Household, her faith as strong

as her desires were specific. Although speaking the things of God

was her first language, he was a private man of careful words.

If he wouldn’t initiate the family devotions she craved,

they could have none.


Of quiet faith, he led off-stage, dish towel or mower in hand.

Humble, hard work was his hallmark, and she led by example, too,

in disciplines spiritual and faith like a child. She thought there no leaders between them,

but I saw two, alone.


The Christ-way is not gendered; aren’t all called to follow first?

To lead we bow low, without spotlight or script. There are different

kinds of service but the same God is at work. Gifted and graced by a Spirit

of freedom, teaching and learning, we practice as one.


Can we pray, she asked, initiating. And we did, and he did, together,

like she’d wanted all along. Some prayers bear fruit in decades’ time, and

we are the answer we’ve searched for all the while.

Image: almarrte II

41 Responses to “the mantle”

  1. Anne May 31, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    Dang, Suzannah. This is GOOD. That last line kills me.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      oh man, that is a lesson i keep having to re-learn! thanks, anne.

      • Observant One June 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

        Interesting that we have a follower of the religion of man hate and perpetual victim hood ‘educating’ us about Christianity. You do realize that GOD is male ? Obviously you haven’t the slightest idea of biblical manhood, or womanhood. The alternative being that you were sent by the coven to help further defile weak willed women. Which is it ? I doubt my comment will be published as feminists fear the light of truth and can’t bear to hear it. As you read it and before you make assumptions, no Suzannah I am not a beastly, oppressive, rapey male hell bent on upholding the ‘evil’ patriarchy, that has so benefited women.. I am a truly strong Woman who is comfortable in her own skin, that of a genuine Woman. I celebrate my womanhood and Almighty GOD that in HIS wisdom formed me as such, not damn it, or HIM. I celebrate my husband’s manhood, not attempt to ‘cure’ him of it. What pathetic, sad little creatures you are. Seek HIM while HE still may be found.

        • Suzannah June 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

          and a blessed sabbath to you, too, madam!

          • d.l. mayfield June 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

            suzannah, you are my most favorite. (both the poem and this response, of course).

  2. veronicah rose May 31, 2013 at 6:55 am #


  3. Sarah Askins: Poet-Writer May 31, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Oh sweet, friend, this is so lovely and powerful!

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      that means a lot coming from you. thanks, sarah.

  4. Jessica Cribbs May 31, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Wow. Just what I really needed to hear this morning. brilliant.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

      thank you so much, jessica. blessings and peace to you.

  5. Natalie Hart May 31, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Loved this, Suzannah, especially these two lines, “To lead we bow low, without spotlight or script.” and that last line. Killer. Thank you.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      the spotlight and script are such snares, both. thank you for the encouragement. loved meeting you at Renew & Refine!

  6. Lenae May 31, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    This is fabulous, Suzannah. Thank you for your transparency and that you use your gift to share with all of us.

  7. kimberly May 31, 2013 at 10:03 am # your words are like waves in my heart.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

      thank you so much. i’m so thankful we got to connect last weekend:)

  8. beckie May 31, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    I used to cry with my church sisters about how our men just would not lead. One day in agonizing to the Lord I wailed, “why won’t he just step out and lead us like he knows how?!” and I felt the Lord respond…”maybe that is exactly what he is doing.”
    From that day I have been on a journey to really see my husband and how he leads. He doesn’t do it like I thought. It doesn’t look like any of the spiritual books say it should.
    He has his own style that matches him perfectly. It is a beautiful thing.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      that’s a bit how i grew up, and it is beauty to see and accept the ways we’re so uniquely gifted. keep singing those freedom songs:)

  9. karen May 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    gorgeous, Suzannah. Thank you.

  10. Diana Trautwein May 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Oh, glory. YES. Thank you for these fine lines, this tender telling of truth. I am beyond tired of the labels, the roles, the limits. We serve a limitless God. Who cares where the gift line falls? Pay attention to the Spirit and go with the Flow. AMEN. Thank you, Suzannah. Thank you.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      “We serve a limitless God.” forever and ever, amen, we’ll shout it from the rooftops and whisper other ways. thank YOU for showing us what it looks like to keep in step with the Spirit. you’re a good one, pastor D:)

  11. Jamie Wright Bagley May 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm #


  12. Natalie Trust May 31, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    This is so powerful, Suzannah.

    I can think of several bridal showers I’ve attended where I wish something like this could have been read. Thank you for these true and beautiful words of love and freedom.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

      um, i love this idea. new goal in life. thanks, lady. <3

      • Amber June 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

        Note taken. I’m gonna print this and whip it out at some bridal shower.

  13. Emily May 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    So lovely and true.

    Thank you for putting this together, Suz.

  14. Brenna D (@BrennaJD) May 31, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Love this. Weeping and smiling. Gorgeous.

  15. Lindsay May 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    So powerful and wonderful and familiar. Love this.

  16. Kelly @ Love Well May 31, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Gentle, beautiful truth.

  17. Jimmie lee May 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    I can’t explain the many ways this touched me. I just lost my dad, he very suddenly passed just 6 days ago. He was the quiet humble servant a man with careful words. My mom the more verbal one about our faith. And I have struggled in my own marriage with wanting my husband to be the “spiritual leader” but this tight here has opened my eyes to the truth that the gifts we are given the talents we use, they know no gender. And as conviction settles deep within I realize its time for me to step up to the plate I’ve been given.
    God is good. Thank you for these words.

    • Suzannah May 31, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      i’m so sorry about your dad, jimmie lee. your words are such a kindness to me, and i pray tonight for you as your grieve and heal and walk a new way. blessings to you and your family.

  18. Susan May 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    I can relate.

  19. Jessi May 31, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Such beautiful truth.

  20. Bev May 31, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    I can relate also, and it’s so sad that there were no family devotions because he couldn’t and therefore she wouldn’t… what a noose around both our necks, and a sadness for a family that was brought up Christian but without the strengthening that praying and talking together about our faith would have wrought. And now we are older and know better. We know now that it’s not wrong for her to rise and speak and for him to choose the dishtowel and the mower. Each is created by God to serve in the way ordained for us. Why do we take so long to realise that others’ opinions are just that… and God is the one we are called to please.

  21. mary ann May 31, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    so beautifully written and poignant. “but I saw two, alone” “some prayers bear fruit in decade’s time” You touch my heart, dear one!

  22. Margaret Ivory May 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    beautiful truthful wisdom…..

  23. Kamille@Redeeming_table May 31, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Yes friend, simply yes!

  24. Marilyn June 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    You have captured the heartache and silent cry of so many and brought forth the unheralded leadership of the gentle soul, resolving the isolation with 3 small words, spoken with courage. Beautifully written and, as has been mentioned, that last line resonates powerfully. What a joy this was to read.

  25. Addie June 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    So beautiful.

  26. Linds June 2, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    “The Christ-Way is not gendered.” Yes yes yes.

  27. Mihee June 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    “To lead we bow low, without spotlight or script.”


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