Her eyes feel heavy as she comes into consciousness. She rolls her head a bit and feels the soft, silk pillow against her cheek. Her mind tries to locate where she is, but all she can muster is the thought, “What a long sleep this has been.” Little does she know that she hasn’t been sleeping for hours, rather for decades. She is ready to get out of bed and rubs her eyes vigorously to help pry them open. The bright light blinds her from further awareness, but she sees that the window is open and the curtains are blowing in the breeze.
It feels heavenly to wake up in this quiet room, but there’s also a nagging sense that she has slept too long. In fact, she can’t even remember what life was like before her slumber. She searches the room to see if she recognizes anything and notices one picture of her and her mother on the nightstand. She feels alarmed that she struggles to recognize her mother and their relationship, but it seems from the image it appears that she was well loved. She stretches her arms and her legs as she pulls back the blankets and sits up. She then looks out of the window, scanning the scenery to discover what is familiar.
Nothing is familiar.
As soon as the thought sinks in, there is a knock on the door, and two women enter the room carrying clothing and jewelry. They greet her and move to dress her as if this is the most routine act. She is confused but allows them to clothe her. She is sitting in front of a vanity as they apply her makeup when one woman speaks to her.
“Queen, your first meeting will take place in twenty minutes. Is there something I can get you for breakfast?” she asks.
“Queen? Did she just refer to me as queen?” she wonders.
This fictional excerpt is what I witness women in my practice do every day. They wake up from a heavy sleep of orphaned-ness to discover that they are a queen. A queen? Let me elaborate on the plight of the orphaned queen…
In this scenario the orphaned queen signifies a woman who is orphaned due to a mother who is absent. For example, in my personal story, my mother was physically but not emotionally present. There were no instructions as to how I was to step into being a woman and lead my life in a queenly manner. Such an absence is consequential for a queen-in-training who is someday meant to rule herself and her kingdom with rooted presence and certainty.
I see many women in my practice who are queens that were never taught to reign.
Our mothers were seemingly in the story of our lives, but they often left us alone, failing to raise us to know how to be a queen. Truth be told, our mothers failed to even recognize that they themselves were queens. Few mothers demonstrate how to rule one’s own body, heart, mind, and kingdom well.
With my own mother, she worked so hard, but her queenly presence was rare to witness. It was lost in chaos, as she was busy cleaning and cooking. As a result, I felt emotionally orphaned as her daughter. My orphaned femininity lulled me to sleep, surrendered to the belief that as a woman, I was powerless and on my own.
I am not alone in my experience. Although the female is by birthright a queen, many of the women I work with are surprised to hear me inviting them to their queenliness. They, too, have fallen asleep to their queenliness.
In the Christian realm, we understand the concepts of spiritual inheritances, for the orphans have been adopted by our Father, the King (Eph. 1:5; Matt. 18:5; Gal. 4:5-7; Romans 9:8; James 1:27; Psalms 27:10). It is not unfamiliar to know that God has a heart committed to anyone who has lost the status of belonging. Many of my clients can name the places in themselves that are orphaned, but few want to wake up into their queenliness. They would rather stay asleep because they hate the orphaned-ness they have known or experienced in life.
However, the queen plays a significant role. We have a queenly obligation to speak up and against misogyny, objectification, injustice, racism, and cruelty. And we have the duty to empower the burgeoning queens in our midst.
You, good queen, must rouse yourself to awaken from your deep sleep and take your place on the throne of your life. You must acknowledge the place you have fallen asleep and grieve the time you lost while you were away. It is time to receive your crown and pick up your scepter to rule as you have been called to do.
Christy Bauman, LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She offers meaning-making and storywork consulting. She is the author and producer of three works: Theology of the Womb, A Brave Lament, and Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, and adjunct professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy is co-director of Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma with her husband Andrew. They live in Seattle with their three kids: Wilder, Selah, and River.
This was a powerful piece. I, too, had a mother who worked extremely hard but was emotionally absent for her children. She’d abdicated her queenly throne and in the process had forgotten to teach her five daughters to be queens. The line, “We have a queenly obligation to speak up against misogyny, objectification, injustice, racism, and cruelty. And we have the duty to empower the burgeoning queens in our midst” was a powerful call to action. Thank you for challenging us all “to receive your crown and pick up your scepter to rule as you have been called to do.” I’m not exactly sure what that looks like, but I want to explore it further.
Christy, I thought of this after I’d posted the comment above. Do you have a book or books that would help women who did not have a queenly example in their lives? I’d be interested in reading about it more. Thank you!
In response to Barbara’s comment, I was just thinking of Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. I’ve been reading and re-reading it this year to let it sink in. C.S. Lewis even turns the noun ‘queen’ into the verb ‘queening’ or ‘queening it’ … so much food for thought. I still don’t understand the ending … Thank you, Christy, for this article.