Growing up, I knew a group of women who never waited for permission to go after what they wanted. This was especially true when it came to men. It really didn’t matter all that much whether the man was married or in a relationship. If they took a fancy or the man seemed interested, they’d do whatever it took to take him from the woman he was with. Their mentality about this was cavalier to say the least. They figured if the woman wasn’t on top of her game, doing everything she could to keep the man satisfied and happy at home, she deserved to have him swept up by another woman. In an odd way, I marveled at the dichotomy of these women. On the surface they were very unassuming, and at times quite nice; but boy could they be ruthless. And the fact that they were not beautiful or particularly well-versed made the results of their audacity even more uncanny.
They were known as “clean-up” women, no doubt because of the cutthroat way they swept up a man, and did so to such a degree that not even a hint of him was left for his ex. When I think of them now, I think of what God says in Jeremiah 17:9(NLT), “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” These women were both insidious in their motives and actions. I would hear my grandmother say of them, “God don’t like ugly.” She was not referring to the aesthetics of their faces, but the content of their character and the way they disregarded families, children, and the mothers and wives who had struggled to hold it all together.
The ‘clean-up’ women in my town had many children and raised their girls to employ the same tactics they had used themselves. Other women that I knew feared they might have their husbands and boyfriends swept up. As I grew older, I inherited the same sort of fear. Long after I moved away from my hometown, I became ever so aware that clean-up women were not restricted to the area where I was raised. I dare say, they are in every town and city, sucking up leftovers and crumbs from what used to be a feast of matrimonial unity, and they leave no trace of Christian sisterhood in their wake.
Because of some of the devastation I saw, loyalty in a man was something I knew I had to have in a mate. I became relentless about it, and any sign of infidelity on his part was an immediate termination for me. I just couldn’t deal. The premise behind my stance is a good one, because God doesn’t want any of His children being treated disrespectfully, but the motivating factor for my stance was fear. It was the fear of being swindled out of my happiness by another woman’s selfish agenda. I had seen it happen many times, and I was adamant not to allow it to touch my life in any way.
Job, a righteous man who lived in Old Testament times, endured tremendous hardship in his life. In Job 3:25(NLT), he said, “What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.” Fear brings a snare. Proverbs 29:25 tells us that fearing people is a dangerous trap. It draws out the very situations and circumstances we don’t want. Fear does not come from the Kingdom of God, it comes from the kingdom of satan, who is the father of lies, deceit, death, darkness, and hate. God tells us in 1John 4:18 that there is no fear in love, because perfect love will cast out fear; it will squash it. God’s love is perfect. His love is the glue that binds a relationship together in Christ, and it is the safety net that surrounds a family with impenetrable unity. Our responsibility is to have unwavering faith in God’s love, and the only way to do this is to learn about who He is.
God tells us in Hosea 4:6 that His people are destroyed because they lack knowledge. They are not interested in knowing more about His love, power, and grace. This is what leaves them exposed to the clean-up tricks of those sent by the evil one. The verse in Proverbs 29:25 warns us not to fear people, but to trust God because this brings safety. It doesn’t mean that our relationships will be perfect. People make mistakes, and sometimes men lose their senses and think for a minute that the grass is greener on the other side, but we serve a powerful and extraordinary God. No problem is too big for Him. We can’t be so concerned about someone cleaning-up where they’ve got no business. Our focus should be locked on keeping our own hearts free of fear and full of faith, so that we can continue to grow in Christ. We must be confident that if we do our part, God will most certainly do His.■
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“Clean-Up” Women with Dirty Hearts” written for Overcomingdomesticviolenceorg.wordpress.com. Copyright ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!