*** DEBUG END ***

Interview: Linda McClung, former nurse, novelist

13 October 2023

‘Scripture shows women a different kind of love, though we often hear only the submission part’

My career in nursing was chosen by my over-protective father, but it was a good choice for me. I wanted to attend a nursing programme at the university, but there was no money for tuition. I attended Virginia Baptist Hospital School of Nursing on a scholarship, and received a diploma and a Bachelor’s degree from the College of New Jersey, and a Master’s degree from Seton Hall University.

I loved caring for those who were sick and needed me, in a situation where I didn’t have to prove my worth.

I did several jobs during my career, including home care and hospice care, but for the last ten years I taught nursing at the college level, which I enjoyed most.

Nursing did change in the US over the 50 years. I began at a time when patients saw the nurse as an angel, helping with all their daily activities. As technology moved into the hospitals, nurses became part of the bureaucracy. We became the manager of care, from admission to discharge, handling medications administration, medical treatments, and communication using paperless patient records. Those nurses who could not make the switch usually left the profession.

Since I retired from nursing education, I began teaching small groups at my church. I focus on women’s issues and true Bible study. I enjoy challenging women to grow in their faith. Women learn differently to men, and it’s sometimes difficult to communicate that to our male leaders.

I began writing after a medical emergency from which I wasn’t sure I’d completely recover. I’d always written materials for professional use, but, with retirement, I began writing stories to tell the gospel, using my grandchildren as thinly veiled characters in the story. I wanted to be able to leave behind a way for them to know and talk about me for years to come. As the stories have become more complicated, I’ve branched out to historical fiction.

The plots didn’t really come from my nursing experiences, but from personal experiences with other women, including students, friends, and family, or simply from my imagination.

It’s hard to choose between your offspring: I’m proud of each of my novels in a different way. Seven Minutes into Darkness is my precious jewel, because I used my grandsons as protagonists to show them what they could achieve in life. My current work of fiction is Lest We Forget, and it is based on the life of my Cherokee great-great-grandmother.

Love Is was written to help me work out some personal issues. I had to write it, even though others told me it would be too painful to read. If only one person benefits from the book, it will have been worth the year-long struggle to write.

I have spent my professional and personal life around women. I have four sisters, taught at college level and worked primarily with women, and, throughout that time, I have seen women who have struggled with abusive relationships. Even good partners use emotional manipulation to control the women who care for them, who then blame themselves for conflicts or disobedient children. I wrote Love Is to give women insight into how abusive men get control, and to give another perspective than what they hear and read from the media. Scripture shows women a different kind of love, though we often hear only the submission part of the Bible. We need to listen to the love part, as Christ loved the Church and gave his life for it.

I believe domestic abuse is getting worse due to a variety of reasons. Women are in the workplace more; so pressures have increased on them to get everything done. Children are being left alone at home, and lack adequate training to cope with hardship.

Social media shows only the happy people, and women may come to believe that everyone else is happy except themselves. Social-media pressure hasn’t been measured, but, when it is, we may find that young girls are getting a skewed idea of the roles of men and women.

Women are still terrified to report abuse, because of shame, self-doubt, and fear of reprisals. Many abusers are part of law enforcement or the military, with ample opportunities to exact revenge on their partners.

Pressures which tend to destroy the nuclear family have left many women partnered with men who have no intention of marriage or commitment. These women are at high risk for victimisation.

Why do Christians practise domestic abuse? Well, why do preachers teach false doctrine? Because they can. I’ve heard a seminary professor say that abuse is today’s largest unreported problem in the Church.

All things work together for good for those who are called according to his will. That doesn’t mean that believers have an easy path. In fact, scripture often warns us that we can expect hardship and adversity. My experience has been that God works out my hardships to his glory when I turn them loose and allow him to work. I only grow during hardship, and our purpose on earth is to be shaped in his image as we prepare for eternity with him. If I’m not growing, then I’m slipping backward.

I grew up on a farm in Virginia. My father and mother stayed together for 75 years. I have been going to church since I was a baby. We were very poor, but never hungry. We children worked the farm, and were expected to excel in school. We each have advanced college degrees, and have attained a measure of success in our professions.

My husband and I are now retired. We stay busy helping to transport grandchildren, and with church activities, community volunteering, and hobbies. Our siblings are ageing and need our help as well.

I accepted Christ at 12 years old, but I didn’t understand about turning my life over to him. As I grew, I came to understand more; yet still struggled to live a holy life. Recently, in Bible study, I realised that I’m powerless to change my hurts, habits, and hang-ups. That was a life-changing event — understanding that I had no power to fix what was broken in my life, that God must do it. One day at a time, I’m growing in my trust in God to change what’s broken and make me more like Christ.

I was saved by grace, but needed to learn how to trust. I’m not saying that everyone must take a lifetime, but it’s taken that long for me.

I like to read. I read anything available. I also like to garden in my small raised-bed garden. I have eight grandchildren, all teenagers now, and we have lots of fun together: football games, band performances, board games. Anything they’re doing is fun for me.

I had a trip planned to Israel several years ago, and suffered a brain bleed, which left me unable to travel. Now I’m much improved, I still want to walk where Jesus walked.

I get angry when our government takes advantage of Christians, causing us to retreat from public forums because of unfair resentment against us. Media news seems to accept the premise that bashing Christians is normal and good. We’re the only religious group that receives that kind of treatment.

Worshipping with my close-knit church group makes me very happy.

My favourite sound is hearing my grandchildren laughing and teasing each other. They only get together about twice a year, since one group lives 600 miles away, but it’s great fun when they do.

I do have hope, because Jesus said that he has the final victory. Right now, it seems like evil is winning here in the US, but not everywhere. Our country may dissolve into the history books, but God’s Word will not go away.

I pray for wisdom to hear God’s leading, and that my grandchildren will be strong in their faith to face a hostile world.

I’d choose to be locked in a church with my sister, Wanda, who has such a strong faith, or Nik Ripken, author of The Insanity of God. He wrote of how God is working in areas of the world with no access to Bibles. I want to sit and listen to his experiences.

Linda McClung was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.

Love Is is published by Westbow Press at £12.95; 978-1-6642-3950-0.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)