Absolute Convergence?

her·e·tic (her-i-tik; adj. her-i-tik, huh-ret-ik) n.
1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
2. Roman Catholic Church . a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

or·tho·dox  (ôrth-dks)adj.

1. Adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion.
2. Adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds.

Continuing my theme of dialogue from yesterday…

I read a blog post this morning from Gladys Ganiel called Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins & the ‘Year of Opposition’ in the Emerging Church which contained a quote from her post the day before, International Museum of the reformation, Geneva: Dinner with John Calvin.

The quote has stuck with me all morning and I just felt like I wanted to share my thoughts with you my lovelies. Here it the quote…

…the room where you can share dinner conversation with Calvin and Co. conveyed a sense of historical and even contemporary disagreement. This reminded me that the Christian story has rarely been one of absolute convergence around all Christian practices and beliefs.

I am often asked when someone disagrees with me how I can so easily question thousands of years of Christian doctrine and practice. My friends it is not that simple. In the history of our Christian faith there have been many disagreements over the finer points of what it means to follow Christ. There are many areas where most Christians agree and there are many, many where they do not. As I said in yesterday’s post,

Do we disagree on this issue? Yes. Does that mean either of us are heretics? I don’t think so. Do I stand in the corner of the rejected and shunned? You better believe it. I am not perfect at it but I would rather answer to God for trying to reconcile my LGBT friends with the God who is the lover of their soul (practicing or not) than to try to explain to Him why I pushed them further away. Once again, could I be wrong? Of course. But you know what we are all going to have things we are surprised by on that day and I would rather err on the side of love.

Consider if you will the following areas where we have and continue to debate and disagree on how best to follow Jesus…

Calvinism/Arminianism
Evolution/Creationism
The heliocentric universe
Women in leadership
Complementarianism/Egalitarianism
Gifts of the Spirit
Drinking
Once saved always saved
Martin Luther and his Theses
Literal Heaven/Hell, when do we go there? Purgatory?
Soul sleep
The priesthood of all believers
Demon possession and what to do about it
Is Christianity masculine? Is God masculine?
The nature of God… Trinitarianism/Dualism/Unitarianism/Deism/Monotheism
At one time even translating the bible into vernacular languages, or helping with the printing of such a bible was considered heresy according to the Roman Church.

For crying out loud we have even fought over whether women were equal to men, whether the races were equal, whether interracial couples should marry, whether slavery should be illegal, and if wives were property or autonomous persons.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Do the answers to these things matter? You better believe it and without the brave men and women who dared to question the status quo and risk being called heretics; Women and slaves would still be property and be denied the right to vote and own property, and millions would not be able to read the Bible in their native language. Can perceived heresies be dangerous? Of course. Is the Holy Spirit able to sort things out and do His work? You know it.

I ran across some other quotes while reading up on this topic. Here are some you may find interesting:

Gerald Brenan: “Religions are kept alive by heresies, which are really sudden explosions of faith. Dead religions do not produce them.” (Thoughts in a Dry Season, 1978)

I love this one. “Dead religions do not produce heresies”.  Many (added by me) “heresies are really sudden explosions of faith.” Again, think of Martin Luther or William Tyndale.
The questions and discussion “heretics” raise (proved right or wrong) help to keep faith alive. They are often a catalyst by which the Holy Spirit leads us. The fact that we are still discussing and questioning and trying to discern the best ways to follow Jesus’ commands to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves shows us that the Holy Spirit is still alive and well and working in and through humanity to help us become all that we are meant to be.

Helen Keller: “The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.” (Optimism, 1903)

While this isn’t always true, it is certainly has been true in many cases.

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; – history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!” (Daybreak, § 20)[23]

One generation’s heretics sometimes become the next generation’s heroes of the faith and culture: Galileo, Martin Luther, Copernicus, William Tyndale, Sir William Wilberforce, Anne Askew, Martin Luther King Jr., Joan of Arc and JESUS – Just to name a few. Did she just say Jesus? Yes I did. Many of the religious leaders of the day accused Jesus of blasphemy, came after him for not keeping parts of the law, and even being possessed by the devil himself.

Heresy is often a word that is hurled at a person in order to end conversation. It is a word we use when we are afraid of what the other person is saying or we are unsure of our ability to defend our position over theirs. I humbly submit that we STOP IT.   More discussion is what is needed, not less. When we brand someone a heretic and end the discussion we silence the Holy Spirit’s ability to use us to help the other or to use the other to change us. It is my experience that one can be called a heretic by some while completely embracing orthodoxy. As I said to my friend Justin, we both agree fully with the Nicene Creed even if I disagree with my him on other points not covered there. We need to STOP branding people with that word errantly and thus blowing up a bridge the Holy Spirit wants to use.

Am I saying there are not dangerous doctrines out there? Of course not. Am I saying we should not fight against them? Of course not. Am I saying we should accept every new thing that comes along? Of course not. The irony is that the people on both sides of the above debates often think the people on the other side are espousing the dangerous doctrine. And lest you think that simply going with the majority is the way to be safe, the majority has often been found to be on the wrong side of history when the Holy Spirit finally gets its way.

In conclusion, I believe we need to read, a lot; not be afraid to be in the minority when we feel like the Holy Spirit is moving; and also, let’s not be so quick to expel a fellow member of Christ’s body, discount their doctrinal differences out of hand and brand them a heretic. Let’s keep the bridges open and allow the Holy Spirit to work.  And mostly, let’s heed the words of the Apostle John, “little children, let us love one another for love comes from God.”

Who knows? We just might learn something.

Private Messages

The following is an actual Facebook private message exchange from the past week. I asked my friend’s permission to share it here and he agreed. I have changed his name here to protect his privacy. In the past this type of communication would have really rattled me especially coming from a fellow pastor (as my friend is).  Through these types of exchanges I feel like I learn a lot about who I am and who Jesus is. I hope it will do the same for you. I would like to say a special thanks to my friend who had enough respect for me to talk to me directly and not go to my husband or gossip about the situation to mutual friends.

Justin
I’m really confused. Any time there’s some sort of controversy, you seem to be quick to take the side of the non-traditional, non-orthodox. Whether it’s Rob Bell saying everybody goes to Heaven, there is no eternal hell, support of Mormons as Christians because they’re nice people, or the homosexual lifestyle. Every time, it appears that you stand against orthodox interpretation of the Word of God and join with those who (in my interpretation) twist, distort & pervert Biblical theology.
I know this sounds like I’m attacking you. I wish I could be honest and not make this personal. I’m hoping you don’t take this personal (I must say, you do seem to be pretty thick-skinned) because I have enjoyed many of our discussions (and debates).
At the same time, if you hung out with me for a week or two you’d know that there are theological, stereological, and ecclesiological issues that put me on the evangelical fringe.
But, in my opinion, when we’re talking about issues like hell, false religions, perversion of scripture & the Biblical family … frankly, I’m concerned.
And that’s why I didn’t post this publicly.
BTW… I’m not looking for a debate. Just felt like I needed to share this. Not sure if for your sake, or mine.
One more thing…. I’m sure… no, I know!… that I post stuff that drives you crazy as well. lol

Michelle Morr KrabillJust saw this. Will have to take some time this weekend to respond. It is too late tonight. M

Justin
…. I was afraid you’d unfriended me by now! lol

Michelle Morr Krabill

Justin,
Here is the thing, I am thick skinned when it comes to these discussions however when you make the kind of statements you made about me I am not sure there is any other way to take it but personally. After all you have made some strong accusations about me (my person) here.

#1 You say “ANYTIME there is a controversy” I seem to be “quick to take the side of the nontraditional or nonorthodox” and also “EVERY TIME, it appears” that I “stand against orthodox interpretation of the Word of God and join with those who twist, distort & pervert Biblical theology.”
ANYTIME and EVERY TIME? Really Justin?
#2 I stand against orthodox interpretation of the Word of God and join (become one of) those who twist, distort & pervert BIBLICAL theology? This is the definition of a heretic. Do you think I am a heretic? This is a very strong accusation.
I stand squarely with the writers of the Apostles creed. I do not understand how anything I have ever said goes against this creed which I am sure you agree with.
#3 Rob Bell never says nor do I that everyone get’s into heaven. Rob Bell is okay with asking what if, and so am I. I am sorry, I will go to my grave hoping (like God btw) that all will be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Yes, even the people who do completely evil things. Because how great would it be for them to repent and become the people they always should have been instead of the monsters that they were?
#4 I never said Mormons were Christians because they were “nice people”. I seriously think you know better than that. I just think evangelicals in particular are quick to say being Mormon and being Christian are mutually exclusive. God is the only one who sees hearts. I do not. To say there will be no Mormons in heaven is arrogant and preposterous. Do I believe they get some pretty important things wrong? Yes. Do I have everything about God and salvation and life right? No. Is what Jesus did enough to cover it. You know it.
#5 The homosexual life style. You may find this blog apropos…http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/post/27909731175/no-im-not-in-the-gay-lifestyle-neither-is-anyone

Do we disagree on this issue? Yes. Does that mean either of us are heretics? I don’t think so. Do I stand in the corner of the rejected and shunned? You better believe it. I am not perfect at it but I would rather answer to God for trying to reconcile LGBT with the God who is the lover of their soul (practicing or not) than to try to explain to him why I pushed them further away. Once again, could I be wrong? Of course. But you know what we are all going to have things we are surprised by on that day and I would rather err on the side of love.
#6 I have no plans to defriend you any time soon.

m

Michelle Morr KrabillI would also like to say thank you for coming to me directly instead of going to kent or my parents.

Michelle Morr Krabill
last thing, Rachel Held Evans does a great job of explaining my issue with the term “Biblical theology”…

A veryrachelheldevans.com
“Both read the Bible day and night, But thou read’st black where I read white”- William Blake In the coming weeks, we’ll be diving into some excellent books about how to read the Bible—N.T. Wright’s Scripture and the Authority of God, Peter Enns’
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Justin
I appreciate your candid response. First of all, I sincerely apologize for my “Any” and “Every” statements. I HATE when people do that. And I did it. (I could blame it on the late hour, but that’s a pretty lame excuse for my insensitivity.) … I understand how you could take some of my comments personally. I just didn’t know any other way to communicate them. Again, I’m sorry. I believe I stated that I don’t want to get in to a debate, so I’ll refrain from justifying my positions or attacking yours. I will read the article you referenced (any time I see the name N.T. Wright, I’m interested.) N.T. does not agree w/ the traditional, evangelical idea of eternity (Heaven vs. New Earth). I agree with Wright. I’m also not a believer in traditional, evangelical soteriology (walk an aisle, pray the sinner’s prayer, now you’re in.) Oh, and I drink beer & occasionally play music in bars. So I’m really not your textbook pastor.

I do appreciate that you communicate your beliefs in an intelligent, calm manner (usually, lol). I’m also not a fan of hyperbolic, over-zealous, uninformed, unintelligent, hyper-emotional Christians trying to force agreement on their issues.
So, I’m glad we’re still friends. Still disagree. But I do not ignore your posts. And if I have issue, I will always come directly to you. In private. Seems like the Jesus thing to do.

Michelle Morr Krabill

Forgiven. Glad we can disagree and still be friends. I love NT esp on the new heavens and earth stuff.

In the end Justin and I did what we must do in order to truly love one another as Jesus asked us to. There was forgiveness and humility. Was there agreement? No. But this type of disagreement allows us to continue to learn from each other and still have a means to allow the Holy Spirit to do his job of convicting of sin and righteousness instead of trying to do it for him. It is our job to love and God’s job to change hearts.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:14-21 ESV)

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
(John 16:8-11 ESV)

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:35 ESV)

The Afore Promised Vows

So, as you know I have been absent from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks. I am not 100% sure of all the reasons why. Some of them are simple like, I was in Mexico celebrating my birthday and 25th wedding anniversary. Some of them not so simple like, feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed. And then there is just plain busy. But, I am here now and how I have missed you. Without further ado, here is the post I promised you before I left on my trip.

 

These are the vows I made to Kent Krabill on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary.

25 years ago we agreed to be there for each other. We agreed to be the witness to each other’s life. We promised to care about everything; even the small things, the good things, the bad things the mundane things.  Over the years we have learned things about each other that have surprised us and we have learned things about ourselves that we never dreamed possible. For example, I learned that I like basketball and you learned that you like So You Think You Can Dance.

When we got married I expected that we would love each other forever, that we would have fun together, make a family and be best of friends.  What I couldn’t have predicted were the ways in which you would evolve to become the man that I love more than I could have imagined at 18.  I love all kinds of things about you. I love the way that even when you think you are 100% right about something you still walk away and consider that you could be mistaken and I love that you shift if you learn that you were wrong. You are not afraid to say you are sorry or to ask for forgiveness and you always tell me you love me. I love that you still bring me flowers.  I love your creativity and problem solving ability. I love the way you take care of the money and how generous you are. I love that you like to go places and do things. I love your passion for people and the way you choose to do things you really don’t want to do to bless someone else. I love how excited you get about racing and basketball. I love that you want to give our kids great experiences and teach them how to live a full life. I love that you like to eat good food. I love that our kids playing music is important to you. All of these things I love about you point to your love of Jesus and your love of people that drive you to be who you are and do what you do. I love you for all of these things and a million more.

I also love the things I have learned about myself because of you. I have learned that I am stronger than I think I am. I have learned that sometimes I need to be willing to get worked up over things I believe need to change. I have learned that I am a good writer and a good speaker. I have also learned that I am adventurous just not the kind of adventurous that jumps out of planes. I am the kind of adventurous that moves half way across the country with two babies so her husband can go to law school.

Most of all I love what we have become together. I love that we are one of the most “we” couples I know. I love that the people who know us know how much we love each other. I love that young people want to be like us. I love that we made amazing beautiful smart creative crazy extroverted kids together. I love that we have family hobbies. I love that we can watch basketball and dancing and idol and Brave and Mission Impossible and love them all.

I am looking forward to our future together. I am looking forward to finding more things to love about you. I am looking forward to the things you will help me discover about myself and I am looking forward to seeing Caedmon and Rosalind become who they were always meant to be.  Mostly I am looking forward to being with you though all of it. Becoming more myself, as we become more us. Isn’t that the magic of it all? Because we are together we get to be more of who we were always meant to be.

But these are supposed to be vows where we make promises to each other about our future.
So today I promise all over again to love you and to notice all the things that happen in your life.
I promise to be your witness.
I promise that I will hold you up when you are weary; That I will hear you when you are frustrated; That I will laugh in your joy and cry in your pain.
I promise that on all our adventures you will find me right where I always am, right next to you.
I promise you that even when I discover something new about you or about myself that it will never change my commitment or love for you.

You know I won’t be perfect, and I know you won’t be either and some times our dance will struggle to find the music but know this, I will be there.
I will be the one stepping on your toes until we find the melody again. You see we have a quantum entanglement. We are an us, always.
So again I promise that I will be part you.
And I promise that you will be part me.
And I promise that I will love you always.

Vows

In just a couple short weeks on the 4th of July Kent and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage.
I will turn 43 right before our anniversary so if you do the math you will quickly figure out that I had JUST turned 18 when we got married. On the 30th of this month we will be heading to Puerto Vallarta with both sets of our parents and our amazing friends to celebrate our anniversary and renew our vows. This is where you come in on the story. When we got married in 1987 writing your own vows was not the phenomenon that it is today (and frankly I was a little clueless on how to really plan a wedding) so we said the vows that were laid out in the little book our officiant used. Our wedding was at noon on the fourth of July and the whole wedding party wore white (If you think of Adam Sandler in the wedding singer you are probably kind of close). It was beautiful and I was thrilled.

I had no idea what the next 25 years would hold, but I knew one thing on that hot day in Moreno Valley, CA, I loved Kent with all my heart and I intended to be with him forever. Everything I knew at that point about marriage I had learned from my parents and grandparents and I had amazing examples. I can tell you though, watching someone else be married and being married are two completely different things. I had no way of fully knowing the amazing, powerful, difficult, glorious, challenging relationship that is marriage until after that day and I am still learning more all the time.

So wow, vows. Yeah.

I have been thinking about them ever since we decided we wanted to take this trip and renew our vows standing on the beach. I have thought and thought and have written n o t h i n g.

Yet.

My struggle is how exactly to put into words all that it means to me to be married to Kent? How do I sum up in feeble speech this spectacular, insane, beautiful ride that has been our life? What can I say to make him understand how I feel about him? It sounds so cheesy but I sometimes wonder if he really gets it.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our oil and water moments. (Let me tell you, being married to me isn’t easy for someone who likes order and organization.) I hate schedules, have messy zones, say yes to too much and live life by the seat of my pants (translation: I am fun to be around but I have a tendency to forget things). Kent is also ridiculously busy and spontaneous but as a general rule he is much more organized than I am (thank God).  Part of our biggest issue is, as we like to say, neither of us makes a good secretary. But I will tell you this. There is no one I would rather spend time with or that I trust and admire more. Kent helps me be my best self.

Kent is the kind of man I want our daughter to marry. It is not because he is perfect. He is not. He knows he is not. It is because though he is the same person I married he has changed in ways I never would have imagined or even known were possible in 1987. Together we have grown through workshops, college, faith communities and just plain living to question what we believe to be true and look at how we come across to others and adjust and shift. I have watched him in the last 25 years become more loving, more accepting, more humble and more wise.

His support of me and my writing this blog blows my mind. He never asked to be part of what was happening here and honestly I didn’t even know what was going to happen when I started Word of a Woman on a whim at the end of last year. But his grace under fire and his defense of me to friends who think I have lost my marbles give me strength to keep going when I feel like writing people off and hanging it up.

Over the years we have moved out of a church home in the dead of night, worked crappy jobs, moved hither and yon, had both our cars die on the same night, lost people we loved, watched our friends get divorced, dropped out of school, had health scares and hurt each other. But we have also made beautiful babies, finished college, drilled wells in El Salvador, lived in San Francisco and New York, driven cross country, danced, stayed up all night, been to Disney World, made love on a private balcony, given away more than one car, planted a church, written a song, made life long friends and grown together.

The last 25 years were more than I bargained for bad and good, but I chose the right partner to share the ride with me and I will happily spend the rest of eternity with him. As a good friend of ours used to say about her husband, “I just can’t imagine my life without Pat Powell!”. Kent and I actually say this exact thing to each other when there are no other words to express how we feel. I know it sounds weird but I think the Powell’s would love that wherever they are. (mental note:scour facebook and find Pat and Mary Powell)

I know what you are thinking, “there you go, you just wrote the vows!” Not quite, but I think I have a good idea where to start now. Thanks for helping me figure it out. I’ll tell you what my lovelies, when we get back from PV I will write another post about our little beach ceremony and share the finished vows with you. In the mean time. Live together and love each other deeply from the heart.

Grab your Loop and Run like Hell -or- Hang Ten

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Dr. King

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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker

—————–

As I reexamined that memory on light of justice I was beginning to realize that I wasn’t being neutral at all. My lack of conviction had been an accomplice to the unequal treatment of women. My diplomacy was misguided. In my quest to maintain peace and unity, I had become a woman with a divided mind and heart.  – Pam Hogeweide, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church.

—————–

over time, we have been sold a bill of goods on what it means to be a christian woman.  we’ve been domesticated, tamed, caged, and limited.  we haven’t been properly valued or empowered or nurtured.

so here i am, in a place i never thought i’d be. an ex good christian woman. wreaking havoc on the norms that women are supposed to have in the church, encouraging women to get their voices, pursue their dreams, quit waiting for their husbands to lead them and live a passionate life for God no matter what other people tell them they can or can’t do. to seek change for their lives, quit doing the same old unhealthy thing in their relationships and learn a new way. to seek God’s love and approval instead of human’s. it’s been hard for me to make the shift. i still feel shame for feeling this way. even as i write this, i am wondering what person is going to say how unbiblical i am, how if i just knew my role and leaned into it i would have God’s perfect peace. you see, good christian women are filled with shame. shame for the things we do do, shame for the things we don’t do. and i was a great christian superwoman. – Kathy Escobar

—————–

Stop waiting for someone to say that you count, that you matter, that you have worth, that you have a voice, that you have a place, that you are called. Stop waiting for someone else to validate the person that you already know you were made to be.  Stop holding your breath, sister, working to earn through your apologetics and memorized arguments, and your quietness, your submission and your “correct” doctrine what God has already freely given to you.

Because, darling, you are valuable. You have worth, not because of your gender or your calling or your marital status or your labels or your underlined books or your accomplishments or your checked-off tick boxes next to the job description of Proverbs 31.

I imagine them around a fabled table, in suits, no doubt, pulling the chairs in tight and tighter, until they are the only ones left there, crowded around a tiny table in an airless room that feels small and smaller. Me? I stand outside, in the wilds, banging my pots and pans, singing loud and strong, into the wind and the cold and the heavens, there is more room! There is more room! There is room for all of us! And then I’ll slide right up next to you, I’ll hook my arm through yours, I’ll lean in, I’ll whisper right into your ear, quiet, loud, it will sound like I’m singing or like I’m preaching, and I’ll say, there is room for you.  – Sarah Bessey

—————–

At first I thought this would be a good letter to the 16 year old me and then I realized that in spite of the struggle and the difficulty and the muting, I am who I am right now for a purpose. Lovelies we were born for such a time as this. Do you get how exciting this is? Do you get how your struggle has brought you to the point where you are standing atop the surf board, salt air in your face, hanging ten as you ride toward the shore with the wave of equality and freedom at your back propelling you into a future where there is ROOM FOR US ALL?

We stand once again at the terminator of history. The terminator or twilight zone or gray line is the moving line that separates the illuminated day side and the dark night side of a planetary body. We are coming out of the darkness and sit expectantly in the gray zone, but instead of merely waiting for the light to arrive I picture us like the people who unfurl those huge flags at the Olympics opening day ceremonies. When the music starts they grab their loop on the flag and they run like hell for the other end of the field until the full beauty of the banner is visible to all.  I picture each of us, Rachel and Sarah and me and you and Pam and every woman God has made, grabbing the loops to our collective banner, yelling into the air, “FREEDOM!!! (like Mel Gibson in Braveheart)” as we run like hell for the goal line. I picture the stands full of people watching and waiting to see what kind of banner it will be. And let me tell you when it is finally displayed for all to see, when the full picture comes into view, WOW, my lovelies is it something to behold! The colors of the lives of the men and women made in Gods image bleeding together and showing a picture, the image (if you will) of God! Holy crap. Can you just picture it?

Now, imagine all of us, men and women, young and old with Jesus in the middle, our hands on the loops of the terminator of history running like hell for the horizon pulling the light of the new dawn across the whole surface of the earth. Do you hear us? Shouting and singing and proclaiming justice for the oppressed and freedom for the captives? C’mon. Grab a loop and run with us. And look! He is making all things new.

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This post is part of the Rachel Held Evans synchroblog event, One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality.  You can follow this event on Twitter by entering #mutuality2012 to read all entries by participating bloggers.

Sometimes I Grow Weary of the Fight

This post is part of the Rachel Held Evans synchroblog event, One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality.  You can follow this event on Twitter by entering #mutuality2012 to read all entries by participating bloggers.

I hate to admit it but sometimes…

I grow weary of the fight.

I want to retreat into my own marriage and life and let everyone else fend for themselves.

I feel like it is an uphill battle in which the hill is coated in grease and I am wearing skis.

I am just done asking for a seat at the table and just want to smash the table to bits.

I want to give up when I hear the things people say to me and other women I know about why they should be quiet and ask their husbands at home.

I mourn for the girls who are told that education is wasted on them and the only reason they should go to college is to find a husband.

I am discouraged when women I know choose to mute their own voices to keep the peace.

I get angry when pastors and leaders teach that because of my gender I am just a smidge less equal than my son or my husband or my father or any other man simply because he is a man.

I want to throw in the towel when rather than lifting up their sisters our brothers choose to stand on our backs to elevate themselves.

My heart breaks when I hear single women or women without children told that the highest calling of a woman is bearing children rather than loving God and loving her neighbor as herself.

My soul hurts when women who are abused are told that God will reward them for enduring the abuse of their husband.

The fight just goes right out of me when young women are taught that their voice should be muted so their husband’s can be heard.

I get so upset I can’t speak when women are blamed for the sexual sins of men because they look too good and then chastised for not “keeping themselves up” for their husbands.

The road seems too long when I listen to the voices of young men when they explain that they are looking for a Proverbs 31 woman and they think that means she should be ALL the things on that list in order to measure up. Rather than seeing it as a way to look for things she is doing well and praising her for them.

I die a little inside when I realize I still have to explain honor killings and acid attacks to my daughter.

I want to scream, “Stop comparing yourself to a woman you were never meant to be! Let your voice be heard! You are a fierce, beautiful, lovely creation of God meant to bear his image as much as any man!”

I want to whisper, “You are enough. You are loved just as you are. If you never DO another thing. You do not have to be anything except who God already made you.”

And then, sometimes…

I am reminded there are others out there throwing off the cone of silence and shouting to the heavens, “I have something to say! Jesus gave me this voice and these gifts. I was born a woman to reflect the image of God!”

I watch in amazement as others fumble with their keys to unlock the shackles of others in bondage to a set of rules God never put on them; rules that are kept in place by leaders who would never consider bearing the same burden themselves.

I gain strength from husbands and brothers and fathers who support and defend and practice mutual submission, and in the face of being accused of weakness and passivity they show a strength that shakes the earth and frees the captives.

My heart sings as I watch a young woman who would never consider muting herself as the way to attract a man of character but rather looks for a man who is strong enough to want to hear what she has to say.

I burst with joy when I see the tide turning as post after post, and book after book, and woman after woman, and marriage after marriage are spoken and written and unleashed and transformed from something that resembles at best a benevolent dictatorship into a beautiful dance of mutual respect, mutual submission and self-sacrificing love that reflects the relationship of the trinity.

I want to shout from the rooftops, “The tide is turning! It cannot be stopped! Jesus has come! Freedom has come! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

I want to whisper, “Come quickly, Lord. Bring freedom to as many as possible. Let their voices, women and men, come together to lift each other up by outdoing each other in love and honor. Don’t let me lose heart. Give me strength to never give up because every person you made bears your image and their voices must be heard just as you made them for them to fully love you and others as you intended.”

So She Did. A Word of Encouragement to Women…and Men.

“For a woman to not become all that she was meant to be is sin. She’s missing the mark. When she dumbs herself down to not threaten the insecure male, she is forfeiting all that God created her for.”

Tony Campolo

Today I read a blog post by Amy Young, who is asked over and over why she is still single. Her response when she is feeling up to it?

I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am a leader. Remove any one of those statements and I believe I would be married.

Wow. That three sentence answer is a powerful indictment on how we in the church raise woman to stunt themselves and men to look for stunted women. Think about her answer she would have a better chance to get married if she was:

  1. a Christian woman who is not a leader
  2. a woman leader who is not Christian
  3. a male Christian leader

Think about it. She is probably right. She goes on to assert two other points in the post:

1. If you marry before 30 your skills seems less threatening to Christian men.

2. There is a difference between having leadership skills and an actual leadership position.

Like many choices life offers, I didn’t fully realize what I was saying yes to when I stepped into public leadership at age 29. I now know that I was most likely trading leadership for partnership and that, though still beloved by many, I became threatening to potential “pursuers” because of the heavy and mixed messages sent about gifting, submission, headship, and gender. As my leadership blossomed into spiritual realms I became even more like kryptonite to some (both men and women): scary and powerful. It’s also confusing because it’s clear I’m good at what I do and people are drawn to me.

So, returning to the question as to why I am single, there is no simple, easy answer; but I do believe that, in part, it is because I am a woman and a leader and didn’t marry before it became apparent that I was not a behind-the-scenes leader but an up-front, out-loud, follow-me one.

I am thankful every single day to be married to Kent and that we got married as young as we did (18 for me and 20 for Kent). I have frequently thought when confronted with a story like this that I would have had a much more difficult time finding someone if I had waited until I was older to get married.

I had intended to write today about becoming all you were meant to be; about chasing and discovering the beauty of the undiscovered joy that is your gift to the world. I honestly wasn’t sure about how I was going to say it. I thought about a numbered list of witty and inspiring tidbits meant to inspire, I thought about a poem, I thought about just writing about my own experiences. But, as the Holy Spirit would have it, and as it happens to me so often, synchronicity and serendipity stepped in and I was given a gift by Melody Harrison Hansen who blogs at logicandimagination.com on facebook. She posted as her status the quote that you see at the top of this post and pointed me to a blog by Connie Jakab called Culture Rebel which was the source for her quote. She also had linked to the blog I quoted above from In A Mirror Dimly by Amy Young.

These two gifts (thanks Melody!) along with this snippet from Kathy Escobar’s post, ex-good-christian women, are my catalyst for today’s encouragement. Kathy wrote,

over time, we have been sold a bill of goods on what it means to be a christian woman.  we’ve been domesticated, tamed, caged, and limited.  we haven’t been properly valued or empowered or nurtured.  we have been taught codependence and given the company kool-aid to drink.

but it’s changing.  slowly, surely.

thankfully more and more women are joining the ranks of  what i call “ex-good-christian-women.”  it’s lonely at first but in the end, so freeing.

You know what?

The more I think about Amy Young’s post, the more I think about Tony’s quote, the more I reflect on the writings of the closest friends I’ve never met the more encouraged I get. Yes, you heard me correctly. Why exactly do I find encouragement in these things?
Because…

  • I know more and more women who are choosing to be “ex-good-christian women”.
  • I know more and more men, who like my husband are encouraging the women in their life to stop missing the mark by believing the lie that they cant be/do ________ because God doesn’t want them to. These same men are also helping to provide avenues and encouragement for these women to use and develop the gifts that they were afraid to even admit that they thought God gave them.
  • More and more young women are being raised to believe that God wants them to use every gift and every skill that he has given them to serve and lead in any way possible.
  • More and more young men are being raised not to fear strong women but to embrace them and appreciate them as the better and stronger companions that they are.
  • More and more people, men and women are finding their voices and speaking up and out on behalf of the oppressed.

And today, I would like to encourage you my lovelies, male or female…

  • You are amazing and have gifts buried inside you that are waiting to be discovered
  • Those gifts will change you and others in ways you never dreamed possible
  • Don’t give up just because you try something you have always wanted to do and it feels like the hand-me-downs of your childhood that you needed to “grow into”. Sometimes when a gift has been ignored on a shelf it needs more TLC to cultivate it than it would have taken to maintain it.
  • Try things even if you aren’t sure they are for you. You just might surprise yourself. And if you don’t? So what. You will be richer for the experience.
  • Husbands look for ways to encourage your spouse to be all they were created to be. Don’t be afraid of the strength she will find. Help her discover who she has always been and you will be rewarded with a richer life and a happier wife. I love my husband so much for encouraging me in my new found talents.
  • Wives don’t be afraid of your gifts. It will not subtract from who you are as a wife or a mother. On the contrary, if you become who God designed you to be you will be a better partner and a better mom to both your sons and you daughters.
  • Single women, you are enough. Don’t ever trade who God made you for a lie in order to have something less than all he has for you. Any man worth having will embrace YOU.
  • Single men, you are glorious, walk in all God made you and never ask a woman to be less than God made her in order to be with you. A strong and gifted woman makes an amazing partner.
  • Teach your children these things.
  • And most of all, love one another. Truly love one another. Which means freeing the other to be who they were always meant to be. It is a beautiful thing.