jesus feminist

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This week I read Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Even before I finished it I texted my friend and told her to take a break for thirty seconds and go read this book. This was such a healing way to encounter the idea of feminism as a Christian.

Sarah Bessey starts off by inviting us to join her by the fire–glass of wine in hand–to talk about this thing to which no one has all the answers. She writes with humility and grace, and asks us to listen and lean into this moment–to respectfully wrestle with the known and unknown.

She weaves her story in and around her premises. One premise is that Jesus’s interactions with women were revolutionary in and of themselves. He included, taught, protected and loved them. He loves women and He created them uniquely to stand alongside men to love this fallen broken world. We should look to him as our author. Another argument she makes is that when Scripture was God-breathed and inspired and then written down, the writers wrote to a specific time, place and people. Paul and the others wrote within a context  so they used the systems in place to create a better way within the system that the world offered. She argues it’s similar to how the writers address slavery. Of course God does not want one human being to own another–but it was socially acceptable at the time, and while hope wants it to change, it seeks to create  a new and  better relationship in that fallen dynamic. She argues that Paul was writing to a patriarchal society and that this was a man-made design that Paul worked within, while hoping for the day when men and women would walk in the knowledge and design that they are no longer male and female or Jew and Greek, but all one in Christ. Being a feminist and a Christian are not mutually exclusive. I “grew up” in a complementarian church where arguments were presented and the case was closed. In this book, Sarah Bessey offered some insights giving me the opportunity to wrestle with both sides of the equation.

And in the end, her purpose is not more power for women, but to globally change the position of women in the world–so that we are all united in our human-ness. Worldwide, women and children are still the most exploited of all humankind. And that’s an impossible task for the Church to tackle when half of the population’s gifts, talents, and voices are silenced, quieted, or hushed. There are places and spheres where women have very limited options, where they are excluded, persecuted, and hurt because of their gender. The Church is called to stand in this gap and be a voice for those who have none.

God is so much bigger than our gender, race, or sexual orientation. Sarah Bessey writes us into this discussion and invites us to live in this messy place where there are no easy answers. To me, this reads like a love letter to women inviting them to bring all of themselves to the table–not for ourselves or our own rights and power, but to do the work of the kingdom of God. To make this happen requires that we work as one, with each part operating at full strength.

 

sixteen years later…

I think it was cold. It was January 14th, so it must have been. But it’s Texas so maybe it was one of those random 70 degree days in the middle of winter. But I’m certain I was wearing his red letter jacket with the off white sleeves. He lettered in band. Pretty damn nerdy–but he liked me and that’s all that mattered. I stole his jacket every chance I got–even when I had another boyfriend.

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I think it’s gone. Tossed out in a moment of deep cleaning and organization. I didn’t want to be nostalgic or cling to the past. I tried to forget and bury the pieces that carried so much shame. A letter jacket transported me to some of the darkest places in my life–I was ruthless and purged it.

But that day the jacket was warmth and hope and possibility. He towered over me even then, already six feet and three inches. His arm was slung across my shoulders pulling me close to him, hip to hip as we walked. We were at the playground at the school six houses down from my house. He led me around the back, to a clump of trees. I performed a play on the stage over there in fifth grade modeled after “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.” He held my hand and butterflies pounded in my stomach. I was worried my palms were slick with sweat. I had warts too back then that plagued me and I was embarrassed for him to notice the one on the fleshy part of my hand below my thumb.

He stopped and pulled me close, hugging me for a moment and then asked the question that I think had been on his mind for a month.

“Will you be my girlfriend?”

“Yes.”

And he reached into his jeans pocket (except if it was warm at all he would have been in denim black shorts with calf high socks and sneakers) and pulled out a coke tab which he slid into my hand. I owed him a kiss for that, which I allowed him to take.We lingered there for a few moments–shy and all sorts of awkward. And then we began the journey back to my house where I would have to tell my mom and sisters about my new boyfriend.

This isn’t an easy story to share. I have spent years discarding and burying it because I hate that fourteen year old girl. I want nothing to do with her, and I don’t want to remember her or be like her. She was self-righteous, filled with anger, and desperate for both attention and acceptance. She did whatever it took to get those things for herself.

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But even in that time, someone called her loved and has stood with her and fought for her for sixteen years.

I decided this story is one worth telling. I wouldn’t say he’s my soul-mate, but there is a steadfastness here that made me fall in love with him and I need to remember that.  Like the jacket I so ruthlessly discarded, I need to remember what it meant first instead of what I called it later. I need to remember the warmth, the hope, and the possibility–the bits of goodness that flicker in and out through that time.I need to go back to my dark and find the light.

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one word 2014

“When was the last time you wrote?”

“Oh, it’s been awhile. I haven’t written since June–not really.”

“Well…why aren’t you swimming, little fish?”

Her hands pressed gently and deeply into my muscles, soothing aches and tension, but her words went even deeper–past skin, muscle, and bone sinking into my center. In that moment I felt known and loved.

Why aren’t you breathing, little one?

Why aren’t you doing what you were created to do?

She is one of the few who has been brave enough to ask this question. To probe gently and deeply into my soul and trudge through the muck to try and find the truth that my heart needs to hear. Because in the rush of life sometimes it’s easier to be the mom, the wife, the friend, the book worm than it is to be me. And this–it’s as easy as sitting down and putting pen to page. It’s as hard as sitting down and putting pen to page. Because I can’t hide from myself here. All the parts of me are opened up and exposed. This is sacred space and the muse won’t allow me to write to tickle ears; and she certainly won’t let me hide behind platitudes and finely turned phrases. She’s a rough mistress–a task master. She brings to light what I would prefer stayed buried.

So I buried the words. I could feel them stuck in my throat, drowning me as I tried to pretend that I was fine. But, then the ones who call me family and beloved and valuable refused to let me stay hidden and buried. They coaxed and encouraged and spoke new words over me. They called me something different, something new. I don’t wear as many scars on my body as some. But I carry ones written deeply on my heart–that can suffocate and drown and overwhelm me. And the one word* chosen for me this year was “healed”. It came from a friend who spoke it as a possibility–and it didn’t let me go.  I’m not quite sure what that means or what journey we will take together–but for the first time in a long time I have this hope and this desire to believe that there is more than the wounds and scars. So I breathe and I follow.

“Why aren’t you swimming, little fish?”

Why aren’t you writing, little one–like you were created to?

I’m trying…

*for more information about one word visit oneword365.com

 

just a cute post

We watched the car zoom into the exit lane, and then back out. It was my exit so  I moved into the space. At the last second the blue Nissan pulled back in front of me, speeding down the exit ramp.

“Jeez!”

“He doesn’t know where he’s going, but wherever it is, he’s sure happy to be going there.”

“Whatever he does, he does with alacrity.”

I laughed at our different responses. I loved how we could all see the same thing and paint a different picture. And I’ve been pondering that word–alacrity–since last Sunday. I’m familiar with it, but it’s not one I hear very often. And I enjoy the way it sounds in my mind and on my tongue.

Alacrity–brisk and cheerful readiness

I had a moment the other day where I wondered if I would ever actually write a book. I love writing, but creating whole worlds and lives and characters is overwhelming. It is really hard to do it well. It takes time and energy I just cannot summon right now. But I want to try.

And as I fumble for the words to explain how that one word changed me I know I will fail. But I want to try. I want to tell you about the characters in my head. I want to share with you what they’re doing, why they love the way they love and fight the way they fight. But it’s just so damn hard to put them into words to capture the scope and breadth of them. I feel like I’m taking a giant and in trying to capture it, making it an ant. And then you’ll look at me and say, “It’s just a stupid ant. What’s the big deal?” And then I’ll die a little inside.

But alacrity. Maybe I need to wait in brisk and cheerful readiness until the words and characters grow up inside my head and then when they’re ready they’ll step forth onto the page with trepidation. And then maybe together we’ll become more confident as I keep them incubated. And then eventually maybe those little bits of what Kyler calls “scribble scrabble” will turn into sentences that turn into paragraphs that turn into pages. Sometimes I feel like I have to do this NOW or it’s never going to happen. But maybe the answer is to just write and blog and jot and then somewhere along the way I’ll find the story that I want to tell. And words like alacrity will slip off my tongue and I will captivate you–because I waited in brisk and cheerful readiness for the right time.

And in the meantime we’re doing things like this (and yes that’s a pirate in the middle with orange fingernail polish because…alacrity)

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