The SBC Convention is happening this week and it is a mess. The world’s largest denomination has revealed who it is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” I have been asked if I have ever thought about being a lawyer and I did briefly when I saw the massive injustice happening in soccer and church, but I ended up in seminary instead. I am using this picture of me in my Mutiny jacket because SBC ultra-right-wing conservatives used a pirate flag to signal they are taking back the ship at this convention; more like sinking it. I cannot make this stuff up. It is also wild I started using pirate language first! This Mutiny jacket is from our soccer club we were a part of a few years back. I have written about it extensively, so no more in this post, but in March 2020 I started using what was once our soccer slogan against the complementarian church that is abusing women and children: Start a Mutiny! We also cannot forget the SBC’s unapologetic racism: Start a Mutiny! Resistance to CRT and any move to change our American systems are met with fierce resistance, and they are even taking over our public-school boards to prevent it from being taught there too! In the words of James Baldwin, and a great book written by Robert P. Jones, the SBC has been “white too long.”
The SBC must be trolling me with the pirate flags I keep saying. I know that is not true, they could not care less about me, but I do think Holy Spirit is in this chaos bringing a little humor. She does care about me. I find God in humor, too. She cares about the SBC too, but they are blaspheming her. They are refusing to investigate abuse that is rampant and systematically happening in their organization but are bringing up the motion to remove Saddleback Church for ordaining three women who have been on staff for years and are still under an all-male eldership. I am going to copy my Twitter thread from this point on to explain why I am sounding the alarm on complementarian church and our win-at-all-cost culture. What is happening in church is also happening in culture, and church is driving it, not the other way around.
“The SBC had me going yesterday. I get chatty when my trauma is starting to kick in. I was going to say more last night, but I was tired and went to bed really early. Before 10. Go me. Now I am up at 4:30 but feeling good and with more clarity about what I want to say.
The SBC may have avoided electing an extremely far-right pastor, and I am glad that it did not happen, but the SBC has so many problems. The refusal to investigate abuse is the biggest red flag. & I say this knowing the investigations may not help get justice–I will get to that.
The SBC pulls the church autonomy card when abuse is on the table, but then becomes all about controlling churches when women are ordained. And they proved my point, the discussion about removing Saddleback came up b/c they ordained 3 female pastors. So which is it SBC?
This is why I am saying being Baptist and being Calvinist are incompatible. You cannot believe in the separation of church and state and believe the state is also subordinate to the church. This is how they are carrying this out with women. Women and children’s abuse is the separation and the ordination of women is the need to pull the subordination card. Here is a quote by Ed Litton about Saddleback: “Without hesitation or reservation I am a complementarian and I wholeheartedly affirm the BF&M 2000. The Bible clearly teaches that the office of pastor is reserved only for qualified men, and I also want to encourage my sisters in Christ to be equipped, using every gift God has given them for the church and its mission with the Gospel.” Litton may be better than Stone, but he is not great. They quote BFM2K, not scripture when spouting this BS: separate but equal is the message. Hey SBC, do you know what is really not okay with God: abusing women and children. I do not know where you get that God does not want to hear from women. We clearly are not serving the same God.
Here is JD Greear’s response: “long respected Saddleback’s ministry impact and heart for getting the Gospel to the nations, I disagree with their decision to take this step, and would even say I find it disappointing.”
I am sounding the alarm because the SBC, the world’s largest denom, is not safe for women and children or BIPOC. Hello! They are also resisting CRT, but tell me again why the most important thing is to kick out Saddleback? I am so tired of hearing the multitude of gifts women have only to then say but the role of pastor belongs to male. It is because of what is written in the BFM2000. Again, that is very un-Baptist. Baptists are non-creedal. You are quoting a creed to make it so, not truth. & I do not use scripture to prove someone’s worth. A pastor from the Table in OKC said it best (he is a gay pastor–something I haven’t gotten to yet): He is tired of explaining scripture to people about why it is okay to be gay and a pastor/Christian. That gets exhausting even though he is doing what he loves, preaching the word. Here is why it is exhausting: It is exhausting using scripture to justify our existence. Here is what he said: Love needs NO justification. Inclusion needs NO justification. You know what needs justification? Hate. Only hate asks for justification.
Hate has been named love in the SBC. Their desire to exclude and call it the word of God–they quote BFM2K, mind you–is blasphemy. That will divide the house b/c they are not allowing the Holy Spirit to work. They call her a demon instead. (Mark 3). I am quoting scripture.
Now back to investigating abuse. I am familiar with abuse personally and in an organization. I watched my daughter being groomed by our son’s coach, a man we let in as family. I was figuring out what to do to pull away when the claim came in. I knew it was true and I was devastated for so many reasons. I will not go into all the details I have rehashed it so many times and it retraumatizes me. This is why I am doing EMDR therapy. My therapist keeps telling me I did do something when I knew–I was making plans to pull away and get people safe. Soccer did investigate this at least. The problem is the abuser often knows how to do this and not get caught. The justice system does not take into account wisdom, only if there is clear evidence. So, abusers often walk away, and not even a background check is going to catch it b/c it is not on their record. They have to wait for a multitude of claims before they take a claim that cannot be proven seriously. A child cried out, and the system failed. But I did not fail the child or the children. I sounded the alarm, but people chose not to believe me. No one wanted to lose. We cannot trust systems to come through for us. Wisdom, when she is crying in the street, is asking us to listen to her.
The SBC is not safe. It will not even attempt to investigate abuse. No woman or child should step foot in any of their churches. Or any complementarian church. Catholic Church and smaller churches with the same theology are not off the hook. Staying somewhere that believes there is a hierarchy of people is going to be abusive. It is spiritually abusive from the get-go. The SBC can use scripture this way if they want–the problem is it makes the gospel bad news. JD Greear’s outgoing speech was full of antisemitic rhetoric. He would know this if he would listen. That is my biggest complaint with the supposed “good” people of the SBC. Even they will not listen. They have this doctrine of hell that scares them to veer off the path of their certainty. Not even abuse will shake it.
They also fear liberalism. All I can say is this: Today is a great day to be egalitarian and a liberal. Glory to God.“
I do not expect you will read this letter, but I hope someone who knows you will. First, let me send my heartfelt gratitude for the work you have done in the SBC and now are finally leaving, as you should. I feel the pain in your words describing what you have experienced psychologically in an abusive organization. I hope you get therapy to deal with it. Once you leave you will start feeling the wounds more and more as you heal being away from the abuse. You will need a good support group and a therapist. Healing is holy work, but it can also feel violent. You have endured a lot of abuse and your ability to smile and pretend like everything is okay is exactly what trauma survivors do to get by until they are safe. A lot of people you once trusted and loved with all your heart have turned out not to be who you thought they were. The relationship and the work you were doing for the SBC was not happening as a whole, because the SBC has been about power–and this has been true for a long time. I, too, have experienced this betrayal and shock–mine just does not make religion news. I would like to share with you my story and to also plead with you to reconsider some of the stances you hold because you believe in the doctrine of hell. Psychologically that is a very bad doctrine that creates hell, not heaven, on earth. That doctrine you hold will need to be deconstructed to be part of your healing work.
I need to start off by saying this is Pride Month. I am a bit frustrated you are getting so much attention at the start of this extremely important month. You have worked tirelessly against the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, and I suspect this comes from believing in hell. You made it clear you care about justice because of hell, not because you believe in human flourishing. Human flourishing is a different approach, and it changes the way one sees the world when it becomes about life and not hell. You said this about abortion and racial reconciliation, and I will to get to those next. You signed the Nashville Statement when Houston and Florida were under water because of hurricanes. What made that seem like a good idea when our nation was experiencing trauma? You went after the precious lives of our siblings who are made in the image of God and were (and still are) my healers when I almost left the church completely. Like you, I saw the abuse and the resistance to meaningful change because money was getting the last word, not the truth which protects the vulnerable. I saw people rally behind a sexual predator white nationalist and treat the LGBTQIA+ community and women like they were the threat instead. You said you smiled and wanted “the lost” (another term we need to rethink) to not know about this stuff and associate it with Jesus. You did not want them to leave tired and defeated not believing in God. Well, that would have been the safest thing for so many. I left, and God pursued me. The LGBTQIA+ community helped me piece myself back together and find church again. When I looked for a church home to return to, I would not enter a church if the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community was not fully valued and welcomed at the table, same for women. Letting people leave can be the greatest act of love and protection. Jesus will find the lost sheep, and it is not because they were lost because they did not know God, but because they are deeply wounded and God cares about that. My journey led me to a Baptist church, but not that kind of Baptist.
I grew up in the Church of Christ tradition and loved it. But looking back now, I remember things that were troubling for me as a girl/woman in a complementarian church. Of course, it did not have that name then, we just made sure women were not preachers or elders because god forbid a woman make a decision in church. The patriarchy would crumble. I am not one who likes to stand up and speak, but one time after a mission trip I really wanted to and I was blocked because I was a girl. I had never been so angry at the church in my life. I had something in my heart that I wanted to share but my gender prevented that from happening. Why are so many people participating in churches that do this to our girls? This is why women and children are abused at such a high rate in the SBC and the Catholic church–and smaller churches like Church of Christ that do not typically make national headlines. As you reported the misogyny is fierce in the SBC. The racist remark against Tricia Newbell was because they feared an egalitarian woman and believed she was one because she is black. It is gross and reveals what they think about women. I am trying to raise the red flag about how serious this is. You mentioned Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. They are two women who are influential and did amazing work for the flourishing of life through our Baptist tradition locally and worldwide–work men were not willing to do. Both of them believed in patriarchy, though, and this is probably why they are remembered and Nannie Helen Burroughs is not.
White and black women, both, created women’s societies because they were blocked by men. The SBC most viciously blocked women. The cruelty towards women is not new in the SBC, especially toward black women. Annie Armstrong did a lot of great work, but she also worked against women preaching and agreed their women’s society would be subordinate to the SBC convention. The women who were better fundraisers and doing the social justice work necessary to keep the faith as tangible good news to the community, became subordinate to men not only in personhood but organizationally too. Nannie Helen Burroughs said no, though. She is the woman most responsible for changing the status of women in African-American Baptist life. She gave an impactful speech at the Women’s Convention: “How the Sisters are Hindered from Helping.” The NBCUSA wanted the WC to become one of it’s boards and Nannie Helen Burroughs said no. She was not going to risk their organization coming under control of men who had resisted their participation. She did a lot more amazing work, and I suggest Baptists learn more about Nannie Helen Burroughs, in addition to the women you have already mentioned. Women are the ones who have been doing the social justice work and receiving little to no credit, and definitely no official titles.
Now let’s talk about the abortion debate. Russell, I implore you to reconsider this argument you keep making that is not rooted in facts. I called the pregnancy center that Prestonwood Baptist runs a few months ago to see what kind of help they offer women–prevention or women’s healthcare. Zero! They are trying to take out Planned Parenthood who does offer education to help prevent unwanted pregnancies, pass out birth control, and give necessary medical care for women in need. All Prestonwood Baptist Pregnancy Center does is offer an ultrasound and pregnancy tests. This is not prolife by any stretch of the imagination. They also do not offer licensed therapy for women who are experiencing trauma. They give unsolicited spiritual advise that can be deadly used this way. This needs to be taken seriously. Plus, abortions are lower when they are legal. There are so many reasons they happen, and they are not the reasons you push in your argument because you fear hell. I am begging you and your community to listen and rethink. We need to create a culture that trusts women. Texas is passing such extreme policies and it is to prevent women from voting. If we can make women felons, then women can’t vote. This will affect the poor most significantly, and guess who just happens to be the largest population of the poor community?
Russell, I am coming to you not because I believe in hell, but because I believe in heaven. Oh, I am probably considered a liberal and I will just own it. I love living life wide open and full of love. I trust people when they say they are hurt. I just realized, in this very moment, that the moment that made me so angry as a teen in church is being redeemed. The pulpit is being offered to me now to speak–not to speak from fear or obligation, but out of my abundance. The same feeling I had that day as a teen when I wanted to speak to my church about what I had seen. This is also happening in Baptist life. The SBC is not the whole story. I hope you will hear me in some way and join the family story. You are just like all of us, we do not know a whole lot, but we know what we were doing before is not/was not working anymore.
Praying for you. I know there is a lot of healing work to be done. I am holding space in my heart for you as you go and heal.
Many people I know watched the show “19 Kids and Counting.” The excitement was palpable because there was another show out demonstrating Christian values to the masses. I will be honest, I have always been skeptical of this version of Christian values. I did not understand “Duck Dynasty” either. I picked up quickly in all of these shows women were controlled, and now I know our society thinks that is holy. It will not be worded this way, but the fact is our abuse is loud and clear and instead of working towards our liberation, churches that have women subordinated currently are working harder to apply our submission to our husbands better. They are also digging their heals in that we still cannot preach. It cannot be complementarian theology causing this problem too many are saying; it has to be those who are applying it badly. Unfortunately, there just happens to be a lot of people applying it badly. I remember this sticking out to me in the show “Jon and Kate Plus Eight”. Kate seemed so unhappy, and her anger is what people noticed and judgements were made about her. I am not going to speculate on details, but I know what is happening to women in these situations is far deeper than what we are seeing and judging from the surface. Spiritual language distracts us from human suffering. This is not a few bad apples. This is a rotten tree. Read Mark 11 and you will get an idea of what Jesus thinks of this tree.
Josh Duggar, it was not unknown that he had a problem. He abused his sisters, and they went unprotected by this abuse. They locked the girls door and never got his abuse addressed when they had a better chance of handling it before it continued to grow and get worse. Although, it was terrible back then, and I have something to say about that in a minute. The Duggar family placed blame on girls and women for our abuse. And this is common, not unique to them, and even more common in their type of family system. I am learning the family had code words for when women walked by who were not modestly dressed enough by their standards. The girls would say the word and then the family would look down and keep moving. This is how women get viewed as the enemy and the ones causing our own abuse. This is also why women do not trust each other. We have been taught not to. We have also been taught not to trust ourselves. This is why white evangelical women have been so effective and instrumental in keeping patriarchy alive. (I am saying white because this is coming out of the white evangelical church, but patriarchy is worldwide and is sinful everywhere it presides)
Okay, I have a story that I have been holding back. It is not my family, but a family friend’s (former friend) son. I needed this story to not be a big deal because I feel like I have shared so much abuse. I hate there is more, and I really do not want to talk about it. I am going to be as vague as possible because I still need to talk to my therapist about this. But this story will not let me go. Child abuse is so prevalent in our society and it is going unaddressed because we say kids are resilient. It is coming out of church at an alarming rate, and I can also testify it is coming out of youth sports too. The desire to not have to deal with hard things and keep on winning trumps dealing with sin. I use this wording with purpose because the election of Trump revealed how much Christians are willing to overlook to get to whatever ends they are trying to get to–even when people are saying you are hurting me (physically and spiritually) with that viewpoint. Would you please listen? Church and society, both, are suspicious of the abused and have grace for the abuser. This is why God is with the oppressed. No one else wants to sit with them and believe their stories.
In elementary school a friend from a place we used to live came to visit us with his family. We were really young, I think it was third grade, and he took me into a closet one night and started touching me. I hated it and had no words to say how scared I was. I did not know how to tell him to stop because it was so shocking, and I did not want to be mean. I look back at this moment now and cry for all I went through as a child. I tried to play by the rules and be pleasing. I had no self-esteem because I learned in church women were the ones who lead men astray. I know churches with the best of intentions with complementarian theology would deny they send this message, but they do. We know as young as third grade, and even in first grade with my teach who abused me physically and mentally, that no one will believe us. We have to keep looking down and keep going. Somehow we are complicit so just believe that instead. It happened to me again later in youth group. The boy was eventually found out because he did it to so many girls, but nothing happened to him. The church, as a whole, will not look into their own complicity with harmful theology and environments that discourages the victim and encourages the one who abuses-even when it is a child who is doing the abusing. Josh Duggar represents what is happening in so many places and it goes unaddressed and gets worse. I am not even addressing the fact there is child porn in this blog post. There is no such thing. That is child abuse, and it is vile.
We need a world with a healing touch. Despite all I have been through I love hugs from people who care. I have been yearning for this kindness to envelop me and make me feel whole again. I need to cry and tell you all of this hurt. I want to live and trust again, but I need help. Of course, I have always been whole. The wounds, and churches’ messaging, were telling me I was broken. But I am not someone to be suspicious of, and I am not broken. I have worked hard to create a safe environment, for myself and everyone around me, and I promote a message of love as the only way to heal. But that does not mean women and children will always be pleasing. We have some really hard things to say, and we need a safe place to say it. I cannot forget the little girl crying in her closet with nowhere to go. This is why God became my playmate when I needed a friend.
This past week has been so traumatic, and it is all real. The nation, state and city are all a mess. Our rugged individualism and greed is raging and stealing our hearts. As I am grounding in the reality as it is, not how I want it to be, I am realizing I am going to have to learn how to trust people in this world despite what I see. But I have to do some of my own healing work, like address my own suffering, so I can do that. Here are some stories I wrote on Facebook that I want to put in my blog to remember. I feel like God is wanting me to spotlight how harmful our childhood wounds are when they go unaddressed. Our winning society is destroying children. Winning is not worth the sacrifice of children, but are not a society that has viewed children as fully human yet. Here are some things I have lived through, and it has left a lasting scar that still opens up and bleeds.
Today I am still deep in grief. This feels like 2016, but even more surreal because now I feel the effects of 2016. Anna’s song (Frozen II) is singing loudly in my heart and mind:
So, I am getting out of bed to study. A thought came to me that I feel ready to share: I hide behind the scenes because I have been relentlessly scored by my performance my whole life. The critique I received Gymnastics, as a child, was cruel. Children do not know their worth instinctively. It has to be taught. Being ostracized when I could not stick a beam routine (in practice!) by being ignored and then forced to tell my team publicly how many routines I stuck that day was humiliating. And the coach intended for it to be humiliating. Then to be criticized for weight, and we all worshipped Bela Karolyi. It is so weird to me to see him for who he really is now. Just like everything else that is falling apart for me. I thought it was me. I thought I was not good enough or mentally strong enough. I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL. I did not hear it was not me until I was 42 years old when “Athlete A” documentary came out.
Yes, this is liberation, but even liberation can be traumatic.
Then soccer. Oh friends, start telling your kids they are worth more than those wins. And the cruel yelling by parents and coaches at kids as young as 8 is sinful. This is the most recent painful event that happened right before going to Wilshire. I will not rehash it because I am trying to heal. I can talk about gymnastics from the scar and not the wound. Not there yet with soccer. But once again I was left with judged motives that were false, and my friends really did place these judgements on me (not in my head). And when we were not giving people what they wanted, they had no more use for us. This is hard to navigate. I am not used to leaning into a world that will love me no matter what I produce. The critique is trying to make a good thing better. That switch does not flip immediately when safe, even after several years. I have no solutions to this problem that are quick. I am not advocating to not critique or to not push someone harder. But in a nation that loves winning, it might do us all some good to reflect on how our messages will be received–even if it is not our intent. This may be the call I have going forward. I see way too many stressed about grades instead of enjoying the journey of learning. It truly does break the cycle of joy. And as someone desperately looking to find joy again, it is another challenge for me to work through. I am grateful to be in a place, church and school, that is navigating it with me. No one has given up on me, and maybe that is what I needed to see also. I am just now getting this as I am writing.
You are worthy. No one wants you to be anything other than who you are. When we find the right people, we want to make each other better–not throw each other away.
3-6-21 Part 11
Writing about my gymnastics experience and our love of Bela Karolyi and his wife, Marta, another memory popped up that Reinforces what I’ve been saying about our idol of winning. I have a book written by Bela and signed by Marta. I put it away trying to decide if I throw it away or let it be what it was and what it is now. If you don’t know already, I went to Bart Conners gym. I held his 1984 Olympic gold medal, and that meant zero percent to me bc I was 7 . I was there when Nadia defected to the USA and found Bart Conner. Bart and Nadia lived in my neighborhood and had a gymnast on their gate. I was obsessed. I have flown on an airplane with Kerri Strug and talked to her the whole plane ride. I learned how difficult it was at Dynamo Gymnastics in Edmond, OK with Steve Nunno, too (Shannon Miller’s coach). Keri did not stay, going back to Karolyi was better for her. Just saying, it’s not just Karolyi.There were gymnasts who complained about Karolyi long long before now. It was not completely unknown he was an abuser. The only thing is, no one wants to hold an abuser accountable who wins. He made USA women’s gymnastics the most popular sport and it was, and is, big money. One gymnast crying out who was a bit more popular than the unknowns caused Mary Lou Retton to speak up. And here is what she said: Funny, you don’t hear winners complaining. I Kid you not. And if you read her book, she ran away bc of his abuse. He had to go back and get her and flatter her to come back. Classic abuser. And she was a teen, a kid. My experience is with gymnastics, but this culture is everywhere. I understand I can’t fix the problem. But let’s start shining a light and make competition and learning anything a positive thing. Winning is over-rated. What’s the story about it is what’s interesting.
The Karolyis’ aren’t getting around their complicity with Larry Nassar. I do not expect their Ranch to ever open again under their name.
The stories I am sharing are starting to make me feel alive again. I am sharing stories that I can relive and come back to the present quickly. I am recognizing more clearly the stories that are not ready to be shared by the way they send me into deep depression with no way out until I message my mentors, and they are always there to get me back to shore. I am still astounded by this group of friends I have surrounding me now. Words will never be enough to express the gratitude and love I feel every day for the gift of true friendship.I woke up this morning feeling like God is telling me to shine a lot on how we are treating our children. We think our words and actions have no effect on them, especially if we are praising them for winning, but God sees what winning hides. Seminary is revealing I have major anxiety with grades. I have not made anything below a B on anything, and I often feel like a failure. It is not the feedback that does it, it is the grade. Let me tell you what I am discovering. Yesterday, I told you about gymnastics. Today I want to talk about school–specifically, first grade. I am not sharing anything that I have not already processed with my therapist and my team. Here is one of the worst examples revealing I have a real problem- I got an A on a paper and it still was not good enough. It was not the feedback that made me feel that way, it was the way it was rated. I scored off the charts on everything except one thing and that one thing was a failing grade. I got an A on the paper, lots of good feedback, but I saw one thing that read as failure to me and that is all I believed about that paper. Had it just been stated I need to work a lot more in this area, I would have heard it differently–ratings are what take me down. I believe that is gymnastics and being scored for performances. My best was never good enough. It was a gift according to my coach if I got an 8.5. I can believe the 6.5 on beam where I fell twice, though. What I was told is I can believe my failure is real and where I do well is just a gift that I should not get used to. When you hear that at twelve, that does something to you psychologically. Now to first grade. I did not learn how to read in Kindergarten. I went to part-time Kindergarten in Texas, and we got to play a lot. I think that is wise. I learned how to play with other, compromise, and have fun! But when I moved to Oklahoma I was behind being the only first grader who could not read yet. I was put in the lowest reading group, and I was fine with that. I did not know to feel shame about it, so that is good. It is the message that gets sent later. My teacher was a male, and if I had to guess needed medication for his rage problem, and never to be around children, ever. A man with a rage problem teaching first graders is not a good combo. He asked me to read a word out loud in class one day, and I did not know how to say it. The word was “need”. He was so frustrated that I could not read such a simple word that he grabbed me by my arms and held me in the air. I was crying really hard and finally got the word need out. It was so scary. I have no idea why he could not move on to the next person. There was also a time I was filling in the a calendar. I was completing January and could not remember when to stop. I knew putting in 32 did not sound right, but I could not figure out why it did not seem right at the time. I went to the teacher to have him look over my work, and while I was in line I saw the calendar and realized my mistake so I went to sit back down and correct it. He yelled my name to come back. I do not get to look at the calendar and then go change my work. It was humiliating. He made me feel like a cheater. This is the last example because there are so many. We are not protecting our children, friends. Being in the lowest reading group I knew I wanted to do better. There was one book I could not wait to get to. This book was yellow and green with a giant caterpillar on it. I can’t remember the name, but the design of the book made me want to learn. When the time came, and I was one book away from that one, I had a really hard day finishing reading the book before it. My peers had a hard time too. He went on ahead and passed us letting us get to the book I really wanted, and I was so excited–but then he said this: Don’t be too excited. You did awful. So this, friends, will mess with kids psychologically, and it continues into adulthood. I have been trying to hide every since. I learned that I better know my stuff so I don’t get humiliated. It was not for the love of learning. I was enjoying myself when I was trying, but then the abuse (not critique) came and it almost destroyed me. I became vigilant about school to survive, not for the love of learning. By the way, I know how to read. My grammar and editing are less than stellar, but we have editors for that. We do not have to know everything. We are all here to help each other. That is way more fun and allows me to learn so much more to live, not to avoid dying.I want to hug her now and tell her she will love school again. There will be nice people later that really will want what is best for her and not humiliate her for what she does not know.
The stories I am sharing are starting to make me feel alive again. I am sharing stories that I can relive and come back to the present quickly. I am recognizing more clearly the stories that are not ready to be shared by the way they send me into deep depression with no way out until I message my mentors, and they are always there to get me back to shore. I am still astounded by this group of friends I have surrounding me now. Words will never be enough to express the gratitude and love I feel every day for the gift of true friendship.I woke up this morning feeling like God is telling me to shine a lot on how we are treating our children. We think our words and actions have no effect on them, especially if we are praising them for winning, but God sees what winning hides. Seminary is revealing I have major anxiety with grades. I have not made anything below a B on anything, and I often feel like a failure. It is not the feedback that does it, it is the grade. Let me tell you what I am discovering. Yesterday, I told you about gymnastics. Today I want to talk about school–specifically, first grade. I am not sharing anything that I have not already processed with my therapist and my team. Here is one of the worst examples revealing I have a real problem- I got an A on a paper and it still was not good enough. It was not the feedback that made me feel that way, it was the way it was rated. I scored off the charts on everything except one thing and that one thing was a failing grade. I got an A on the paper, lots of good feedback, but I saw one thing that read as failure to me and that is all I believed about that paper. Had it just been stated I need to work a lot more in this area, I would have heard it differently–ratings are what take me down. I believe that is gymnastics and being scored for performances. My best was never good enough. It was a gift according to my coach if I got an 8.5. I can believe the 6.5 on beam where I fell twice, though. What I was told is I can believe my failure is real and where I do well is just a gift that I should not get used to. When you hear that at twelve, that does something to you psychologically. Now to first grade. I did not learn how to read in Kindergarten. I went to part-time Kindergarten in Texas, and we got to play a lot. I think that is wise. I learned how to play with other, compromise, and have fun! But when I moved to Oklahoma I was behind being the only first grader who could not read yet. I was put in the lowest reading group, and I was fine with that. I did not know to feel shame about it, so that is good. It is the message that gets sent later. My teacher was a male, and if I had to guess needed medication for his rage problem, and never to be around children, ever. A man with a rage problem teaching first graders is not a good combo. He asked me to read a word out loud in class one day, and I did not know how to say it. The word was “need”. He was so frustrated that I could not read such a simple word that he grabbed me by my arms and held me in the air. I was crying really hard and finally got the word need out. It was so scary. I have no idea why he could not move on to the next person. There was also a time I was filling in the a calendar. I was completing January and could not remember when to stop. I knew putting in 32 did not sound right, but I could not figure out why it did not seem right at the time. I went to the teacher to have him look over my work, and while I was in line I saw the calendar and realized my mistake so I went to sit back down and correct it. He yelled my name to come back. I do not get to look at the calendar and then go change my work. It was humiliating. He made me feel like a cheater. This is the last example because there are so many. We are not protecting our children, friends. Being in the lowest reading group I knew I wanted to do better. There was one book I could not wait to get to. This book was yellow and green with a giant caterpillar on it. I can’t remember the name, but the design of the book made me want to learn. When the time came, and I was one book away from that one, I had a really hard day finishing reading the book before it. My peers had a hard time too. He went on ahead and passed us letting us get to the book I really wanted, and I was so excited–but then he said this: Don’t be too excited. You did awful. So this, friends, will mess with kids psychologically, and it continues into adulthood. I have been trying to hide every since. I learned that I better know my stuff so I don’t get humiliated. It was not for the love of learning. I was enjoying myself when I was trying, but then the abuse (not critique) came and it almost destroyed me. I became vigilant about school to survive, not for the love of learning. By the way, I know how to read. My grammar and editing are less than stellar, but we have editors for that. We do not have to know everything. We are all here to help each other. That is way more fun and allows me to learn so much more to live, not to avoid dying.
I keep writing about these things, and now I know why:
There are days that I do not feel okay. I would blame this on depression, but we are living through a pandemic, horrendous racial injustice, violence against women and children, massive gun violence, an insurrection, and a golden Trump. That is not even mentioning being from Texas and who our leaders are to us; the intentional defunding of public schools; the constant increase in police and military funding; climate change hitting us heavily and people still deny it; and the list goes on. These are days to lament. Is it NOT FUNNY that our government was arguing that sending us Covid-19 stimulus relief as a burden to the budget and sent us an amount that would pay for nothing. The new admin, still, has not sent us more. But when it comes to bombing someone or to buy a robotic police dog–there is no issue finding money. Jesus weeps. This does not mean there is nothing good happening, but let me start with some things that I am struggling to get through right now.
I am tired of violent Christianity. There is no escape from it. The United States of America’s history is also violent. While America’s violent history is not unique to us over other nation, what is unique is our denial of our sins. It would be one thing if it were people who did not believe in repentance as essential to living together who are disregarding the need for repentance, but it is Christians. Repentance is foundational to our faith. We are always repenting and returning to God all throughout scripture. Also, none of the people in scripture are Christians. David Dark has made an interesting observation that calling ourselves Christians is unbiblical. Aspiring to be a Beloved Community is a worthy call, and associating ourselves with Jesus and the prophets. I would also add associating with women. What a missing link in the world, listening to women and our experiences. This is a lot to unpack and I will address it more completely another day. I put it in here to start reimaging what our faith community could look like in public life. What we have now is sad. It is not the way of Jesus in any form or fashion. We look like Pharaoh and Caesar. Yes, there are many of us who are protesting this, but let this humble us. We have asked/demanded other people associated with a religion whose faith in public life looks like violence, but it is actually nationalism and not true to their faith, either, to renounce the violence. Here is a taste of our own medicine. Separation of Religion and State is really important. When they are intertwined it is violence.
We, the USA and Christians, think we have reached a level of freedom no one else has, but that is not true for everyone. Looking only at the prosperity of a nation/religion and not looking at the bottom of that very same society is misleading. We can look at scripture to find that out, too: Egypt, Rome, it is always another empire. We have the largest military presence the world has ever known, and Christians believe this is holy. Christians are using Old Testament to justify violence. That is not a faithful reading of the Old Testament. Interesting how liberation of refugees in Exodus gets overlooked. God asking for their daily discipline to focus on God is not because God is a narcissist–the jealous God thing has been misinterpreted. God is trying to keep them safe and in the arms of love and deliverance. Other gods want them, and those gods require sacrifice the one true God does not demand. God does demand we share and take care of each other, though. The mana from heaven, they were asked to take enough for today, no more, two days before Sabbath. This is the kind of God we serve; a God who takes care of everybody. This is true in the wilderness and true when Jesus came: same God.
The Israelites fear of being in the unknown after experiencing massive abuse, previously, is not surprising they believed God would bring revenge on the oppressors. But that violence rarely ever happened. Reading the whole story you will find out the violence was much less than what was forecasted. AND the violent rhetoric/actions never came from God’s words. Let the hearer hear. It was the voice of the oppressed crying out for justice, and understandably so. Faithful interpretation of scripture is life or death. One of the most powerful analogies about this violence comes from my dear friend Jakob Topper. We can say that God was cruel because God was going to kill the first-born Egyptian boys, but what do you do when you juxtapose it with Pharaoh saying the same thing about the Hebrew boys. The difference is Pharaoh does not need you on his side, only to stand aside. Allegiance to God changes our mindset away from violence to deliverance from evil. People are not evil, it is the system that takes our souls when we are not critically thinking, and we watch our neighbors suffer and call it Good news.
So here are some things I would like to draw our attention to a couple of symbols: “Come and Take It” flag and the Cross. This is milk I buy because it is eco-friendly to buy local and return the glass. We are committing as a family to do what we can to reduce, reuse and buy local. Then this happened: the “COME AND TAKE IT” stamp on the milk celebrating Texas independence. Friends helped me understand this more clearly, but that led me to research more about why this symbol is our symbol of independence, and I do not like what I found out. My mom used to teach Texas History and no one hung these flags in their classroom back then. That is not true now, and the people hanging these flags typically flex their muscles about Texas pride. Texas is currently being humbled nationwide, and rightfully so. “Don’t Mess With Texas” has not served us well. Here are some snippets of what I found out about this symbol:
The Battle of Gonzales centered on American colonists in that town who were refusing to give back a cannon (the one on the flag) back to Mexican soldiers that they had received in 1831 to fend off Natives in the area. They wanted it now to defend themselves from Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s increasingly aggressive actions against the colonists.
It has come to symbolize defiance against someone or something looking to grind you down or deprive you of a right or privilege.
Our symbol of freedom is a cannon we used to fend off Natives? Is this good news? I understand history is complex and there is so much to sit with and understand what was at stake. But how long are we going to use symbols of violence as our symbol of freedom? And that freedom came at somebody else’s expense, and we refuse to name it. This land is stolen land.
I cannot help but feel like this was God’s lament, too. Jesus came when Rome was announcing killing people on a cross as good news. It was freedom for the fittest and no one is to deprive you of your rights. This we have to share thing was not good news to the powerful back then, either–to those who benefited from the oppression. Mark 1:1-3 takes us back to the wilderness and a voice crying out:
The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[b]
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,[d] who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
Jesus is now the good news, not the cross. We still put the cross up all around our society, and in our homes, as if it is the symbol of good news. That is the symbol that killed good news; Jesus revealed it. But the cross did not have the final word. Jesus showed us how to live, not die–only dying to ourselves to live fully in beloved community with God and neighbor. His radical nonviolent love that believed in equity for all is what got him killed, John the Baptist, too. It was a threat to empire. Jesus being called Son of God was a counter-narrative to Caesar who was named “Son of God” on Rome’s money. Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not.
The sad thing is I have not even gotten to my lament about women. I hear about our Christian faith thriving in nations that actually persecute people for their faith–it is not just Christians, all faiths–and I ask myself: Is that the only way for Christianity to thrive? These underground efforts are also led by women. What is so hard about sharing and living on less materially and living more abundantly spiritually with one another in friendship? We, USA and Christians, have not let the women’s voices speak. We have been demeaned and controlled women, and so much violence has been done against our bodies. I cry wondering if it will ever get better. This tweet, today, was spot on by Kimberly Stover: Good men need to understand that women have experienced violence to their bodies their whole lives, since being in kindergarten, made to wear one piece bathing suits to not “tempt”. Many of us are traumatized. We’ve had our autonomy taken away and our bodies sexualized.
We are also demeaned as people ready to kill babies through the toxic pro-life rhetoric that has been anything but life. Pro-choice is more life-giving. Turns out God was right; the ones who can bear children are to be trusted to know what is going on with their bodies. The sin, if there is even sin going on, is often from the community around them. Poverty, wage-gap problem, domestic violence–when do these issues take center stage? This includes the Trans community. This desire to control bodies is killing people.
Where is Mother God? I hear of God the Father, and Jesus as the Son–in Greek the Holy Spirit is neuter. Where is our story in history (scripture and American History), because we are a part of the good news story to be remembered forever. We are not just whores, mothers and brides.
Every time I cry, Mother God shows up. She is here. Too few know her.
Too many people are coming forward with their abuse and being met with this rhetoric from their churches and/or Christian community: Well, did you forgive them?
This idea that God wants us to only focus on “him” (and I really do not like we call God him because this God has not been good news) I do not believe is true. We made God a narcissist with no need to love thy neighbor. I believe God wants us to turn towards each other. But God shows up when people fail us. I am with James Cone, the revelation of God comes from the oppressed community–which includes Mother Earth. The mana in the wilderness requiring the refugees (and they are refugees Moses’ is leading) to only take what they need for today, two days if it is Sabbath, that was not for God’s sake; that was to make sure everyone ate. God is a flaming liberal by too many people’s standard. Our Communion table reveals this too. Everyone eats, and no one takes too much. That is the God I believe in.
Right now, God is flipping our Communion tables over. We are over-indulging the well-fed and letting the vulnerable get scraps–and I am not just talking materially, spiritually too. We are forced to forgive abusers, and this include King David and countless church fathers. Spiritually a lot of this is traumatizing for people, and I do not think we are willing to have this hard conversation. Forgiveness means something more than American, and much of Christianity, forgiveness. It requires a changed life. And we need to hear the heart of victims too.
I loved getting to share a message that has set me on fire, but I get depressed knowing this message will only be received by a few. But interestingly enough “In Remembrance of Her” (title of my sermon), Jesus words, those words point back to our Communion Tables. She made a radical move to pour expensive oil all over Jesus. The crowd told her she could have given that to the poor. Jesus’ response “the poor you will always have with you–you can be generous any time you want to be”–gets abused by people who now think they do not have to care for the poor. I hear his differently through Eliza Hamilton. She lived the rest of her life telling her husband’s story.
Alexander gets this huge monumental tombstone, and hers is a tiny marble slab, but Eliza gave generously to the poor and dedicated her life finishing telling Alexander’s story. He cheated her and left her in debt, even though he started our banking system in America. She had to get help to get out of this debt. Later she was able to open an orphanage that is still open today. You know why she did that? Because Alexander had been an orphan. She loved him and his story mattered to her. Also, the prosperity in New York was growing which was also widening the gap between rich and poor producing a lot of orphans. She answered that problem. The New York Times wrote a really nice thing about her love for the distressed.
Is this the only thing women are allowed to do to be honored? I see this unnamed woman in Mark as someone finally saying no. You can do it too. I want to preach right now. Men can create businesses, banks, and preach from the pulpit (women can do missionary work)–Women are expected to fill in the gaps where this falls short for the poor. I can hear Jesus saying: How about you go and be generous. This is her time to radically enjoy the divine in a way that will not make sense to the world.
Today I had a much needed therapy session. I had so much to say today and it was not until the end that I told her about my severe pain that made me think of labor last week, my crown I forgot I was getting, and being super cold this week to a point I felt a lot of physical pain again. I was also late with assignments and missed a few requirements. My therapist wished we had more time to discuss these issues today. I had so much to get off of my chest before I remembered.
One thing I told her was this: People were laughing at Texans because this cold is hard. I cried out about how miserable I was and was met with care from people in my community, but a lot of people were laughing at Texans. The thing is, we have bad leadership. No one is made for this cold, and our houses are not set up to keep us warm in this extreme cold. I have since learned that Texas was off the power grid from the whole country. Our rugged individualism is literally killing us. And our leadership is blaming everything else but themselves. This truly is leadership failure. And denying science and climate change. I am so tired of people voting for these crooks.
The hatred of women in our country is killing us too. Countries, and even our own states, with female leadership-or with men and and non-binary leaders who love women–are doing much better. Texas is in sorry shape. We may have the 10th largest economy in the world, but you know what comes to mind when I hear that? It is a line from Hamilton when Alexander is talking to Jefferson: Hey neighbor, your debts are paid because you don’t pay for labor. Women are paid less than men, even doing the same job–if they even let us have a job too many want to reserve for men only. Churches are still so patriarchal here.
But then my own pain came up and she asked me this: What do you need? It sounds like you are caring for everyone in the world and crying out you need something too.
I told her this: A professor from another seminary wrote that he wants to tell his daughters how much he loves them-even though they don’t want to hear it all the time. It made me emotional, because I want that. Not just from family, but the community I live in. We all do. Living in Texas and the United States is like living in a place that would love to never see you, but will take the positivity and production; preferably for low-cost so the wealthy are not bothered.
Then another pastor wrote about a woman who came to accept Jesus and she talked about how she felt she did not deserve that love. The pastor: None of us do. Me: Why not? Why do we not deserve this love? Why would God create something that does not deserve her adoration. I do not get it. It sent me spiraling, and I was so busy- I do not thrive off of busyness-and I woke up in the most pain I had ever known since birthing my first child. And you know what happened when I cried because of this pain? George and my professor KBF both called me. They gave me love that I was crying out for. And it soothed my soul and aching body.
Therapist: You sound shocked by this.
Me: I did not grow up receiving tenderness from a lot of people. I have been mostly invisible my whole life.
Therapist: Sounds like you are upset about a lot, and the world hasn’t taken a hot minute in all of our trauma to see. But it sounds like your body is needing a hot minute based on what you just told me: back pain, your teeth, and being extremely cold and tired. What does your body need for that minute?
Me: To remember the love I received last week from people who just love me. It is not for what I produce or do; they just do. To enjoy the journey and not worry about getting it all done. Maybe that is the best gift I can give to others too.
Therapist: Every time we talk about you, it alway turns to others. How can we stay focused on you?
When I started seminary I was particularly interested in studying Jezebel with a new lens. This is because the election of 2016 rocked my world in a way I never thought possible. The church I had grown up in and loved with all of my heart did not love me (or any woman) back in the same way we loved and served the church. When the Access Hollywood tapes were released, I heard so many men and women in the church easily dismiss it as “Locker Room Talk.” I was also in the middle of dealing with a sexual assault charge against someone we knew and loved with all our heart, and the charge came from a child–I 100% believed (and still do) the child. As you can imagine, my anger and trauma were through the roof at this point. How could I keep going and loving a world that I knew cared little for my existence. It loves my work done with no fanfare or recognition, but does not my love humanity or our children’s humanity. Unless we are winners, of course. People who do not complain when things are not as they should be and shake the status quo.
The people who were angered by the sex tapes were loudly silent because we have been trained to avoid controversy. This letting things go because the loudest voices are too mean is exactly what is happening in dealing with the January 6, 2021 riot. Members of Congress and the Senate are not being held accountable for inciting this riot with their rhetoric. Hawley and Cruz should absolutely be expelled. They are done. Trump should also be charged and put in prison for treason. He should have been in jail long ago–long before he even came on the political scene. I say this conflicted because I do not believe in the prison system. Prison does not help people. We need places to heal, not be punished. Punishment does not work, but being held accountable absolutely does! All of the men and woman who have led us into demeaning, dehumanizing and encouraging violence against our fellow citizens should be removed from office immediately, and face the consequences of their actions. No excuses or blaming the other side. Pastors should also lose their position permanently, and also get help, when they violate their office. They can be restored, but not back into the role of pastor. That is a high office that cannot be reclaimed once violated. In 2016 I had no idea how prevalent sexual assault was in church against women and children. No wonder why no one really cared about the charge I was dealing with personally and our political sexual assault either. All of these sins had been going on for so long and were covered up by “winning” or money. David Dark said this yesterday: God sees what money hides. This goes for winning too.
What I also found troubling was this hatred towards Hillary Clinton. Dislike her policies all you want, but the rhetoric against her humanity was un-Christlike. Ungodly in every way. The hatred of her was so deep that every sin of Trumps became no big deal, and his sins were grievous and many. This post would be way too long to list them, and everyone who is paying attention should already know by now. To survive, I started researching why this was happening. It was quickly revealed to me we have cared 0% about the women in the Bible and their experiences. We were quick to call women whores and manipulators instead of listening to them. Many stories we do not even tell, or we leave it for women to study. Men cannot be bothered with stories about women. Women have basically been treated as only good for procreation, nothing else to contribute lest we mislead a man as Eve did Adam. That is an unfaithful reading of that deeply complicated story. I also noticed we would praise when a woman showed up who was faithful, but we quickly explained how sinful she was but God loved her anyway. Tamar and Rahab come to mind. We never once considered their need to survive. Then there is Jezebel. The wickedest witch there ever was according to the narrative. And the Bible is guilty of this portrayal, too. I am not afraid to interrogate the Bible telling a story about someone else who does not get to speak for themselves. But the Bible did leave me something that I had never noticed before until I got to seminary, and I wrote about it. Also, weirdly, I had also connected it to what is going on in Washington. I will repost what I wrote on February 9, 2020:
I don’t know how to OT homework and not share what I am learning. This is good stuff. It reads like today’s news. When people tell me what is going on in Washington, I want to say: Yeah, I read that in the Bible. It isn’t new, and God isn’t having it. The prophets tell me so. I want to talk about two prophets that have revealed several things to me that I can apply to today:1) Elijah- (2 Kings 18-19) This guy comes to King Ahab with all the confidence in the world of destroying the idols of Baal and Asherah, and rain will come to the land again. If you read Chapter 18, it seems he accomplished his goal. He was even mocking the people as they were learning their Gods wouldn’t answer them. He is triumphant over the Priests of Baal and the Drought ends. End of story, but wait…Jezebel shows up. When Jezebel confronts him he runs like a scaredy. He tells God no one is faithful – only he is – and they want to kill him. (I can say this b/c I talk to Elijah (I talk to those who went before us, so I can hear what they are saying). He knows he did (he laughs with me), and I was trying to do the same thing today when I made a mistake. There is no way to live this life and not blow it. God still shows up and gets us back on track). I want to talk about Jezebel for a second. This woman is written by men who don’t like women. You can tell. Why would God be more angry at Jezebel and Ahab than any other king who did not listen to God? You know what it reminds me of- Hillary Clinton. You would think by the way so many talk, there is no one more evil in the sight of God than HC. I don’t get it. People would write things like Trump is carnal, but she is a demon. Say what?! And a movie was made call Hillary’s America. Give me a break. Even now Dems are infighting b/c of HC. People move on. She isn’t running. Hillary and Jezebel need a new story with a different angle. I think they reveal our own sin vs theirs in the story that has been told. Not saying they haven’t done bad things. who in power hasn’t? Every single one of them should be brought up on war crimes. I am saying how we talk about them reveals more about us than them. Watch out for people who tell women they have the “Jezebel Spirit”. That is a thing, and it is rotten and misogynistic. 2) I want to talk about an unknown prophet named Micaiah (he is a disciple of Elijah – Elijah did good work, so a mistake doesn’t define you). He is really important and speaks to our time and place right now. The King of Judah and King of Israel, who have been at peace with Aram for three years now, decide they need to get Rammoth-gilead b/c it belongs to them. They consult the prophets together. Jehoshaphat wanted to consult the prophets to make sure God was ok with this, I should say. King of Israel was ok with it, until Jehoshaphat said Micaiah. King of Israel hated him b/c he never predicts anything favorable for him. The prophets with lying spirits were telling them everything they wanted to hear to go get Rammoth-gilead. But King of Judah wants to hear Micaiah. Micaiah is the one who will only tell them what God tells him. And it isn’t good for their agenda. So the King of Israel wants him thrown in jail. To relate this today in Kentucky, Fully Armed Rally-goers enter Kentucky’s capitol with zero resistance-January 31, 2020. They are waving their AR-15s in the air loud and proud. No armed guards for them. Reverend Barber shows up with a letter for the governor and IS met with armed guards. (He came in peace, but prayer scares this principality). We have lying spirits prophesying in the WH. Who is going to be the prophet to say what God says, and only what God says. It didn’t work out for the King of Israel not to listen to Micaiah.
Look at that!
No one has ever considered that Jezebel may have held Elijah accountable for his deadly actions! We skip right over that because the Bible is written in such a way for us not to notice, and we spend little time pondering the meaning. The story is all around deeply tragic and troubling. Men clearly wrote the story, but the holes in the story remain because truth always finds a way. I do not trust a story trashing a woman who has no voice in the narrative.
The charismatic movement started calling women “Jezebel spirits” to condemn women. I did not grow up hearing that, but I sure heard about how awful she was and I was never to be like her. Jezebel has become a slur in our theology. Take a look at the following article. It is on of many I found when I looked up Jezebel spirit.
How we talk about women matters. It affects our lives in real and tangible ways. I do not care about some after life where all of this will be taken care of to avoid dealing with the sin of misogyny now. The Bible is telling us stories to sit with and think about–not live by that story when it is clearly sinful and deadly. The Bible is a meditation we are to sit with daily and ponder for the rest of our lives. The Bibles ends up reading us. Too bad we are reflecting the tragic stories instead of the beautiful ones as a whole. I love the Bible gives us stories about the human condition. Yes, there are sins that are atrocious, but it also shows us the power of humans to change and do better. The whole world is groaning for all of humanity to repent. I have a story I learned in Greek that demonstrates this biblically that I will write about later. The Bible is also constantly in tension with itself moving and changing with the times and listening to the spirit of the day. There are lying spirits, but the lying spirit may be in our house–not someone elses! Our ancestors do not handle everything in way we should repeat. Women are mistreated time and time again, and our generation is no different. This needs to stop. We can end it. We can honor our ancestors who have tried to make real and lasting change that has not been fully realized yet. We can do this by being the change they were working towards. Jesus handed the baton to Mary Magdalene in the gospel of John. It is the male disciples who did not honor that move. Jesus trained her to preach. I will never get over how little known this is in the Christian faith (Catholic and Protestant alike) that our first preacher was a woman trained by Jesus.
Instead Christians are known more for calling women Jezebels. What a travesty.
I cannot think of a better time to plug a much needed academic book about women in the Bible. It is called “Women In The Bible”, and it is by my dearest friend Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles.
It is a funny story how I found out Elsa was my prophet. I have compiled a series of posts that explain how it began, and how she started walking me through this new, scary, exciting, and very unknown present. She now lives in me fully and completely. Like Elsa, I was told I could not use the gift that I am using to preach and be used in any way God wants to use me to further love in this world. I, too, was depressed when everything came to a crashing halt. I withdrew for a while, and then I decided (after hearing scripture anew) to let it go and do the next right thing. No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I am free. The very scary line that has conservative men going bonkers is now the anthem of my life. Every day I venture into the unknown and I feel my power grow.
My dear friend Dawn Hallman reminded me all the snowflake name-calling ushered in a new day. Elsa and Anna are finally here. They answered the call.
Here is the story of the work that has been done leading us to this day. I nearly did not make it through this work. Panic attacks, frustration and depression tried to take me out numerous times. But my community never left me. I have been surrounded numerous times, and I got back up every time because I can see my people on the shore now when I get lost in the deep. Now I have more confidence than I have ever had in my life. I believe in love. No matter what this world tries to tell me- the light has come into the world and it will not be defeated by evil. Here is the story in Facebook posts over the past two years:
All the snowflake name calling I brought Elsa to me. Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as God is still doing today (Gen 50:20-21)
When I go to the store and my prophet reveals herself to me, I listen. Last night I watched Frozen 2 so I could feel my power grow, and Olaf’s quote stood out to me: “How do you guys cope with the ever increasing complexity of thought that comes with maturity?” – This is such a good question. Also, the ice cream. I have decided that whenever I’m called a liberal snowflake again, I’m going to kindly ask you to rephrase it to: Magical Mint Snowflake. #elsaismyprophet
May 22, 2019 I discover Elsa is my prophet
I was trying to decide if I should post this to FB, but I think we can all use a good laugh – and further awakening to the reality there is an active assault on the humanity and freedom of women. This was posted in 2014. Total Gospel Coalition (TGC) saw nothing ridiculous about this. I know about this article today bc a prominent religious leader of the ultra-conservative movement retweeted it. He works for the Billy Graham Institute and Wheaton college, and is heavily involved in the SBC. I won’t name him bc I am trying not to do a take down of a person- even though he needs to be unseated. There’s a lot I know about him that I won’t go into. Anyway, he retweeted saying he will heed this warning and won’t take his grown daughter to the musical. They are scared of women being free bc of the line “no rules for me”. This article is so wrong and childish. I can’t believe I have to explain this. Elsa, found things horribly wrong when she believed the lie society told her about her power. She was free when she stopped believing them and chose her truth. These conservative groups cannot handle a woman being free and living her truth they say isn’t for her. I took Blake to school the next day and told him we are going to listen to a very controversial song. He looked at me like I was crazy. And he laughed so hard when I told him why. He’s wondering what is up with Christianity. So, we are at a point women (and men who are friends of women) are pulling out their Bibles explaining women have worth. What does that say about where we are today?! It’s time to listen to the words of the prophets. Listen to their words believing in another world here and now. Let’s speak the words together and create a world for all of us. Where everyone has equal worth. Let’s make “Let it Go” our theme song.
You guys! Look what I found at the store. . I bought these, and I’m sure people think it’s 4 my kids. I wanted to tell everyone it’s 4 me. I’m going back to school. My kids aren’t particularly interested in Frozen, but I have a new-found interest. Elsa is my prophet. You see, some grown a$$ men (who are ministers!) think Elsa is dangerous for our girls & women. When Elsa said “no right, no wrong, no rules for me – I’m free” it sent them in2 a frenzy. But, what I saw was a woman told she can’t use her power or the whole world will turn to ice. But, when she owned her story and “Let it Go” she not only didn’t turn the world to ice; she kept Olaf alive in the summer. It’s pretty powerful when you think about it.
August 2019 – Gratitude for those who got me to seminary
I cannot express in enough detail the depth of my gratitude for the outpouring of support I have received this morning. I woke up to text messages from every single member of my book club wish me love today. I also received a message from Jonathan Martin today- the day before I start seminary. It is so wild b/c he made me realize how much I love the Word, and his words always reach me at the exact moment I am in!I have talked to George Mason. Jaime Clark-Soles has been by my side these last two weeks making me feel not only a part of Perkins now, but in the future too. My family has been reaching out.I am on the computer my former boss is letting me use. Valerie Palmer Meeks tell Herb thank you again! It is a God-send. My Twitter friends are wishing me good luck today. My Bible class has messaged me to wish me well on this new journey.Several years ago, I thought I was finished with the faith. I thought maybe everything I once knew was wrong. Now I know it isn’t about right and wrong, but about life. The falling of our soccer world-in addition to the political environment- revealed to me a problem with theology. Most people in the soccer world were claiming faith in Jesus, but so much of what we were doing was destroying relationships, not making them stronger. Church was doing the same thing. It is connected. After we finally let go. I needed Jake Bruehl to do the same. When he and I both finally let some people go at the end of story that just wasn’t anymore-I felt the storm in my life go from a storm to a quiet rain. It was palpable. Jonathan Martin had a tweet for every day of my grief, and weirdly enough- a tweet for every day I started to get back up. He taught me to sail with the story. This is something I told George Mason the first day we talked. I wasn’t holding back. I was living the song- “Let it Go” and had no idea. I should thank Ed Stetzer and the TGC for pointing me towards my prophet Elsa. I needed it to be ridiculous so I would see she was speaking to me. Ha!Dan Bouchelle, Gordon Dabbs, Nancy Russell Ulrich have stayed by my side, and been a source of encouragement to me throughout this journey. My Church of Christ world is still so important to me. I did not leave them- I am on a new journey, but still taking Church of Christ with me.I was listening to “Let it Go” this morning. Ha! Shocker. It is my theme song now. This verse stuck out to me today-I hadn’t heard it before:”I know I left a life behind, but I too relieved to grieve”
First Day of Seminary – August 2019 First Day of School picture for Lindsay (Look how tired I was. I was having a lot of panic attacks (did not know it) before this day happened.
October 2019 – Panic Attack This is when I am beginning to learn I struggle with anxiety
Fun with family tonight. Dara Aldrich Eason bought me an Elsa magic towel in my birthday package. Tonight @kimbo_joyful and I wanted to see what it looked like. You have to put it in warm water for it to expand. It’s amazing. My favorite rag. (I will share a post for my new friends explaining Elsa. She’s new to my life). Jake Bruehl and Kimbo went to Walmart to get me a weighted blanket. They walked up and down the Frozen aisle to find me an Elsa item. They got me a doll. They thought about hair extensions. . Brutifal world. #findingjoy Kimberlyn said walking the aisle looking for Elsa was fun. Elsa brings joy.
October 2019 Party City message
I went to Party City to find something for the kids, and look who welcomed me! Then look what her cup told me. I spent $1 to get this reminder from my prophet. #elsa#letitgo#elsaismyprophet She’s always here for me these days. #believeinthejourney
November 2019 – Elsa keeps talking to me through this new season
Some days I wonder if I should post. I’m blown away by what I’m learning, and I want to share bc it’s important now. Something has happened, and what I heard on Twitter and podcasts; I’m now living in flesh and blood- in my community. I’m still amazed. I knew when this happened it would come at a cost too. But it was a cost I was willing to pay bc what was revealed was too great too keep in. But here’s what is happening. I’m running into people face to face thanking me for writing. This means more than anyone will ever know. I do all of this out of love, and if it reaches 1 person – that’s enough. Where two or more come together – there’s church Also, I’m running into my prophet Elsa a lot. I know a movie is coming out, but I think it’s also bc I’m in seminary and she knows I need her. I got this message from her today. (Yes, I bought the cup. She’s my prophet!) #hiddentruth
November 2019 – Whose cup?
One cup is mine, and one belongs to a child. Elsa makes the freezing cold morning a lot more fun. #elsaismyprophet#letitgo (now we are enjoying the fire – and she’s motivating my exegesis paper. Luke is going to get it. )
August 2020 – Elsa has always been with me. I had an Elsa My Little Pony- The water pony Nokk
I have found all kinds of treasures tonight. My mental health is soaring with happiness. I’m going to share more later, but first, I found a pony from my generation-not Kimberlyn’s, and she’s an Elsa pony. Elsa was calling even back then.
December 2019 – Elsa is important to me in Seminary, and everyone knows it and appreciates it
Something I never thought I’d say in seminary: oh no! I’m nervous. I can’t find Elsa. . Those who didn’t know thought I lost my mind. The toy my friend gave me was buried deep in my bag. (The Elsa was a gift from my friend, Ashlee Sweeney. This Elsa is still on my desk watching over me and my studies).
My friend, Kay Smeal, drew me the most beautiful Elsa for Christmas
The way my friends have loved, embraced and encouraged my Elsa passion has been life-giving. It is a journey we are all on together, and we are getting to the world that can keep Olaf alive in winter despite all odds.
August 2020 – Elsa helping me chill
Today I’m trying to chill. I know I have a lot coming up, but my brain can only handle so much. So I’m cooking and playing today. I asked Jake Bruehl to take a pic of me with two of my favorite items that remind me of who I am. My coffee mug that says: If my Tombstone says “THAT GIRL WAS A PROBLEM” Then- glory be. And my Elsa ice cream that clarifies the kind of snowflake I am: Magical Mint Snowflake #elsaismyprophet#magicalmintsnowflake#alwaysopentoall#problemgirl#glorybeCool fact about my mug is by Dr. Courtney Pace who is going to be significant in my Baptist training soon.
Self-care on a stressful Election Day. I’ve been waiting for this day for 4 yrs. He should have been removed sooner, and I hope our vote reflects that. It did 4 yrs ago, but electoral college. But y’all, I found a new surprise at Kroger: Elsa and Nokk. Nokk is a mythical water spirit whose strength rivals her own. Nokk has been with me in the form of a My Little Pony for 40 years. She’s been challenging my strength this whole time. Jake Bruehl and I got some new sunglasses. May where them around today. The kids are so proud. @kimbo_joyful @blakeizard . I’m wearing my Keep Calm and Let it Go shirt from Wendy Moore. This shirt has gotten me through so much. It’s my first day of seminary shirt, too. I’m Elsa upped and ready for anything. Now I have to study. So hard today. I also have ice cream. It’s not the magical mint snowflake from Elsa, but I see the rest of my community needs her comfort today, too. I’ll use vanilla ice cream to make this Olaf one taste better. Being flexy is a way of life for me. I also have my Elsa soup ready for lunch. #election2020#letitgo#intotheunknown#nokkhasbeenwithmeallalong
Then controversy after a clear victory because we are up against an abuser. Elsa sends this message to people trying to cheat.
December 2020 – Seminary Friends sends me Elsa Friendship Bracelet
After Finals December 2020
I just ended the hardest semester I’ve ever known. I have never felt this kind of tired. It makes me raw and a bit feisty. Work is also demanding right now. My Body is tense with stress. I went to the store and my Matron Saint was there reminding me of who I am. #elsaismyprophet#ineedtorest
Elsa Christmas 2020
Merry Christmas! Santa came, and she’s bringing robes to all the women who have been so good this year. . Check SNL skit if this doesn’t make sense. I really did get a robe, and I’m so happy about it.
Elsa’s New Home at the Bruehl House
We made it. Elsa and Anna are here. There is still so much work to be done, but people are now ready to do the next right thing.
This is where I am now. I thought my life was finished in 2015/2016. The pain was too much to bear. But God came near.
As I reflect on the last 4 years, there’s so much I wish didn’t happen. So much pain and suffering that did not need to happen. But the reality is, so much of this pain and suffering was happening all along because it was hidden by normalcy. Even before my world turned upside down I knew when Bill Clinton balanced the budget in America (the last time this has happened) it was because the market was hiding the massive injustice. Enron was going strong then too—Remember them? I knew not to give him the credit. But Dems do historically better with the budget. This is true despite the narrative placed on them. If the last 4 yrs hasn’t happened so many of us would still be in denial of how much our fellow Americans hurt who have been crying out long before now. I wouldn’t have found the ministers on Twitter who read scripture to me in a way I had never heard, and weirdly got me ready for seminary—none of us knew this. We were just living as friends, no agenda. I would not have found my church and all the people I love so much my heart is now bleeding all over the world with more love than I knew I could give. PantSuit Politics quoted Stephen Colbert who has also endured horrific grief: I now love the thing I wish never happened. Kind of crying now. Studying Greek today I see how misguided our translations are. A whole new world is opening up in me, and I can’t wait to share. None of this would have happened if the last 4 years hadn’t happened. The soccer pain I would have carried alone bc I wouldn’t know others would help lift some of that burden when I left home.
Since the violent insurrection that happened at our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021, a lot of social media platforms have been dropping far-right groups from their company. They will not host that kind of rhetoric because it affects their bottom line and their safety. Twitter even got a conscience and finally dropped our President from their platform. Twitter got a conscience before many pastors and our nation’s leaders got one. What confused so many “conservatives”–I am putting this in quotes because the rhetoric of these groups should not represent what conservatism actually is, but right now no one can tell the difference–is believing the government stepped in and took away their voice. They believe this is a violation of the First Amendment. That is not true. What happened is exactly what conservatism has always taught us, the market will take care of justice. This is the first time the market turned on them. The market is silencing them, not the government. What they have idolized as the source of freedom finally told them no. Why this did not happen for school shootings grieves me beyond words. Pro-life is a scam, and I will not mince words on this anymore. This is about money. I am going to give a few examples of what is driving where we find ourselves today: Corporate power, the bank bailout of 2008, Dave Ramsey, compromising with the gods of the philosophers, and denying the diving feminine for so long.
Conservatives are the ones who gave corporations the amount of power they have today. Democrats are not innocent, but this is largely a conservative ideology, because they believe only big government could be corrupt. Never considered big corporations could do the exact same thing, or at least would not ever go against their favor. In this instance I am with the corporations, I believe you can drop people who misrepresent your company, but I also know the danger that comes with giving this power to corporations (and to churches!), too. In all things we need wisdom. There are a lot of pastors who would love to say what I am saying right now in their pulpit, but their family healthcare is tied to not saying it. I care about this, and I hope my voice makes some kind of difference for them to be freed from this tyranny that is also market-driven.
Lets talk about the “bank bailout of 2008”, actually the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and signed into law by George W. Bush. This passed because banks had behaved badly and were in big trouble with the market downturn, market doing her job revealing. The banks had not prepared for a downturn. They had loaned out more money than was being paid back and our economy was going to crash because of it. Presidents cannot let that happen. We judge Presidents based on the economy, even though they have little to do with it. They are at the mercy of market conditions, just like all of us. Yes, they do make some decisions that make a difference, and this is one of them. What happened here with the passage of this law is the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the history of our nation. The banks were too big to fail, and individuals we do not give a damn about. This is why the same people who did not complain about saving banks are a lot of the same people screaming in opposition to student loan forgiveness. Because of what we did in 2008, there is no case to be made to not bailout our youth who furthered their education to make society better. We have set a precedent, and businesses being considered too big to fail and people expendable is a horrible theology to have as a country. This is why we are not well. The banks were not going to be able to get out of their debt. This happens to people, too. And for a lot of people they were making good decisions: education, medical expenses, life just being freaking expensive and wages are too low.
Another problem, Dave Ramsey and his financial scheme is a driver creating our apathy towards the poor. Without business knowledge, or they have business knowledge and believe cheating is the way to win, churches brought his Financial Peace University to their congregations and all hell has broken loose because of it. I am a Finance major, so I know what I am of talking about, and I experienced the error of Ramsey’s model. We were a family in debt who worked really hard and there was no way we could make it without credit cards. I ignored Ramsey because I could not afford his advice, and because of that I had no idea what people were hearing. We were too poor for Financial Peace, and we were middle class. Now I know Dave Ramsey made horrible statements about the poor that could not be further from the truth. He judged them, and believes helping the poor is socialism, putting fear in people about socialism instead of having a heart for the poor. He was bankrupt once himself, my how he has forgotten how socialism has gotten his ass out of trouble. Or he only thinks he is the only one important enough to get help. Dave Ramsey also held a conference in this pandemic charging $10,000 a person! Then has the gall to call an employee at the hotel holding the conference who is asking the attendees to wear a mask a twerp who only makes $8/hr. Ramsey should be banned from all our churches and stores. His philosophy is not Christian. I have been reading interviews with him and his narcissism is obvious. He also blocks people on Twitter who criticizes him. Signs of a corrupt leader. This is not cancelling Ramsey, this is protecting the flock. And the best way to heal a narcissist is to starve them of attention.
Narcissism is prevalent in the white evangelical church. I am of the mindset that Christianity compromising with the gods of the philosophers was a bad idea. I believe philosophers serve a purpose, but they are not defining who God is for us. Most of them were unbelievers and believed there is a hierarchy for order, and they were speaking from their own privilege when saying this. I am with Justo Gonzalez, the gods of the philosophers need to die. The compromise with the philosophers to make Christianity relevant and legit to the Roman empire has done a great disservice to our witness. Making God a Supreme being does not reflect the God of Israel, or Jesus Christ who we as Christians believe is the revelation of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Scripture, as the God who is with us. God who is on the side of the oppressed. If it is not good news for the poor, then it is not good news.
Denying Lady Wisdom and Lady Justice who reveal truth, all feminine attributes of God, has caused grievous sins by the church worldwide. There is no answer that we can give that does not require wisdom and the need to consider what is just and true. What we have done to women is a travesty, and God is over it. She is upset, and wants us to hear this: What might work in one case, in this case corporations dropping violent rhetoric from their platform because words lead to action, can also cause us to silence a voice that needs to be heard. We need to be able to handle the paradox. If a law does not promote love and does not allow flexibility, then, believer or unbeliever, we are headed for disunity and chaos. Good order is when we all have a place at the table, and we all get to be heard with no one owning the whole narrative. Our truths all come together to reorder the world more justly. It is not easy, but that is the future my voice is working for.