A month or two ago, a prominent faith leader in the SBC tweeted he would not take his grown daughter to the musical “Frozen”-because of a warning the Total Gospel Coalition (TGC) put out on the song “Let it Go”. This was written in 2014, but he thought it was still a good article in 2019. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/missing-the-point-of-frozens-let-it-go/. I laugh every time I read this, but it is a laughter that makes me want to scream too.
I had no idea how far churches were willing to go to hold women back. Even my own church I came from was making strides for women, but then it stopped. The line was drawn that women cannot hold a position as elder or preacher-full stop. I was angered by that even before I left. But I stayed a few more years, because I trusted my church. I loved my friends.
Despite my anger at this leader for posting about the dangers of the song “Let it Go”- it did send me over to listen to it again. It is a good song. This song is now my personal mantra. The only part I would change is – “You will never see me cry”. I can guarantee you that you will see me cry. Tears are holy. Tears are a gift. Tears have always gotten me back up off the floor.
Let me tell you a story about how I have been learning to let it go my whole life. I did not know this is what I have been doing, but now I am discovering this:
When I was in High School I dated someone who treated me horribly. He cheated on me all the time, and everyone knew it. I did too, but I told myself another story – and when people tried to tell me the truth; I got mad at them. He was verbally abusive to me too. I have a lot of tenderness towards faith leaders I am trying to talk to about the system they are in that is abusing them. They are mad at me instead. I get it. This is what abuse does to people.
Anyway, when I finally could not un-see what I had seen-I saw the cheating in public-I had to let go. I woke up in the middle of the night banging on my mom’s door saying I need help. She called a friend from church, and she came over to talk to me. She had experienced abuse as well, and talked to me all night. This is why I love church.
Then a friend, who was also experiencing a painful break-up, and I went out as friends. We drove around town and talked. (Every time I fall apart – God sends a friend. Every. Single. Time) I remember pulling into Sonic and looking in the rearview mirror and telling him: “I feel free now. I am not worried about what he is doing tonight, because it isn’t for me to worry about anymore”. I finally broke down and truly grieved. I accepted the story for what it was, and now I could work on healing. I did not know that was happening, but that is what was happening. I felt like a laughingstock at school, and I felt like a failure at church. It was a lot for a 17 year old girl.
I learned a lot. That experience led me to marry an amazing man. Jake treats me so good all the time. Our arguments are always hilarious – maybe not at the time- but not one hasn’t turned into a good story. We have a blast together, and our love for each other is mutual.
So, church. I wrote about the pain of work in a world made for men yesterday. I never connected the dots that church feeds that culture until 2015, when I saw church dismiss sexual assault and rape – racism and xenophobia too. I had always been upset with the treatment of LGBTQIAPLUS, but I thought we would get somewhere eventually because so many had kids who are gay – but that did not happen either. I remember falling apart and seeing no response from church. I could not breathe, and it was treated like something I had to get through on my own. I remember standing there thinking – I have to go. I can’t stay here. It was a grief I hadn’t felt in a long time. Someone had to tell me what it was that I was feeling.
The question gets asked: Would you rather be in a relationship that you love the other more than they love you? Or would you rather be the one that is loved more than you love the other.
Me: Both are bad! I don’t want either of those relationships.
Church that I had poured my heart and soul into – didn’t love me back. Once again, as with my ex in High School, there would be no tears for me.
The song lyrics of Faith Hill’s song “Cry” is how I felt walking out the door:
Could you cry a little? Lie just a little? Pretend that you’re feeling a little more pain? I gave, now I’m wanting something in return. So cry just a little for me.
Well, now I have found a church that loves me. And it is a mutual relationship. This is the only kind of relationship to have. I have fought my whole life for everything-including my place in church. I don’t know how not to fight. The church I attend now is teaching me how to breathe. I walk in and it feels different. I feel abundance. I am encouraged without having to seek it out. They come and find me even.
Seeing people you had once loved with everything you had to give not care about your pain is a grief that cannot be described in words. I talked in my first post about what I want from church is lament. I found a great tweet to follow why lament is necessary:
“Today in teaching others, I was reminded how lament is resistance. Not being permitted to feel or express is dehumanizing. Lament makes space for us to be and therefore humanize even the most oppressed of us” – Esperanza Gene
Talking to George yesterday, I realized how much I have loved church my whole life. The smell of old churches is my favorite scent. I never thought about how we can realize our calling through all of our senses – including smell.