A Woman’s worth. Is this something we should really be debating? Twice this month I have read two women’s tweets who attend Baptist seminaries here in Texas saying they are staying in their complementarian world to try and be a change for better. How many women say this when we are in bad relationships? I know I did. And I tried to do it with church, too. It is related.
Don’t hear me say that where I came from is all bad. Goodness, no. I have a few friends who are still here cheering me on and wanting me to do this. I would not be here without where I have been. My Guardian Angel, Nancy Ulrich, was the first to message me when I posted my preaching bio for this week. I cannot believe I am writing this. What was real remained, and I treasure it and hold it like I never did before.
Even in bad relationships, there are things that will be remembered that are good. Abusive relationships are not 100% abuse always. It is way more complex than a simple situation we can easily identify. This is why church is extremely difficult to see. We have been taught not to leave. We are reconcilers. How do we turn someone away? Doesn’t that defeat redemption? How is telling a woman she can’t preach or teach abuse when the Bible clearly says? All questions we should wrestle with more and change our minds.
When I first left home, I felt like a failure. There is a deep depression that follows when you leave a place you loved with all your heart. The church loved me, but not enough. We were not in an equal partnership and my experience was erased. Along with so many others. We do this in marriage, too, when we have a relationship where one is the head. One vetoes the woman (male-headship is the general rule and they get it from church) and man gets his say ultimately. This is why men are getting angry we are speaking. They don’t get to hoard all of the purpose anymore. Too bad they don’t know it is fun to live as friends. And that God will not cast us to Hell for letting people in. As the late Rachel Held Evans said: The gospel isn’t offensive for who it keeps out, but who it lets in. I cannot believe we still have not even let women in. But I think Al Mohler voiced it best as to why: If we start letting women preach, then where will it stop. That is right, Al. Women are more inclusive, and I don’t want it to stop for anyone who is called. No matter who you are or where you have been. God will be gracious to whom God will be gracious. We are not God, and I am so glad. I am terrible at trying to do her job.
Anyway, in the past, when women would say I am staying to try and make things better, I felt like I failed because I could not. But that was before I knew how dearly loved I was in my new home. Oh my gosh. There is nothing in the world that would make me want to go back now. I read these tweets and my heart goes out to these women who think they can make people care who do not. One even expressed her weariness because she has been trying to get men to listen for four years-IN SEMINARY, LET THIS SINK IN, PLEASE. She can’t even get them into a disagreement, either; she can’t get them to feel at all. As a 4, I felt every word of what she just said. That is what hurts the most. They do not feel the pain. When I left, it mattered little. I had invested so much into people who really did not love me back. Not the way I loved them.
So showing up at Wilshire, after a long journey away from church, I chose to love again. I wanted to love them, and I did the second I walked in the door. And a really strange thing happened; they loved me back. Like really loved me back. Started asking me to do all of these things I have never been able to do and never even dreamed I would do. I did not come here to prove myself or to announce I would preach. They discovered me because they loved me. They have walked me through grief that has hit me and none of us understood what this depression was, but they stayed with me. I am preaching this week because so many men and women invested in me to get here. They tell me to stop trying to prove myself because they already believe in me. This can be true for all women. And the men don’t lose, they gain too. We are having the time of our lives together. I am grateful.
So with this said, I grieve reading those tweets. If they are able to do it, which my heart tells me they won’t, I will cheer them on. And if they do, I won’t feel like a failure. I love being where I am and I did not have to spend one minute trying to prove myself. They valued me the minute they met me, and have turned their worlds upside down to help me flourish.
Love is the only thing that works. No argument can make someone love you. I told one of the women that I no longer leave room for disagreement on what a woman can do. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are. Women have been held back and it is a sin. God is calling women, and the men who are listening and want it to happen, are helping make it happen. Praise be to God.
This is me today. My hair has never been this long and thick. My hair stylist has been shocked. She even suggested I leave long with my hair this healthy. Everything heals when one begins to heal. And here is my first announcement to preach, too.
Love Wins! In the words of Leonard Cohen: Love is not a victory march. It is not somebody who has seen the light. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.
Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens is the song I play on repeat today. It is so beautiful, but it also speaks to the moment I feel I am in now:
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass