There are so many ways to describe who God is. I love that because it keeps us from losing our sense of wonder about who God is. One attribute of God I discovered early in my life is God likes to play.
When I was a child and played outside a lot while deep in my own imagination (did not know I was an enneagram 4 then), God came to play with me often. I did not have any siblings, so God filled in. Sometimes I would even sit in the back of my car with my arm around God. When I was mad, I would walk around the block crying and talking to God out loud. Sometimes people caught me and then I would get embarrassed and stop. This is the kind of relationship I had with God on my own; this is not the relationship I had with God when I was with my church community growing up.
I learned as a child that women could not preach. A lot of us know the reasons why churches went with that message; we were raised in this environment. I do not know how I had that personal relationship with God that was so playful and then experience this domineering God when I was in church. None of it makes sense and I am no longer trying to make it make sense. Look at what is happening around us right now, clearly logic is not what is running the show. But what I do want to do is have us sit with the fact we are telling children that women cannot do things that men can do in the kin-dom of God. Children are internalizing this and believing it and now we see the nasty results of this theology. It has done horrendous spiritual damage. It will not be healed in my lifetime, but I do believe healing is happening and God is asking me to share with you the God I knew as a child. I am experiencing this God again. God wants us to play. All of us.
When I began seminary, I was not sure about the whole thing. Had I not had my Trio (George, Jaime and Andy), I probably would not have been able to stay. Also, the grace from the professors I have been so blessed to have, and the ability to do a directed study when one class was taking me back to a world I can no longer live in. I had no idea how much spiritual trauma I was carrying from so many years of theology that denigrated women, silenced women, and ignored the experiences of women in scripture. All of that is playing out in our public life right now. Not enough people are connecting the dots that what we believe spiritually, we live physically.
Now I am in my third year of seminary and having the best time. I am getting to participate and play and it is so much fun. My confidence is growing and things are falling into place, but I have had a setback. Just one person can throw everything off track. It is actually not the person who is talking over me and belittling my existence who is throwing me off course, it is the silence of the crowd. I have thoughts and beliefs that are healing wounds that I did not think could be healed by staying in my own faith tradition. But I have been taught not to trust myself and to stay small and hidden, so when someone comes in and talks right over me, it causes me to doubt myself. And the crowd while annoyed with him, does not understand the damage that is being done to someone who has worked really hard to learn to trust herself and her own brain that is smart. Am I up for this?
Some of my work is not doing as well as it was in the beginning. I had a really strong start and now I am crawling trying to get to the finish line of this semester. I am tired. But I had this moment today that reminded me I am up for this. Today I did my Advent reading that will air December 16, so I will not say too much. I cannot believe the passage I got to read and I do not know if it was intentional or a Holy Spirit move. The passage I read reminded me about the faith of women who said yes to God. And they had to believe God on faith alone, not sight. That faith brought joy to the women. My faith brings me joy. My faith exists because a woman said yes to God.
I have learned to play again. The God I played with as a child is coming back to me now. God played with me in the chapel that I wanted to stay in all day today. I have always loved church when I could play in it. Oh, my play is also hard work, but it is work I love. It sets me on fire and makes me believe like Mary that the word of God spoken to her will be fulfilled. She is blessed because she trusted her deep knowing.
One last thing: I told my pastoral care professor that I am struggling mentally right now. After class she received my tears. I have never had a woman pastor receive my tears and hear me the way I was heard in this moment. What a holy moment. I am up for this. It is time to tell the story correctly. God trusted a woman with God’s life.