Saturday, May 5, 2018

All the feels. All the wishes.

Last night, thanks to a friend who linked to it, I read a "Letter to my Brothers" by Beth Moore. This morning I've been reading the many comments in Twitter in response to it. What Beth wrote resonates with me for many reasons, and the people responding are doing a good job articulating the thoughts and feelings I have. If you haven't read the letter, please take a few minutes to do so.

One response that resonated with my soul was by a blogger named Stephanie. She tweeted:
The reality is that there just needs to be change. There needs to be wrestling. I still wish men would stop feeling threatened by strong women and I still wish people could come to more fully understand the context and the Greek languages used in 1 Timothy 2.
But I also wish, from the very depths of my soul, that men would just treat us fairly. Like Jesus did. Like God sees us. I wish our voices weren’t being silenced and our experiences discounted because they involve emotion.
I wish I could stand behind a pulpit and not experience doubt because I know there are people sitting right in front of me that don’t want me there. I wish I could experience being a leader the way a man does: with a built-in sense of confidence simply because of my gender.
 All the feels. All the wishes.

"I wish our voices weren’t being silenced and our experiences discounted because they involve emotion." As someone who cries very easily, I have wished this for many years. When I care a lot about something, I cry. I have tricks that sometimes help -- drinking water to swallow the lump, deep breaths, focus on something else, practice what I want to say so it becomes muscle memory -- but often there's nothing I can do. I care; I cry. When I want to say something important to me, close to my heart, my voice gets all shaky and tears start to flow. Then I get angry with myself for crying and -- guess what -- anger makes me cry!

Image: Disney. "Inside Out"
It reminds me of Tom Hanks' line in "A League of Their Own": "No crying in baseball!" A friend once talked about his experience coaching girls' sports and said something, too, about the difficulties dealing with crying girls. I can often see the fear in men's eyes when I start to cry -- they physically back away and try to end the conversation immediately. And even women tell other women that if they want to be taken seriously, they have to speak without crying. I wish men -- and all people -- could somehow repress the fear or whatever feeling they have when a woman cries, and instead listen and respond to what she is saying. I've told others, just because we're crying doesn't mean we're stupid, it doesn't mean what we have to say should be disregarded. On the other hand, I empathize with it -- I'm "a sucker for tears," too. When someone I love cries, I want to do anything to make them feel better.

I could also relate to Beth's sentence, "I wore flats instead of heels when I knew I’d be serving alongside a man of shorter stature so I wouldn’t be taller than he." Ha! I do wear flats -- all the time -- because I'm 6 feet tall. I can't do anything about the fact that I tower over most men, over most of the population, it feels. I'm truly thankful for my height; I just know that it affects others in various ways, usually a feeling that they are being intimidated or threatened in some way.

Many of the responses to Beth's letter spoke of their dashed hope that when the unkind (or worse) acts that Christian men did to women, seemingly without realizing its effect, became known and open, well then of course those Christian men would repent of such un-Christ-like activity and resolve to do better. Afraid not. Some certainly have, some never did act in that un-Christ-like way in the first place, and I hope and trust more will be sensitive to the effect of their actions.

Thinking about this reminds me of the many -- many, many, many -- times I was told, "It's not personal." This was followed by the reason their own action or actions of others was because they were acting on their belief that they were following God's will as laid out in the Bible. Or in more secular settings, like in "You've Got Mail" when Meg Ryan's character is told, "It's not personal; it's business." I call bull*!#*.

When people come out of the woodwork -- obviously having been personally contacted as a part of  a plan -- to vote "No" for me as a Christian School Board member even when there was no other candidate, that's personal. And when the denominational Synod says women can be ministers and officers in the church, but leaves it up to individual churches, and my own church does not vote in a single woman elder for the nearly 40 years I was a member there, personal it is. That's me you're voting against, planning -- I hesitate to call it plotting -- against, not a belief or a principle.

As you can tell, it's easy for me to get passionate about this history -- even bitter. But I repress those feelings and constantly work to replace them with the love I truly, honestly feel toward my Christian brothers and sisters. I know they love me. They've shown up and been there for me and my family time after time. Their actions speak louder than their words (or votes). I know the image of God is in them, and I hope and trust they see the image of God in me.


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