That morning, the lake stood still, the mist settled in. As I walked onto the dock I watched the ripples run across the water, each of my steps sending tiny waves out. I was suddenly an earthquake disturbing the peace. I stopped, sat down, I didn’t want to ruin anything, had no interest in rocking that blissful boat just sitting there, minding its own business.
I’ve stepped shyly in other parts of my life too you know. Lightly almost. Not sure where I fit in the land of women, always more comfortable in the company of men. I feel like I send ripples out, change things, and I never know if it is for the better. I am a woman who revels in statements like “you are not like other women though”, I’ve made myself at home in mocking stereotypes and all the ties that bind. I’ve stayed away from the women’s retreats. I’ve made fun of scrapbooking (and knitting….and…). I have attempted to make myself something else. Something different. A hybrid. I’ve elbowed my way into the circles of men, thinking, perhaps the conversation might be more my speed. That perhaps, I would offend less often. The whole of my life, I have found myself surrounded by many male friends. I played soccer at lunch. I was on the basketball courts playing 21 at camp when the other girls were curling their hair.I speak the language of the dudes easily. The harsher. The sarcastic. The jokes. Lets talk about everything but our feelings ok?
The truth of it is I just never, ever felt like I fit, so I would rather find my place around the outside. I called women who spent too much time on their looks shallow, when maybe I was just envious that I have no concept of how to do my own hair. When maybe both of us are just terribly insecure and perhaps we both could’ve stepped back challenged the assumptions about one another that were binding and walked in a truer version of ourselves instead of just trying to be?
You see the problem is this:
I am a feminist. A raging one if we are honest. My parents left the church partly because they didn’t want their daughters bound and gagged. You hear that? Getting this theology right matters to me. I want to see women and girls walk in the fullness of their giftings. I want them to live life unafraid…of anything…especially their own skin and the way it feels to live in it. I want them to believe in the power of their voices, the call of their God. I want them to believe they have a place in the Kingdom, that their place is important, necessary. If they are married, I want them to be extraordinary wives and mothers who inspire their men to be better, to fulfill their call too. Do you see that? When a man walks in freedom his woman does too, when a woman releases her gifts in fullness she inspires him to do the same…it isn’t either / or. It is BOTH / AND. When my husband is thriving, so am I. When I am ragged with expectation and a life that doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit him either. I tie him to the ground with my neediness, my dependence. Freedom reigns in our home when we both have voice, when we mutually sacrifice, lay aside our agendas for the dream of the OTHER. Somehow, don’t you see how time expands? Life becomes a passionate adventure into the call of God on our lives…as one…each serving the other, each freeing the other to dream more, dream again.
So how can I, a woman who believes all that, still try to separate herself? Do you see ugliness of that? The way our competition creates false divides, broken bridges, broken hearts? There is something very wrong if you are happy about the fact that you are not like ‘other women’, it means you are actually not a feminist. You are not a freedom fighter. If we are achieving something while breaking another womans back, which direction are we moving? If our life causes another to cower or to feel inadequate in our presence…what are we really accomplished? If I believe that this freedom song is ours to sing, how can I not call other women into it? How can I not actively help them to find their voice? We cannot be a freedom fighters if we are eating our own, pushing other women down so that we can reach higher, gain a false identity.
So I’ve been stepping out, attempting to find my place, and helping others to find theirs. I’ve been building bridges and circling around the women in my life, attempting to find my place among them. I’ve been brave (for me) and I’ve been bold. I hosted a womens retreat. For real. I authentically made confession to other women… things about myself I’ve never breathed out loud. I trusted them with myself and they’ve yet to fail me yet. I am finding my place, a company of women who feel like sisters, who get me, who heal me, who inspire me, who convict me. People I want to build with, dream with, people I believe are changing the world.
I want to be among the brave ones, the women who stand up straight and strong. Who strengthen the backs of each other, who see and break the chains of injustice, who bravely step into our callings, who help others to discover and walk into theirs. I think, I might be ready to rock the boat, stepping out on the water with the God of the universe, inspiring us all to just stand there, waves lapping on our toes.
(This post partially inspired by Ann Voskamps breathtaking piece here
I can hardly wait to read it Sarah! So proud of you and excited about the impact it could have on our beloved church!)