So call me whatever you want

I edited this post a bit after Leisel’s comment and some serious thinking…

When I began blogging, my primary audience was Calvin Crest folks, my high school friends, and the occasional college peer. My entries were sometimes more candid, more introspective, and perhaps sometimes too personal. When I discovered my blog base extended to family, friends, First Pres Bakersfield, and people who spend too much time on Facebook ;), I changed the way I write a little bit. Perhaps more conservative, definitely less threatening. And occasionally I want to write about things that perhaps the Bakersfield Californian would not be so interested to read. I am fine with all this, really – I am blessed to have a variety of readers. I feel like I understand vulnerability to a whole new level. I did, after all, write an entire blog entry about sex (for those of you new to the blog – ahem, my in-laws ;), the entry was about struggling with purity, not about having it) and I heard about it from my grandma later (who was actually very supportive)…

All that to say…

I want to write about something controversial, but not for the sake of being controversial. I pray my wrestlings would bring me closer to the heart of God and the truth of His plan rather than produce a clanging cymbal through the keyboard.

My thoughts lately turn to the age long controversy of the female role in the Church. Now, if you’ve read my essay on the Apostle Paul and the way he addresses women in ministry, you know that I believe both Jesus and Paul administered women to roles of teaching and leadership in the early church that were considered very radical. To be perfectly honest, I am very confident in God’s call both in my life as a minister of the Gospel and in His call to other woman to be in positions of leadership in the Church. I wrestle no more in my own search to know God’s heart for the other half of His Image.

And yet I find myself once again in a place where my soul is reminded that the way I see things (hopefully through Christ’s eyes) and the way that Christian culture, some doctrine, churches, etc. see things at times, vastly differ. I don’t see in motion that which I believe Christ encourages.

At the Sunday evening church-wide meeting, a new position is being discussed. An administrative pastor is needed to take the load off the pastoral care pastor. A woman raises her hand and asks, “Even though the title has the word ‘pastor’ in it, can a woman take the job?” My husband noticed my frustration as my hand clenched his tightly. I walk into staff meetings, and, save the secretaries & children’s director (and, by the way, I LOVE this staff), I’m the only woman… as is true in most churches. When the youth pastors get together across the city, a congregation of men meet. The ballot for elders is men only (I forgot how “liberal” those Presbyterians could be with their female elders;)). This is our culture. Please note: I love these people. I am so very blessed to now belong to this congregation and the pastoral staff is Godly in the truest sense of the word. My frustration is not against specific people or the men who take leadership in the Church. The reality is – well, this is the reality and this has been reality… for a really long time.

I don’t feel like God has given me a heart and a passion for the empowerment of women for no reason. Nor do I feel like He has led me into full-time ministry without Divine purpose. Even now I close my eyes and whisper that my heart would be His and that these words would reflect His character.

I plan to have kids some day. I don’t know when. But someday (God willing), I will hold a small child in my arms, sing it lullabies, and rock it to sleep. I will be a mother just like most women in this world were created to be. To be honest, this desire is somewhat new for me. I think in my mind I always figured I would raise kids with my husband and live some kind of life being a mother and wife, and in the back of my head I always wondered, but God, what about ministry? What about grad school? What about these dreams? What about my desire to empower women and to reveal historical truths about your Word? And then the light bulb finally turned on as I watched baby Kana romp around with all of his drool spilling onto the hardware floor. Be the woman you want to empower. If I am to be a vessel of God as a minister to the Church, and if I want to advocate for female leadership in the Church (or whatever have you), then I am going to have to be a “normal” woman. Normal in the sense that most women on this earth, with the exception of some (who I do not consider “abnormal”), are mothers or will become mothers. What good am I if I expect to see change within the Church and I am not that change? I believe women are just as capable at preaching God’s word at the pulpit as men, and I don’t think they have to be women who choose not to bear children or get married.

Suddenly I find myself relieved. And blessed. I get to do ministry with my husband for two years. A husband who, on a road trip to the REI in Portland before we were married, listened to me sobbing my concerns and fears with being a wife and mother and desiring a Phd (which, let’s be honest, who knows if that is still in God’s plan for me) said to me, “You can do that. I plan on helping you get there.” A husband who lets me taste what God had planned when he meant for men and women to be helpers. A companion. Yes I am blessed. I continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, and God continues to give me glimpses of His vision and of His Divine Glory.

p.s. – for all you wondering, no, kids are not in the near future unless God wills it and does some Divine intervention


10 Replies to “So call me whatever you want”

  1. I love you my dearest Annie…keep writing controversial for me since it humbles me so! As you know, I share your desire for the Ministry and not being confined to the ‘being a helper = being a stay at home mom’ role. It is refreshing to see your fears of motherhood are being relieved…pray that mine will too in God’s perfect timing!

  2. OK. I finally have an answer for you Leisel. I was praying this morning about a meeting I will have later today with 4 men about reaching the youth in Kailua (in which I often feel left out). As I was praying I was really thinking, My heart is not to take men out of their place, but to put women in a place where I honestly believe God has called them. Now, I believe the word “feminist,” in its actual definition or truest sense of the word (which would be to advocate for female equality) is good and I stand by it 100%. However, the cultural connotation that comes with the word “feminist” is often associated with bra burning women who want to take men out of their place or just seem to be on a power trip. I realize it definitely depends on the circle of people around you and that these stereotypes extreme from the 60s and 70s, but my intent was to stray away from stereotypes and labels. Personally, I feel like the feminist movement has more recently dissolved these connotations and people probably have a better understanding of what it means. Nonetheless, I was playing it safe, not because I am repulsed by the word feminist, but because I don’t want my heart to be confused with a movement that put females on a power trip. I don’t know if it was right or wrong of me, but do you at least see where I was coming from with this? I didn’t mean to offend anyone and I’m sorry that it came across the way it did. Thanks for making me think Leis.

  3. I loved reading this entry… it was encouraging to me in so many ways. It reminds me of the valuable role each independent part of body has in ensuring successful and effective operation. If our kidney or heart doesn’t function properly, then we have it replaced or our health fails. In the same way, with the Body of Christ, it’s vital that each part of the body function as it was designed.

    We’ve all been given various gifts that are only part of the whole. The role of women leadership is imperative in church. Being relegated to a simple stereotype is disheartening and ineffectual. That’s why I love the statement you made–Be the woman you want to empower. However, I want to tweak it and say … Be the person you want to empower.

    In the same way, men face different societal struggles that have left many mamed and wounded. Whether it be feelings of inadequacy or confusion, many men have felt sterilized and uncertain of what there role is too.

    So thanks… Thanks for the reminder that the greatness and change we long for lies first in the person we are and who we become.

  4. Oh Annie, you did not offend me. I just wanted to take you to coffee after I read that post because of how conflicted you seem but what good intentions you obviously have.

    I knew what you meant by saying you were not a feminist, (and understand your perspective) but I also think that it is dangerous ground to tread– albeit semantically.

    – The first “feminists” in the U.S. were women like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Stone Blackwell, etc. who risked being called ugly names and stereotyped (way back at the turn of the 20th century) in order to obtain rights for all women– rights you and I enjoy–at their sacrifice. To disassociate ourselves from any words that conjure up images of those and make people uncomfortable is to deny what great work so many women did on our behalf. It wasn’t a power trip (I think in the 60’s and 70’s it was a totally diff kind of trip if you get my drift 😉 )– it was equality. Something women still do not have all over the world. Just the other day I read about a man in China who was murdering women to sell their dead bodies to people who needed a female body to attend their dead son’s in burial. The people think that way the men will have a partner in the afterlife. That’s femicide. And if women cut each other down by saying– well, I’m not THAT kind of woman–we only are more easily divided and harmed.

    Women often do more damage to each other than men could ever think of doing.

    – That is not to say that men do not need to be a part this change too. The feminist movement in its truest form involved men too– they were important in the struggle.

    – Part of the Fall and the crap that followed, I think, is being reversed by movements started by people who are unafraid to step out and just be who they are– regardless of what other people think. You go ahead and be who you are and if people get that offended, well heck, they can come talk to you and find out what a beautiful, God-loving woman you are.

    – And as far as men and women’s roles? Yikes. I don’t even know what that is…nor do I think it’s a blanket concept that can be applied to all men or all women. We’re all designed uniquely and individually– all loved and all created for purposes that do not all look the same.

    But more than anything Annie, remember this: You can’t empower girls to grasp their full and perfect identity in Christ until you are empowered. I think you know that. I think you’re almost there….and you’re doing it gracefully and beautifully within the church…which is really one of the last frontiers in this field…

    BUT ALSO–people often use faith,tradition, and certain (innacurate) renderings of scripture as powertrips too. Particular toward women. I would hate for you to be subdued and intimidated by people who use those things as powertrips to subvert your call– because you are so beautifully created and can kick booty at what He has called you to do. And I know you will.

    with love and much respect,

  5. The amazing thing about iron sharpening iron is that age and experience are not factors in the sharpening of the blade. Rather, physical contact. With that said I want to thank Annie for redirecting my thoughts. “Empower” is a great word! From your blog entry I have reflected on several coments made by Annie and others. Then, as if an epiphany I was struck by the thought “empower me”. That is the Holy Spirits job! I have been in a quiet time of my spiritual life and alsmost as an awakaning I heard Jesus say let me empower you, for you can do nothing without me. Thanks Babe. A simple truth we all know and yet your blog reminded me I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me. Thanks for being my iron!

  6. Leis, Your comment refreshed me. Thank you. I’ve truly appreciated the dialogue. It’s funny, I feel like you and Lindsey were the first people to make me start thinking about this stuff and wrestling through it scripturally and historically. I owe you a lot of thanks for that. 🙂

    Dad, thanks for the encouragement – mucho appreciated (JD would cringe right now)

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