I’ve taught for over a decade. I’ve weaved my story into the teaching, but I’ve never sat and spoken solely about my life story. The focus was never just me.
But the woman who hired me to teach insisted. I was to speak about my story – for an hour!
That’s when I realized I fear telling parts of my story because I may be hurt.
See, I’m a female preacher. That’s part of my story, a woman preaching, sometimes on a Sunday in front of the whole church, but most often in smaller arenas in front of women. That’s part of my story. It’s a part I’ve rarely said publically, especially to women I’m not familiar with or who aren’t familiar with me. The women’s issue is a heated issue. So I don’t share it.
But this woman insisted.
So I did. I did because I could tell she had been in prayer about this and felt confident that it was what God wanted for this specific retreat.
So I said it. I shared how our church went through a year and a half long process to decide whether or not women could preach from the pulpit. I shared how I was thrown in the middle of that debate and my face became the poster child for our “church going liberal.” I shared how it hurt. It hurt to have friends leave and men refuse to shake my hand and … it hurt.
Whew. I did it. I got through it, and no one walked out. It’s all good. So I thought, but at the end of the day a woman in the audience asked, “What is the prayer you’ve been praying for the women of our generation? Where do you see God moving the most on His women?”
There I was again, about to put myself back on the chopping block. I took in a deep breath, and I said it.
I believe God is moving, globally, to address the issue of gender injustice. Whether it’s covert gender injustice like what’s in the American church or overt gender injustice like what we see around the globe, God is on it. He’s calling out what’s happening to his women and girls around the world.
I used to think this issue was a “women’s issue,” but now I realize it’s a Gospel issue. Jesus died to bring a way back to Shalom living. Shalom means to flourish in every human way possible (spiritually, relationally, emotionally, physically…), to be whole in every way. And whenever we see women (and men) being oppressed in any way, shape, or form, we hear Jesus cry out on the cross, “I’m offended.”
What we have going on is not a women’s issue; it’s a human issue. And I don’t believe the issue is about equality. I don’t think Jesus died so we could be equal. Jesus died for something bigger than that. Equality means I’ve got my rights, and you’ve got yours, and so we’re good with each other. Do you hear how we can simply tolerate rather than integrate? God created man and woman (community) to live in Shalom. That’s bigger than equality. It may include equality, but it doesn’t rest there.
Interdependent. Intertwined. In need of otherness. Oneness.
It’s bigger than equality.
I think the American church is so caught up in smaller issues, like whether or not a woman can or can’t preach from a Sunday morning pulpit, that they have missed what God is really doing. He’s moving to recreate humanity as he intended. And with what little I understand, I do know God will have his way. With or without us, he will get err done. So this is my prayer for the younger generation: that they would be a part of God’s movement rather than miss it because they are caught up in the smaller things of life.
I’ve had the privilege and pain to be a small part of what God is doing.
And I said it.
I realize now, God wants it said.
Even if it hurts.
How would you answer the gal’s question? What’s God doing? And what might it cost you to join Him?