After all the intensity of last week, with two explosive blog posts and subsequent fallout (I'm trying to let go of care-taking all those who were unfriended by someone else but it's hard), I have been given an opportunity. Because I put myself out there, my story was heard at the right time by the right person who has given me a chance to preach at a church of Christ. Not as a profession! (One of my besties and her husband have been throwing that idea around, ironically, that I could become a preacher in the church of Christ). No, this is a one-time, awesome opportunity. If nothing else, I am most definitely an opportunist, so you better believe I'm doing it. I try to live my life in a way where I don't turn anything I want down, especially if it's scary. I find deep pleasure and satisfaction in the challenge of doing scary things. And because of that, being honest and vulnerable on a public platform usually gives me a thrill not a quaking horror (last week was a bit of a hiccup in that dynamic, but there's a natural ebb and flow to this). I have to tell you guys, I am so excited about this opportunity!
The sermon series he'll be working through is on reconciliation - with self, God and the world. And we'll talk church trauma, finding your voice, speaking your truth amidst others denial, self-kindness and more. I absolutely cannot wait! Beyond the excitement about the material and the challenge of preaching from Scripture (which has triggered me for years and I'm not done processing), this is a big deal on a scale so much larger than me. For almost 2 centuries now (if my church history class at Pepperdine is being recalled properly), women have not had permission to speak in the churches of Christ. Some churches are evolving out of that dynamic but they are rare and none are experiencing that process easily or without baggage. Repression creates a grave so deep, it's very difficult to get to the bodies underneath. And for most of them, it's too late. Their spirit has been crushed and they've fallen in line or they've left churches of Christ or church altogether. The sheer number of bodies having been buried by this theology, a literal reading of a few Scriptures, is overwhelming for me to ponder right now, even as I've lived it. So much talent, so many stories, so much value - left to suffocate because of gender. Gender roles, gender identity, the literalness that is breasts and a vagina. It's crushing, really.
The shame of ambition. The questioning of your value. The uncertainty of your motives. The denial of your potential to contribute. The fear of self-adulation, the ultimate sin for a woman.
There. Is. So. Much. Pain. Here.
I feel like I'm standing on sacred, holy ground. And underneath me are the souls of all the oppressed women of the past, the generations of silence. The loss is profound. The loss for the women, but also the loss for the church. When I wrote about white privilege not acknowledging the loss of black voices as a negative, I feel the same way about this. I recognize that racial and gender privilege are different. But in the same way that white culture has functioned without the intrinsic value of black voices, the churches of Christ has MISSED OUT on the female voice in such a way that it is warped. White culture is skewed and the churches of Christ are too. We've been so hell-bent on emulating the early Christian church (somehow we've translated that into 1950, not 33 AD but no one seems to talk about that) that we've lost the full contribution of half of our population. That is tragic.
I had an opportunity this summer to do something scary. I can't tell you how the fear welled up in me. At the Shaklee convention, we had a speaker come talk to us about breakthroughs. His name was Brian Biro and he was lovely. But the whole time, he was talking about how at the end of his talk, all 4,000 of us were going to "break boards" like we were in martial arts. We were going to get into groups of 10 and the previously trained "board holders" were going to hold our boards while we broke them WITH OUR HANDS. I was terrified. Specifically, I was afraid of the shame that would wash over me when I didn't break it the first time. I was afraid to have to try again, to work at something in public, because I was sure I wouldn't be able to break it the first time. Why would I? I've never done this before and I was afraid. I didn't know if I had the power within me to break the board the first time.
Before we tried to break our boards, Brian had us write what we needed to break through on the board itself. It took me awhile to ascertain exactly what is what I was afraid of, but my teammate Laney (former therapist!) helped me break it down. I was afraid of my own power.
I WAS AFRAID OF MY OWN POWER.
How many women have felt that way? It's always been there, deep within me. Potential. Success. Power. A big 'ole fucking life. I've always known it and I can't tell you how scared to death I've been of fully stepping into my power. That probably seems funny because many of you seem to see me as already doing that in my writing. And I am. I feel like I'm living the life I want to live and have for a long time, if not always. But there's more here. There's always more in that well. And I keep trying to pace myself, as we've always taught women to do - be small, that's good enough, don't get greedy, let's stop here.
On the back of the board, he had us write what we would have if we broke through whatever the board represented. I wrote: "security, joy, hope, empowerment, leader of my daughters, choices and freedom." And I added my children's and Tim's names and the future grandkids we hope to have some day (because I believe in the generational impact of these kinds of breakthroughs). I want to be a powerful woman and I hope that by being her (myself), I will instill power in my daughters and maybe someday, their daughters.
The reason I share this story with you, in the midst of my excitement about preaching, is that they go together. This formative thing that happened to me in August (grainy but proud video above) paved the path for this moment. I am an ongoing evolving creature, as we all are. But the more I step into my power by being vulnerable and honest and true, believing in my innate worthiness, affirming my value to contribute, the more opportunity is created for me to inspire others to do the same. And what better thing could I possibly be doing?
Is there something holding you back from living the life you want to live? Is there more potential within you that you fear tapping into? These questions are worthy of reflection. And whatever you find behind that veil, I pray that you break through it, claim your life and live into your potential. Don't let anyone, even yourself, limit what you can do with your talent, your voice, your ideas, your heart. We've only got one shot at this. Take it.