It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are. (E.E. Cummings)
I don’t even know where to begin. I’m having all the feels this month after reading two books with differing points of view. So I guess I’ll just dive right in. They both have to do with women; how God sees them and the roles they play.
The first one I read was Women of God by Kathleen Nielson. Her view is a (whole) lot more conservative and one in which I cut my spiritual teeth on. While there are some parts and pieces I agree with, there is just something about the overall theme that doesn’t sit well. I didn’t turn the last page basking in the joy of being a woman or feel encouraged to exercise my gifts. In fact, her words brought back memories…
I don’t remember the exact year but it’s been at least 15 years ago. I was sitting in the evening service (because we went Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night so as not “to miss a blessing”) and felt the need to go forward and let my church know that I felt a call into full time ministry, something I had been feeling for several weeks.
When the men in the church would go forward to announce this, the pastor would have the deacons come up and lay hands on the man, pray over him, ask for God’s anointing and for the church to pray for and congratulate him on his decision to do kingdom work. I was expecting the same. So I went forward and it went something like this…
What is it you’re coming forward for this evening?
I feel called into full-time ministry.
I feel called into full-time ministry. I don’t know exactly what it looks like. I just know I can’t ignore it anymore.
He grabbed my hands and we bowed our heads but instead of praying he said…
Call the office and set up a meeting with me this week. We need to talk this through because I’m not exactly sure what God would be calling you to do.
I turned around and walked back to my seat looking like I simply needed an answer to prayer instead of answering a call. On the way back down the aisle, I passed people peeking at me with pity instead of proud that I was fulfilling a purpose.
No acknowledgment. No laying on of hands. No celebration of someone wanting to do God’s work.
I did meet with him the following week and he was ready to offer up several ideas of what fulfilling this call may look like. He listened as I shared that I wanted to write and teach Bible studies, to do some speaking and encourage people, especially women, to be all that God had gifted them to be. I wanted every woman to understand her value and worth comes from a heavenly Father who is crazy about them. To his credit, he did let me share my desire to use my gifts of teaching and shepherding before letting me know the preschool department could use some volunteers. I could also help out in the office a couple days a week. Would I be willing to start there and see where God leads?
After all, if I’m truly called, I will do whatever needs done.
I’m not above doing any job. In fact I had been volunteering in several areas. But I felt called to do something more, something different…to teach and dare I say preach the good news. The problem was, I’m not quite sure he knew what to do with me because I was female and women didn’t have leadership/teaching roles outside of the children’s area.
So I signed up for more slots in the preschool department. I was faithful to come whenever the doors were open helping where I could. I sat in the seat Sunday after Sunday but instead of fulfilling my call, I felt forgotten. I knew in my heart God was calling me to something more but it didn’t fit inside the box of what was allowed….at least not there. My round peg didn’t fit that square hole. Was I wrong? Would God call me to do something outside of the parameters of scripture? I didn’t think so. So why did I feel like I was the one who had done something bad?
While we still love the people who attend this church, we found it just wasn’t a good fit for us any more. It’s been at least 15+ years but those feelings bubbled to the surface the more I read Women & God. I closed the book feeling like a heavy cloak had been thrown over me.
I want to be like the once blind man when the Jews were questioning him and arguing about whether or not Jesus was a fake. He replied, I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind…I now see. (John 9:25 MSG)
There are arguments on both sides of this coin. The thing of it is, I don’t want to argue. I just want to have the freedom to work side by side, doing great stuff for God, with everyone (male and female) walking in his or her giftedness….
…not feeling forgotten because forgotten is no way to feel.
Something I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) through the years, I kept waiting for an invitation to sit at the table when really the Table has been waiting for me to take my seat. I didn’t need a man to help me fulfill my calling because I answer to the call of one Man….Jesus. But I’m getting ahead of myself…