I am completely and utterly amazed at the beauty and strength of women right now. The roar has gotten stronger since the November 2016 US election and I truly believe it’s just the beginning.
The flames into a roaring fire.
The rumble is turning into an earthquake.
The waves into a tsunami.
The treatment of Dr. Blasey Ford, the blaring reality of the patriarchy, the stirring up of the stories of so many who didn’t report for good reason or did report and ended up not being believed.
Just this week alone I have heard multiple stories from friends who have gained the courage through her example to tell their stories out loud for the first time. It’s brutally hard to do and I’m so proud of their strength.
Many more women who rarely have used their voices publicly before are speaking out passionately and definitively against the silencing of women and victim shaming that we will no longer tolerate.
More and more women are refusing to remain divided.
We can’t just tuck all of us into neat little acceptable compartments anymore and try to make it through the day, our lives, our faith experiences.
So many of us as women were taught at an early age to become divided—to split off parts of ourselves in order to fit into the existing systems, families, professions, and churches were part of. We were taught to be extremely careful and not share the truth of our stories because of the potential fallout. If we experienced sexual trauma and abuse we knew if we shared it out loud we’d be dismissed, shamed or not believed, so we chose to wall off that part of ourselves to survive. We were also taught not to share the truth about our hopes, dreams, and desires, either, if they didn’t fit in line with what was subtly or overtly expected of us. Many of us got Jesus all tangled up with being submissive, meek and mild.
Constantly conflicted about being perceived as too much or not enough, many of us killed off parts of ourselves to survive.
Years ago my friend and author of Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality and the Church, Pam Hogeweide said this, “In an effort to not be a divisive woman, I became a divided woman.”
These words still deeply resonate.
Many of us (women and men) have struggled in the church with not wanting to be divisive. There’s been a subtle and sometimes very direct message that any kind of conflict or dissonance equals being divisive and a challenge to unity.
Right now, in church or out of church, women are experiencing some of the same thing as backlash for using our voices. It’s not about divisiveness.
It’s about control.
Unhealthy systems, no matter what kind, will not tolerate any kind of pushback, challenge, or questions.
They will resist change.
They will protect power.
They will praise behavior like Judge Kavanaugh’s at the hearing, saying he’s “strong” and “a fighter” (all politics aside, can you imagine what would happen if a woman behaved even 10% of the way he did in the hearing?).
They will do anything that’s possible to keep the status quo humming along because things are working for them.
But things aren’t working for a lot of women anymore.
We can no longer remain divided in our hearts and lives personally or in our collective hearts and lives as over half of the population.
Countless numbers of women aren’t going to remain divided anymore.
Nope, we can’t and won’t.
What we are trying to do is live into the better, the-way-it’s-supposed-to-be story of integrity, wholeness, and healing.
It’s a story of what’s been in the darkness coming into the light so it no longer can rob us of our voices and truth. It’s a refusal to remain silent anymore. It’s stubborn unwillingness to remain second class citizens any longer. It’s a guiding belief that our constant devaluing harmed us individually and as a society and we won’t let another generation of girls grow up in this kind of culture. It’s a deep resonance that Jesus embodied something completely different than what’s been modeled to us in our churches. It’s about pushing against patriarchy’s weight to keep us divided and living into all of who we are as women with equal dignity and value.
It’s about becoming undivided women, personally and together, over the long arc of time but with an ignited urgency.
We’ve waited for a long time, heard things like These things take time…You don’t want to push too hard because you’ll scare them…You don’t’ want to appear angry…We have to go slowly.
These each probably have a shred of truth to them. Real change does take time. If we push the status quo too hard, they don’t respond happily. Anger can be hard on some people. Fast isn’t always better.
However, time’s up on time.
Time’s up on waiting and nice girl (and good Christian women) patience.
Time’s up on the hope that all of a sudden power is going to give it up on its own.
Time’s up on living divided.
Our stories are too real. Our experiences too strong. Our passion too deep. Our kids too important. Our democracy too at risk.
We just can’t live divided anymore.
We just won’t live divided anymore.
Women, may we do whatever we can to become less divided and more whole. Less controlled and more free. Less worried-about-what-others think and more focused on what our souls-can-no-longer-deny.
Men, may you do whatever you can to sacrifice your own power and privilege for the sake of wholeness, integrity, and healing for your sisters, churches, communities, and places of work.
May we all refuse to live divided anymore.