Wednesday, September 21, 2011

With Fear and Trembling- the place of the Christian Female.

I’m a Christian.  I couldn’t be anything else.  It’s a part of me, the way I tick.  I believe.  That’s enough. I have a problem.  It’s not simple.  It’s not something your mother can solve.  It’s not something kind people can bestow with their respect.

So often in all of this I can’t help but feel I lack a home.  Where am I?  It’s an odd passion for a 14 year old to have but I've wanted to be involved in the church.  Theology, to be specific.  I love a good theory, either something to throw rocks at or hail with praise, there’s nothing like the feeling of wrapping your brain around something.  It feels like cling-film around a globe.  This new amazing thought stretching out all I’ve already thought/feel/believed—stretching it out for me to see this theory in its wholeness, from every angle, while at the same time I uncrumple myself, I see more and more parts of me.  Wrapping myself around it is stretching my own heart out like a canvas.  It burns so good.

You still don’t know me.  There’s something in me that’s between pride and trodden humility, I like serving people.  Really, I do.  I remember my boss warning me that some of his previous employees felt ‘crushed’ by their work in food service.  I laughed but then again I do work at a little hippie coffee shop *hipster points?* But he was serious, “some people feel it’s degrading.” 

I love it.  I love making someone’s morning with the right bagel and a latte with their paper.  You need a knife to eat that? Well, that’s a first, but here’s some napkins—can I watch?  I love helping people with my 10 second interaction that only leads to an hour of bliss at my coffee shop.  I really do like this stuff.  I like doing things that save people time and make their day easier.  I think I can remember 3 times I didn’t do my friend’s dishes last year at Bethel. Realize I basically lived there…  Why? Because someone had to do them, and I didn’t mind that person being me. Someone else benefiting simply seems more valuable to me than a little lost time on my behave.  I’m a strange girl.

So what? I’m evangelical, we’re smart and servant hearted, but for some reason theologically as a woman I can’t help but feel the pull between these two concepts.  I could go to either, I would love them, but I might have to chose. 

How? I mean, the most theological person must serve, and the most humble servant has theology behind their actions.  Yes, but, to put it bluntly I expect to be more.
“Called” is a really lousy piece of terminology these days. “Called” sounds like something from an alien movie, “The Called” or a really scary North  Korean propaganda movie “The Called [One].”  I never saw “called” either way until I grew up and started telling adults what I wanted out of my life.  Then I realized I considered myself, “called.”

I was 14, at the bottom of an alter call so big I couldn’t get back to my seat because of all the bodies.  So I just sat there and kept praying.  Over and over I repeated what I had said before because, I didn’t have anything else.  Literally, I was pretty sure ‘Lord I give you everything,’ meant, everything.  From that day in August I was no longer mine.  I know this sounds, like some crap from that Mandy Moor movie “A Walk to Remember,” *barf* for the record I’m not dying of leukemia…

From then my life drew a drastic conclusion, my life is not my own.  I learned guitar because I felt called into youth ministry.  All the youth pastors around me were a) poor as dirt, b) played their own worship in services because they never had enough help, and c) were basically the church slave.  So I got on the list.  I was leading Sunday school, I was born to stack chairs, I was an interceding-bible-reading machine, and I was awful at it.

My pastor wanted me to teach this awful bible pamphlet stuff which I couldn’t stand, so after doubling the Sunday School I quit. *Rebel?* My voice wasn’t good enough for any worship team with options, but seeing as they often didn’t have options I got a few shots.  I worked hard in school and had a job.  My youth group had little use for someone babbling on about the New Testament-Old Testament paradigm, much less a use for me.  I didn’t make friends.  A lot of it was out of my control. I have still yet to have a friend for more than 2 years who didn’t lose interest in me or move away, and I was strange.  I usually asked questions people didn’t have answers for, I had questions and thoughts about things people didn’t like, and those were the times I could express what I wanted to know.

In the mist of this Christian bubble I clung to a few absolutes: I was God’s not my own, God wanted me in ministry, my life would never be boring (obscure is the grown up word).   I had a purpose yet at the same time I killed any thought of life outside of these principles. Being fully God’s, for some reason meant not even bothering to think about where I would live, what I’d like to do in my free time. Being God’s somehow encompassed every hope for my life. I would go to seminary, I would be a youth pastor. That’s about as far as I thought out. The more and more specialized this “call” for my life grew, the less and less did I think life would exist outside of ministry.

But then I grew up,
And what’s cute for girls
Is a problem for women.

See in Christian circle #1 women are beautiful, strong, kind beings, they are grace in bodied.  They are the picture of servant hearted sacrifice.  They are moms and they are silent as the grave.  They have women’s meeting and women’s socials where they socialize with other silenced beings.  Perhaps that’s why men find those things so scary; the silent house makers suddenly form a complex society with rules and hierarchy—almost too equal for a man to believe.  It’s petty, but women are just as capable of forming a social ladder as men.  That’s scary.

It’s scary to me because it’s beautiful.  It is a Christ-likeness unheard of; a love for family and friends that is backed with the sacrifice of a lifetime.  It is beautiful to watch as each woman becomes the pillar of a house.  They are the encouragement to their husbands, the open arms to their children, and the open door to their neighbors. It’s Jesus. But they are silent.

But I’m not stuck in that circle.  My Father has yet to accept an offering of chickens or cows for my hand.  I’m also free to go to the next train of thought.

So option #2: Everyone is equal.  

See women here aren’t dead weights, they pull their weight—hell, the pull their weight and all the extra weight they feel they need to pull.  In a kinder light they prove that women are mentally capable of theological discussion, they are not inept at leadership and decisions as well as mentorship.  To me it’s lacking.  It’s not that they are trying to be men as much as they don’t know what they are.  They call it womanhood but their “independence” simply drives them to deny their insecurities. “I don’t need to be told that I’m beautiful,” sure, okay.  Where they go a little crazy is, “I don’t need to be beautiful.” They are a graceless machine.  Not the warrior, male, father, types like the good ol’ boys they fight—no they’re something in between. They are neither soft nor strong, they simply are.  They represent the odd third option of simply ceasing to exist within gender.  Dress like a girl, but it’s anyone’s game after that point.

That is lonely, and bitter, hollow; honestly I don’t have the energy for any one of those things.  I was and often am exhausted by the Christian life which for the most part has been totally alone.  I know God of the Last Breath, God of the Inch More, God of the One-Foot-In-Front-Of-The-Other, a hell of a lot better than any Rich King.  He was Hagar’s “God Who Hears” for sure, but He was listening to me crying, and the words I didn’t have anyone else to hear.  But the reality is I don’t know of an option that changes that.

So upon this balancing act I can stand.  Forsake my gender and become a floating soul, reject the comforts of man and woman, or fall back fool heartedly.  I could dive deep in to an obscurity that will surely kill a part of what I have believed a calling towards.  I could forever silence my weary head and humble myself to a silent servant.  I could roar, without love but in loss, as a non-woman, or only smile from the sidelines.  Either I be filled with the goodness of love to say something, or fight for a voice that will have nothing to say when I get a hold of it. Because, as I see it now, I have been really, really, wrong about my “calling” and I freaking want to know which half I’m not supposed to believe in.

And this, breaks my heart.

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