All week, I wanted to write something that’s uplifting and encouraging and shows how I’ve grown. How I’ve overcome difficulties and am moving on to good places in my life.
I tried something fun and cutesy and flowery. It didn’t turn out because I’ve been too busy fighting anger and frustration and shame.
It all started on Monday with a post by Sarah Bessey (aka Emerging Mummy), where she states that she’s done asking for permission to speak. She’s getting on with the business of The Kingdom. She’s stepping out into what God has called her to do.
I hear ya, Sarah! Initially, my heart cheered. The conversation continued with the words from Rachel and Esther.
Then, the darkness crept in for me. I thought of my own times when I felt silenced. When the local church I attended as a child acted as if my passion was something to be bridled. I hate how the larger faith community tells women they’re supposed to be quiet little princesses sitting around waiting to be rescued, rather than provide rescue to the hurting and the lost. Dumb lies.
I thought of so many others who are silenced beyond what I can even fathom. They live in fear because of abuse or slavery by sex trafficking. All of this takes place while “good men” sit around and debate. Or worse, turn a deaf ear when they know the truth.
Honestly, at that point in the week, I was doing okay. All of these conversations simply swirled in my head. I know, for the most part, what I believe about women in leadership. I won’t allow my passion to be bridled, and I have, indeed, been in the company of genuinely good men who respect me and encourage me to live out my gifts, no matter the cost. My husband for one.
My friend, Denise, joined the conversation. She added a much-need perspective of the culture in the New Testament. More importantly, she talked about the redemptive approach of God’s law and the acts of the early apostles. The disciples acted this way because of Jesus. He broke into our world and set the example. He made it possible for all of us to live out the Kingdom. To treat one another and be treated with respect and equality.
But then came yesterday. Words about modesty took over my Twitter feed and Facebook wall in response to a piece on Her.meneutics.
I pulled up the article, and my response caught me off guard. Partway through reading the blog, I choked back tears. I remember specific instances of body-shaming language spoken to me by youth leaders, both men and women.
Sharon Hodde Miller wrote:
Shame is great at behavior modification, even when the shaming is not overt. But shame-based language is not the rhetoric of Jesus. It is the rhetoric of his Enemy.
Here we go again with weeding through lies. Only this time, I realized I still believe these ones.
I don’t treat my body with enough respect. I dress frumpy sometimes or go out of my way to cover my curves because I think my body is a disgraceful distraction to men, even when I’m simply standing in a room. That’s basically what I was told.
I don’t place enough priority on exercise or eating right. I don’t know all the reasons for that but I suspect it’s linked to the shame. Along with this, I thought that because I never struggled with an eating disorder that I somehow escaped body issues. That somehow I triumphed and this part of me doesn’t need redemption.
How the #@&% did my mind get SO messed up?!
So, here I am. A broken girl with tears in her eyes. I want so badly to know and experience Jesus’ redemption in every area of my life. My emotions, my mind, my body, and my soul.
I don’t even know what it looks like, but I want to find out. I need to find out. I long for the lies to be torn away.
I want so badly to shout, as Sarah Bessey did, about courage and love and not asking for permission. But I can’t. My voice is weak right now. Choked up. What I need most is the voice of my Father.
May He help me exchange lies for truth. May He enable me to be accept myself, every part of myself. May His redemption in my life be full and immeasureable, beyond what I have ever known or thought, so I may go forth speaking His words to others.
And when I do, you can bet I won’t ask for permission.