Within the past year or so I found my tribe online. I struggle sometimes with the feminist/baptist continuum and the voices of Rachel Held Evans, and Sarah Bessey made me feel a whole lot less alone. It is good to know that other ladies long to drop the f-bomb at a ladies retreat or feel like major failures on the “gentle and quiet” front.
It has been good for my soul, for my faith, to enter into the waters of doubt and be held afloat by women who have been there too. I have more words for the confusion that we sometimes must live in, and have been ministered to by the way these ladies value the tension of the Christian life. From there I have found Kathy Escobar, She Loves Magazine, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, Rage Against the Minivan and many many more.
*Disclaimer. I am on the launch team of A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans and have been given an advanced copy that I will review this weekend, after I finish it.
Rachel Held Evans new book is coming out, she has garnered quite a bit of attention. And not all of it is positive. In fact, she has had to defend herself against claims that she is not who she claims to be. She has essentially been told that she is no longer welcome to identify with evangelicals. Some of the most prominent voices in the movement have told her they don’t want her.
The claims are often that the un-invitation is coming from a sense of protection for women like me. Women who don’t fit the traditional women roles, women who are better mothers and wives when they work outside the home, women who long to see our gender more equally represented from the stage on Sundays. Women who have something to say….perpetually. But the uninviting, it doesn’t protect my heart. It hurts it. By uninviting these women that I have found, that I identify with, I too have been uninvited.
When people tell me that she is not one of us, I quickly realize they don’t want me either. I may have to defend my evangelical cred. I don’t want to be dismissed as not taking the Bible seriously. I don’t want to explain to anyone why the place I have always regarded as home should still be safe for me. I just want it to be safe for me, simply because it is my home.
I made the mistake of internalizing this online un-inviting to my own walk. The pastors in my church are fans of guys that I am not fans of. It sometimes make me nervous that Mark Driscoll or John Piper are quoted on an occasional Sunday. Even if I don’t disagree with the individual quotation. (Never has it been in direct relation to women’s roles, which is why I don’t love these guys. But still it is disconcerting to me.) Lately I have been feeling less than secure.
I emailed our pastor last week, and he agreed to meet with me after church on Sunday to speak to some specific questions I had (what are rules and what are norms, why is it mostly men up front and mostly women doing kids community, that kind of thing). I realized if I was asking “don’t they realize” then I actually needed to ask who I was talking about. But also, I was afraid. I sometimes fear that if they believe this much of what those men say, they will believe everything, and then where will I be? Unwelcome.
I am very, very grateful that this is not the way it is, that I go to a church that knows how to rest in the unity of Jesus even when we don’t agree about what the Bible says. I think that alone is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit. While I we continue to disagree I feel valued and heard.
Often people claim that if you don’t believe what I believe about the Bible then you must not think it is Holy, not think it is the Word of God. I only know because I have done it. But this is what I know now; when you dismiss one person from the table, even by name, there are others who watch, hear and decide you don’t want them either.
I think the Christian walk would be easier if I walked with people who looked, sounded, and walked just like me. I don’t think it would be better for me, but I think it would be easier. There are days that I long for a faith community where I would never have to explain or wrestle with anything because we just all agreed. On everything. All of the time. But I am learning a lot about the body of Christ, what makes it beautiful, what makes it Holy. I think that God loves when we commune together in spite of our differences, when our love for Jesus unites in the midst of disagreement. And I wonder if I would be as gracious were I in charge?