When you tell me that my feminism is of the angry kind, I need you to know that it didn’t start out that way. It isn’t that way at the core. My feminist heart got tired of being battered and broken in a church that promised to love and cherish it. It got tired of being knocked around by the buts and only ifs.
We love you Abby, all of you, but only if are a little less loud, only if you are a little less bursting with your ideas. We let you serve in your bold seventh grade way, but only until the boys want to do it. When no one else wants to do it, your desire is from a servant’s heart. When others do want to, you need to learn to submit. In high school you are too close to woman, and them to man, and then your gifts are too loud and too bold. Then it will be their turn, and you will need to sit down. We will love your whole heart, but only if you are willing to submit it to any man who comes up and wants a chance to lead. We will love your whole heart only when no one else volunteers.
I know it surprises some when a girl as loud and as occasionally obnoxious as I am is also very sensitive. I know it seems strange that someone who speaks as boldly as I so often do is scared most of the time. But there it is. You see, I am afraid that my sad, crying heart will bleed out one of these days if I let it rattle around in the church. It has gotten hurt there before, I best not leave it out. I am afraid of the mourning clothes, so I clothe my heart in anger. I encase it in anger, so that it will stop bleeding, so this heart of mine won’t stop beating. Like most, I have learned to be more careful with this heart the hard way.
When you tell me I have lost the heart of servanthood, am neglecting the heart of submission, the gentle back and forth of a dance led a followed, flowed from the Father, I need you to understand it was only in the submitting I learned to dance at all.
It is in my nature to submit, to roll over on my belly and expose my weakest part of myself to you. I’ll even pee a little bit, embarrass myself like a dog trying to declare my undying allegiance to the authority in front of me. When I am asked to pick an animal to represent myself, my patronous, my soul animal, I choose a sheep dog. I am a pack animal, and I am better at rolling over than I would care to admit. We can do it your way. It is fine. Really. I don’t mind.
Here’s the thing about sheep dogs: They know who their master is. They know who their flock is and they know who their master is and they care for their sheep as they follow their master. Amidst all the shouting of women and submission I mistook a lot of voices for the voice of my master. I was on my back, legs in the air, belly up to anyone who was yelling. A sheep dog on her back is useless. She cannot care for the things she was designed to tend when she is busy submitting to any voice that she hears.
I am learning to heed only the calls of my master, even when others are calling out in his name, “sit!” “stay!” heel!” I can hear his gentle voice, “come, run, tend what I have given you.” Listening to the voices that are not my father often leave me cowering with my tail between my legs. It isn’t always safe, this calling in this body and listening to people who are not my master has only compounded the situation, and left me distracted from my work.
When you see me rising from my stance of submission, you need to understand it is the master’s voice I am submitting to. I would never stand up on my own. If it were left up to me I would live my life belly up, legs in the air. It is time for me to use these strong legs, to bark a little bit in a voice that surprises even myself, to feel satisfied when I see that all is well with the flock that is under my care. I need to get out of this loud barn, and go with my master into the wild flower fields. I understand it doesn’t look like submission to you, but it isn’t you I am answering. My master is calling. I have sheep to tend.