Oh my. Beth Moore.
Whatever water she is drinking these days – (which I think is called what-happens-to-a-woman-when-she-no-longer-fears-man) – I want to get my hands on some.
If you missed it, Beth wrote a powerful letter to our brothers in the church. Sometimes, when the church sees a movement like “me-too” sweeping the nation, they ignore it. Sometimes they get together in a room and talk about how to care for the women in their particular body. Sometimes they set up spaces for women to process and work through their questions and feelings about the movement.
What we don’t always see a ton of, is men gathering the men together to ask one another – how have we – intentionally or not – been a part of generating systems that might have perpetuated this problem?
The first paragraph of Beth’s letter had me feeling nauseous.
A few years ago I told my friend, Ed Stetzer, that, whenever he hears the news that I’m on my deathbed, he’s to elbow his way through my family members to interview me about what it’s been like to be a female leader in the conservative Evangelical world. He responded, “Why can’t we do it before then?”
“Because you know good and well what will happen,” I answered. “I’ll get fried like a chicken.”
I am not a powerful female leader in the Church. I am no Beth Moore. I don’t have much to lose, but even on this very small blog in my very small part of the world, I know how hot the fryer can be for a little chicken like me. I know – however ugly and disgusting it sounds – that if you ever want to be considered a respectable resource in reformed circles, you have to be considerate of not offending the men who have the power and control in that space.
Like Beth, I could write pages and pages about the men in my local church who have ministered to me, equipped me, believed in me – respected me. I am truly blessed to have landed in ministry with men who were not threatened by my gifts and my personality, who helped shepherd me into believing that I am not made wrong, that I am unique and valuable and fearfully and wonderfully feminine, even if I don’t fit the stereotype.
But, like Beth, I cannot say that these kind of experiences with Christian men are the only ones I’ve had.
On this very blog, I have been accused of being a man, because no ‘real woman’ would ever write with the direct tone I use. I have been coached to flatter and encourage, even when I disagree with what men are saying. I’ve been told told that I am not feminine because I am a thinker and a teacher, and that I’m not soft spoken enough for a man to want to marry me. I have listened to joke after joke about women being crazy, irrationally emotional, illogical, unreliable, untrustworthy and when I’ve pushed back on those conclusions I’ve been branded a ‘raging feminist.’
Mostly, I have felt the powerlessness that comes when you realize your voice has no weight. I have understood, in ways I wish I did not, why women might write letters to journalists about their experiences because they are so weary of feeling so desperately unheard.
So, when I saw Beth Moore’s post I felt a deep hope rise within me. For she is a woman whose words (I hope) have weight with the male leadership in the church. I long to see men, (not just women), sharing her letter on their feeds. I long to see them texting the link to one another, talking through it with their fellow pastors and leaders and asking themselves where they might have accidentally been a part of a system – perhaps with no ill intention – that has made women feel marginalized and lesser.
I am no Beth Moore. I do not have the ear of any men. I don’t have a husband or a brother or a son who might listen and nod and consider his own part in this culture. I have no power to influence men in this world.
But I know a little about the futility of waiting on others to give you worth you were given long ago. I know that we cannot wait until men proclaim that truth over us to believe that we have value and worth, because we have let the words of others have too much weight in our souls already – weight that was supposed to belong to God alone. We must retake the power of who gets to tell us what is true about who we are and what we are capable of.
I cannot change the church. I cannot change what you believe about yourself or what some man I don’t even know believes about you.
But I can do what I can do. Be the me I was made to be and bear the fruit I was made to bear.
I can carve out a little space in this world where you and I can come together and process and listen to what God says about us. Where we can ask ourselves if we believe Him, if we will unite our hearts to fear His name as Beth has done, so that by the time some man looks at us and says we have value and worth, we do not start weeping and feel shackles come off our own hearts, but we -with hearts fully confident in our worth already – start weeping as we see the shackles come off the culture as a whole.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Make a space for us to talk about all this. If you’re with me, let’s get together. Monday, June 4. Austin Texas. Consider this your save the date. Details TBD. I’ll figure out the time and location, and if you want to come, or want more info, or even want to help organize this thing, let me know here.
I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea what He’s doing. But, I can’t wait to find out.