A Difficult Conversation
I am going to be 100% transparent. I am struggling. I am struggling as a minister, and I am struggling as a mom. And in the midst of this struggle is the keen awareness that part of what I am wrestling with is how to best articulate the thoughts that have engulfed my mind and weigh heavily on my heart.
Therefore, I ask for grace and mercy and love. I ask for you to read these words and know that I have prayed over each and every one of them, because this is a difficult conversation for many people. But even within the challenging nature of this conversation lies the greater truth that it matters. It matters to the work of the kingdom, and it matters to God.
My grandmother passed away a little over two years ago. She was an amazing, strong woman who impacted the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren tremendously. She was the epitome of boldness and one of my greatest examples of faithfulness. Her funeral was held in the same small town in east Texas where she spent most of her life at the small Church of Christ she attended for so many years. It could not have been any other way, because her relationship with God was at the core of her identity.
After the funeral was over, much of the family sat around that church auditorium reminiscing about our grandmother through laughter and tears, and while we were doing so, one of my daughters pulled a large chair up to the pulpit and began preaching her sermon. As I sat there and took in the scene before me, two equally impactful thoughts came to mind. The first was that Nana was most certainly smiling down on my sweet daughter as she delivered this message of God’s love to the family with the energy of an emboldened three-year-old. The second was decidedly different. I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of sorrow, because I knew that if God truly had blessed her with a voice to prophesy, then I also knew a day would come when she would be told that her voice was wrong, that her giftedness should not be used in the way God intended, and that who God made her to be was a mistake. And my heart broke.
Two years later, this understanding still wounds me deeply. As I watch my daughters grow in their relationship with Christ and start to discover their gifts as empowered by the Father, I am worried. I am worried, because I know they will experience the silencing of their voices in ways that ultimately cause them question the intentionality of God and his creation of them. And that is not okay. Therefore, despite the explosive potential that exists in a conversation like this, it is essential. Furthermore, as a minister to children and their families, and as a mom to four kids, it is a conversation I am called to.
Gen. 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness.’ … So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness. These verses speak to the equality of the Godhead. One isn’t higher than the others. Therefore, when humankind is made in the image of God, they’re made to model the unity of the Trinity so that it is in both female and male that all of the image of God is displayed. All of the image of God is displayed. That is the root of what we should be seeking, because in that realization lies the fullness of God and the fullness of who God calls us to be.
I recently had a conversation with a friend at church, and my heart ached over her experience, because she is struggling in much the same way as I am. There is pain in her situation, and that sadness can be so clearly felt in her words. She described it as being adrift at sea. “You have gifts to offer and nowhere to take them. You’re wondering if you’re going to finally land somewhere and be welcomed. Somewhere that needs what God has given you to offer. Or if you’ll just sit there drifting.”
Adrift at sea. There is a hopelessness in that imagery, because drifting is contrary to the intentionality that God models for us. We are given gifts and a calling that are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29), and they aren’t based on gender. They are given freely through the grace of God, and we, then, are designed by God to use them. We are expected by God to use them. Yet, what happens when we are told we can’t or that God is not actually calling us in that way? What sort of spiritual fracturing occurs when voices are oppressed?
Perhaps this is actually where the difficult conversation begins.