Thursday, July 21, 2016

Deeper Things: Dealing with the question of who I am as a "Christian Woman".

I identify as many things: feminist, mother, wife, sister, daughter, creative soul, world traveler, friend and giver of life to name a few. While I generally comfortable with all of those "titles", I have often struggled with my identity as a "Christian" woman. Why? Well, for many reasons actually. The word "Christian" can mean many different things to different people and, as much as it breaks my heart to say this,  it often denotes someone who is close minded, hateful, ignorant, and alienating.  Furthermore,  I grew up picturing women in the Bible as shadowy creatures, burdened down with children, "belonging to their husbands", silent, and unmentionable. Living under a patriarchal entrenched society, meant that they had little control over their lives. Even as a young women I found myself asking God, "was this your intention for women"?

In University, I minored in Women Studies, and while I enjoyed the lectures and assignments immensely, I often found myself experiencing a great deal of angst, sorrow and confusion. There are days that I would sob afterwards, crying out "do I want to be a part of a faith that historically undervalues women"? I would find myself thinking, "I am not okay with a religion that uses scripture incorrectly to render women powerless over their own lives"? As a feminist,I couldn't tolerate the thought of being considered less valuable than my male counterparts. Sometimes after reading the Old Testament , I would find myself asking God, "is this how you view me as well?  "Do you think that I have less value as a man? Am I an "afterthought? "Is it possible for me to serve a higher purpose other than that of bearing children?"

Oh, those were tough questions and they made my heart feel heavy but I continued to ask them anyway because I NEEDED answers.

I was initially VERY overwhelmed when I started to address the question of "who am I  a Christian woman", but once I focused my attention on how Jesus treated women, my fractured heart began to mend.

I began with this: If he, Jesus, is the physical manifestation of God on earth, than His view, and therefore God's view, of women would be evident  in the way He spoke to and treated them.  What I found brought me tremendous hope. Jesus not only listened women but also spent time with them and gave them important tasks. He liked them, esteemed them, and treated them the same as his male counterparts, even to the horror of even his closest companions. I thoroughly love what Ann shared over at "A Holy Experience" on this very subject:

"This is what God chose as best, this is where He first became one of us: God chose to make His entry point into the world through the holy space of a woman, to enfold Himself inside of a woman, to drink of a woman, be held and nourished and cared for by a woman — that’s the jolting truth of how God loves His daughters with His honor. That Christ never beat down a woman with harsh words or lusting eyes or sneering innuendos, but He stepped in and stopped a broken woman from the abuse of angry men. Christ didn’t degrade women in His talk, but He made women heroes in His stories. He invited a woman with a coin and broom to reveal the truth about the Kingdom of God. That’s how God loves His daughters with His words. Christ didn’t demonize women but He accepted the presence of a woman reviled by the self-righteous, He sat with the scandalous woman the righteous regarded as damaged goods, He welcomed the rejected and the immodest though he lost the respect of the religious. That’s how God loves His daughter with His grace. When Christ stepped out of that black tomb, he still didn’t choose to first manifest Himself to prestigious officials, religious leaders, the Twelve, but instead He revealed Himself first to the women, He entrusted the veracity of His resurrection to the testimony of the women, He offered the privilege of proclaiming Christ as the risen Savior to the women, though no court at the time would accept their testimony. That’s how God loves His daughters with His regard." - Ann

I found my heart leaping up within me! "Yes, this is the Jesus that my heart knows"!

 When we think about or describe God, we often do so using male attributes and language. What we fail to remember, is that both male and female were created in His image. God has MANY attributes that we would typically label "feminine". An article by Crossroads entitled "God's Feminine Attributes" expounds on this topic.

A mom's Bible study group I belong to, recently looked at a passage of scripture from  Proverbs 31 from a modern day perspective.  The woman in this passage of scripture was described as capable, efficient, wise, unafraid of the future, kind resourceful, trustworthy, and wise with her finances/profits /purchases. She was entrepreneur who purchased  vineyards to boot. She was not praised for being meek, obedient and unquestioning, but for being strong, and wise. Now, THAT is the kind of woman I aspire to be. I believe that is the kind of woman that Jesus wants me to be.

My journey is far from over. In fact, sometimes it feels as though it has just begun, but am excited for what lies ahead. I am excited to learn more about who I am as a woman of faith. I am not afraid of asking tough questions. There are many things that I am wrestling with as I write this piece and I know there will be difficult questions in the future, but I am confident in who I am in Christ and who He has called me to be.

So today, when I call myself  a Christian, I am saying that I am a follower of an incredible person who is the most profound example of love that I have ever encountered. His presence in my life changes EVERYTHING about how I see and interact with my world and I long to live my life in a way that emulates Him. I am not on board with bigotry, close mindedness, control, fear, exclusivity,
I am not defined but what I can and cannot do. I am defined by His incredible love for me.

So there it is. Jesus. It all begins and ends with Him.



Kennington Corner said...

Beautiful journey! I love how God revealed his love for us women to you. He is the perfect kind, loving husband we dream of :)

Mrs. R said...

I too struggle with the same identity. Wonderfully written, my friend!