It was such a small thing.
But it didn’t feel small.
And then I realized… that was sort of the point.
Lots of us have our online “community” of friends. People we interact with on facebook, twitter, etc, that we have not met in real life. We might someday, but for now, we’ve connected online likely because of similar interests or perhaps political views. Either way, it’s a community. It’s different from those in real life, of course, but it still feels faithful to call it a community.
A new and large part of my online community comes from one thing we all have in common: the subscription to a magazine called Christ and Pop Culture. Part of subscribing is a membership to a private Facebook group where we interact on all things Jesus and pop culture related. From there, friendships are “formed” and twitter followings have begun.
This is a story from that community.
I suppose it started when Matt Poppe and I followed each other on Twitter. I have no clue who followed who first. Then Matt wrote this article about why he abandoned the Billy Graham rule. (https://www.fathommag.com/stories/tired-of-making-enemies-out-of-allies) How a desire to keep himself from following through on a sin very much at the forefront of his life – lust – led to something sinful as well: seeing women as the threat. Not the sin.
“it was increasingly difficult to see my sisters as anything other than an unwelcome threat to my righteousness and reputation, a minefield to be avoided rather than a relationship to be nurtured. “ Matt writes.
By the end of the article, I was simultaneously sobbing and cheering. And I’m still processing why.
Being a woman in church leadership is painful. More often than not. It can range from simply being frustrated with yourself that you didn’t say the right thing in a certain moment to feeling exhausted and overwhelmed at the expectations placed upon you… and most harmful, second-guessing everything you feel in your bones from the Lord about your call.
It’s that last one I’d like to intersect with Matt’s article.
The church has a long way to go before its marginalization of women ends. From refusing to allow women to stand behind to pulpit to expecting women to see their highest calling as motherhood, the church has hemmed women in so tightly to a cultural narrative that we feel strangled each and every day. It’s hard enough for a woman attending a church, much less one who works for one.
But then this.
To see in black and white a fellow believer (and married man no less) call me “sister” broke me. My heart stopped a little and then the tears came and I was just… awash with gratitude.
He called me “sister”.
Like I said, it started so small, and then I realized why it wasn’t small at all.
I’m on my second career, my third home, my fifth car, my third computer, my second guitar. I’ve been called a feminazi because I dared say women have equal value than men in the eyes of God. I’ve been discounted for my theological hutzpah because I only do family ministry (and not “real” ministry) I’ve been emotionally abused by a boss who was also a pastor, and I have been not-so-gently nudged behind a pulpit that I wasn’t sure I was ready to stand behind.
My own story is as complex and it is layered, common as it is unique, and sad as it is joyful – just like the tears when I read Matt’s tweet. For no man has ever be willing to say that to me personally, in the context of Christianity. NONE.
The church has a long way to go. May these moments as small and as big as a tweet serve to push it further down the road.
Us women need it.