FAQ (Feminist Answered Questions)

cropped-img_3673.jpg

At some point in my life I became a feminist. This word is has so many connotations and meanings, some good and some bad. I would like to respond to some of the topics that have come up since planting myself in this camp in the context of the Church. So here are my answers to the frequently asked questions:

If you’re a feminist, what about abortion?

Well, this is an easy one. God creates life, and only God should take life. But let’s not stop there; as a follower of Jesus I am pro-life not just anti-abortion. I do not believe in the death penalty (our legal system is too corrupt for that), I think we need more restrictions on how to buy guns, and I think that my pro-life stance means I must give my time and money to to kids and teens in high risk communities. So, yeah, I think abortion is wrong, but I also believe that to be pro-life you need a comprehensive view of life as a whole.

And to be honest with you, when I talk with pro-choice men and women about this topic—it comes up once they learn I love Jesus—they really respect the consistency of this approach. It has broken down walls before they’ve gotten very high.

So, you think men are less?

What is this, 1962? Feminism does not mean men are inferior, it means we are equal. I do not need to emasculate a man in order to be at the same level, nor does a man need to belittle a woman in order to show strength. We, followers of Jesus, need to treat each other with the respect and dignity the Image of God brings to all people. Gender should never be a reason to treat someone as less.

Is this why you are single?

No. And no joke, someone asked me this. I know many feminists who are married, and when I marry, he will be a feminist also. I like who I am and who God is growing me to be.

Does this mean you don’t need men?

It is questions like this that slay me! This does not mean I do not need a man—I need my dad all the time! I need other men in my life with unique skill sets to help me out. Just last week I called my friend Andy because there was a sketchy car parked outside my house for the second Tuesday in row, same car, same man. Andy check on it for me (all was good, it was an unmarked cop car). But I did not think it was smart for me to walk up to the odd car and see what was up.

In the same vein, men need women. Not to bake, clean, or bear children, but to be friends with and build God-honoring relationships with, so there are examples of platonic friendships within the church. We need each other, period.

What about the Bible?

This is one of my favorites, because for real? I cannot read the Bible without encountering Jesus, the ultimate feminist. He stood up the rights of women, He affirmed dignity, He made room for them, and He loved them so much He redeemed them.

I look at Old Testament women like Jael, Deborah, Rahab, Hagar (a single mom), Huldah and Hannah: they were women of strength, obedience and submission to God not always man (ok, sometimes submission to man and God, lol). I think God did not create women as subpar humans; he made us as Ezer, and that is so much more than a “helpmate.” “‘Ezer is not a term of subordination or inferiority; most of the time in the Old Testament it refers to God who is Israel’s helper. The forming of the woman from the man’s side indicates the unity and equality God intended for all human beings, male and female.”

If I wanted to really make a point about gender and the Bible, I would point out all the times men failed verses the times that women came through in the clutch. If we are going to use the entirety of the Bible as our barometer for feminism, then let’s really look at it, with openness and fresh eyes, let’s see how Jesus approaches women, let’s look at the cultural context of the writing and let’s look at our own cultural biases.

I am a feminist

My identity is not in being a feminist, it is in Jesus. And in the end, Jesus is my favorite feminist.

Advertisements

Tinder Standards

cropped-58fa24f2-c629-42d2-b001-82a04f87d1f4.jpeg

So I joined Tinder, and to be clear I have no idea what I am doing. I have no game and I hate games. But I am being open to the process of these modern forms of getting to know someone. I did not meet The One at Bible College, I have yet to meet anyone through the local church, and Match and E-Harmony have failed me; either there is something tragically wrong with me (that I am unaware of), or Tinder is my last hope (lol).

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if—amid the unsolicited pics—I find a godly man who is looking for a godly woman? The humor of this narrative is not lost on me: a Jesus-loving, city-dwelling, justice-seeking feminist meets guy on Tinder. Such is my life.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. So far there has been no such favor found in the right swipe. I have matched and communicated with a few men, blocked a few pervs (I do not want to see that), and am pretty sure one was a bot… is it possible to have Tinderbots? Nothing has panned out yet.

Truth: I am A-OK with this. I have not felt bad about my lack of connections, I do not feel like I must find the match of my dreams, and I am being honest about who I am. Proclaiming the Gospel is my priority and Jesus must be the common denominator of our lives. I see God’s hand at work actively closing doors and protecting my heart.

Even with Jesus being a requirement, I have had matches who say faith is important but message despicable things. Lesson one for all you Tinderellas: the DM shows who he actually is. Say no, and then block him. Be the woman of standard you are meant to be.

Lesson two: if his kids are his first priority but his profile is all pics of his innocent non-dating kiddos, swipe left. His adorable children should not be the bait that gets you to swipe. I have appreciated the fathers who blur or cover the faces of their children; these are dads that think about the privacy and safety of their children. (To be clear, someone is not a bad parent for putting pics of their kid on Tinder, but it makes me uncomfortable).

Lesson three: If he has more than one gym selfie, he needs to add another hobby to his repertoire. Being in shape is great, and working out all that sexual frustration is fantastic, but I need to see more than that. As we are on the subject of mirror selfies, let’s also nix bathroom selfies. I do not need to see any more urinals on my Tinder feed, just saying.

Lesson four: If it says add me on Snapchat, RUN. If he has a bunch of ladies adding him on Snap, you are one of the many, not The One. If a date turns into something more, you will always wonder who is sending him snaps, who is on the side, who else did he reel in? And if there is a problem in the future, will he run to you or his Snaps?

Maybe this is why I’m still single, but exploring the Tinder culture has shown me new levels of standards I want, and need, to have. To be fair, there are probably a ton of awesome guys on Tinder, you just have to wade through the mass of dudes that are only separated (not divorced), the ones who are in “open relationships,” the ones “not looking for anything serious,” and—my personal favorite—“only here for the weekend,” to find them. Tinder is a tool, not the answer.

So be smart and go with your gut. Modern romance is app-based and lots of people actually do meet this way. Hopefully that means that the God of the universe might use Tinder to hook a sister up.

ReSister: Why I Marched

cropped-img_2645.jpg

This is why the Women’s March matters to me, a white, pro-life, anti-gun, Midwestern Christ follower.

It matters because in this time of great disunity, I was able to stand with women from all walks of life, backgrounds, religious affiliations, and political beliefs. We were able to unite in the fact that something must change, and we can be the catalyst for that change.

It matters because laws need to change. I stood with women who are fighting for the rights of trafficked girls, seeking tougher penalties for Johns, working toward harsher sentencing for domestic violence abusers.

It matters because I represent Christ. Many of the women around me had been hurt by the Church. On that day, I was able to stand with those in pain as an ambassador of the Gospel.

It matters because I love my niece. I want to make sure she does not need to fight for equal pay, that she does not have be more qualified than her male counterparts.

It matters because Black Lives Matter. I said “Amen” and “That’s right!” when words of dismantling racism were spoken. I was in agreement with my sisters of color and stood as an ally.

It matters because our differences should not define us. We may disagree on issues of reproductive rights, but we agree that women need access to affordable and safe health care, let’s start there.

It matters because Jesus was a feminist. I want to be the voice that says, “The Savior of the universe advocated for women, and so must the Church.”

It matters because I mentor teen girls. I want them to know the importance of voting and believe that their voice matters. In my city women make up 51% of the population and I want to see women represented in our government.

It matters because sexual violence is real. The hashtags #metoo and #timesup are not enough. I must be present and active in these movements. The more women who are brave enough to tell their stories and stand in solidarity with survivors as well as call for change, the safer our collective future will be.

It matters because women can work together. I want to be part of this amazing collaboration that is for people and not against them. I loved standing with a diverse, powerful and creative group of people.

There are a thousand other reasons why it matters, but today this is my list. This is why I marched, this is why I stood alongside women who need to be heard. This is why I showed up and this is why others did too.

Moody

cropped-img_2437.jpg

I knew at thirteen I had a strong call from the Lord to work in the city. I had no idea what this meant, but I knew my future was going to be ministering in urban communities. Later in life, I received the book A Heart for the City by John Fuder (a Moody professor) as a gift from my parents, I devoured it and knew Moody Bible Institute was the place for me.

So my senior year I applied to and was put on the waitlist, and I waited a year to be accepted. I entered as a freshman with a few credits, but I was an Urban Ministry major at the best Bible College in America. I was now a “Moody.” I was living in Houghton and walking the halls that many of my heroes had walked. I was making life long friendships and deepening my relationship with the Lord, all while being softened by life.

I was a rebellious Moody. I was not the typical student and sometimes felt that I did not fit there. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that none of us were typical. God called each of us to something different and unique; He put passions and drives in us that forced us to work together. He gave me a strong sense of justice and a passion for theology. But sometimes I need someone with an even stronger passion for Theology to call me back when Justice pushes me too far. And some times that Theologian needs me to push her when words are not enough and action is needed. We need each other for balance and function—the Body needs all different members.

I may have felt too “liberal” or “other” at Moody, but what it comes down to is that it was four impactful years of my life. For four years I had the privilege of learning from professors who would become my friends. I sat in classrooms with men and women who would go on to do great things for the Kingdom, others who would walk away from their faith, some who would go on to experience heartache that I can not even pretend to understand, a few who would come out, and those who would struggle. For a time, Moody was for all of us, a messed up group of young adults trying to figure out what life was supposed to be.

In those four years, we prayed together, cried together and stayed up all night studying. We laughed and explored Chicago and drank a lot of coffee. We read the same books, heard the same chapel speakers, attended Missions Conference and Founder’s Week. Ultimately we sought the Lord together and He directed our paths. Paths that have led us around the globe.

I am not saying Moody is perfect, nor was I always a model student. And yet, I am grateful. I sit here typing this post as an Urban Missionary who came out of college with no debt and the tools I need to interpret the Bible, preach the Gospel and make disciples. Moody gave me more than I could ever repay it for. So as I watch her struggle I pray that she will continue to be a place for students like me—those who do not fit but who love Jesus and long to be obedient to the call He put on their life.

The Beauty of Feminism

cropped-img_2225.jpg

The Beauty of Feminism
The Beauty of Advent Pt 4

This year has been filled with sorrow. From politics, to news, to allegations, to personal issues—mourning and lament have been top priorities. And yet there have been two things that have brought me constant hope: first is Jesus, more on that later, and the second has been feminism.

I always thought feminism was the f-word of Christian culture. But for the past couple of years I have found a deeply ingrained equality seeping from the Gospels. This year particularly I have been studying Mary, and I have noticed parts of her story that I had never given much thought to before. I have heard her story the same way my entire life. There was no new secret diary unearthed, no social media account to follow the journey, just four sparse accounts of this miracle.

Mary’s story is one of options. Options I never saw before this year. Part of me kind of felt bad for Mary, pregnant with the Messiah out of wedlock, young and without a choice. But that is what I have always read into the story, it is not how the story actually goes. The truth is Mary could have said no to the angel. Mary had the power of consent.

I used to think all this poor girl wanted to do was marry her man and participate in the tradition of her culture. To simply be married off to a man who was going to make all the decisions for her. But the Angel did not appear to Joseph or Mary’s father to ask for permission to change her future forever. The Angel went to Joseph after Mary accepted the invitation to host the Incarnation in her womb. Mary made her own choices and God empowered her to think for herself.

Mary had authority over her body and her life. Mary was God’s choice to mother the Savior of the world. Mary would be the most influential woman in Jesus’ life. She was strong and brave and accepted the societal consequences of a divine proposition.

And then there is Jesus—the radical hope of all mankind. The Babe in the straw grew up to be the Man who saw women as people, stood up for them, talked to them, and ultimately redeemed them. He continually saw the Father’s image in people who needed dignity restored, and oh so often it was women whom he protected, built up, and gave authority.

This year has been a tough one for a lot of people, folks I know and those I do not, but this Advent I can assure you that there is hope in Christ. As I delve more into what feminism means for me, a single woman in the church who is trying to follow Jesus, I look to Mary and the Baby she chose, who grew into a man who just might be my favorite feminist for the way forward.

The Beauty of Yes

cropped-img_2008.jpg

The Beauty of Advent Pt 3

For the past few weeks, I’ve spent Sundays sitting in my coffee shop, sipping my mocha with a book or pen in hand, and I have prayed. I have prayed for the barista (I’ll call them R) behind the counter, the one whose smile brings warmth and whose greeting brings charm. I have been praying for R, because faith is hard and spiritual abuse is real and the beauty of Advent is not always evident. I have been praying that R would see the coming of the Messiah with the wonder they did when they were young—when the mystery was still enchanting and life was not complicated and faith was easy. I pray for R because I want them to say, “yes” like Mary did.

The Son of God came as a zygote in the womb of a woman. A young and poor woman with no rights or notoriety. Just the favor of God poured out on her. Jesus could have come in any form—a mighty warrior, a reigning king, a roaring lion, a magnificent dragon, a brute force, or a battleship. But nothing royal or majestic came. Just small and miraculous.

The angel could have appeared to Mary with great volume and flaming sword in hand, but he came gently relaying God’s plan and seeking her consent. Mary listened and responded. I do not know how she deliberated or wrestled or how she came to her conclusion, but her yes ushered in redemption. Her yes may have been a whispered awe or spoken with bold assurance. Her agreement with the Angel came with no surrogate fees from heaven, just a promise and peace.

Mary pondered and thought while the Christ Child grew in her belly. She knew the Prophesied One would be born soon. She had songs, prayers, words, and peace, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her! (Luke 1:45)”

At Advent I have a choice, R has a choice: is the baby in the manger still the King? Was He born to die so that we might live? Born in a manger so that I might be born again? Born into poverty so that I might sell my belongings and give to the poor? Born as a refugee so that I may live as an alien in this world? Do I give this little eternal King my consent to tear down the walls in my life and grow fruit in the cleared lot? Do I treasure the fruit and say yes like Mary? I want to say yes, I want to believe that the Lord will fulfill His promises. I want to, and I pray that R wants this too. I pray that my “yes” will set the example for R, the example that Mary set for me.

written while listening to Worship 2017

currently reading Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances

Beauty in the Waiting

The Beauty of Advent Pt 2

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in His word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

As we anticipate, we wait for the light of Christ together. Like the watchman waits for the morning, we wait for the dawn of Hope to break through the darkness. Like the watchmen yearn for the sun, I pine for Advent, hungry for something new. I am searching for light in the context of encroaching darkness. And yet as the night gets darker and the light grows dim, the hope of Advent appears, rays of the sun begin to peek over the horizon. This hope is what makes the waiting worth it, for it illuminates and casts out the uncertainty of night.

The beauty of waiting is that even when it seems lonely, it is not. The watchmen wait together. Mary, Joseph and Elizabeth prepare together. The shepherds celebrate together. The Magi seek together. And we, the Body of Christ, the Fellowship of the Saints, wait, prepare, celebrate and seek together.

We wait together because the Christ Child is the Truth, because the waiting is worth it, because the waiting unites us in the grand story of redemption. Together we sing and pray and expel the darkness, together with Christ and the Church we are the best Patronus the world will ever see. We bring the blinding light of the truth and the hope, and the joy of the Lord with us everywhere we go. When the darkness is winning, we look to the light of the Baby in the manger, he shines brightly and overwhelms the void.

If the Advent is real, if the Light is coming, if the waiting and the anticipating is for Truth, then we must wait together. The beauty of Advent’s waiting is that we do it together. It is not a solitary event, it is communal. We are a community that waits together, that prepares together, that celebrates and seeks truth together—so that we can eliminate the darkness in the world and in ourselves.

written while listening to Yes, Yes and Amen

Beauty in Obscurity

cropped-606d519dbb260b3d69aba92c53d83f2e.jpg
Beauty of Advent Pt 1

Part of the beauty of the Advent is the obscurity of it all. We view this story as ubiquitous, but as it was unfolding it was so obscure and the players were unknown. A young couple getting ready to begin their life together, some shepherds just doing their jobs, a group of astronomers seeking the anomaly they had been studying, and a cousin who just loved her kin. Most of the story was everyday life unfolding and humans entertaining the thought, “Is this all really happening?”

Mary and Joseph just wanted to be married; they wanted to follow the cultural norm of their day and be together. And yet when asked to unwittingly enter into the grand story of history by carrying and caring for the Savior, they obeyed. In obscurity they obeyed solely for the Lord.

This obedience did not net them any gain, it actually brought pain. Mary was basically exiled to Elizabeth’s and Joseph’s reputation was tarnished. They submitted to the Lord’s plan for His glory, not their own. Part of the frustration with obedience in obscurity is that while you are in the midst of it, no one is patting you on the back, sometimes no one is encouraging you, sometimes you know that God sent you this task and you must obey. So, you put your head down and do the work. I wonder if Joseph felt this way. His obedience was significant, and yet we know so little about him. Ironically, his obscurity and his obedience are what he is known for.

The cast of characters God used are a picture of obscure obedience. The shepherds were just a group of guys going to work the night shift. We do not even know their names, but we know they obeyed. The Wisemen saw something they could not understand, so they sought the truth. And the Truth they found would soon be more than overwhelming than the star they originally followed. Elizabeth knew that her child would make the way for the Messiah growing in the womb of her little cousin. Her knowledge of the story was minimal, but she loved Mary and obeyed the Lord.

The Advent was their lives, not a story they listen to annually. It was the obscurity that makes it beautiful.

My takeaway for the twenty-first century is this: put your head down and do the work, follow in the path of Joseph and Mary. Your labor will not be in vain; the Lord sees your obedience and He delights in your obscurity, join in song like the shepherds. The truth of Lord is why you do this, so His mysteries can be discovered, so seek like the Magi. Speak love into lives and continue to obey like Elizabeth did. Find the beauty in the obscure this Advent.

Written while listening to my Christmas 2017 playlist

Hills and Valleys

cropped-img_1428.jpg

I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away

Every year as fall begins, the colors change and there is the perpetual scent of bonfire in the air. Every year, I curl up with a coffee or hot chocolate and marvel about my year and that it is coming to an end. But this year, I cannot wait for it to end, this year has been filled with valleys.

I know that I should be anticipating the ascent, the climb up the hill to a place where the sun can be easily seen, but honestly I just want to get 2017 over with. This past year began with a tire blowing out on the highway, continued with surgery and rounded out with the loss of my grandmother. As the year progresses, the valley has only grown deeper, and the climb seems like a lot of effort just to roll down the other side to a new valley. But in the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there.

This is why I have not written about myself lately. I have been struggling with my health since May, and after a summer of fatigue and pain, my doctor finally was able to pinpoint the cause. My gallbladder had to be removed quickly. While all that was happening, my family in Michigan was learning about a special form of dementia that my grandmother had been diagnosed with. It was rapid and tore away her mind and her physical body. It devolved quickly and she passed away a few weeks ago. But when I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!

With everything going on, writing has not been a priority. Yet as I sit and type this, I am reminded that no matter how bad these things—tires and gallbladders and dementia—seem, they are all temporal. Tires can be replaced, gallbladders can be removed and dementia will eventually end. There will be pain, there will be sorrow, but there will also be healing. Because You’re God of the hills and valleys! Hills and Valleys!

I want this valley to end so the healing can come, so the joy will be obvious and the pain will be lessened. The joy and the pain of it all is what makes it life. I am constantly looking for moments of strength to begin the journey upward, because I know the valley can seem deeper than it actually is. I know that life will fade, but joy makes way for hope. And I am hoping for a mountain top experience. Because on the mountains, I will bow my life to the one who set me there.

I am not naive to believe the hills are pain free; this year has truly prepared me for just about anything. It has also caused me to put my trust in the Lord, who is not temporal but is eternal. I have had to hope in the Lord, who is not safe but is good. I have had to place my faith in the Lord who in not distant but is near. I pray, Father, you give and take away every joy and every pain, through it all you will remain over it all!

I am not looking for a way out of this year; going through it all has made me stronger, softer and an encourager, but I am looking for for this leg of the journey to come to a resting place. And, I keep singing, No matter what I have, Your grace is enough no matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love.

Lyrics from Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells, this song has brought me to tears and reminded me to hope in the goodness of the Lord.