Defined by More Than Difference

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I go to a church that I would describe as complementarian and it is not where I thought I would end up. I had talked with the Pastor about women’s roles and he quoted John Piper (and as far as complementarians go, he is not the one to quote) but I visited and was warmly embraced. I visited other churches, longing to find one in the heart and heat of the Midwest that embraced women in all roles. I found them vibrant and alive, but I felt drawn back to the Sunday night church in the basement. Something pulled me in.

As I have been attending, I have meet like-minded women who feel called to this congregation. We worship together, sing together, study God’s Word together, serve together, and pray that God will use us to impact His Kingdom. Something is pulling us in.

My Pastor knows my views differ from his, but he is open to civil and constructive conversations. When a woman who was a new believer in our church asked me about women’s roles, I shared with her my beliefs and some resources, but I also looped my Pastor in. Not because I felt like I needed to, but because I wanted him to know she was asking and that my response was not a divisive act, it was simply an honest answer to an honest question. He thanked me and read through what I sent, noting that he knew my heart on the issue.

When The Junia Project picked up one of my blogs, he congratulated me. On Mother’s Day he quoted one of my blogs in a PowerPoint slide, and thanked me for writing about the calling of mothering even for those without children. He is gracious and wants those under his pastoral care to use their gifts; when women have visions or a Word for the church, he freely encourages them to speak and is grateful for their honesty.

When a guest speaker filled our pulpit and mentioned a Christian theology he did not agree with, that was the moment it hit me – the something pulling me in was the life and unity Pastor Jason preaches. Although we differ, he does not put me or my theology down. My convictions do not scare him, they engage him. He asks great questions that have led to understanding and unity.

I love being a part of this congregation: we love hard, enjoy life together, and desire unity for the Church in Wichita. I may label myself an egalitarian, but that label is not as important as Unified,  which is what continues to draw me back Sunday after Sunday – the unity I see and the unity that is sought.

 

Mothering

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I have never really wanted kids. I am not selfish, I am not a horrible person, I have just never felt the need to be in charge of another person for the rest of my life. I love other people’s kids; I am an epic babysitter, the world’s greatest Tía, and I can calm a baby down in minutes (but then I can give them back).

I once told a married friend of mine that I did not want children, and he told me, “Your role as a woman in the Kingdom is to raise Godly children.” We then prayed for dinner and I was so pissed at this man that I literally could not talk about it. I was ticked for so many reasons: First, I am single and in my mid 30s, what if my baby making days are done? Second, what if I was barren, and God had never put the desire for kids in my heart to spare me from heartache later? Third, what if I will never be un-single and this lack of desire is God protecting my heart? And finally, what if the life Christ has called me to is childless?

As Mother’s Day approaches, my friend’s words ring in my head. My child-free life screams from the pew. As the women around me are gifted with a rose or some other flower, I sit happily in my childlessness but sad that mothering is viewed so narrowly in the church.

I spend time every week hanging out with and mentoring two eleven-year-olds. I spent seven years discipling teens and most definitely mothering them, but I am not viewed as a mom. Even though Malcom called me Momma Candy, even though I worked tirelessly to get Ashley to read, even though I taught Sugar her colors and shapes. Motherhood is viewed as purely biological.

I once read that there are two types of moms: the ones who are mothers by circumstance and those who are called to mothering. Either type can actually have children, but neither have to want them. There are single, barren, married, and waiting women who are called to mothering – they staff our nurseries, they hold babies, they mentor young people, they help in homework clubs, they take in orphans and they fill our mission fields. They love nurturing and caring for children. There are others who love their own kids and have no desire to deal with other people’s kids; but they are gifted and called to other things.

So Pastors and guest speakers, as you prepare your sermons for Mother’s Day, be inclusive of those that mother yet have no children. Be gracious in the language around the “sanctifying” act of childbirth; God uses many things to sanctify His children. And please do not say that it is a woman’s job to raise Godly children – that is an act of God’s grace that takes the entire Body of Christ.