Today has been rough, I am fighting a touch of something that involves lots of congestion, zero motivation, complicated by a monthly visitor that we ladies get to "welcome" like it or not, and my accidentally home schooled five year old who is suffering with a case of cabin fever and a voice that doesn't go lower than 1 million decibels and I swear only has to breathe once every five minutes of nonstop chattering. You know just from reading that sentence what I am talking about, right? Maybe you groaned a little in empathy, for which I thank you. Then my hubs got home a half hour early and I declared he was on duty, thank God! While they went to fetch a pizza I zoned out surfing the web and enjoying the QUIET! (Please don't get me wrong I really love this kid and treasure these days we have together as they won't be our norm for ever.) While rambling around the amazing world wide web I stumbled upon something I hadn't before, another get together for Christian women type thing. I got totally excited because I have been trying really hard to find some sort of camaraderie or sisterhood for women like me. I am not crazy enough to believe I am SO unique there is no one like me. I eagerly read up, seeing lots of what I call red flag buzz words, the words that are a part of a Christianity that I respect but I am not a part of. It seems that the only groups or events I can find for Christian women range from conservative to progressive evangelical. This isn't all bad but it is really hard to go "fit in" in a place where your theology is way different. In all honesty lady preachers aren't welcomed in some of these circles, they certainly are in some.
I don't want to knock what other women are doing, I think it is good for us to have support for each other where we can find it. I have a diverse set of friends with lots of theological, socioeconomic, educational, life stage, life choice, diversity. I happen to be a white, heterosexual woman, who is married, has a child, and is going into full time ministry in the mainline Protestant church. Take away the full time ministry part and I am THE target audience for most women's ministry events. That in and of itself is problematic, not all women get married, not all women are attracted to men, not all women want to or can have children maybe this is stating the obvious but we aren't all white either... the list goes on and on and on. Women are different! A single woman is as valuable to God as a woman who is married with five kids. I get it life stages are different and sometimes it's hard to relate but isn't that what we are called to do? If my friend doesn't have or want kids, that's ok even if I have one and say irrational prayers for more. This is my truth, one of the best friends I have ever known doesn't want to have children, we still get along. As a matter of fact she purposely comes to the very kid-centric events that are a part of my life. I think because she loves me and my offspring very much, but that is just a guess. You know what else is crazy she can tell me I am invited to an event that isn't kid friendly and I can come well informed with out my kiddo in tow or I can sit it out in favor of family time AND it is OK! Another wonderful friend I have serves in a church very different than my own but we share the struggles of parenthood and ministry even if our theology is different. So I know this kind of relationship is possible!
Here's what I dream, a place where women of all kinds of life stages and choices can come together and wrestle with life and faith. Not a place where women are called to very specific areas of church life or home life. A place where we can say, "What the heck God?" A place where we can talk about life as women, who believe something greater than them is at work in the world.
So for me specifically it's learning to balance full time ministry and motherhood. I have spent the last five years as a mostly stay at home mom, while studying and interning. I am crazy enough to pray to get to parent more than one kiddo and it will look different the second time around. I was doing pinterest like projects before pinterest was a thing, so yeah I like pinterest and being creative and crafty but it isn't about presenting an aura of perfection to the world. I question most things, I wrestle with faith even though I am a leader in the church community. I love to write, I am passionate about working with children on their faith journey, and serving the people of God AKA everyone. I wrestle with what it means to have enough, to share what I have, and to love the "stranger". I see the good in people to a fault. I dream desperately of a world where women support each other even when they make different decisions because a woman who makes a different decision than I did isn't making that decision to make me feel insecure about the one I made.
So where are you women like me? Women who long to be in relationship with other women who are OK not finding the answers, OK with living in the mystery, working in the church (clergy spouses I count you in here) or some other form of ministry. Women who aren't letting the world or any organization define who they are. Women who are ready to support each other. Women who don't have to belittle other women to feel good about their own choices. Women who want to be in dialogue with women of a variety of backgrounds. Women who want to build a sisterhood of faith that crosses so many of the niche boundaries we see in faith circles? All while being comfortable enough to say things like, "This cough combined with Aunt Flo has me running to the bathroom every ten minutes and I am over it." (Men won't understand that, even if I think they make phenomenal friends and fellow sojourners.) Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to hang out with a group of mom ministers and share our stories and our struggles. I just don't want to limit my experience to only moms in ministry. I want to talk with all women and maybe sometimes I need to take shelter with the moms and maybe sometimes its with single ladies and sometimes with the grandmas and sometimes with the ladies who are attracted to ladies. Each of these groups have important voices, stories, and things to teach me. Maybe, although I am very unsure of this, I have some insight I can share with them?
I try sometimes to think what it would look like to gather these women, that I am sure exist and might even long for this too. How do we come together? Wrestle together? Respect and identify with each other? Where can we go to be fed? To be stretched? To grow? To fall apart? all surrounded by love. Can it even be done? If it were a large gathering would we have to do break out groups of people with similarities? If there were would it defeat the whole point?
I don't know but if you are out there, if you are looking for this, or you have found this, can we talk? Can we be women of faith wrestling, walking, wandering, wondering... TOGETHER?
Today I am so very grateful for the women who are already in my life, teaching me from all the perspectives I mentioned here and more.