This week my God Talk piece is a little different and, amazingly, early! Wonderfully, Preston Yancey opened up his blog each Thursday for women to answer the question: “What do women want from the Church?” You can find all sorts of interesting pieces and I highly recommend having a look through and interacting with the authors.
I decided to throw my hat in the ring and will be replying to, and discussing with, anyone who wishes to have a chat. You can find my piece by clicking on this link:
Personally I also dedicate this to my new daughter, who is a healing touch full of potential. I only hope that there will be a time where she will feel seen, fully, as God created her.
UPDATE: Because I don’t want to rely on someone else to keep hold of my writing, below is a copy of my article written for the blog linked to above. Enjoy!
It is far too easy to walk right by someone, take them for granted, and not recognise their potential. For me it is something I’m used to as a woman in church. I want to be seen, not just because of my chest, my femininity (as labelled by others), or because of my wife/child-bearing potential, but as God made me.
Recently I’ve been discovering Eve; the girl who was created, then made a mistake, and was labelled as “the sinful women” forevermore. Everyone knows the story of Eve and yet we barely glance at her. She is a name connected to our sin, our pain, our fallen world. I have come to think there is more to Eve than her mistakes, and I have come to believe God created her with more potential and personhood. I believe when we refuse to see her as God created her, in all her fullness and potential we deny Gods creativity within the story of creation.
Women have been labelled as “daughters of Eve” as temptresses and sinners throughout history. We have had to hide our shame without understanding what it is we did. Women have been made to feel guilty if they give birth to a woman because we were the ones to cause everything wrong in the world. Christianity and the Church have claimed to embrace God’s forgiveness and grace and yet womanhood is still tainted by Eve’s first mistake.
When you welcome a woman into a church and automatically assume they would be great at running the Sunday school or creche (even if they are) in contrast to worship leading or preaching, you refuse to see her in all her fullness. When you tell a woman that her passion for social justice on behalf of children (however noble) is due to motherly instincts rather than understanding the heart of God, you refuse to see her. When you blame a woman for a man’s lustful wandering eye because she dared wear a skirt infront of him rather than assume it was just comfortable, you refuse to see her. When a woman speaks up for non-violence, tries to mediate an argument, or listens to a friend in need but is labelled as simply emotional rather than pastoral, you refuse to see her.
Every person, created in the image of God, has a wealth of talent, gifts, and if you see them and give them the opportunity to shine, the church will gain a new soul rather than just a volunteer. By seeing people for who they are rather than assuming categories connected to their sex, you free people to add their gifts to areas within the church, and life, that they otherwise may have been excluded from. In order to gain the most from God’s gifts to us church needs to take off its preconceptions and ask God to see more fully, see Jesus and the Spirit in each individual, and watch how new people bring new light to God’s church, people and word. This isn’t just for women, but it is most commonly women who suffer the assumptions about who they are based on their sex.
To God I am more than my genitalia. To God I am more than my mistakes. To God I am more than a wife, sister, daughter, or mother. To God I am myself, created with potential, with talents and gifts and paths open to me. To God I am a daughter of Eve, but this means that I am one of many women that God created in love and purpose and wonder.
I am seen.
I am seen not in contrast to a man, or even another woman, but simply as myself. This is what I need from the church as a woman: to be seen. This is what I need for my future children: for them to be seen. This is what I have been praying for: to be seen.