The Other Woman

 I am a woman. A woman whose heart races over thick books and Greek definitions. I took upper division theology courses for fun. Yet, my passion for the thick tomes of Christianity is only allowed to be relegated to the work of teaching children or women. I have felt the weight of this young, when I was informed on why women were not permitted to serve as an elder, to preach from the podium. I could preach among play-dough and goldfish crackers all I wanted, but my voice becomes invalid in front of grown men.

I am a woman who tenses at the idea of having multiple biological children, of living in a nice house in a nice town and then retiring for Florida. I am a woman who drinks red wine and wears bright lipstick and likes jetting off on adventures with little more than a backpack and a journal. I was not made for the American dream.I am a kingdom-woman, a prophesier who proclaims the power of the equality found in the Spirit. I care for broken bodies, broken minds, broken spirits. And I sit in the church on Sunday, The Other.

I am the Other Woman who walked across that graduation stage at my Christian college with vibrant red lips and cat-eye glasses, without the ring by spring. I did not subscribe to the belief that the three most important letters that I could ever gain from my education were MRS . I am the Other Woman who refuses to believe that God created the perfect man for me and that Prince Charming will come one day and sweep me off my feet. I believe Love is a verb, is a Person, is something you commit to. I am The Other Woman who does not care to go to your monthly women’s ministry meeting where pink cupcakes will be served and wooden spoons will be painted with acrylic paints, and a message that God thinks I’m beautiful (which, apparently, is my soul’s deepest question according to a Very Popular Christian Book). I am the Other Woman, with hips that dare to curve themselves out of size four jeans, whose hips move mountains, thank you very much. I do not fit into the American culture’s ideal, nor the ideal of the suburban christian church. I do not worship at the shrine of the young nuclear family.

I am the Other Woman.

But I am not alone.

There are many of us, the Other Women. We paint our lips with truth, fill our heads with Truth that comes with Love. We are the Other Women, who did not receive a spirit of timidity at our baptism. We are the Other Women, calling all made in the likeness of God to come, dance in the light with us, throw of the bonds of culture and church culture and rejoice in the knowledge that you are deeply loved in your size four jeans, deeply loved with your oxblood lips and cat eyes, deeply loved with your thick volumes of theology and Holy Scriptures stained with ink and blood and tears, deeply loved with your spouse and those little souls you are raising so well.

You see, we are all Other women. We have all been othered at some point in our lives. Forgive me for the way I have sat on my high horse and held the title of Other Women above me, unwilling to share (it’s just a cheap plastic crown, after all*). Every single one of us has felt exlcuded, othered because of our gender or who we love or who we vote for or the color of our skin. We are united in our otherness. And that’s the exquisite beauty of the Body of Christ. We are a mosaic, different colors and textures and pieces making something beautiful, a bit of kingdom come.

So, my beautiful sisters, embrace your otherness. Throw off those chains that have silenced your words, and come dance in the Love with us, the Other Women.

Amen.

..

Linking up with the SheLoves synchroblog tonight- http://shelovesmagazine.com/2014/synchroblog/ . I encourage you all to look through the other bloggers who shared about being the other- maybe you’ll find another who’s been othered like you, too.

Later Days,

Jess

*if you got that reference, let’s be best friends forever.

Advertisements

On Being Gentle With Myself

“Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often:do not hurry as you walk with grief…Be not disturbed. Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive: walk slowly, pausing often. Take time; be gentle as you walk with grief” -Andy Raine

“Make us good students of these rhythms that we might not hurry the work of grief, but receive the gift of your presence in our time of need. Amen”- Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, October 8th

I’ve been “home” with my parents for over a week now, and it feels… strange. Like I’m just visiting on break, then in a few days I’ll drive home to San Diego again. But then I walk out to the garage to feed my dog and oh, look, there’s my entire apartment in boxes. My room felt like high school, so I went and bought a new yellow and gray quilt. Now it feels a little more like me.

During my psych nursing rotation (or, as I liked to call it “How not to be a terrible human being to other human beings who might be a little different than you”), we talked a lot about the concept of “self-care”. Basically, the idea is you can’t effectively care for others unless you are effectively caring for yourself. My professor encouraged us to find something we can do that refreshes us. My best friends and I decided sometimes the kindest thing we could do to care for ourselves was skipping chapel to get burritos and go watch the ocean for a while (or randomly barge into a friends bedroom and demand they make room for us to cuddle with them on their bed). Individually, I found this practice very difficult. My nature is to give and give and give to others. I am a golden retriever, I am loyal and steadfast to my people and nothing brings me more joy than bringing joy to my friends (and patients). I began learning in nursing school that this trait is not always a good thing. I would bleed myself dry for others, then be physically unable to love myself because there was nothing left to give.

I’m having to relearn this practice. I’ve been talking to my therapist I saw during my freshman and senior years of high school (fun fact: I have a tendency to crumble with major life changes. Not my friend), and my goodness, it’s been beautiful and difficult. She’s encouraged me to allow myself to grieve what I’ve lost in the process of moving cross-state. The community I’ve built, the roots I’d put down, the dreams I buried. It’s been difficult. I am excellent at deferring emotional crisis, pushing off the pain until I feel I am in a safe place to deal with it. At my last meeting, my therapist told me that I was in a safe place, that I could let go. So I did. But only briefly. Until I told her I felt ridiculous for feeling this way because I’m coming from such a place of privilege that I have now right to be this upset. That the dreams I held were dumb and useless because why was I crying over someone I never even held hands with?

My therapist stopped me: “Are you listening to yourself? Why are you being so harsh to yourself?”. And I remembered a conversation I had had with one of my dearest friends about the same things. During this conversation, I felt myself begin to tear up, but I immediately brushed off the emotion. “Never mind, it’s dumb.” My friend responded by saying “No, it’s not dumb”. My hamster wheel brain stopped spinning, and I swear my soul let out a deep sigh. You mean… it’s okay for me to feel angry and upset and sad? To take a moment and just let things be about what I’m experiencing in the moment? To do something to be kind to my soul, to walk through grief without hurrying to be done with the pain? Yes, it’s alright.

It’s alright for you, too, my friend. Do not hurry the work of grief; do not be ashamed of your anger and sadness. Take time to breathe through the pain, to welcome the new work of the Spirit in your soul. To learn to love all over again. Because love is always worth it. Amen.

I made a list of Ten Things I can do to Be Gentle to Myself:

1. Participation in daily Liturgy and prayer journaling. This is how I find myself most able to commune with God: ink and paper; tradition and sanctity.

2. Make a cup of tea. On my quilt buying adventure, I picked up some Downton Abbey: English Rose tea. It’s roses and raspberries and old-fashioned grace in a cup.

3. Go on a walk, take your time. The physical manifestation of taking my time through my grief. I do not rush these walks, I meander through the old-growth oaks and bramble patches that mark my homeland.

4. Take a bath. Water has always been my friend, and I’m always amazed by the literal and figurative renewing power water possesses.

5. Light a candle. Frostbeard (find them here on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/Frostbeard?ref=l2-shopheader-name) makes book-scented candles. My current favorite is “Old Books”.

6. Sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry. Revolutionary, I know, but sometimes I forget to take care of my basic human needs when I’m grieving.

7. Cry if you need to. Don’t choke tears down, let them flow freely.

8. Read a good book. Sometimes I need to be a part of someone else’s story for a while.

9. Take a drive; get a little lost. I always find a little gem of a place when I get lost.

10. Play with the dog. Pet therapy. Nothing better.

Thanks for reading, friends. I am indebted to you all.

Later Days,

Jess