Women out of the Box

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This week some male Christian leaders demeaned and demoralized a female Christian leader with their words on a public platform. I don’t care to go into specifics. The thoughts came out of a theological difference, but theology aside, the comments were unkind and lacked gentleness and grace.

The whole scenario got me thinking about women in general. The reality is we live in a society where a portion of it believes women should maintain the traditional role as homemaker having responsibility for the cooking, cleaning, children, and as far as anything religious goes, they should just shut up and leave that to the men. Another part of society doesn’t see distinct roles at all, so much so that there are now more than 50 gender options to choose from when identifying yourself on Facebook. This makes for an incredibly broad spectrum!

Growing up, I remember having fleeting moments of feeling like I didn’t fit the mold. I didn’t like playing with baby dolls or playing house. Going to a slumber party to do hair and makeup wasn’t appealing. I loved math (except for geometry) and technology, which tended to be more male dominated subjects. I didn’t at all picture myself as a grown-up married with children, didn’t dream of my perfect wedding day…ironic, since I’m a stay-at-home mom and loving it 100% . As I grew up, I became more comfortable in my own skin and I have embraced who God created me to be with all my strengths and imperfections.

I think many of us fall for lies about what a “real woman” should be. We’re inundated with stereotypes and sometimes even shamed for ambition of certain kinds. A male wants to be CEO and he is cheered on, a woman has the same desire and some say she is simply power hungry. A male leader is seen as strong, a female leader is seen as bossy.

To the depth of my core, I believe every single human is uniquely created. We are valuable whatever job we choose to have or not have. The woman at home, the woman working as a waitress, the woman in her business suit, and the woman with the judge’s robe all have special roles. Married or single, young or old, each person plays an important part in life.

Currently, I am helping some ladies at our local historical museum create content for a display on women’s suffrage. Did you know that 2020 will mark the 100th year for women to have the right to vote? In the overall existence of this planet, 100 years is just a blip. It is a small timeframe in which women have been “granted” an official voice.

I will never forget my high school English teacher who kept me after class to tell me I had a voice and I needed to use it. She told me not to cower or give in to the louder voices around me. I’m pretty sure she quite possibly changed the trajectory of my life that day for the better.

This past year, it became clear that one of the Christian leaders I had looked to in order to shape my own leadership skills had abused his power and preyed upon different women. Sadly, he was one of the greatest champions for women using their gifts in non-traditional ways within the church. It has left me feeling rather empty and disillusioned.

A couple of concluding thoughts. If you are a male leader of some kind reading this, then I would encourage you to lead with integrity, humility, and work to empower the women around you. If you are a woman, embrace whatever gifts you have been given. Don’t let someone stuff you into a box of what you “should” be doing or not doing.

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8

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