Friday, December 14, 2018

Good News for All People

I came across this image from Emily McDowell in my Instagram feed and as usual, was struck by her ability to communicate with honesty and depth (and frequently, humor) what we feel as humans.

"We partnered with @OptionB last year to create a series of shareable images to help support those of us who are experiencing some seriously un-merry things during the holidays. This one is my personal favorite, which was written by the talented and beautiful @karichapin."
I happened to be sitting next to my husband at the time and I found myself utilized the fancy new "share" options in instagram to send it to him via messenger.  

As is typical of him, he didn't really say anything about it, but I found myself turning to him, "You know, girls send these kinds of things to one another on a regular basis to encourage one another.  It occurred to me that guys don't probably do that as much."  He laughed. 

It was during this past year that I heard a line in a podcast that profoundly affected my inner world.  It's no secret that I am a fan of the Robcast with my friend Rob Bell, and being on the podcast with him a little more than a year ago opened up windows in my soul that I am still profoundly grateful for. It is a gift to be seen and witnessed by another human being and Rob is so very good at that.  But it was his wife Kristen that cracked me open in a profound way during their anniversary podcast "The 2 - 4"  She mentioned that growing up in fundamental/evangelical circles  made her believe that "men made better decisions."   A shattering glass sound went off in my mind when I heard that line as I realized that deep in my bones, I had internalized that message as well.  For my whole life, I had invested in the idea that whatever decision I wanted to make, a man would always make it better than I could.  I was invested in my own frailty, my unreliability, my less-ness in a way that had handicapped me.  It wasn't until I heard the words come out of her mouth that I knew that had been the guideline I had been unconsciously submitting to for my whole life.  And once I realized that fence was there, I began testing it and tearing it down.  

It was a treasured moment in my year when I spoke to my church as a panel member about how we as a church could and should respond to the "Me Too" movement and I told them about this fence in my mind.  Because we are a safe space, I could say colorfully, "I believed that having a penis somehow made you a better decision-maker."  And I mentally recorded the men in my congregation laughing with me.  In that moment, I saw them as my sheep and me as their shepherd, with compassion instead of insecurity and crippling self-doubt. 

It is wildly important to find your voice, to bravely become who you are.  And women are doing this work in such valuable ways right now.  I am always ready to rejoice with the accomplishments of my sisters.  But I am also waking up to the profound opportunity that lies before us that this good news of becoming who you are is for all people.  For too long, we have allowed men to take the lead in ways that they are not prepared for, not wired for, not equipped for.  We have pushed them to be "spiritual leaders" shushing our own voices and leaving them vulnerable to failure that comes from not seeing all sides. We haven't invited them to the world of nurturing themselves and their friendships.  We've left patriarchy in place and left half the population without the support they actually need to become better humans.   

Listen, I'm as feminist as can be.  Women still deserve so much more than they are getting.  But the best of us don't want to rise at the expense of anyone else.  We want everyone to get what they need.  And sometimes, we need to share an invitation to vulnerability and strength with the men in our lives.  We need to share good news with everyone. So send a meme.  Send a card.  Send a text.  Take the lead instead of quieting yourself and be an equal partner.  They don't know what they are doing any more than you do.  Do them the kindness of recognizing that.   

And while we are at it, maybe take everyone down from lonely pedestals.  Your political representatives don't know what they are doing and aren't magically equipped for their jobs.  Your pastor isn't bulletproof.  Your doctor has bad days and is being pushed to make quick decisions.  Whoever you are shoving forward, thinking they are just more super-human than you, stop it.  We need to create a world where people can say "I don't know" more often so we can all say, "Let's work together to make it better."    

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