On writing too loudly (or awakening the prophet within)

I am getting better as a writer at penning a sh&*%* first draft. Thank you, Anne Lamott. from the Cornell University Library, flickr.com

I guess when I really think about it I'm not as afraid as I used to be about writing too loudly. I mean, life can be tragic and hard, people, and writers have to talk about it. It is what keeps us sane and heals us and moves us on in our spiritual journey toward wholeness and shalom. Some of this writing gets shared with the world; some of it remains in my journals. 

The actual problem here, if diagnosed correctly, is that I am afraid to publish on controversial topics. There, I've said it. I suppose there are a number of reasons this stops me in my tracks, but here are the reasons as I see them:

  1. I could be utterly wrong on the topic, only to discover this later and be horrified.
  2. I could be raked over the coals by zealous Christians who in their spite ruin my reputation and call into question my spirituality. (I'm getting over this one. Let's move on, shall we?)
  3. I could own my voice and my prophetic calling as a truth-revealer in the Kingdom of God—but who am I to do this? Who do I think I am to write this loudly?

And this third point is the death wish to my writing, friends. This is the place in which I want to crawl into bed and cover myself head to toe with our heavy winter duvet. I am still working on not being ashamed of my own voice, on owning the calling of God on my life. I have often believed the lie that I am inferior, that I don't have anything important to add, that something about me is not adequate to the task, and that speaking out with freedom and grace and truth is not something I'm allowed to do. That is, since I've always been such a good girl.

Truth be told, even writing that last paragraph was torture. But we must face our demons first before we can overcome them with God's help. 

***

A few hours ago I completed my first phone interview for our book Reclaiming Eve. I explained that we as coauthors were compelled to write the book. That we as women have to take a second look at who God created every woman to be—and that when we do it shatters the lies told through the centuries that women are easily deceived, dangerous and of inferior intellect. It is a book about telling the truth that women are image bearers of God; that they are the strong power created to partner with their brothers; that they are God's representatives appointed to do his good work. This is our truth, I said. We need to start living it. 

And the interviewer said, "Don't you think this is going to get some flack?" And I said, "Yes, I expect so."

Who am I to play the prophet, offering a prophetic word, calling each of us to reexamine God's truth? Who am I to give a voice to the voiceless? Who gives me the right to write and to speak out with authority?

Only my Creator. When he reveals truth, and starts the fire in our bones, something primal happens. That plan he had for image-bearers revealing and representing him, it begins to make our skin itchy. We realize there is something sacred and true that needs to be said; we understand that we are being asked to say it, and loudly; we join the ranks of Isaiah and Huldah and Amos and John the Baptist and Phillip's daughters and we realize silence is not even an option anymore.

The truth burns like fire in our bones. 

Who am I to be a truth-revealer in the kingdom of God? Who are you? The better question might be: Who are you not to be a prophet? How could you do anything but write loudly when God's justice and love are at stake? How long will you believe the lies about your nature before claiming the truth that God calls you Beloved, and that he can be trusted to teach you how to use your voice?

Let's kick our demons to the curb and start fresh today with a new perspective: God created me. I am his representative. I can be trusted with the message he wants me to share, and with his help, I can speak and write with his authority—all for the Kingdom's sake. Are you in?

What keeps you from offering a prophetic word in the Kingdom of God? Share your writing demons and what keeps you pushing forward to use your voice anyway.

Women are not allowed to "___________"

What exactly are women allowed to do? In the church?

In the home?

In the workplace?

In social settings?

These are the tired questions I find myself facing again and again. That's why I wrote about it in our upcoming book Reclaiming Eve. Because I felt it was high time to bring all this "allowing" business out into the open.  

I even wrote about it on Kurt Willems' blog last May when I graduated from seminary, in a blog post titled:  "What will you do after seminary?" "What will you allow me to do?" was the question I began to think about asking others when they asked about my plans. I have gifts to preach, to lead, and to encourage. What will you allow a woman to do? What should she do? Where should I go with these gifts and this degree?

This word of God that I love, the one that ushered me into new life in Christ, healed my hurts, wrecked my soul, and knit it back together again, is used by so many factions and camps to "allow" or "disallow" certain things, specifically when it comes to women.

Sometimes women are allowed to teach or preach from the pulpit. Many times they are not allowed to.

Sometimes women are allowed to take management positions within companies. Sometimes they are strongly encouraged not to.

Sometimes women are allowed to be deacons or elders or church board members. Often times they are not allowed to.

Sometimes women are allowed to manage their households and family using all of their brains and their gifts. Sometimes they are encouraged to ask their husbands for permission before they buy pantyhose or underwear.

"Well, these people have good biblical reasons for all of these things!" you say. "They are trying to be faithful!" And this may very well be true, they may be trying to do their best with what they know and believe.

But beyond all the attempts to try and fit men and women into categories and roles from the 1950s or so, the Bible stands as a book of truth that is ageless, that passes the test of time.

And no matter what position one might say they hold firmly on what women are allowed to do in a specific time and place, I believe the real question each of us must ask ourselves is this:

What does the gospel make possible for women?

Let me spell this out as clear as I know how:

Do you see women primarily as fallen, dangerous creatures? Or do you see women as imagebearers of the living God who have the opportunity to be radically renewed because of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

What does the gospel make possible for women?

Because our New Testament sisters impacted by Jesus experienced a radical before and after, my friends. They went from second-class citizens to being a part of a family where there was no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male nor female. The more I read about Jesus and the stories of the women who followed him and came after him, the more I am convinced that his blueprint "the last shall be first" turned things upside down for these women.

As one woman once told me, "Jesus has already set women free." And because I believe this, and because I will defend the power of the gospel and the new kingdom Jesus ushered in, I will tell you my wish. I wish and hope and pray that someday we will stop all arguing about what we will allow women to do and instead we will rise up and say:

What will we empower women to do in light of the gospel?

To do anything less blights the power of the good news Jesus came to bring, I'm afraid. I long to see God's female imagebearers unleashed to build his kingdom alongside their brothers. May it be so!

What do you long to see the Church empower women to do for the sake of the kingdom?