it's been just over one year since i graduated from college. it took some time for me to feel comfortable as a non-student. it took some time for me to know how to talk about my life without school. it helped that graduation hadn't been so long ago. i could still say 'i just graduated in may.' i can't say that anymore - we're already in another may.
fortunately, i've almost completely coped with being a non-student. now i have to find an identity as a regular person, an adult with no student role on which to blame things. my new roles have to be taken more seriously. i'm a woman. what does that mean? i'm a follower of Christ. what does that mean? i'm a part of a body of people who follow Christ. what does that mean? i am a close friend and family member. what does that mean?
i think that when i was younger, all of these roles just were. i didn't do anything to get them - they happened to me, and so i reacted. now, i feel a responsibility for figuring out what each of these things mean, and how i can best fill them all at once.
the role that i have been struggling with the most lately has been my role as a woman, more particularly, my role as a now single, maybe one day married, Christ-following woman.
i know that i write about gender stuff a lot (maybe not, but it seems like it), but it's because, like i said, in this season of my life, i'm really working to figure out who i am and what that means. being a woman is a giant part of that because there has been SO much information thrown at me throughout my life about what a christian woman should look like. so much information that i have often felt like i am drowning in it, like it is an upset sea and i am an infant.
much of this information has been untrue and not at all in the heart of God (which is what i am trying to pursue). in fact, i have a book on my shelf at home right now entitled '10 Lies the Church Tells Women.' to be honest, i haven't read that book, but i like that it's there - it reminds me that it's okay to be discriminatory when it comes to this angry sea of information.
i have been so blessed and encouraged by christianity over the last year - continually learning more about the love and compassion that, if sought in earnest, Christ brings. i am always meeting people in this area - progressive, liberal people who have little interest in the heart of God, but who i feel i can connect with. it is exciting to me that the ideas of christianity can be so accessible to anyone seeking peace and justice.
now, what does this have to do with my identity crisis? i will tell you.
24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
as i was saying before, almost everything that is important to me, as a christian, often makes perfect sense to those uninterested in my faith. however, when i get to the part about a woman in a christian marriage (submission - ahhh), everything kind of falls apart. i picture in my head a conversation between myself and one of these progressive, liberal women. i barely get the words 'wives, submit . . .' out of my mouth and she punches me right in the face. i do not want to get punched. i do not want to stop having these wonderful, unifying conversations. what do i do?
actually, this isn't just about not getting punched. this is also about reconciling within me what sometimes feels like a nagging discrepancy. i believe that i was created by a loving God. i believe that i was created as a beautiful, feminine human. i believe that, as this beautiful, feminine human, i am just as valuable to my Creator as any other human and have just as much to offer. why, then would this Creator tell me to submit to another human? surely i was not created somehow inferior, in need of someone else to make me more complete, make my life more full and worthy. it is difficult not to interpret this piece of scripture as a kind of blow to women. i'm sorry if that's upsetting, but it's true. if, in a workplace, my supervisor told me to submit to another employee, would it not be right to assume that that supervisor thought that other employee somehow more able than myself?
all of this was bothering me in an undeniable and increasing way. last weekend, in fact, the sermon at church included this passage that includes the 's word.' i cried tears of frustration through most of the sermon - not something i have ever done before. i just couldn't figure out how to reconcile my own understanding of God with this idea of wives submitting to their husbands.
(note: it still bothers me that some christian men seem to accept this whole idea without question. fight with us to clear up this whole thing, to make sense of it. please don't just take it for granted.)
a lot has happened in my mind since last sunday. many conversations have taken place, much reflection and prayer has gone on, and i think that i'm finally at peace, or at least approaching peace. the following are things that have help me approach peace.
- Ephesians 5 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her - if i was in a relationship with someone, anyone, romantic or otherwise, and i 100% trusted that they had my best interest at heart and that they loved me as much as Christ loves the church, why wouldn't i trust them to make a decision that affected both of us?
- the idea of 'servant leadership' (every milliganite's ears just perked) is a very christian idea, and one that is a bit foreign to those many of those not committed to that faith. this concept of leading someone by serving them - leading them into selflessness and love by showing it to them - is not exactly a Wall Street key to success. therefore, when we speak of 'submission,' minds automatically think of being stepped on, not of being raised up. this submission that i speak of, and that i think the Bible speaks of, is a (somewhat-in our better moments) natural response to overwhelming love. if a husband's 'leadership' is one of sacrifice and love (Christ), then the wife's submission is similar, is it not? one might call this relationship one of mutual submission.
- it is a problem of language. if this person who may or may not be punching me in the face (see earlier paragraph) saw a marriage dedicated to these principals of love and submission, i don't think they would find it misogynistic at all. i think they would find it beautiful. it's only when this relationship is described that there are problems - there is no way to say submission without tempting your audience to pull out their copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
- i am only instructed to practice this 'submission' to my husband (should i ever have one). therefore, this is NOT a statement on the way women and men should interact, only husbands and wives.
- men and women are different. they are equal, but different. sometimes i think that we get caught up fighting for women to be equal to men, that we find ourselves fighting for women to be the same as men. i don't want to be the same as a man. i want to be a woman. so, i should accept that because we are different, there are important things that i can offer a husband (should i ever have one) that are less important that he offer me, things that he will value more than i will. i haven't really figured out what all of these things are, mostly due to lack of experience. i have observed, however, that maybe men need more to feel respected, trusted and reliable, whereas women need more to feel valued, appreciated and loved. so maybe this submission/love type of relationship helps cater to the needs of both sexes. who knows. i could be way off - like i said, a lack of experience.