Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Can You Even See Your Feet?"

“Can you even see your feet?” my then-teenaged brother asked my equally teenaged self.

If at this point you’re surmising that I have rather large breasts, you’d be right.

If you are also thinking that this is a less-than-helpful remark from one’s sibling, you’d also be right. But at the time, being helpful wasn’t on my twin’s agenda.

If he encountered me – and while it was a small town and we were in the same classes, we were also in different “classes” regarding our social standings -- I got on his nerves. I represented all the things he wasn’t. I made As. I got in before curfew (while I was endowed with physical assets I’ve convinced myself that my mental ones tended to keep boys at a “friend-for-life distance”). I didn’t smoke or drink. I didn’t fall asleep in church because of partying on Saturday night. I didn’t yell at teachers . . . unless of course they were wrong and just couldn’t see my point of view. (Admit it . . . even you who didn’t know me then think I was obnoxious at this point in the story, right?).

His bad boy phase was short-lived however. At 16 he saw the light, mended his ways, even carried a Bible to school for a few days as I recall. And then he walked the aisle and told the preacher he was rededicating his life and felt “called to fulltime Christian service.”

Note he did not say “called to preach.” If you noted that, you would be one up on the church that received that information. Because at that time, that walk to the front of the church had very few interpretations and his walk bought him several years of ministry that he really didn’t count on.

The “happily-ever-after” end of his story though is that eventually he discovered his true calling and is now doing exactly what he wants/feels he should be/living out his call. . . in the mountains . . . in Tennessee, no less. . . . Did I mention he was happy?

I, still with rather large breasts, also did the whole “fulltime ministry” walk but I, still a woman, didn’t get the same reception. The church equivalent of a pat on the head sent me on my way to a Baptist school where I was fortunate enough to find a mentor who showed me communications didn’t have to be limited to a pulpit.

And for 20 years I’ve been “answering my call”. But things are different now. I wouldn’t pass the interview phase for a job as a cook at the schools that educated me. They have dress codes for women now! They require students to set through chapels led by speakers that I find small-minded and power-based. Professors must sign creedal-type statements.

As each year passed I’ve found the list of places where I would want to work getting shorter and shorter. My gender is an issue for some roles. My beliefs are an issue for almost every venue. And my silent submission is no longer an option.

So here I stand. And you know what? I CAN see my feet and soon and very soon they are walking.


mrjoshua said...

i would like to stand in the place of men that i don't represent and have never agreed with and say that i am so sorry that your gender is an issue in how you serve jesus. please forgive us for being stupid and backwards.

part of the reason the "church" is where it is is precisely the problems that you are having. it ain't right. don't be silent.

1justme said...

Fred Rogers said: "All our lives, we rework the things from our childhood, like feeling good about ourselves, managing our angry feelings, being able to say good-bye to people we love." As you seek to define your sexuality as a woman, find peace with your past, and strengthen your self confidence in who your are not what you do, may you discover the incredible woman and friend that I know and love, and treasure.