Friday, November 12, 2004

Generalizations Are Just Too General

I read a document this week from a denominational agency that bothered me. Once again it was putting women in a category I find unacceptable. And once again I ranted and raved against it using the term "church" when what I really meant was "institution." And what I should have meant was that particular institution.

Last night God had to be smiling. Because as a reminder that "all" is pretty comprehensive and therefore generally the wrong noun to use when speaking of individuals, organizations, gender, races, animals, minerals and generally anything bigger than a breadbox, I got a phone call.

The call was from one of the head honchos of a major evangelical organization. He and I once served on a board together. I say "once" because I resigned just before I divorced. This board was made up of very missions-oriented, very conservative, mostly (would be "all" except for one) white men over 50 and yours truly. I had that freckle-on-an-albino feeling for pretty much every meeting I attended. While the executive director of the organization, this gentleman, and a couple of others assured me I was welcomed to continue divorced or not, I found it more than I could handle at that time.

The call concerned my serving in an advisory capacity at a meeting the group will have in three weeks. The meeting is to envision the next shape of the organization when the current exec retires. Since I admire the current exec as much as any leader I've known and since I usually enjoy dreaming about the future with a group, I said yes to the invitation.

It was a sidenote that had to bring about God's chuckle. The man said, "Yeah, we were talking about the next exec and who 'he' might be and what 'he' might need to focus on when someone said, 'You keep saying 'he.' Any chance you'd be open to a woman in that role?' And I said, 'Well frankly I'd be open to it but I can't think of a too many women who could do it (pause) except the one I'm talking to right now.'"

To say I was taken aback is the definition of understatement. I don't want the job. I'm really not right for the job. But that's not the point. This was a giant leap for this man's thinking. And while I could rant and rave on why he can't think of other women or why it's taken this long for this kind of acceptance or any number of other reasons, I'm not going to. Because Someone is in control here. Someone knows Creation much better than me and knows that for every pull there's a push, for every swing back, there's a thrust forward. It's not me -- thank God -- but after the devastating blow of the aforementioned document, the balance in my universe is restored . . . for this week.

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