A Lady’s Place

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be an absolute. It is the beginning of a larger project and is meant to be (selfishly) cathartic and welcoming of dialogue. If you disagree, please let me know....only refrain from insulting my perceived intelligence.

So, in my previously acquired years, I have been told the following things about my perceptions of gender roles:

“Your problem is you just hate men.”

“If you’d grown up when I did, you would have been burning your bra in Washington.”

“Don’t become a Wesleyan. They won’t say no, but they’ll make it so hard you’ll want to just quit.” – (  These came from my Father…)

A high school relationship ended because, “You wouldn’t make a very good minister’s wife (Baptist).” …..(never mind I was raised by one…..)

“You are a fickle feminist.”

“You’re sexually frustrated.”

When relating a personal affront I took from “A Leave it to Beaver” episode, the college graduate I was “dating” groaned and said, “Oh God, not another one.” He had frequented the Women’s Studies Dept. for dates.

“You’d make a great Sunday School teacher…”– upon telling my Youth minister I felt called to ministry.

I am a woman. I don’t hate men…..my personal experience has led me to have an extremely sinful distrust of them. So much so, that the relationship I have with Nathan is a miracle. I am working through these things. I am strong (willed), stubborn,  I do not like to be forced into submission and my response will be either fight or shut down. Those closest to me can attest to this. The areas of my life where I have excelled have usually come from working to be seen as equal to my male counterparts. However, at the same time I desperately desire to be treated with fragility and fought for like a Disney-inspired princess.

I was a tom-boy. I wore wranglers and helped take care of cows. I also wore fuchsia lipstick everyday of 6th grade. (No one bothered to tell me I looked like a clown). Joan of Arc was my hero….and then it became my mother. Motherhood, for me, has been a labor of love. Breastfeeding did not conjure “warm and fuzzy” feelings. I have to work at it (mothering), everyday. I want to be feminine, petite, soft-spoken, graceful, lovely ……and NONE of it comes naturally for me. I have tried for years to fit into to the Southern perception of a “lady” and “learn my place…” and I’ve given up. It’s not gonna happen. Start saying some prayers for Gabriella.

I am a walking contradiction.

So what does this all have to do with anything?

I am striving to find my place in ministry as a women without joining a  more liberal denomination/congregation that I disagree with their theology. That’s it. I said it.

I am currently enrolled in two courses. The fortuitous nature of their overlap is a God thing. For one I am suffering processing through the methodology of arriving at theological statements. I am learning that I am indeed a theologian (fledgling), and have to wrestle with which  dogmas, doctrines I truly live by, which one I would die for, and which ones I will allow for difference in opinion.

For the other, I am studying Women in the Ministry; viewpoints, opinions, how to have civil, intelligent conversation regarding this issue and what is believed in the Wesleyan tradition.

In August,  I have to submit (as a term paper) an open letter, advocating for my (hypothetical) very real place as a teacher/preacher of Christ in my church. Right now, I have a con-fuddled personal context that has left with me with many conflicting voices concerning my call, and desired vocation.

All I know is that I am drawn to Esther, Deborah, Mary and Martha. I realize that while I have reached a certain level of expertise within the secular classroom, teaching has NEVER felt more natural than when I was teaching scripture and preparing, studying, digging, into the Word to share with my Bible study group. However, I am also painfully aware that individuals that I respect and genuinely like stopped their attendance because I  (a woman) was teaching. I miss it.

So, this summer, I will be sharing with you my theological discoveries as I work through this and I plan to share the final product…..when it is complete. There may be a bit of tangential digression (why feminism is such a bad word; biblical role models for our daughters; mutual submission in relationships…etc.) but this is my plan. I am looking for models that inspire….me, and hopefully women like me…. ( I know Beth Moore loves Jesus, but she makes me want to throw things at the television. )

I welcome conversation and even dissenting views. As a teacher, nothing aggravates me more than when students refuse to work through and prove their arguments. I want to be a good student.

So, ladies….and gents, I’m asking for you to join me as we talk about a lady’s place.

Inspiring Lady for today:

Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles. She led and taught her husband’s church, growing the congregation while he was serving in Parliament.

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