What Distracts Us from Running Our Race

Sometime in the past two years, I learned about the enneagram. This system of understanding personalities has reshaped how I view the world. I used to think I was strange. (Ok, I know I’m strange, but that’s not what I’m talking about.) I knew a long time ago that I looked at situations in drastically different ways than the people around me. I assumed that everyone else was the same and I was an anomaly.

Enter the enneagram, where I learned that there are many different ways of looking at the world and many people that fall into each category. I was different from many other people, but not abnormal. Most of the ways I process life are very typical for an enneagram 8, even if they aren’t typical for a 2 or a 6.

The point is not the enneagram (although I do love it). The point is that God made us differently- and it’s a good thing. Beyond our actual physical context and life situations, our internal contexts are different. Even if we do some of the same things, the actions are driven by different motivations.

Becoming Like Jesus in Your Unique Life

For several years, I’ve been listening to a lot of conversations that create dualities. Self-care or self-denial? God made you with interests and passions so that you could use them for Him or the Christian life is a study of denial and hardship?

Of course, I think it’s both. I’m rolling my eyes because I find myself saying this about more and more topics. But what if we anchored a cord on each side of these discussions and leaned our weight on both? What if we took care of ourselves because we are made in God’s image and God cares about us and we can’t pour out of empty cups? And what if we practiced self-denial and put other people first and did work that maybe we didn’t want to do?

What if God made you expressly for the purpose of using the way He made you and yet that way of being part of His plan is full of difficulty and hardship? What if He intends for the very things that make you come alive to also refine you the most?

What if being disciples of Jesus meant that we are all being transformed into the image of Jesus but that it plays out in different ways in each of us? What if you are actually supposed to live a life that’s different from your neighbor, friend, or the person who sits in the pew beside you?

A Woman’s Place and the Implications of our Theology

As I wrap up this gender series, I alternate between feeling hopeful and despondent. I feel hopeful because this is a conversation; people are starting to ask questions. There are raised hands all over the back of the room that most people are trying to ignore, but the hands are there. I feel despondent though because it’s still a conversation. There are plenty of people who are unwilling to evaluate their stance or ask relevant questions. I’m working on moving from wondering why God asked me to do something that seems pointless to praying believing that God is already working.

I realize this is culturally motivated, especially in the area where I live. This way of looking at the genders is historically grounded. Do we think this is the one thing the world has gotten right? That women are second or confined to certain spaces or somehow less than men is the one thing that we have in common with Islam, for example?

We’ve created a lot of problems and as we’re searching for solutions, we seem unwilling to evaluate why the problems exist. Why are women not equipped to teach the Bible? Why do men not read books written by women? Why are there continuous sex scandals in the church? Why are there so many weird things said about women with no pushback from leadership? We could stop and realize that our own theology often sets us up neatly for these situations.

Tracing Marriage Through the Bible

If you start talking about marriage in the Bible, most people are going to pull out Ephesians 5. The Ephesians 5 passage is beautiful and applicable; but it is not the first time marriage is discussed, nor is it the only passage that talks about marriage.

Let’s start at the beginning and work our way through the story. It is the same story that Paul is actually retelling in Ephesians 5- because God is always telling a cohesive story throughout Scripture- but I think we miss that because we rarely look at marriage anywhere else.

Right after God makes woman as man’s “ezer,” He proclaims the story of marriage. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is fascinating to me because Adam didn’t have a mother or a father. But Moses wrote this hundreds of years after it happened in a context where all men getting married did have a mother and father. (Do a little digging into patriarchal cultures. Women were just absorbed into their husband’s family.) Instead of a woman losing all that she could be, the man was supposed to leave what he had and hold fast to her.

The Things We Know That Aren’t So

Mark Twain said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” I’ve seen a lot of things said about gender that just aren’t so and we should discuss a few of them.

Something that needs reframed quickly is that that story of the fall is not a story about marriage. It is relevant whether you’re fifteen, or thirty-two and single, or forty and married ,or seventy and widowed, whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s a story of the three ways we can respond to God. We can trust His definition of good and evil, meaning we obey and follow His guidelines. We can be deceived, like Eve, and sin. Or we can disobey, like Adam, and rebel against God’s commands.

The story is not there to show us that if women would just let their husband’s decide everything then things would work out fine. Adam disobeyed on purpose. Clearly the Bible shows us that men are not more likely to follow God’s commands than women are. This is not a story that teaches us that men shouldn’t listen to their wives. The Bible is full of stories where God speaks to the woman or teaches men through women (Deborah, Huldah, Jochebed, Samson’s mother, Priscilla, and many others). Maybe we could learn not to talk back to animals though.

This story, and the continuing story of the Bible, reveals that we are constantly confronted with these options. Will I let God decide what’s good? Will I be deceived? Will I disobey?

The Joint Mission of the Sexes

I want us to go to the Bible. I want you to be able to handle the Word in explaining what you do and do not believe. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine; God will not be asking you about that when you stand before Him. But I do want you to look at the questions and the topics from all angles, using all of the Bible. The Bible is supposed to inform how we live, and if we have weird theology we do one of two things. 1. We ignore the theology and live in a way that makes sense. That is clearly a problem. It might be because we know that the theology is wrong but we don’t know how to show that from the Bible. It might be because the theology opposes things that we can see in real life. God is intensely practical. (And no, I do not mean that He always makes sense to us.) 2. We try to live by the theology and then wonder why it’s not working out very well, especially for certain groups of people

I’m going to be doing Instagram stories about this and saving them in a highlight. Some of this is much easier to talk through than write about and I’ll also be addressing questions and things I see on the internet. Follow me there to stay caught up with those.

I’m going to try to blog about this in some sort of order. That would, of course, be easier if I wrote it all out beforehand and rearranged it. I won’t be doing that. I’ll do the best I can with the time I have.

Women and God: why this conversation is even necessary

I want the Bible to be my guideline. Of course, I don’t live that perfectly, but it is my goal to constantly be growing as a student and practitioner of the Word. If you know me in person, I think you know that. If you follow me on Instagram, I think you know that. If you read my blog, I think you know that too. So my questions of how I’m supposed to show up in the world as a woman are shaped by what the Bible says about being a woman.

But the stories I’ve heard about being a woman have always had holes. I’ve had questions that no one has answered; questions it seemed no one else was asking. And, let’s be honest, the questions weren’t welcome either. I’ve spent years sweeping the questions under a mental rug and moving on. But the questions got bigger and bigger and then I added in questions about how I was supposed to raise my boys as men. Avoiding the questions wasn’t a feasible way to do life anymore. So I brought all the questions back out. Truth can handle questions. Truth isn’t intimidated by my questions. I put down all the stuff I was reading that people had to say on the topic (all complementarian, by the way, and raising more questions), and went to God.

I did a lot of reading. Most of it was not about what the Bible says specifically about women. I went right on with my normal Bible reading, but my heart was pulled toward the topic so I saw relevant connections everywhere. I started taking notes. I started comparing passages. I prayed over what I was reading and what was happening in my heart and what was taking place in the world around me. I expected my reading to fill in the gaps that I was finding in the story I was told. But instead I found the holes were there because of the story we were telling.