About 5 years ago I wrote a lament for women in leadership as a sidebar for a new Bible to be published by Tyndale House. The piece was pulled in the editorial process because the publisher knew Lifeway Christian Bookstores wouldn’t carry the Bible because of that piece (and a couple others they pulled regarding LGBT issues).
I was really upset but I let it go, because as women we are taught to be grateful for what we have and not push it. Until, months later my girlfriend Rebecca got fired up for me and told me I should share the lament on my blog (not originally on that website) and write a public post about what happened. I did and the post went viral.
Somewhere along the way, Rachel Held Evans and her dear friend Sarah Bessey, got a hold of it. They shared it which made an enormous difference in the reach and impact of these words. They both used their privilege and influence for the betterment of all women. I want to be like them.
When I heard on Saturday that RHE passed away, I was in shock. I’ve cried multiple times. I haven’t been able to articulate my grief and broken-heartedness for all we’ve lost with her tragic death. I’ve felt gutted at how her tiny son and daughter will not grow up with their mother. I’m devastated for the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the wandering who’ve lost a kind defender. My heart hasn’t ached like this in quite some time.
Though I never met Rachel personally, her words breathed comfort, life, and healing into my soul. She spoke a language I couldn’t during periods of confusion and loss. She did the hard work white women need to do to pursue justice and advocate for those who’s voices have been silenced. Mine included. #BecauseofRHE
Even in the last few days as I’ve cloaked myself in others’ words about her life and impact, I’ve lamented how equality and partnership are still a dream for us women. I’ve re-committed myself to elevating women’s voices, supporting their dreams, creating space for them to flourish, being generous however I can. Rachel did this for me (as have many others). Ezer + Co. is committed to be a place like this too.
I’ve been wanting to share this lament for women in leadership and now seems like the (horrific) time to do so. May you find comfort and courage in these words. May you be seen for who you are….
LAMENT FOR WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP
INSPIRED BY PSALM 40
Waiting. No one likes waiting. Maybe least of all me. I’ve waited for my entire life to see your Church reflect your heart to see men and women lead your people. Equally. With skillful hands and integrity of heart [Psalm 78:72]. I’ve waited for your Church to wake up and get it that we have as much to contribute to the Kingdom as men do! I wish your Word was painfully clear about our contribution equality!
Too many times I’ve seen women in the pit of despair because they have not been allowed to use their voice, their gifts, their experiences, their very calling to build the Kingdom. You have not stopped them from leading and teaching, Lord; your people have.
My sisters and I have cried when we’ve been told “no”, “be quiet”, “this is not your place”. We need your rescue, God. We desperately need you to bring good news in places where we are pushed down, snuffed out, and negotiated around. Your Kingdom suffers when we are relegated to roles and ministries and places where we are not gifted or passionate. How long?
Our circumstances may not change, our culture may never fully reflect your heart for your Church, but you never change. You are solid and steady and trustworthy. When your Church may fail me, I can still be amazed by who you are. I will find my hope in who you are, not in an outcome – a promotion or a platform or power. I will receive a new song that you give me and sing to the rooftops of who you are and what you’ve done. I will serve you fully and contribute my best to your Kingdom, even in the midst of broken systems and unjust theology. Give me the courage I need to be faithful today.
How long will we sing this song? When I grieve for what your Church is not yet, I must remember that you are a God of justice and have called ordinary people like me to bring justice on earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 5:10]. Help me not be afraid to speak out and speak for those who do not have a voice.
You have written your calling upon my heart and I will not forsake you. I will take joy in following you no matter what anyone else says. Help me listen to you more and more and follow you obediently. Thank you for my calling, even if it’s not honored among others.