So a little bit about me, I am ...wait for it... a women (shocker, I know, just thought I'd bring you up to speed incase you some how missed that! haha)
But as a women, there are lots of grey areas about how a woman should act, feel, look and speak. I feel like that rings true in our culture, especially in the church.
I grew up with a strong powerful grandmother, affectionally called Nanny, Janey, lady Jane among some other favorites. But she was really a force to be reckoned with. She was only about 5ft tall, but you always knew exactly how she felt. She worked full time, raised five kids and was fearless. She was loud, and dutchy and stubborn as all get out! She, alongside my Pap, raised their kids with the same 'put your hands to the plow and finish well, cause you can do anything' attitude. My mom was one of those kids and having her a my mom was always an adventure in conquering the world. She had two brothers, and two sisters, so she knew how to hold her own with the boys, and lead and teach the girls.
I am one of two kids. Just me and my older bro, Ian. Growing up with Ian, I wanted to be with him all the time. Talking like him, climbing trees like him, riding bikes like him. And due to hand me down circumstances, I wore a lot of his old clothes. I was perfectly happy with that. He was tough, and being the only girl in the neighborhood then, I had to be tough to roll with that crew.
On hot summer days, when Ian would be shirtless, I'd say, "it's not fair, why do I have to wear a shirt, and he doesn't?" And my mother, in all her tomboy glory herself said, go ahead, take it off, who cares. "If a boy can do it, so can you!"
That was a motto common in my home. (And if you look at the majority of our family photos from the 80's, I am shirtless, and dirty and dressed in boyish 80's fashion.)
Thankfully I didn't grow up to confused about genders, but I struggled with this idea of what it would look like if I wanted to be in a very gender specific (according to our culture's standards) career when I grew up.
My mom re-entered the military when I was in early elementary school. A fews years later, a movie -G.I. Jane, came out that brought a few questions I had to the surface.
If I wanted to be in a male dominated workplace, would I have to try to become as manly as I could to fit in, let alone succeed?
I remember asking my mom, who I jokingly call the 'fem nazi', "Why did she feel like G.I. Jane have to cut off her hair, and be manly to make it in that movie?" To which my mom responded, as she did to most issues of gender based questions;
"If a boy can do it, you can do it and do it better!"
I always kind of felt crushed and already defeated when she would say it. Im not sure why. I never had a drive to be in the military, or a yearning to be in beauty pageants. I felt like I had something to prove to the boys and felt this hide away and be quiet disposition at the same time.
I enjoyed learning about curling my hair, and painting nails. But my dad taught me a lot about cars, and hunting, and hiking. I loved both. Somewhere I had to fit in the middle as me, somewhere in the middle with a little of both feminine and male inside my heart.
Then I grew up, and in the old school Methodist Church we attended, we got a new pastor, and Pat was a lady. It ruffled feathers among the older crew there, and all kinds of 'examples' and bible verses as to why women should not be leaders, especially in the church, came up. A LOT. Be strong and tough and prove yourself to the men, but sit down and be quiet? I was confused.
Hmmmmm....I read those verses. They seemed to say it clear as day. But it wasn't till a few years ago did I really start to delve into what a women's call, or destiny could be. Lawyer, doctor, mother, nurse, where does a women fit?
And looking around in the society I live in, where to be honest there isn't a very defining line in what it looks like to behave 'male' and 'female'. Men are acting more feminine and women acting manly. Trying to fill roles they were never created to fill. I was curious a to what God's heart really was on the topic of me- a women, and what my role in changing the world could be.
I heard Kris Vallotton speak and when I heard him teach on empowering women, a switch flipped on. Could it be? Being strong, a female and a leader? I knew I had to get this book. And it unlocked so many things for me.
He breaks down a handful of bible verses that are commonly used in the argument to hush women and hold them down. He also speaks about how we don't need to be manly to take a male dominated role. We can be womanly and still be strong. There needs to be a male and a female to balance out God's divine destiny for His people.
He even touched on some things I carried a as a sort of guilt. Why do I always feel so much? In my marriage, my wonderful, very intelligent husband, is very facts based. He researches, and plans. Makes lists and weighs out factual pros and cons.
I have lots of feelings about things. Decisions for me are based more on the heart. How something makes me feel, or intuitions I may have hidden somewhere in my heart that I allow to steer my decision making.
Guess what!? Thats ok, God pulled Eve from Gods side, closest to his heart. I for the first time felt OK that I function on that level of feeling my way through days. God designed me that way! AND it fits perfectly with my husbands way of thinking/reasoning too.
Almost every page had my mind and heart leaping for joy!
All the strength inside of my little heart was God given. He has a specific calling for me.
Especially as I am knee deep in mother hood.
He included this poem in the book. And its one of the best things I have read in a while. It is a poem written by Christianna Maas:
I think this book has the potential to change the minds and hearts of men and women alike. I can dream because God has placed nothing on me to hold me down, only to bring me complete freedom. There are so many opportunities for women in leadership and I think its time for women to stand up and take their roles as women. The world is basically crying out for female leadership. All the wonderful attributes that is woman. And take them exactly as the women God created us to be, and not because we feel like we have to be like men to succeed.
If you are a woman, please read this. Your heart will feel light and free and deeply encouraged and empowered. Men, read this. Vision for the women in your life will be shaped and formed, and you can encourage them to take flight! I think the next generation, the one we are raising now, will walk in a culture where we have cultivated ground for some courageous women to lead and lead well. And men to support them along the way.
Thank you Kris for writing such an incredible culture changing book.