12919765_595032950653879_859845243886174606_nHere goes…

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”  Madeleine L’Engle

(Authenticity in my walk is rough, but vitally necessary.  This is a big share for me.  This is me being very raw and vulnerable.  This is full of grammar issues, it’s imperfect, it’s a mess — just like me.  I’m leaving it this way.  I’m tired.  Tired isn’t even the word.  This is my precious open God space.  From ten pm till after 7 a.m. we walked this out.  This sun is now coming up.  I guess I was up all night.  I’m always the cracked clay pot.  He’s forever working on me.  As long as I have breath, he’s not finished and I have purpose.  Thank you, Lord.  Please keep me open to hear you.)

So, it’s been a rough couple of weeks, months — let’s just say the world has not been a place from which to gather encouragement as of late.  It’s been quite dark.  I want to hole up and avoid it completely.  Yet we are called to be the light.  For someone who is always preaching — SHINE — this little light of mine has been struggling to stay lit…  Holy Spirit, breathe anew in me…

And the church’s response has rather been lack luster in the shine department.   Worse, it’s been cruel — ranging from preachy doomsday wrath and judgement in matters involving homosexuality  to out right silence when it came to a woman, rape, and an erroneous slap on the hand of a conviction given to an arrogant, unapologetic young man.  And then there’s my family.  Some semblance of history seems to be repeating itself.  I guess minor versions of hell may  be worth reliving to some people, it seems.   And I’m standing on the outside of it all.  Hands clasped in prayer.  Praying, always praying — and for the very first time in my life — feeling lost.  Walking in circles in the desert.  Doubting…

Because I think it’s okay to talk about the things we know of God.  I mean, that’s theologically acceptable.  Even if we don’t agree concerning our truthiest truths.  But I’m not sure it’s okay to talk about our questions–our unknowns.  Because that’s just plain unfaithful.  And who does that?  Certainly not Christians — or GOOD Godly ones anyway…

And lately, I have too many — too many questions and unknowns — and I’m not comfortable with all of this anger.  I’m not comfortable with the fact that I can’t just glean over passages or complete books of the Bible like I used to as “oh those are just awfully uncomfortable words for me because, you know, I’ve ‘been through some stuff’“.  Or, “You’re not meant to understand everything, just to accept it.”   I’m really not comfortable with any of the generic answers I’ve been given.  I want real answers.  I want authentic explanations.  I’m not okay with just blind faith ‘because that’s what faith IS’ anymore.  And if I’m perfectly honest with myself, maybe I’m not completely okay with God…

Those are words I never thought I would see staring back at me.  And this is not the post I had meant to write.  These are not the pages and pages that are bled out into my notebooks.  No, THEY are full of the Stanford rape, my nightmares, the Orlando massacre, the book of Numbers, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Judges, Genesis — mixed in with rape statistics, Madeleine L’Engle quotes, porn and violence/abuse causation –nights and nights and nights of no sleep (what’s one more?).

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I was waiting for the church to address violence against women now — or ever.  To address this rape culture our patriarchal system within the church perpetuates, waiting for someone — anyone in the freaking Christian community to say a damn thing about this — and I almost passed out holding my breath — until the women preachers and pillars of the community spoke.  Those unholy, vile, ‘shouldn’t be preaching woman’ spoke.  Thank you.  This woman, this nation of hurting women, this humanity of people needed to hear you.  Thank you.   Thank you, Ann.  Thank you, Emme.  Thank you, Sarah. Thank you, Glennon.  And the female authors, those “f” word feminists that took the time to stand in solidarity against a culture that accepts that every 2 minutes another sister is raped, that one in every three of us will experience violence and abuse at the hands of a man at one point in our lives — an unholy epidemic in this culture — an epidemic that is SO vile and pervasive that we give empathy to the perpetrator and blame the victim. Because the little slut was drinking, she was dancing, she was possibly flirting — and she was even wearing a cardigan.  Thank you.  You are brave.  You are what courage looks like.  You are what the word church means to so many of us.  You were made for such a time as this…

And Orlando.  I just can’t.  All those mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and friends and lovers — grieving the sacred loss of their loved ones — grieving a precious journey, an entire entity, being, life — that is void and gone.  Grieving empty space that was once so very, very full.  All of those beautiful beings purposefully and hatefully eradicated — and the enormity and gravity of all that loss.  And that anyone anywhere in this creation felt the need to verbalize that as God’s will — I threw up — so many times.  I had been asking God for clarity on this issue personally for years in my own walk and life — and well — it all became quite lucid to me through all of this.  The evil is not coming from the LGBT community.  The evil is coming from the people who so magnanimously profess the name of God.  And in both of these instances, it took absolutely everything in me to pray for the church as a community.  Because in both cases, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it…  Because hate doesn’t drive out hate.  Only love does that.

And there was love expressed by people who claimed to be Christians in both instances.  Yes, yes there was–very real love.  But there was also such disgusting hatred and judgement spewed out against those very people.  Those people who were showing love were reminded that God was a vengeful God full of wrath and if “she hadn’t been drinking” and “Adam was made for Eve” and “how could they be THAT Christian” and “God would judge them just as he judged the unsaved sinner”.   I disconnected.  I had pretty much decided that the anti-Christ was going to be the most devout right-wing Christian you ever laid eyes on. So.much.ugly.  Never mind, all the while, that real people are suffering — while we’re arguing, blaming, making all these political statements — REAL live human beings are going through the.worst.pain.  Go get ’em.  And make sure you let ’em know they’re going to hell.  (and that she deserved it, if only she hadn’t been this, that, or the other thing…)  Vomit.  So much vomit…  All from those called to love…  Just keep loving.  Just keep shining…  Please Holy Spirit, breathe anew in me…

So I sought refuge in my Bible, as I always do…  it seemed to offer little respite.

Bible study isn’t always butterflies and rainbows.  It’s often work.  Hard work.  I’d been avoiding this.  I asked God to open my heart for wisdom.  I ended up bleeding all over the place…

I was taught a great many things I’ve tried to ‘unlearn’.  The Old Testament is a plethora of what those of us who have been through trauma call “triggers”.  It’s full of them.  There are certain books of the Bible I often avoid to keep my faith solid.  Judges, Number, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy being the most difficult to deal with for me.  Honestly, Moses really isn’t my favorite guy (dodged lighting bolt).  Sure, he was faithful, but his patriarchal system was atrociously disparaging to women.  And this stuff was all God breathed, people.  How do I, as a woman, see God as a loving Father — having survived my own abusive Father, having survived violence and abuse that was never and will never be accounted for — how do I see God as mind fully caring about women as a gender at all?

I mean, do we really believe this stuff?  Do we take these words to represent and thoughtfully illustrate what they say? Have we thought about them in terms of us, our friends as wives, our daughters?  Do we even care???

Let’s start with Numbers…  that big ole census…

I remember getting SO frustrated with the Israelites when I was a kid.  They wandered around in the freaking desert for forty years!!!  FORTY years because of their lack of faith!!!!!  And it wasn’t like they didn’t have some pretty MAJOR miracles smack them upside the head for the ENTIRE journey — um, parting of the red sea, burning bushes, manna from heaven, water from a rock, their clothes and sandals like NEVER wore out that WHOLE ENTIRE TIME (that always got me — like  NO ONE questions that???).  Miracle after miracle after miracle…  For real.  What the heck was their problem?  I mean, if I had just a PORTION of that stuff, I’d SO be on board the God train.  I’d be in Canaan like yesterday.

Now my forty-year old self totally gets them.  Fist bump, Israelites.  God has shown me time and time again in my life that he has not, will not, nor has he ever failed me.  And here I am, still questioning him.  Here I am — all “Israelitish”– not content with just walking in faith.  Angry as hell.  Bitter.  Discontent.  I want answers.  I want to know why.  Why did you so belligerently neglect your daughters?

I have a friend who went to seminary, studied Hebrew for five or six years, then decided that being a preacher wasn’t for him.  He’s an awesome Daddy.  He’s also the guy I talk to about this kind of stuff.  He doesn’t make me feel like I’m going straight to hell when I ask “Does Jesus love me?” instead of stating with complete conviction “Yes, Jesus loves me!”. 

And he just happens to know the history stuff.  And he lets me know, that actually, Mosaic law was much kinder and more compassionate concerning women then what was going on in the surrounding areas at that time.  It was a kinder code, a far gentler code.  The punishments (mostly stoning to death) were not as harsh and — for the first time — introduced complete forgiveness from a loving God.  We do not tend to see completely eye to eye on this.  This “not as bad as” scenario doesn’t give me much consolation.  Maybe turning the world completely upside down was too much for that time and space.  Maybe.  Maybe Moses and God were working it all in and out slowly, working within the confines of a world were women were nothing,  property, a means to procreate and satisfy men and nothing more — they were working within the milieu and order of a very fallen and sinful world.  Maybe.  But God is God.  The Great I Am.  (I know, I have the tattoo — In Hebrew — smile) And nothing is impossible for God.  He could have totally shaken it all up, right?

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Read about the test for the unfaithful wife in Numbers 5:11-31 if you aren’t familiar.  I always thought it was a magical potion of God’s when I was a little — sweepings from the dust of the tabernacle floor she’s made to drink and the priest curses it.  There’s a few more steps with barley and grain and offerings.  Basically, if it causes abdominal swelling and her thighs waste away, she cheated and she will become cursed among her people.  If not, she’s free from impurity.  No mention ever of any such potion test for a man’s infidelity.  Bummer.  It only matters if a woman is unfaithful.

And Leviticus…  I pretty much steer clear as I can hear my father’s voice in this book and not God’s…  PTSD sucks, to put it very, very nicely…

Chapter 12 — Purification after Childbirth — A women has a son — she is ceremoniously unclean for seven days.  A daughter?  Two weeks.  Those daughters were just extra dirty.  To keep this in all of it’s glorious context —  you also weren’t supposed to cut your hair, wear clothing of two different kinds of material, plant two kinds of seed in a field, clip off the edges of your beard, get tattoos (I have four–hell isn’t hot enough), and all kinds of other good stuff.  Those rules made sense for that time and place, in that historical context, for reasons very specific to that culture that worshipped God in a very specific way.

And what’s also important to remember is that those laws were done away with when Christ died for us.  Those rules were done away with when GRACE entered the picture.  They were temporary rules and regulations placed on a very ancient Israel.  But it’s still wrong to make a false image of God and worship it and to have idols, right?  So how do we understand what regulations still apply or no longer apply because of New Testament principles?  I am SO tired of hearing Christians say that we can’t ‘pick and chose’ the verses in the Bible that we want to follow — because it’s ALL true and ALL from God.  It IS all true and it IS all from God.  As part of linear history, culture and context.   But God also gave us a brain.  A brain that can closely and clearly look at those divisions of history and context and content.  Surely we can agree that slavery is NOT okay, that polygamy was not okay, that God was speaking to a cultural construct of that time — just as he was within the construct of patriarchy.  No man had any right to own another child of God — be it a slave or a woman.  No human created in the image of God should have been reduced to such a state of being.  Yet slavery is extensively written about in the Bible (as was selling your daughter) — and I’m sure that masters were instructed by God to treat their slaves better than what was “standard” for that time — but what this DOESN’T mean is that God thought is was JUST or RIGHT just because it was a man-made LAW.  The Bible may be un-evolving (meaning we don’t get to ADD to it — it is what it is).  But history is not.  We should learn from history — and in that respect — history does evolve.  Polygamy.  That was a huge thing.  Should we bring that back?  Dear God, I would hope and pray we learn from sin and our mistakes.  I would hope we would not continue to aimlessly wander in the desert for an infinite number of years.

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Chapter 27 — Redeeming what was the Lords — placing monetary value on males and females — from child to the adult — a male was worth more shekels than a female.  A male between the ages of five and twenty  was worth twenty shekels — a woman of the same age — ten.  Each age range is indicated with the price that could be paid.  Boys were of more value than girls.  Period. Pretty clear.

In Exodus, Moses speaks to the Hebrew law regarding a man selling his daughter.  If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not allowed to go free as menservant do.  The ten commandments themselves even become misogynistic as wives become clumped in with property (manservant and maidservant are male and female slaves — just to be clear) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, or his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17  This is a listing of belongings — a listing of things…

Two of the toughest books for me?  Genesis and Judges.  I cry.  Often.  I get sick.  Often.  Ask yourself, ‘do I really believe this — or is this just a little collection of stories for me?’  These are events that happened.  Really happened.  These are views that were held of women pervasively throughout the Old Testament — throughout the Bible.  Jesus, the rebel and subversive that he was, began to challenge these views in the New Testament.  It’s our job to continue to challenge them now.  Women as playthings, as objects of lust for men?  It’s all around us.  You don’t have to look  very far…

Most of us grew up knowing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot who was spared, along with his family, by two men who were actually angels.  They come as visitors to the town of Sodom — and Lot invites them to stay in his home.  “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house.  They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’ Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends.  Don’t do this wicked thing.  Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.  But don’t do anything to these men, for they have protection under my roof.'” Genesis 19:5-6 The strangers he had just met had protection under his roof, but not his own daughters.  It was vile and disgusting to rape the men, in fact — it was down right wicked.  But his daughters?  Do with them ‘what you like’.  Women were expendable.  More than that?  His flesh and blood daughters were expendable.  Play things.  Sex things.  Things.  Digest that.  Really, really read that and digest that.  Don’t just glaze over it with a ,’ yeah yeah’ or ‘yes, thus speaketh the word of the Lord.’  The other thing to remember?  Lot was the decent guy.  He was spared.

There are so many, and I know I am treading on extra holy ground here, but chapter 16 — I lament for Hagar who bears Abram Ishmael.  Not that she has a choice.  She’s just an Egyptian maidservant to Sarai, Abram’s wife, who is unable to have any children.  So, Sarai tells Abram that since she can’t have any children, he should go and sleep with her maidservant.

How many times have you just read over that verse.  Breezed right on past it.  I don’t.  I can’t.  I think about it — every.single.time.  Because I know that Hagar didn’t have a choice.  She had NO voice in the matter.  Abram just walked right in that room — and,  guess what — he didn’t lovingly sleep with her.  Why?  Because they didn’t have a loving relationship.  Why?  Because she wasn’t IN a relationship with Abram!  She was Sarai’s maidservant — her SLAVE!

So Sarai gives her maidservant to Abram, take her as your wife — cause that makes this all holy in the eyes of God — no choices for Hagar because she is a slave (let’s not romanticize this) — and Abram “sleeps” with her — which is a really nice way of putting it.  Hagar gets pregnant and despises her mistress, Sarai — I don’t blame her.  I’d kind of despise her too.  Sarai mistreats Hagar after Abram tells her to “Do with her whatever you think best.” and Hagar runs away.  An angel of the Lord finds Hagar, tells her to go back and submit to Sarai and promises to increase her descendants “they will be too numerous to count.” Hagar doesn’t even get to name her baby.  Abram does.  He’s 86 years old when Ishmael is born.  (Abram’s name is changed to Abraham when he turns 99 and Sarai’s to Sarah.  There is no further mention of Hagar. Her duty was fulfilled).  The entire thing leaves me so empty.  If Hagar had a voice in the Bible, what would it have sounded like? I wonder that so often.  I wonder that of Bathsheba too.  She had zero choice.  She lost her husband and her baby.  How broken she must have been.

Judges 19 — A Levite and his concubine — She leaves (so she probably deserves all that is to happen to her according to the common law — little tramp —  right?).  She stays at her father’s home.  He goes after her.  They stay at her father’s a few days.  Then a few days more.  They head back home.  An old man takes them in on their way back to the hill country of Ephraim.  They stay at his house.  “While they are enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house.  Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, ‘Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.’ (sound familiar so far? — this must have been a thing back in the day–town gathering gang bangs to ‘welcome’ strangers…)

The owner of the house went outside and said to them, ‘No, friends, don’t be so vile.  Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing.  Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine.  I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish.  But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.’ But the men would not listen to him.  So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.  At daybreak, the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.  When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.  He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer.  Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.  When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all areas of Israel.” (22-29)  Ahhhh, what a sweetie! She was raped to death.  He cuts her to pieces.  Imagine that.   What a statement.  Because that was SO brave of him!  I mean, because standing up for her, or at least checking on her ONCE throughout the night would have at least been something.  But she wasn’t even worth that.  She was cattle.  Fuckable cattle sent out for slaughter.  Oh they get all mad and go to war — again.  Just go ahead and read over those verses one.more.time.  Think about your wife, your daughter, or your girl friends if you are male.  Then think about that, just for a second, what it would be like — if you were a female.

I don’t know if I have the strength for Deuteronomy.  There’s lots of amazing in here with all of the down right awful.

My heart has trouble reconciling women and children being completely destroyed and slaughtered in battle (Jesus SO LOVED the little children) — “At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them–men, women and children.  We left no survivors.” Deut. 2:34 — (I mean, ya win, you got all the plunder and livestock — do you have to completely destroy everyone — even the people who can’t hurt you?) — and then “do not murder” is, literally, a chapter away.  But women and children — legitly justifiable–not so much. Full on admit — I don’t understand that kind of God.   I don’t understand that kind of people–or a kind of people who would praise that kind of  a God (but it was different times, Ang).  But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  And I thought he was a loving God.  And murder was something reserved for absolute necessity.  Wiping out kids.  Wiping out their mommas.  I walk away from my head space because I can only cry so much…

And I get the feeling that God isn’t speaking directly to me so often throughout this book through Moses.  I feel like I’ve felt so often at certain churches when I’m reading this section of the Bible — like it’s a special club and ‘sorry, this really isn’t intended for you.  You can read it, but no goodies for you’. You can use any metaphor you want to stretch it and make it fit — nope — not your bag, honey.   He’s speaking to a very select and special group of people here… his chosen people “Has god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by wars…”  “But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron–smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.” “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.  The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers…”  maybe this is for a really special group of people.  I’m feeling marginalized.  I’m not feeling quite so included any more.  He didn’t swear anything to my forefathers.  I don’t even know who my forefathers were.  I just know they’re not these people.  And I’m just a girl…

Then there’s the poor women who are taken captive and not killed.  The ones who the Israelite men find attractive.  They get to be taken as wives.  “Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured.  After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.  If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes.  You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”  21:10-14  I’m told this is kind.  I’m told this is considerate.  Seriously.  I’m told these things.  After you have killed her mother and her father, her entire tribe, village, what have you, capture her and take her home with you.  Make her shave her head and cut her fingernails.  Completely shame her.  Make her take off anything left she has of her culture, her heritage, her customs in the clothing she has on.  Make her leave everything of home, of what she loves.  Let her cry for about a month.  That’s it.  That should be enough.  Then you can make her be your wife and rape her.  If you don’t like how that works out — once you’ve desecrated her — you can set her free into a world where she can’t support herself and has no one to support her (since you’ve killed them all off) and no one will have anything to do with her since you have defiled her.  So kind.  So considerate.  Wonder how many of those women either killed themselves or became prostitutes — which would end up in them being stoned.  Because it would be their fault if a man slept with them and was unfaithful to his wife.

Chapter 22 — Marriage Violations

I just can’t…

So the moral of the story here is — just don’t get raped INSIDE of town, okay?  You’ll be stoned to death because you didn’t scream loud enough for help.  It’s inside of town.  I mean, someone should see or hear you.  It will be your fault.  You’ll be stoned.  Hope you get raped OUTSIDE of town.  Then he’ll be stoned, NOT you — because “this case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor, for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.” Duh.  Doesn’t really matter anyway.  She’s totally ruined and trash.  ‘found her out in the country’  The language.  There she was — just sitting there for me to rape…

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver.  He must marry the girl, for he has violated her.”  Lucky little lady.  I mean, if he just ‘happens’ to meet her — and he just ‘happens’ to rape her — he’s gotta pay Daddeo and marry her.  That’s the start to a great marriage based on love, trust and respect now, isn’t it?  One where God is surely involved and playing a part.  One where any boys brought forth are going to be reared to respect women and wait, it THIS how Brock Turner’s parent’s met?  Poor girl is punished not once, but twice.  Raped AND has to marry her attacker…  How did ANY woman have ANY shred of dignity or self-respect?  How did they survive?  They were seriously amazing…  They endured.  All that they endured…

The divorce chapter is interesting too.  It’s pretty flippant.  A man can write a divorce certificate to a woman when she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her.  No mention of a woman EVER divorcing a man for the same thing.  Nope.  Apparently only women are indecent.  Or displeasing.  And I’m just going to stop there.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of hearing my father’s voice…  I’m tired of hearing my father’s church.  I’m tired of it feeling so close when I thought we were more than this by now.

It’s not hard to see that women were not treated equally — that’s not even the correct word — I would go so far as to say they were not even treated as seen or rightful or respected heirs to the kingdom of God.  There are little glimmers of light every now and then, but the Old Testament is not a time where women were able to be everything God intended them to be.  God had much more in store for them.  Purposes bigger then man could ever imagine.  The world (man), at that time, just wasn’t ready.  I believe that.

Why?

Because it becomes a very dangerous and slippery slope  when we begin to assign value to another human being as the all-knowing voice of God (when we restrict God to our cultural understanding of where people “fit into” this space)–

— not value in terms of stars shining in the universe, in terms of precious worth in his sight, in terms of our ordained breath and unique and glorious purpose and plans —

but in terms of our human and very limited sense of value as less than and greater than — in terms of inferior and superior.

Only God is greater than any of us.  Only God is greater than I.

And the absolutely amazing thing about understanding that you are a beautiful child of God –and ALL that truly entails — is realizing that everyone else is too.  It gives you incredible confidence while instilling tremendous humility as well.  No better than.  No less than.  It’s a we’re all in… 

So, what DO I believe?

With white knuckles I’m holding on because I do believe in SO much…

I believe that when Jesus died for me, so did this archaic belief that some sort of patriarchal hierarchy was necessary to exist for me to be worthy of worship at his feet.  In fact, Jesus was radially allowing women to worship at his feet even in HIS own time — and how very radical that WAS!  He was speaking directly to women in the very rooms where he preached — he was allowing them to participate in discussion!  He was not only doing that — he was also healing them, allowing them to touch him, he was preaching to and with them, he was allowing them to prophesy in his name, he was born from one named Mary, and he first appeared to women after he rose from the dead — women were the very first evangelists!  Would God abore women SO much that he would trust one with his very Son — with part of the deity, the very Trinity itself?  With the greatest rescue the world has or will ever know?  No, no — none of that makes any sense now, does it…

And he knew women were used to adversity, being the underdog, the outcast — that Mary could handle the jeering, the pointing the staring — the disbelief of people — “Sure, it’s GOD’S baby — right…” and the enormous gravity it would mean for her to be pregnant and unwed.  But Joseph, what a guy — married her anyway …  God knew women were tough.  Because they had it pretty rough.  Mary could do this.  She would do this.  And humbly she would give all the glory to him — because as a women?  Well, she really had none of her own now, did she… He could have come any other way.  Any.other.way.  He was God, after all.  But he was born of a woman.  That’s something.  That was a God choice.  Women, we were a God choice.  That’s no small thing.

I believe that “God does not judge by external appearance…” Galatians 2:6 and that we’re all equal in the sight of God.  No matter our gender.  That we are all his children.  And that patriarchy is a man-made, and one made in a very sinful world at that, institution — and that the Bible and it’s people — quite simply — were written and framed within the  culturally constructed context of this world.  Why wouldn’t they be? It’s a recording of history!  And this very imperfect world.  Which is limited by the human mind and brain.

And there are many battles left to fight.  Many inequalities we still must rage.  Our culture is so embedded with subtexts we must question. Just because it’s IN the Bible doesn’t mean it’s OF God, that God blesses it as his own — God doesn’t endorse slavery, God doesn’t endorse rape, God doesn’t endorse some things that were legit back then–that were socially acceptable constructs back then — slavery, many wives and concubines (so very, very many), so many rules involving dress and customs of the tabernacle, stoning laws, etc .  I would hope that none of you husbands or fathers would think it was acceptable to send your wives or daughters out for a group of men to “do with as they please”.

I believe “The entire law is summed up in one single command; ‘Love you neighbor as yourself’.  If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:14-15 And that neighbor?  It’s everyone.  And that each other?  It’s anyone. (pssst — even the people you don’t agree with or don’t get along with — smile — reminder to myself as well).  It’s easy to love the loveable.  Loving the unlovable.  God help me.  Please.

And it’s all grace.  Grace upon grace.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10  By grace.  A gift, not works.  Not ‘only if you have a penis.’  WE are God’s workmanship.  That’s ALL of us.  And God has amazing things in store for us–like ALREADY PREPARED AWESOME STUFF.  For WE — not HE — not ‘just the guys in the tabernacle that are clean’ — ALL of us.  Read it again if you need to.  Sometimes I need to.  No boasting.  We’re all equally blanketed by his amazing and powerful grace.  Can I get an HALLELUYAH?  Can I get an AMEN?  Grace is we. 

That curtain ripped in half.  It literally tore.  The ground might have even shook or something.  No more sacrificial lamb, draining blood, offering your best parts of your best grains every certain day to the high priests and setting some aside for the Levites.  Daughter, you’re good.  You can boldly walk through that temple.  You don’t even need to enter a temple, sweetheart!  Drop to your knees, wherever you are — right now — and just say, “Dear Father”…  even if your voice shakes… mine has been shaking…  sometimes I just cry…  He gets it either way.  I know this.  Without a doubt — I know this.

Because…

“But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Philippians 3:13-15  Never perfect.  Always learning.  Moving forward.  Seeking guidance.  Humble.  This much I know.  That, YES, Jesus loves me.  Even when I don’t feel like it.  And YES, the Bible does tell me so.  Even us girls.  Maybe even especially us girls. Because he knows, our walk hasn’t been easy.  We’re not just casually leaning on him.  Dear Lord, we’re completely trusting and giving it all to him.  Our hearts our rendered.  Ripped out.  We get this giving thing.

And maybe it’s really okay if I don’t know.  I’m just kind of hoping he’ll make it clear someday, sometime — and I’m trusting that he will.  Knowing that he will.  Because he always has.  He.always.has.  I’m clinging to this.

And in the meantime?

Canaan, well, it’s not for me…

Nope, it was for the Israelites all along you see.  God’s got even bigger and better plans for this daughter of God whom he knit, whom he fearfully and wonderfully made, who’s hairs are counted, whos days are known — just as her thoughts and her heart are all his…

He holds my yesterdays, my todays, and if he so desires — my tomorrows — and that is more than enough for me…

And by all of this grace — and by the love of Jesus — and by a miracle so beyond anything Moses, the Israelites or any law could have ever imagined — we are all forgiven — and although we all have sinned and fall so terribly short of his glory — we are all enough.  Regardless of gender, race, creed, regardless of anything — and we are all neighbors.

Maybe we’re all just trying to find our own Canaan.

Meet you there.

Love you all.  ❤

 

“You hem me in — behind me and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

…even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Sections from Psalm 139

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