Saturday, December 18, 2010

Submission and Headship

Through all the studying and reading on women's roles in the church, trying to figure out where I stand, or believe, on the subject, I missed a very crucial and important point. That no matter what I may believe or where I may stand on a subject means nothing in light of God's call on my life. There will be times that He will call me places I may not want to go, to reach out to people from very different social (even societal) circles. If I give up my rights to the plans I have for my life, to my social circles, and am obedient to God's call I will have life to the fullest.

The issue of submission is not so controversial as people might think, if they have the right perspective on it. Submission is not subjection, degradation, or completely ignoring my gifts or desires for those of someone else - not as society or even feminists would tell us. It is not a giving up of one's will, but an exercise of will. The most common relationship this is seen in is that of a husband and wife. Dr. Sarah Sumner, author of Men and Women in the Church, puts it like this, "When a wife submits to her husband, she does not give up her will. On the contrary, she exercises her will to be guided by him. That doesn't mean she becomes a child who obeys him. It means, rather, that she conforms her will to his as a means of uniting with him. (emphasis added)" It took me re-reading this book, and that passage, along with discussions with a friend, to realize a very important truth about submission, particularly as described above.

This is precisely what we do in our relationship with God!! Do you see it? When we submit ourselves to God we don't give up our will, but we exercise our will, we CHOOSE, to give over our will so that God's will can guide us, so that ultimately we can be united with Him. God's plan for us is always better than our own. This fact always becomes apparent at some point in our Christian walk.

God is so good, and he doesn't leave this sacrificing of will strictly to wives. Oh no, husbands are called to sacrifice themselves for their wives too. This sacrifice is similar to submitting. Dr. Sumner puts it this way, "Something very similar happens when a husband takes the initiative to sacrifice himself for his wife. He doesn't become henpecked or lose his will to hers; on the contrary, he conforms his will to hers as a means of uniting with her. (emphasis added)" This sacrifice is what headship means. It's not leading as much of the church today would describe it, or as society views it. Instead, it is a means for a husband to lift up his wife as an equal partner, just as her submission lifts him up.

At it's core, submission is a mutual occurrence, and not one that can be forced on another. God does not force us into submitting to His will, we are responsible for the act of submitting. The relationship between God and the Body is a beautiful example of what a relationship between a husband and wife looks like. If more people would view submission and headship in this manner, in relation to God, perhaps there would be less of a power struggle between men and women, and more lifting each other up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What do I know?

The song below has been popping up in my head at random times through out this week. It so captures how I feel most moments these days. Part of it is the reality that I'm going to India in January, and God has totally paved the way. I feel so blessed, and yet there are times I'm still just waiting for the other shoe to drop. This part of me isn't quite ready to believe that it's real...however, the two large checks I wrote, and the fact that I'm beginning the process for my visa help make it very real. It just feels like this shouldn't be possible. I've not been very faithful in stewarding the resources God has already given me, I've procrastinated like no other with school work, just moved to save money so I can move again in February, and I don't know what else. All of that makes me feel very unworthy of this chance to go on such an amazing, life changing trip. I feel like it was too easy, and that the profs or dean will say, "No, sorry, you're clearly incapable of managing school work with all your normal life events, you can't possibly go on this trip." But that's just it, I feel completely unworthy, and yet God is blessing me in such a huge way. He's granted me the finances to go, and a living situation that will still enable me to save money for another move come Feb even if I go. I am so grateful, which doesn't even begin to cover it. However, this song, What Do I Know of Holy, seems to help express some of that. If you haven't heard it, look it up. The lyrics are awesome, and it's quite a catchy song. Praise God for all His abundant blessings, and from whom all blessings flow!! What do I know? Clearly not much, but He's still ever so gracious and loving.

What do I know of Holy - Addison Road
I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

(CHORUS 2)
What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Continued Process

Since I began this journey to understand the controversy surrounding women in leadership I have not had any significant discussions with people that included looking at scripture and dialoguing...until today. I have been blessed to have one of my new co-workers express interest in hearing my thoughts on the subject, and be willing to sit down and have a meaningful conversation about what the Bible says, and what our church (not The Church, as in the body of believers, but specifically the church we attend) believes, as relates to women's involvement in ministry leadership. First, I have to say just how grateful I am that God brought this person to work, and through that into my life. Not only that, but the fact that he was willing to have a conversation about the subject, allowing me to share what I'm learning, even though I may not fully grasp all aspects of it yet, and not just tell me he thinks I'm wrong. He not once told me, "This is what the church believes, what the pastor teaches, and thus is how it is. End of story." He willingly admitted that he was coming from a place of, "This is what I've learned from the teaching at church, and my personal experiences, so that is the position from which I'm approaching the topic." Yet he was open and willing to learn, just as he was willing to share, teach, and discuss. It was a humbling experience, and very helpful for me to begin to formulate my questions and process my understanding of this controversial topic. There have been others I have mentioned my struggles to, admitting I don't fully understand where I find myself in the debate. But those same people have been unable, or unwilling, to engage in discussion. It seems there are many who don't know a lot about the topic, they only know what they've been taught by their churches (or church in this case, as it is the same church I currently attend). Does no one care to truly question and challenge the teachings of their leaders? Or perhaps it's that church tradition on the topic is so ingrained in us, in society, that it sounds normal and reasonable, therefore why should it be questioned. I feel as though I may be rambling, and it is likely the case. Just getting some thoughts out before I move ahead in my study and begin to focus on the issue of headship.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Women in Leadership

I recognize that there is a great debate occurring involving the role women have in leadership. As far as I can tell there are two main sides to this debate, although a third opinion may emerge. I struggle greatly with the deterministic stance many Christians take on women's involvement in leadership within the church. Specifically, the narrow interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12. Interestingly enough, this same passage is used by both sides of the argument. I'll confess, I've not decided which side I stand on, or if I'm going to be standing on either dominant side at all. I'm still processing all I know from all I've read, learned and experienced, both first- and second-hand. I frequently bristle when someone adamantly, and staunchly, proclaims their interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 to be the only interpretation. However, I don't have a solid answer to the debate, for anyone, much less myself.

I ask myself why I bristle so at one interpretation over another. The one answer that always comes to mind is that I don't really like being told what I can or can't do simply because I'm a woman. Of course, it is highly probable that I'm completely misunderstanding one side's interpretation of scripture. But is that the real issue? The better question would be, is that really my issue?

I want to know and understand, to make an educated decision on this subject. I want to know that the sense of calling I have will be accepted, encouraged, utilized, and appreciated, no matter my gender. And then it hits....the deeper issue. Do I trust God's ability to call me and ensure fruition of my calling, no matter where I'm at, or the doctrine purported? If I don't the rest is moot.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mastermind

I've nearly completed my first year of a doctoral program. Ok, it's technically the second if you count all the master's work I did...but whatev. A few more papers and I'm done. Problem is, I'm easily distracted and can't seem to write for the life of me. Well, school related stuff anyway. I have absolutely no problem getting on here and laying my heart out to the world. Or just ramble away. I skimmed through a few of my most recent posts. I've come to realize that I have a lot of emotional baggage. I may be studying to be a psychologist but I'm clearly in need of some professional help. One of the joys of studying this stuff is the ability to self-diagnose....because that's always a healthy thing to do. It's becoming more and more apparent that I have a lot of unresolved self-esteem and relational issues I need to work through. How do I work through them on my own? I'm a verbal processor normally, and often do require feedback of some sort. Mainly to tell me I'm not crazy and it'll all be ok. Someone to give me advice or at least pray with me through it. You know, I'm not normally a complainer, or at least I had never considered myself to be one, but I feel like I have been this past year or so. Especially as I look back on what I've written. One would think that my life is consumed by issues of a teenaged, boy-crazy, girl. That's not me, even if at three decades I sometimes still feel very much like a teenager rather than a grown up. And while I may be much more realistic about relationships, I still have some fantastical ideas of fairy tale stories running through my brain. Dreams and I wishes marred by reality, lies, and false beliefs of who I am and what/whom I'm worthy of. Perhaps I should be more concered with who is worthy of me. Egotistical? Arrogant? Bitchy? So what? If I don't take care to look out for my best interest who will? Yes, yes, God is in control, has the best laid plans for me, etc. But when it comes to decisions that have to be made about who to invest my time and energy into, well, cliche-y as it might be, I rely up on God but then have to make that decision for myself. Do I trust God or not? Do I want the best for my life or do I want what I want. Not that what I want is always bad, it's just that it's usually only merely good. It's certainly not always the best. In this process of doctorhood I've learned, in some capacity, how to do on my own, be alone, push through with as little interaction as possible. It's a lonely place, this doctorate. And yet, when I find myself free to engage in social interaction, free to join the rest of the world and bask in the glorious light of summer, I still find myself alone. None of those whom I've had to abandon are available, at the drop of a hat, to spend time with the hermit. Wait, what? It isn't all about me? You mean, people have lives that they're getting on with whilst I waste away (hardly, how about bulge up) in the confines of a classroom? Oh that's right, I've not heard too much complaining about my not being able to do this or that, so why would I think that those out there would be ready to jump at a chance to spend time hanging out. But you see, there I go complaining again. No, complaining doesn't cover it, self-deprecating, that's it. I feel a great deal of built up anger ready to emerge. Perhaps this could be the avenue I've been seeking to get it all out and let it go. And yet I just learned that catharsis is only so helpful. It's really better to just divert anger into something more constructive, like exercise. Well, we all know how I feel about that....or do we? I'd much rather sit here and type away than get off my ass and do something. Ok, that's not true either. I simply make the choice to, whether I really want to or not is completely moot. Anger and hurt seems to fester here at the moment - "Fester, fester, fester. Rot, rot, rot." - I'm about ready for a breakdown to occur. I want to spend time with people, yet I'm not feeling all that close to anyone in particular. Why do I feel so distant from my friends? It couldn't have anything to do with school, could it? Or is that just a lame excuse I've come up with to push people away, to keep them at a distance so I won't have to get hurt. I'm extremely sensitive it seems. Is it a wonder that with all this going on in my head I can't write school related papers? How is one to focus on academia when the rest of the inner world is so jumbled?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Unnoticed

As I left my friends to drive home I felt this sense of sadness fill my heart. An ache that I've ignored a lot, and am able to overlook frequently, overpowered me as I drove and I felt my eyes brim with tears. I didn't want to face the truth at first, but I finally had to turn off the radio and admit to myself, and God, what I was feeling. The ache causing this sadness was for something I do not yet have. Something that I long for but have yet to attain. A significant relationship, a partnership with someone who gets me, wants to know me, understands what I'm trying to do and supports me. But while I yearn for that deep down, the strongest realization at that moment was the feeling of being unnoticed.

It's not like I require a ton of attention, or demand to always be noticed. But at times it feels as if nobody notices me at all. Especially men. I'm not a flamboyant or overly sexy dresser, but I don't always wear sweats/jeans and t-shirts either. I'm not overly loud or quiet, at least I don't think so. Do I really just not stand out? Is there really no one who takes notice of me?

Those questions, those thoughts, are the real cause of the ache I felt tonight. True or not, the idea still hurts.