Tuesday, June 10, 2014

He Wants ME?

I have the best parents. They homeschooled my brother and me until high school--the kind of homeschooling where you have friends and play sports and get ahead in school. My dad worked from home part of that time, helping out with our education. I loved taking math from him, because our brains think alike.

Most of my classes were taught by my mother. She had the most creative approach to teaching us how to think critically: she would read a book aloud and stop every so often to ask us about things happening in the story. We weren't writing essays. We weren't using formal logic. But we learned all the steps to thinking that way, so when the day came, those things were easy.

My dad realized one day that he hated his job, so he went back to school. He quit his job so he could go full-time and get his PhD. The fact that he did this while raising us makes him my hero. My dad's message was, Do what you want to do with your life. Every kid needs to hear that.

When he went back to school, my mom had to get a job. Like my dad, she believes in doing what you love. So, talented pianist that she is, she started teaching piano lessons and working as accompanist for a choir.

I'm at a loss to understand how I could've come away from such a great childhood thinking that women were just a teensy bit inferior to men; but I did. I never judged my mom for working; but somehow, I always had this idea that women were supposed to be homemakers and moms. Women cooked and men brought home the money. I thought that was normal. Expected. I don't know why.

I also thought men were leaders; therefore, women weren't. (I believe men make good leaders, I just don't think that excludes women from being good leaders too.) For some reason, that's what I assumed back then. Maybe because it's what I saw. Male presidents, male pastors, male CEOs, male protagonists. I just thought that was The Way Of Things.

And then I heard a story. I must've been a few weeks after Easter Sunday, because we were at the end of John's gospel, studying all the things that happened after Jesus rose from the dead.

The Pastor pointed out that Jesus went to Mary Magdalene first. He chose to say hi to a woman before anyone else. Women, the undervalued sex, whose testimony didn't stand up in court and who were virtually unprotected if they didn't have a husband. But Jesus saw value in them. He treated them as equal to men. Jesus was the first Christian feminist. 

It blew my mind.

I started going back and looking closer at the passages where Jesus deals with women. His encounter with the woman with a bleeding problem looked the same as any encounter with men who needed healing; he didn't treat her as lesser in any way. His famous words to Martha took on new meaning when I realized Jesus was advocating for the teaching of women--over having women do housework--in a world where women were never taught. As churches sprang up later, some of the prime leaders were people like Lydia and Priscilla.

And Jesus spoke to women first after the resurrection.

The disciples were in shock, everyone was scattered; everyone thought Jesus was dead and gone, permanently. The first person to see him in the flesh again was a woman. A woman, whose word wouldn't be believed, whom not even the male disciples believed at first when she told them. That didn't matter to Jesus. He saw women having as important a role in the world as men did.

That is the greatest comfort to me. Whoever else may say otherwise (and sometimes it's as simple as cultural heuristics), my God says there's a place for me here, a job for me to do, a purpose that I am needed to accomplish. I'm a vital part of the movements for justice and mercy. I can be a leader. I am allowed a voice; in fact, my voice is powerful and needed. I can be educated and educate others. I am free to discover the universe, regardless of who I am or how my brain works or how my body is put together.

He needs me. He wants me.

Let no one tell you otherwise. Whether you're female or gay or black or young or old or uneducated or new to everything or too short or too tall or transgender or tattooed or large or thin or environmentalist or unenvironmentalist or your skin is freaking green, you are an equal to everyone else here. God says so. If people say you're worth any less or that God loves you any less, that's a lie. You're good enough as you are.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female...you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Word count: 829.