When Messing Up Is A Chance To Practice – {Sheli Massie}

Today’s guest is Sheli Massie: a brave friend and fellow writer in the Redbud Writers Guild. I love Sheli’s honesty, her grit, her gift of encouragement… and I love her message in this post. Leave her some comment love, won’t you?

What if, instead of seeing ourwe saw

There are things that start to happen to you when you are on the other side of healing. And by other side, I mean be brave enough to say you need healing. To acknowledge that you are a broken person who needs to slow down and that you have pieces to put back together. When things are clear in my head and I don’t feel like I need to be in therapy three times a week I find myself being able to complete thoughts and realize where they need to go and where they came from. For example why I repeat patterns when certain times of the year come around or something someone does triggers a reaction that is let’s just say is “not sane healthy “. Well to someone who has lived in trauma for so long I am met face to face with the crap I have kept in there. Like for instance. I can improve on relationships. ( I suck at it) Now before you go all “Pollyanna” on me, realize that I have learned coping strategies through the years and some are not all good. For instance.

I sabotage good things. Like relationships. Or big occasions. I sabotage things are new or make me feel uncomfortable. I sabotage anything that makes me feel afraid. Do you see how I am operating here? Out of fear. But I am a work in progress and Jesus in his sweet gentle voice tells me this is something I am ready to walk through and figure out. That He and I will uncover what makes me feel so insecure and bless me with someone to hold my hand into this brave scary place called freedom.

I never wanted my husband in the delivery room. And until now I didn’t think this was a big deal. I just stated that he drove me crazy and I wanted my girlfriends in there, who knew what I liked and didn’t like. Do you see the problem? I didn’t want him near me. I didn’t want him to be a part of a very intimate moment that lasted 22 hours for one child and thousands of hours for the rest. I wanted other people closer to me. So when you begin to unravel what healthy is and your head comes clear, Jesus reveals things to you in small doses that you still need to unwrap. Like my inability to trust. I didn’t trust my husband, I didn’t trust hum to take care of me. I didn’t trust that he could comfort me. I didn’t trust him with my safety. I didn’t trust him as my legs were up in stir-ups and every stranger was up in my business yet I didn’t trust the one I made a covenant with. Perhaps I had some issues….

Do you see how alarming this is? I know others think this is crazy and strange. But I am seeing it as a chance to “practice” (new word I am learning from my wise people). It helps me to realign my thoughts that I am practicing and not making mistakes. I have to catch myself saying that I “messed up again” but this is just “practicing”.

I am learning that this is my turn to practice trusting. Practice inviting myself to pause in the unknown and sit there. Practice staying in the quiet when it makes my skin crawl and I want to hide in my bed and binge watch House of Cards. Practice sitting in the moment and finishing the conversation when all I want to do is say something sarcastic that others would find funny. Practice telling the truth even though it may make others upset. Practice slowing down. Practice leaving space. Practice saying yes to what really matters. Practice filling my space with things that are only useful and beautiful. Practice connecting to those I claim to love. Practice being present when my mind wanders to wherever I am not.

Practice is hard. Practice requires that I show up and put in my best effort. Practice makes me cry and wish for another coach. Practice leaves me exhausted and wanting a water break. But from what I have learned practice makes me ready for the game. It helps me to show up when it matters most and be ready to do this life thing together. It helps me know what works and what doesn’t work.

So when we “mess up” and get overwhelmed with how many times we have yelled or pouted or ignored to get our way. We take a deep breath and acknowledge that this was “practice” and we can try again.

So what if we all practiced together? Instead of repeating the patterns of our past or blaming it on a personality trait what if we all were brave enough to show up. In the little things? In the big things? If we were all brave enough to reach out to someone and say “help”. If we were brave enough to write that letter and say “I’m sorry”. If we were brave enough to fall and get back up again. If we were brave enough to tell that story. If we were brave enough to say “no more”. If we were brave enough to look him in the eyes. If we were brave enough to walk away. If we were brave enough to stay. If we were brave enough to turn off the TV. If we were brave enough to say the first words. If we were brave enough to love. If we were brave enough to forgive ourselves.

You can. We can. We can be brave.

You are brave sweet one. You are.

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massieloveAbout Sheli: ​I am a writer on good days when a child isn’t puking or screaming or the dog hasn’t run away for the zillionth time or when the house doesn’t look like a Hoarders episode or I didn’t forget to pick up one of the five children from school. I live in the western suburbs of Chicago with my husband who has pushed me to be a better version of myself for sixteen years. I adore my best friends and I get anxiety attacks around anyone pretty or skinny, so I stay in my yoga pants and write about my redemptive story at shelimassie.com. I am a proud member of Redbud Writers Guild.

 

Photo Credit: Georgio____, Silhouette (Flickr Creative Commons), edited by Bronwyn Lea.

Help: I Think I Made The Wrong Choice

You're worried you've made a

Dear Bronwyn,

What do you do when you think you’ve followed God’s leading, but then it just sort of falls apart and no longer feels right or makes any sense? I know God’s plan does not involve everything being easy all the time and things don’t always make sense right away. I just feel so insecure about the choices I’ve made. I am constantly asking myself did I hear God correctly? Was that even God speaking? What if I had chosen differently?

The situation is this: after I graduated, I took a job nearby. I had prayed for a dream job elsewhere and wanted it so badly, but when it was offered I didn’t feel I could take it because I had already committed to another job. I also just didn’t feel “right” about it. I can’t say it’s been a disaster, but this job has proved extremely challenging, and recent management changes have been eye-opening. I feel like a fool for choosing to stay here and being loyal to an employer that I realize doesn’t care much about me as an employee. A big part of all of this was keeping my word and commitment, but now I’m questioning if I was subconsciously trying to be a martyr and choose that hard road because I thought it would make God happier with me. I’m on the other side of the country from my family and friends, and I am constantly asking myself -why am I here? What does God want from me?

Please help,

Second-Guessing.

Dear SG,

Those are such good questions. What I can’t do is say: Yes, you made the right decision to stay, or no, you didn’t. What I can say is this: I can really sympathize with where you’re at. We have had seasons of SERIOUSLY second-guessing some decisions in our lives – most notably the decision to come to the USA because so many things went CATASTROPHICALLY wrong that first year and we kept on saying “God, really? Is this your way of saying we shouldn’t have come?”
Here’s what I had to keep saying to myself in the midst of that uncertainty: James 1 promises that if we ask for wisdom, He gives it, and we must believe and not doubt that that is the case. So, in the face of much doubt, we HAD to believe that God had, in fact, given us wisdom in that decision making, even if the consequences of the decision did not appear to be panning out well. I believe you prayed over accepting your current job, as well as praying over turning down the “dream” job, and that God gave wisdom to you. Second guessing is not going to help you here.
My advice to you is that, rather than figuring out whether the past was a mistake, consider what you should do now. Again, James 1 applies – trusting that as you think and pray this through, God WILL give you wisdom for the next step. Maybe he is calling you to faithfulness for another few months. Maybe you should reach out and reapply to that dream job (which will no doubt have its own challenges mind you – our expectations for what work ‘should’ be like often need tempering),  and just work to keep lines of communication there. Maybe there are other alternatives God has in the wings and you need to “jiggle some handles” around you just to see what doors might open. Maybe all three of those options need to be pursued. (staying faihtfully now, but being open to a change of plan).
Thinking about what may have motivated your previous decision and analyzing what happened in the past is important for understanding the factors at play and being self-aware, but I don’t know that over-analyzing it is going to help. Regret certainly isn’t. We do need to think through our past, and learn from it and confess where appropriate, but we are also called not to dwell on the past: “forgetting what is behind, we press on…” I don’t think this means ‘forget’ in the sense that we treat it as if it didn’t happen, but that we don’t put our main focus on the past. Instead, we focus on present day faithfulness with a view to God’s promises and purposes in the future.
Know this though: These months of you being faithful and loyal are not wasted. God rewards his servants who serve Him and His world with upright hearts. He will redeem this time, and who knows what wisdom and truth He will yet pull from this experience in the years to come. Lord knows, I’ve been surprised so often by the ways in which the “questionable decisions” and sticky circumstances land up being used in wonderful and unexpected ways in the future.
I”m sorry you are in a hard space right now – it must be SO HARD to be there all the time second guessing yourself – but I don’t believe it is wasted, and I KNOW that regret/worrying about whether it was a mistake is not a helpful way for you to approach this climate. Call some praying friends around you to help you figure out what your options are, and see what step God shines the light on next.
With love and prayers for God’s wisdom and comfort to you,
Bronwyn.
Photo Credit: Will Montague – petal shadows (Flickr Creative Commons) – edited by Bronwyn Lea

A Brave Pen-light in a Dark World

This is one of the few (ever) guest posts that left me in broken, hopeful tears. After reading it I emailed Aleah and said, “dang it girl. dang.”  Aleah Marsden is my writing BFF, but even if I didn’t have the extraordinary privilege of being able to say those things I would still say this: she is an incredible writer. This piece is about how scary it is to write, or to do anything, for that matter, when our contribution is so small and scared, while the world out there is so big and scary. 

God uses our stones, you know. And our

My seven year old son sits before the homework page: knees up, heels resting on the seat of the chair, arms wrapped around his legs, and dark brown, nearly black, eyes staring over his folded arms. Brooding. On the verge of tears. One hundred math facts: ten rows of ten facts, daunting. Overwhelmed and paralyzed, he fights the battle raging in his mind for a place to start. For a foothold. Maybe if he stares at it long enough, looking pathetic enough, I will have pity and excuse him from the work. Or do it for him.

My empathy is touched, but not pushed to interference. This scene plays out at least once a week, whenever the dreaded hundred-fact sheet is pulled out of his folder. He is excellent at math. Rarely do I need to correct his answers, though his spelling is another story. I know he can do this and do it well. I have witnessed him do it before.

However, I know how it feels to be overwhelmed and so stuck up-in-your-head that you can’t take the next step—even and especially the first faltering step.

I look adoringly from my book proposal, that sweet bundle of hope and pixels, to my phone: a picture of 21 brothers on a beach who I will see in martyr’s robes on the last day. I look into the eyes I can see because I want to be sure I recognize them. Oh, God, for the women and children left behind!

I excitedly check Twitter to see if today will be the day I break the magical 1,000 followers mark. I’m far from the majestic blue-check stamp of approval, but still eagerly anticipating this next milestone. Then I click a link and read about human trafficking in such beyond-the-numbers human terms that I’m sick to my stomach. Oh, baby girl. No, Lord, no!

I pray over my possibilities and share my life-giving stories of IF:Gathering last weekend. Of the power of women (and a few brave men) contained around tables in the theater and at restaurants all over downtown Austin. I am challenged to stop insulating myself from the fear of rejection, the fear of failure. To stop counting the cost, as I consider the cost of a little more than a dollar a day to Feed the Children. And I can’t. Because right now that dollar a day feeds my people and it tears me apart with longing for more. I vow to be generous with what I have and not what I haven’t.

I stand in the field, tall grass tickling my exposed calves, with my stone in my sling facing the Giant.

I walk my sixth lap around a fortress fortified up to Heaven and wonder if the marching is making any difference at all.

I look into the face of the Man calling me to drop everything and follow Him, heart beating in my throat.

In reality, I smoosh the words around the screen with the skill of a finger-painting preschooler and a fraction of the confidence. I point my laptop in the direction of the void of cybernetic space and fire off another bundle of words into the darkness.

There is so much more I want to do. If only I had heavier artillery to bring to this battle. I see my brother-martyrs, my sister-victims, our hungry kids and I point a blue ballpoint in my trembling right hand. I thrust it out before my chest against the swords and darkness; impotent iPhone in my back pocket.

My hope looks insignificant, selfish, against this wave. I am swept up in the rush of urgency down the social media rapids, overwhelmed and pulled under the whirlpool of information until I’m washed out on the shore panting, crying, praying. It’s too much. It’s too big.

How simple, how stupid, how selfish, how small this art feels against the looming dark.

I trudge out back to water the damn platform again, wondering as I do if it will ever be tall enough for anyone to find relief under its branches. If it even matters, or if it will just a die a slow death like every other green thing ever entrusted to my care. Truth is, though I sometimes fantasize about uprooting the thing and feeding it to the wood chipper, I believe it contains potential to grow into something beautiful, flourishing, and a tree of blessing for others.

Even though my words possess some intrinsic value scribbled in the margins of my personal space: they have no impact unless I have the courage to fling them. Maybe it’s more selfish to hoard them. I put my whole self of force behind them, trusting the I AM within to provide spark and trajectory for my small stones. God uses our stones, you know. And our steps, our pieces, our art to sum greater than their parts. Every time. He is our only hope against the too much, too big dark because He is the greatest much, the greatest big light. Against Him no darkness can stand.

My sweet boy sits staring. Even this small battle of overcoming addition holds incredible kingdom implications. You can do this. You are enough. You have what it takes. I breathe into the top of his soft dark hair. Start. Just pick one and do it. Then do another. And another. And one more little piece until it somehow in the mystery and solidness of mathematics makes a hundred.

I’ll keep flinging my words. Keep watering and pruning the brambly platform out back. Keep forcing myself to find human faces in the information overload out there. One more post, one more stone, one more submission, one more lap.

One more step forward pointing my pen-light into the darkness.

profile picAleah Marsden is a stay at home mom of four who wakes up at 5am to study the Bible and write because she discovered physical exhaustion is more manageable than emotional exhaustion (i.e. consumes copious amounts of coffee). She blogs about life, faith, and studying the Bible at DepthOfTheRiches.com. Member of Redbud Writers Guild. Connect with her on Twitter: @marsdenmom

 

Photo credit: Einherjan2k8 – Overgrown Path in the early evening sun (Flickr Creative Commons) / edited by Bronwyn Lea

Pick of the Clicks – 2/14/2015

Pick of the Clicks-3

Here are some of the best things I found online this week: enjoy!

To be honest, it has been hard to find much on the internet that DOESN’T have to do with 50 Shades of Grey. I said my piece about that last week and thought I was done with the topic, but I have to commend Kirsten Anderson on her article The Real Reason Fifty Shades is so Wildly Popular (HINT: It’s not sex). This is a brilliant, informative, insightful and deeply redemptive read. SO GOOD. Even if you think you’re “done” with this topic, read this post because it is so enlightening.

My other top, top pick for the week is Jen Wilkin’s post 3 Female Ghosts that Haunt the Church. Don’t be misled by the title: this is a MUST READ for thinking about how men and women alike think and talk about their responses to and welcome of women in the church.

John Pavlovitz’s 5 Ways To Avoid Your Own Valentine’s Day Massacre. Funny, insightful and dead-on true. Good stuff.

I really appreciated Laura Droege’s guest post over at Tim Fall’s blog about the time she raised her voice at her male-voice-only church: Women Speak, Men Ought to Listen.

Megan Gahan’s (Love) Note From Your Personal Trainer is so fantastic. I’ve never had a personal trainer… but I would want this one.

Lindy West’s piece What happened when I confronted my online troll is a completely unexpected, incredible, redemptive read. Lindy has taken more hate online than I think I could bear, but this turn of events (when a stalked impersonated her dead father in order to heap abuse on her), amazed me.

D.L. Mayfield’s post Overwhelmed over at Tanya Marlow’s lovely blog is a beautiful read:

 I was overwhelmed that the world was so beautiful and terrible, overwhelmed by a very good God who let very bad things happen, all the time.

Alia-Joy Hagenbach’s essay When Hollowed and Holy Quiet Speaks Loudest is magnificent writing and an aching reminder of the hospitality of listening, especially when we have friends going through dark, horrid times. Read it. Soak it in.

Your video this week? Three not-to-be-missed minutes from Brene Brown (the animated version!) on blaming.

My news?

One post this week on the blog: Hope for the One with Trust Issues. Also, I’m excited to have joined both SheLoves magazine and iBelieve.com as regular contributors. FUN! So thankful for these wonderful opportunities.

Thanks for reading… and as always, leave a comment below with your favorite picks to read from this week (I always read them!), or contact me if you have a question for the Ask Me Anything series or want to submit a guest post. I love to hear from you!

 

Photo Credit: Ginny Anderson – I heart pink crabapple tree blossoms (Flickr Creative Commons) / edited by moi.

 

Hope for the one with Trust Issues

With all the I have, what I really need

Let me tell you three true stories from the past two weeks.

  1. I got a letter from a reader who came across Liz’s story. Liz is one of the courageous ones who was rescued from sex trafficking, and is now working to set other girls free. The writer of the letter said she knew her from youth, and was devastated to read that she had been prostituted during the years she knew her. It couldn’t be true, she concluded: Liz must be delusional or lying.

Who can we trust to tell us the truth about the past?

(*for the record, I believe Liz.)

  1. We got scammed in eBay. The short version is this: we had a smartphone to sell, and I got a message to say it had sold. The buyer wanted to expedite payment and shipping, saying it was a birthday gift for her son, and she was willing to pay extra. On receipt of an email from Paypal saying the money had been deposited, I paid for (ridiculously expensive) shipping and sent the phone off. It was received the next day. The day after that, eBay told me the buyers account had been hacked and the “paypal email” I’d received was fake. In other words: they sent me phony money, and I sent them a real Phone.

Who can we trust in business?

3. I read this article from Elizabeth Cohen, in which she tells of how she and her teenage daughter were friends with groomed by someone who turned out to be a sexual predator. This article left me feeling hollow and desperate for sleepless hours.

Who can we trust with our children? 

I am a woman with Trust Issues. The reason that e-commerce fraud, or hearing victim’s stories is so utterly terrifying to me is that is exposes my vulnerability. We all like to believe that we are a ‘reasonably good judge of character’. We like to believe that we are, to a large degree, able to assess risk for ourselves and our loved ones in a fairly reliable way.

What these stories do, however, is they peel back the veneer and reveal what soft bellies we have. We like to think that we would be able to spot a sexual predator just by looking at him, or that some inner “radar” would alert us when something was amiss in our communications with others. But the horrible truth of these stories is this: deceivers are really good at deceiving. They use, and abuse, our trust. They rely on being believable, and we, in turn, believe them.

Fraud wouldn’t work if those doing the deceiving didn’t have brilliant strategies and a keen understanding of human dealings. I like to think that all fraudsters are the types sending emails in poor grammar telling of Nigerian government millions which are mine if only I’ll reply with my bank details…. but the truth is that fraudsters steal real people’s authenticated ID’s, and tell moms like me that they want it faster for a birthday party.

Sexual predators wouldn’t get away with dozens of offenses if they couldn’t walk the streets as undetected, accepted, (beloved even!) members of society. They might be the arts teacher we love, the youth leader we supported on a short term mission trip, the friend we invited to spend time with our kids.

It is horrifying to me to realize that I move around from day to day giving people the benefit of the doubt, when danger is so near at hand. For the most part, I believe trusting people is the better way to live. I believe humans are made in God’s image and are innately valuable. I believe we all have capacity for good. I believe openness is a better policy.

However, the truth is also that we all have a dark side. None of us tell the whole truth the whole time, and each of us has, at some point, asked someone to believe something to be true when we knew that the facts did not quite line up. We are all under the influence of the Father of Lies, and “we are not unaware of his schemes,” writes Paul of the Evil One’s plans to outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11).

I am reeling in the wake of the past few weeks and the vast number of people who are asking me to believe them. They have not all told the truth. There are schemes and deceptions woven into the fabric of even the “true” versions of events.

The solution can’t be to give up on trusting anyone at all. Grace requires that we bear with one another’s weaknesses, and forgive one another’s faults (Colossians 3) – all of these giving tacit admission that we are less than reliable in our dealings with one another.

And obviously, we would be fools to trust everyone. (And if you want to err on this side, you may want to stay well away from eBay. Free advice. Believe me.)

But somewhere in the middle, my confused heart is trying to figure out how to live in a beautiful and broken world again, where we need to be able to believe one another at a most basic level – and yet that faith is always vulnerable to betrayal.

In the midst of this, I am reminded once again that what a girl with Trust Issues really needs is one who is always trustworthy and faithful. My heart has been drawn again and again to that beautiful passage in Hebrews 6, where the author tells us that God made promises to us and, even though he never lies and doesn’t need someone to vouch for him, he wanted us to be secure in trusting his promise… so he added an oath to his promises. A double-vow.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, says Hebrews 6:19. It is firm and secure. The anchor’s name is Jesus.

I may have Trust Issues in this sea of uncertainty, but I have an anchor too, and it’s all that’s keeping me tethered right now.

We have this hope as an

 

Photo credit: Jyrki Salmi – Anchor (Flickr Creative Commons)/edited by Bronwyn Lea

Pick of the Clicks 2/6/2015

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Ron Lieber’s article Why You Should Tell Your Children How Much You Make is a piece worth bookmarking, and it made me want to read his book “The Opposite of Spoiled”. Fascinating food for thought there.

Hadley Freeman’s interview with Cary Elwes on The Princess Bride (‘I know what my epitaph will be’, says Elwes) was a laugh-out-loud, masterful capture. If you have loved the Princess Bride, this is a very joyful 5 minute read.

Lore Ferguson and Paul Maxwell’s piece To the Christian Men and Women Debating Yoga Pants is a good and timely word on a topic which is just getting far too much airtime, IMHO. But anyway, if we’re getting all riled up about yoga pants, then read this. Tone matters. And I don’t mean muscle tone.

10/10 to Jen Hatmaker on her (as always) combination of funny, encouraging and very wise post On Becoming a Writer. Also, contains the funniest loose paraphrase of 2 Chronicles 16:9 I’ve ever come across:

“…the eyes of publishers roam about the earth searching for undiscovered writers who can actually compose a compelling sentence…”

Elizabeth Cohen’s article A Predator in The House is a bone-chilling but incredibly important read. She writes this article after discovering that for many months, she and her teen daughter had been “groomed” by a friend who was loved, trusted, and welcomed in their home… and was also a child pornographer. My mind could not stop spinning after reading this. Consider yourself warned.

Cindy Brandt’s reflection on The Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven is worth your time. I didn’t read the book (which has now been retracted by the publishers), but I did read Heaven is for Real, whose story is also called into question by the former’s disgrace. Cindy’s questions about all this are so good, and her insight is really important: we are hungry for good stories, but as followers of the plain Jesus born to ordinary people in humble circumstances, we must care about plain people. Good stuff (as usual), Cindy.

Heather Caliri write a gentle, wise and winsome post here: Spiritual Abuse is Real. Here’s how to Recover. If you are someone who has found it hurtful to go to church (or you know someone like that), read this. Love her words.

A moment of mirth: I let my toddler dress me for a week and this is what happened. Yup. Exactly. A friend sent this to me after my 7 year old upbraided me about my apparent lack of fashion sense. Sheesh: what does she know.

And your video for the week? Abby Norman’s TedEx talk. Repeat after me: “Hi, my name is _____________, and I AM IN CHARGE OF MY OWN BODY.” Let’s teach our kids how to say this often and well.

My talented and wonderful friend Corrie, who draws comics to capture the hilarities of life with kids, drew a comic based on my kids this week. LOVE IT.

2015-02-01-emptythreat

 

From me?

I’m thrilled to be joining the She Loves community as one of their regular contributors, and all the more to have this month’s post be one which proudly flies the South African flag :-) Check it out here: The Flag House.

On the blog: this week was exciting in that the One Little Word that Radically Changed my Prayers post hit the 10k mark for being liked and shared. Wow! So amazing and humbled to think of my desperate-in-my-pajames prayer being read by tens of thousands of people worldwide. Just Wow. really. Thank you to everyone who has shared this post.

New on the blog – the Why I Won’t Be Watching Fifty Shades of Gray (which I misspelled… it should be Grey) post got lots of attention. The movie debuts next week. What are your thoughts?

That’s all friends. Thank you so much for spending time with me at my little online dinner table. I hope you feel welcome. I love having friends over.

Photo credit: Steffen Ramsaier (Poppy field – backlight), Flickr Creative Commons (edited by Bronwyn Lea)

 

Feminist Confessions of a Non-Feminist – {Jamie Rohrbaugh}

Today’s guest post is from my friend and fellow Redbud writer, Jamie Rohrbaugh.

Feminist-Confessions-Of-a-NonFeminist-horizontal

I have a confession: I’ve always said that I am not—repeat, NOT—a feminist.

I said this because I have always thought of a “feminist” as being a woman who spends her time in Washington, D.C., lobbying for a liberal cause. I thought being a feminist required me to paint my face blue or red or pink, and shout FREEDOM like Mel Gibson, and march on the Mall. I thought being a feminist meant I had to climb the corporate ladder, be as power-hungry as I could be, and carry a chip on my shoulder about the rights of women in corporate America.

And I am none of those things.

I’m a woman. A simple woman like many others; maybe a woman like you. I have a wonderful job in a Fortune 500 company, but I don’t race to climb the ladder anymore. I have a husband, and a cat, and laundry to wash, and a gym membership I pay for but rarely use. I’ve never marched on D.C. and don’t have any plans to do so, and I’ve never voted liberal in my entire life.

I’m a woman, but I never had any desire to get involved in what I perceived to be the feminist cause.

But then something happened: God began to open my ears. And I started hearing things I didn’t like.

  • I heard from a pastor friend about those who look down on women and refuse to let them work in ministry.
  • I learned from a friend in inner-city missions about women who have never been taught to read or write, who have been abused from a young age, or who sell their babies for grocery money.
  • I learned about young girls who are stolen from their families and forced into prostitution, afraid to risk their lives by running, and seeing no options for finding a better life.

I had no idea. But when I began to hear these things, my ears were opened and my heart was grieved. Suddenly the world looked very different.

And then I understood:

  • I don’t have to attend demonstrations at the United States Capitol to care about the plight of women.
  • I don’t have to picket in front of the courthouse to believe women should be allowed to work in ministry, giving their time and talent for the cause of the Gospel.
  • I don’t have to vote liberal to know that toddlers, teenagers, and adults alike shouldn’t be trapped in sexual slavery, hoping the next customer will end their misery because life has become too much to bear.

And when I understood these things, suddenly the word “feminist” didn’t mean the same thing to me anymore.

Oh, I know there are still women who march on the Mall, paint their faces, and climb the corporate ladder. That’s ok for them, but it just isn’t me.

But even in my quiet life—in my family, my job, my church, and in my circle of friends—I learned that I can still care about women, and I can still make a difference.

  • I can advocate for righteousness and justice, which are the foundations of God’s throne.
  • I can shine the light of mercy and truth into the hearts of hurting women around me every day.
  • I can hug women who are lonely. I can encourage the downcast. I can help women find practical help that will get them out of tough situations.
  • I can share real-life information with those around me who are, like I was, blissfully uninformed.

I can care. I can make a difference in the lives of women right where I am…

… and so can you.

Even if you’re like me, living a quiet life in suburbia, you can still make a difference in the lives of women. You can touch the hurting and broken around you. You can advocate for justice right where you are. You can educate your friends about the plight of girls caught in the sex trade. You can learn about resources available to help people in crisis, so that you can offer a hand up whenever you have the opportunity.

That’s what I’m trying to do. Yes, I’m only one, and I don’t fit into my old stereotype about what a feminist is. But I care about women, and I’m doing something about it.

And I think maybe, just maybe, that might make me a feminist after all.

Jamie RohrbaughJamie Rohrbaugh is crazy in love with the presence of God. She blogs at FromHisPresence.com about revival, worship, prayer, and discipleship. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her trophy husband, and together they have one cat. Follow Jamie on Pinterest or Facebook for frequent doses of Biblical encouragement.

 

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Image courtesy of Girlguyed on Flickr via Creative Commons license.