the six of us were gathered on and around our friend Jacob’s bed,
the very picture of intimate community,
our hearts heavy with the weight of a secret only we knew.
I was acutely aware of my tear ducts that evening, as I had just spent the previous one emptying them in front of this very same group of (mostly) men.
It had been decided the week before that the small community we were in charge of had grown too much too quickly, and now instead of a home for the hurting and a haven of accountability, we were just the new cool hang for everyone in our church under the age of 30. It was time for us to disband, and to start over. As wise as this choice eventually seemed, my heart was with every one of our students in the next room, praying and laughing and catching up, oblivious of the changes we had not yet announced – and I ached to think how little time was left for me to spend with them before new communities & homework & extra night shifts scattered us to the winds.
So here we were, gathered to pray over our little flock, and naturally, we start to reminisce a bit.
“Maybe we can still meet every month or so, ” someone remarked. “Half the reason these kids are here anyway is to hook up.”
I must have scoffed, because suddenly all eyes were on me, and the protagonist of this inane conversation starts in on me. “You know that’s why you’re here, Hannah,” he said, amused at my apparent distaste for his general premise.
“Come on, you at least thought about it.”
Think about it? I mean, I’m sure I did. Who doesn’t? You can read my previous post about how I have trouble not putting people in boxes. But any romantic inclinations I may have worked through for my friends and co-leaders – and work through them I did – were nothing compared to the hours I’d spent praying over, worrying about, and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee with the men and women that had come every Tuesday night seeking love & a home & somewhere they could get their questions answered.
But here we were, trivializing that entire endeavour and pretending that we were all just sorry we hadn’t dated everybody.
“No, I was NOT,” I retorted. (My retorts are usually razor-sharp, I assure you.)
“Oh, good,” he said. “That just means that you are waiting for a man to pursue you, like you should be. Good girl.”
He said it with all of the genuine concern and kindness of someone giving a compliment. “Good job, Hannah, you’re serving God just so that some man will see you and want you! Keep up the good work.”
And that was the end of it.
If I was not a feminist when I walked into that bedroom, I was when I walked out.
Because my sex drive or romance drive or whatever inherently human part of me thinks it would be a good idea to ever marry somebody does not guide my life or ministry choices. I am not sitting around, believing that I somehow have nothing else to do than be loved and rescued by any earthly man.
WHOLE & COMPLETE, NOT LACKING ANYTHING.
(except maybe holiness. we’re working on that. )
I am a full person – a free moral agent – and my individual pursuit of God & any other person is my journey to take.
I was angriest that day because a boy had said out loud what I’m always afraid men are thinking.
That, as a woman in the church, I am by very nature a HALF.
Half a heart. Half a body. Half a purpose.
That I walk through my weekly acts of service – leading songs, stacking chairs, greeting new faces – just to be noticed and found by the puzzle piece that will complete me & make me a whole person, able to live out Proverbs 31 and become an acceptable, respected member of society. Until that day, however, it seems that my every move can be boiled to my one obvious motivation:
FINDING A HUSBAND.
So, why feminism?
I balk even typing that word. I can’t stand to use it in everyday conversation.
Maybe one day I’ll grow into it. Maybe I’ll learn to stretch out under its vast canopy, breathe a little deeper, and own my freedom a little more.
But today, feminism is a gate – and on the other side is an expedition I’m starting on to take back my personhood.
Feminism – because we can’t just keep telling ourselves that we are worthy, cherished daughters of the Most High, and then living like damsels in distress living in towers of inertia waiting for a kiss of true love to awaken us from slumber.
Feminism – because if we are whole people, then we should be doing a lot less waiting and a lot more speaking, singing, preaching, and crusading against injustice, wherever we find it.
Feminism – because I,
will no longer be half the women we were created to be.