This morning I picked up my Bible and opened it randomly to a spot. I love doing this because I ask God to direct me to something He wants to speak to me that day. So, I picked up my Bible and it opened up to a passage I had highlighted and marked up – Isaiah 61.
This past year I have been going hardcore advocating for victims of abuse, speaking out against racism and sexism, and empowering women to be anything God has called them to be. I have taken to social media with an energy and courage I never knew I had. I have been called a false teacher, Jezebel, and heretic – weekly. I have been unfriended, gossiped about, and recently found out I have my own little club of haters who screenshot my facebook/twitter posts and share them in a group of complementarian women to discuss me (and others like Jory Micah, Jen Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans, and other women I look up to – also great company to be included in). Most of my Facebook posts about equality, racism, and women end up in chaos and accusation. I have been accused of leading women down the path to hell, told to repent and be saved, told that I am making too big of a deal about racism, sexism, and abuse. I have received countless facebook messages, emails, and DM’s from people determined to “set me straight”, force me into repentance, or just let me know how harmful my teaching is and that I have “lost focus of Jesus” or that I have clearly backslidden. I was told by a former spiritual mother (of sorts) that the reason I wasn’t married is because no man would want to marry a woman this stupid and acting like an idiot and unwilling to take on my “role” as a woman (submissive housewife). I have been on the receiving end of constant correction from people who barely know me or don’t know me at all, constant trolling on my Twitter account from complementarians wanting to let me know I am in sin for teaching women that they have a voice, can be independent of a man, can preach and teach, and can do anything they feel called to do, without limitations! Also, all of this has been from other Christians. It has taken its toll this past year. I have been feeling worn out, discouraged, and frustrated. In this midst of all this hard stuff, God brought some truly incredible people into my life (you know who you are *cough Melissa, Katie, Mindi, Charissa, Noelle, Steve, Marg, Tabi, Dotty, Glenn cough*) and a large community of like minded individuals who affirm me when I am feeling drained.
I don’t tell you all of this for you to feel sorry for me but to show you WHY I do what I do. WHY so many of us do what we do – why we speak out, why we come across harsh and intense sometimes, why we roll our eyes while scrolling out social media feeds…there are countless people (I am referring to just Christians here) held in the captivity of religious tradition, prejudice, and oppression of other people groups – without even realizing it. There are countless women who truly believe that God only created them to be married be a housewife, and mother – full stop. There are countless men who believe a woman is their property, their prize, their maid. There are too many women being abused in churches by leadership that goes unchecked. There are too many women who do not KNOW, really know who God has created them to be and the giftings He has placed inside of them because religious tradition has told them they can only do specific things and to be happy with that. There are tens of thousands of Christian women being led blindly into captivity and under the rule of patriarchy – which was NEVER part of God’s plan, NOT FOR MEN AND NOT FOR WOMEN.
Yesterday, I was included in a post by Ruthie Johnson of 18 People of Color to Watch in 2018. After the brutality of the past year, I was overwhelmed to be included in such an beautiful list recognizing the work of African, Hispanic, Caribbean, Asian, Spanish (etc) men and women who are influencing and changing the world. I felt the Lord say, the work will be worth it. I felt incredibly honored, overwhelmed, and I said to the Lord, who am I?
So, this morning, the Lord answered my question with Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
He has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted
to proclaim freedom to the captives
to release prisoners from darkness
to comfort all who mourn
to provide for those who grieve
to bestow upon victims of abuse a crown of beauty in exchange for their ashes
to bring joy to those who mourn and a garment of praise in exchange for despair.
This is who I am and what God has called me to do. This is what I was created for – to bring freedom, and hope, and healing. To break chains that hold women back from walking in the fullness of the giftings God has given them, to bring healing to victims of abuse, to speak out for justice for those oppressed by religious systems, that man not God, set in place. To sing songs of freedom over the nations, to sing songs of healing and freedom over people. To bring God’s good news to those held under the weight of religious tradition that does not come from the Father.
Today I choose to stop feeling the need to justify myself to people who have no intention of hearing me. I choose to follow God wherever He leads me – whether it be into the enemy’s camp to run freedom missions, or if it be to sit in the pit with women who are hurting, or to give all I have away. I choose to follow God, to follow Jesus’ example of freedom and healing, and to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit rather than the voice of the ones who seek to undermine the voice of God in my life.
Thank you to Ruthie Johnson and Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros for including me in your list. You have given me courage to keep working, to keep speaking out. You made me see that I am not doing all of this in vain.
You, whoever you are and wherever you are, your voice is important. The call on your life is important. You do not need man’s approval to be whatever GOD has placed in your heart to do. Choose today to trust God and take the first step.
We are all in this fight against oppression, sexism, racism, abuse, and patriarchy – TOGETHER. We need each other and we need to work together.