found (also known as, the preface to my thoughts on a Year of Biblical Womanhood)


We learn best through stories.  It’s like there is something in our bones, deep down below the marrow that resonates with story.  Stats can leave us shell-shocked.  Tables can please our eyes.  Stories change us at the very core  of our being. 

Rachel Held Evans‘ story, as found both on her blog and in her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood has done this for me.  And while I would most definitely recommend you sit down and read her story yourself, I would also like to share with you how her story has impacted me.  How it’s become part of my story.

Before I get to the book though,  I feel like you need to know where I was when Rachel’s story started speaking into my life.

It was sometime in the spring of this year, the exact time is a little fuzzy – as most things are when you’re the parent of a newborn.  I was finishing up maternity leave, reading voraciously (because I was bored) and trying to figure out exactly what my identity was now.

Growing up, the idea that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling was very much instilled in me.  I never particularly thought the idea was overly attractive, but I was also told that “when I met the right guy” and “when I held my baby” that all those feelings would change and I would just be consumed with a desire to love and support my family. 

Well.

Cadence Grace waltzed into our life far sooner than I had ever anticipated having a child.  In that, though, I was much assured of God’s plan and hand in all of it because, well, this certainly had not been my idea.

I hated being pregnant.  Hated, hated, HA – TED it.  

Birth wasn’t so bad.  I don’t really care to repeat the process, but it was truly one of my most intimate moments with the Creator.

 

And that little girl. Wow.  I never knew I could love a person so much. 

 

But I still didn’t feel fulfilled.   And I certainly did not feel as though my calling to be on pastoral staff at my church had been lifted. 

Growing up, I had been given – intentionally or otherwise – the idea that women who had kids but worked a job in addition to being a mom were doing something wrong.  My mother stayed home with us, and I am thankful.   But in our home, there were two “F-words”:  the obvious and “feminist.”

Here I was.  24, married, and now mother.  The passion for the hurting and the oppressed, for teaching kids and others about God’s story, for leading people to the Feet of their Creator in musical worship; even my very part-time gig teaching exercise classes at the gym, none of those passions went away.  They didn’t even decrease.   In fact, it was almost as though becoming a mother made all of my passions increase Welcoming the Kingdom seemed so much more urgent for some reason. 

But I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t tell if maybe I was hearing God wrong, and I was supposed to surrender my calling because motherhood was supposed to be my “real” calling.  Maybe I was just being stubborn…

That’s when a friend introduced me to Rachel’s blog.

It was like someone was reading my mind.  Daring to ask out loud all the questions I was wrestling with inside.  A committed Christian and a feminist? Egalitarian marriage?   It seemed crazy to me.   But I read, and prayed, and read some more. 

Walter Wink’s excellent book The Powers That Be came into my life around the same time as well.  Wink also pulls back the curtain to expose the idea of all-powerful wizard of patriarchy for the puny little old man it is. 

 

“Ask and you shall receive” Jesus says. 

I asked “who am I now?”  As a wife.  As a mom.  As a woman.  As a child of God. 

and I received: “You are mine.”

 

I found Rachel at the crossroads of my existence.  It was the point in which I could either
A) Believe everything I had been taught for my whole life about women and motherhood and forsake the calling that burns in my bones to instead pick up what every good Southern Baptist would tell me my calling should be.

or B) I could have the audacity to actually listen to God for myself and continue to follow God’s calling on my life no matter how many molds I broke or toes I stepped on.

 

I found the grace and the strength to choose the latter.

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4 thoughts on “found (also known as, the preface to my thoughts on a Year of Biblical Womanhood)

  1. One time, I was attending a church and in a conversation with someone, I was asked “do you work outside the home?” I was completely confused by the question because this person knew that my husband and I didn’t have children. My confusion showed and it was a little awkward but we kept talking. It didn’t really occur to me then that anyone would expect a non-parent to be at home!

    Now, when we had kids a few years later, I did quit my job to stay home. However, I did end up going back to work part-time (10-20 hrs/wk) until we moved earlier this year. And that first couple of months when I was home ALL of the time was a hard adjustment. I’m still home all the time, but I’ve now gotten used to it, and it has given me time to be able to write, for which I am thankful.

    But it was and is a struggle, because even though I think being a mom is a great thing, I also know that there is more to me than that (and I wrote about it back during RHE’s #mutuality2012 week: http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/2012/06/wife-mom-and-so-much-more.html)

    I think you got it exactly right in your option B: to continue to follow God’s calling. That is what we are to do, wherever it is that He leads.

  2. LOVE this. I became a mother at 35. Not necessarily planned but how life and choices hadn’t afforded the opportunity before. I always wanted to be a mother but that wasn’t all I wanted. After having Zoe, health issues caused me to have rethink what I could do for this season but I struggled because as you say so beautifully the desires for Kingdom living and the passions for my gifts increased in light of motherhood rather than being eclipsed by this new role.

    Well written. Thanks for sharing.

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