Dream Bigger, Dear One


“There is more to us than we know.  If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

And with this brilliant quote from Kurt Hahn, my journey into Carolyn Curtis James’ Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women begins.

Written in response to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s bestseller turned multimedia sensation Half the Sky, Half the Church takes the issues related to the oppression of women out of India and Somalia, and brings them into the front row of our churches.

Growing up I don’t remember a lot about how I felt about what I could or could not do as a woman.  Things just were the way they were.  I spent the first twelve years of my life in a United Methodist church, where women served in leadership positions regularly and even preached on occasion.   I sensed even as a young child that not everyone was comfortable with this, but nothing was really ever said on the matter.

I got older and started to dream about my future.  I am (and always have been) a rather ambitious person.  I remember hearing older women in our church say things like “a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and mother,” and when I would react against this I remember being told that, “one day you’ll meet the right guy, ‘the one,’ and everything will change.”

And I believed them.

Certainly, I wanted to get married.  I liked kids, so I guess I would be open to the idea of being a mom.   But as a passionate, driven sixteen year old, I had a hard time accepting that I could not live out my highest calling till I was much, much older, and that the fulfillment of that calling would depend largely on another person walking into my life.

Carolyn begins Half the Church by dispelling this idea.

“The conversation about God’s vision isn’t American or Western or middle class.  It is global.”  She writes in the introduction.

The reality is, by insisting that a woman’s “highest” or “natural” calling is limited to marriage and motherhood excludes and even demeans a large number of women in our society and an even larger number around the world.  “We ask questions like, ‘Do i plan to use my college degree or set it to the aside?’ and ‘Should I be a stay-at-home mom or work outside the home?’ But for the rest of the world, these questions are unimaginable luxuries.” Carolyn writes.

We must have the courage to dream bigger.

Dear one, you were meant for more.

And this is not said to belittle motherhood or marriage.  On the contrary, it is to make much of them.  To allow these blessings to rest in their appropriate place – as blessings from God, not gods themselves.

As a wife and a mom, I would truly affirm that these roles are at present crucial aspects of how my calling is lived out, but one day, this will change.  My daughter will grow up.  “Our value and identities are at risk so long as they are derived from something or someone we could lose,” Carolyn observes in Chapter 2.

We must have the courage to dream bigger.

Dear one, you were meant for more.

Sometimes I wonder if our cattiness as women doesn’t spring from our own deep insecurities.  That we feel the need to lash out and triumphantly announce our motherhood, or career, or singleness, or feminism, or home making abilities as the supreme good for all womankind because we ourselves are unconvinced of our intrinsic value.

We have believed a vision too small, followed a divine shadow rather than the Creator God, and found ourselves wanting.

Because, dear one, you were made for more.

“I grieve over the opportunities and blessings I have wasted because I didn’t know God’s vision for His daughters – ” Carolyn laments, “I didn’t realize God expected so much of me.

I grieve the loss to the church when so many Christian women subsist on an anorexic spiritual diet.

I grieve that far too many women and girls are living with small visions of themselves and their purpose.

I grieve the loss to our brothers who are shouldering burdens we were created to share and are doing kingdom work without us when God means for us to build His kingdom together.”

Dear one, be brave.  Dream bigger.

Do not settle for “wife,” “mother,” “student,” “lawyer,” “HR director,” etc.

Your title is “Beloved”.

You call is to build a Kingdom without end.

The bricks you lay in these castle walls will be different from your sisters, but that does not make them less valuable.

Let our vision be nothing less than God’s Kingdom work.

Let our god be nothing short of the Great I AM, who sets our hearts on fire and raises the dead to a new life.

Let us encourage one another to see and embrace how big God’s dream is for God’s daughters.

Have courage, dear one, and dream bigger.

Image

(image credit: Southern Charm)

This is the first of a series of posts discussing the ideas presented in the book Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Curtis James. 

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