On New Year’s Day, I stood in the kitchen with my friend, Dirk, making P-dub’s simple and perfect chili; he chopped the onions and measured the chili powder and cumin and salt, while I browned the ground turkey and opened the cans of beans and diced tomatoes. Football on in the other room (with James whooping it up as Nerd Nation took the lead), the same memory seemed to hit us both at once: five or so years ago, each new to the area, we’d go on walks around our San Mateo neighborhood. Both single and ready to mingle, we’d round 25th Ave and Del Mar Way and Hillsdale Boulevard, seeming to only focus on one topic: theology. We’d always come back to the topic of women in leadership, me fiercely defending an egalitarian point of view, and him arguing a complementarian viewpoint.
And here I was, cooking him dinner, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.
Just kidding – I was totally wearing shoes.
I’ll be honest: not much has changed. We each continue to hold our own beliefs, knowing that with growing up – hopefully – comes a greater respect of one other’s differences. There exists within Christendom two distinct points of view when it comes to women in leadership: the complementarian point of view believes that woman is made to complement man. Yes, there is equality of men and women as persons created in God’s image, but gender distinctions exist when it comes to “functional roles in society, the church and home.” And a woman’s greatest role is fulfilled at home, in the role of wife and mother. Egalitarians, on the other hand, too believe that men and women are persons equally created in God’s image, but that gender distinctions don’t exist. Women, therefore, are just as gifted and valuable as men when it comes to “functional roles in leadership and in the household.”
Do you see why this situation was laughable at best?
Here, though, is what I’ve come to realize: I think I feared staying home to be a mama to Canon would mean a loss of my deepest beliefs and passions, an automatic switch of sorts to a point of view that isn’t me at its core. Maybe that’s why I’m fighting this transition so much, letting go of my identity in the workforce. Truthfully, I’m as egalitarian as they come – I’m a Jesus Feminist, as I saw one blogger label it in her upcoming book title the other day. And what I came to realize the other night, while lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, is that this is what I chose.
Perhaps the greatest part of this current adventure is this: this was my choice, as a woman, as a Jesus feminist, as a wife and a mama. This was not something that was forced on me, but something that I chose. And regarding my decision to leave ministry, whether the stars aligned or collided (as it’s all a matter of perspective), I’ve chosen to stay at home and be a mama to my little boy. But my current choice of vocation doesn’t mean that I’ve lost the core of my giftings and my heart. I still passionately process and express myself best through writing, and seem to come ever-so-alive when a microphone is placed in my hands. Nor does it mean that I don’t continue to fiercely cheer on both my sisters and my brothers, believing that God has equipped them both equally to serve in positions of leadership, vocationally and within their own households.
I read Rachel Held Evans‘ “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” over Christmas break, and loved this paragraph in the closing chapter of her journey:
“Far too many church leaders have glossed over these stories and attempted to define womanhood by a list of rigid roles. But roles are not fixed. They are not static. Roles come and go; they shift and they change. They are relative to our culture and subject to changing circumstances. It’s not our roles that define us, but our character.”
Might my own character define me. As I learn to let go of my own preconceived notions and ideas about my choice, might I further embrace who I was created to be, as a woman, as a Jesus Feminist, as a wife and mama.
Oh, and no, I’m not pulling a Jessica Simpson on ya’ll, in case you’re still wondering. No Irish twins for me!0