“What happens when young, American women speak the unspeakable about our experiences of faith?”
That’s the question I was asked a year ago when I received an email from a writer friend asking me to contribute to a new compilation of essays from Christian women who were willing to “unearth the taboos that have stifled us, divided us, and prevented us from feeling at home in Christian communities.” I was invited to talk about the “taboo” subjects that we often keep hidden in the Church.
Now, I’m not much of an instigator. I don’t like using cuss words! I don’t like talking about sex in public! I certainly don’t like calling people out on their weaknesses. And I don’t like drawing battle lines. In fact, my personality is one that just wants everybody to be nice and get along. I’d rather point out what we all have in common than stir up any trouble. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. I knew that if I jumped into this collection of women, I might feel uncomfortable. I also knew that sometimes feeling uncomfortable is the most important thing I can do, especially when that discomfort calls me to stand shoulder to shoulder with another’s experience that is not my own. We are the Church. And it’s time to be honest. It’s time to lay out the nitty gritty of our stories out so we can become more and more Christ’s beautiful, renewed and restored body.
My friends Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro, both of whom I adore, have put together a beautiful collection of Christian women from different backgrounds, churches, races, and sexual identities. And we are all in there telling our stories. We are all Talking Taboo.
When I first started thinking about what I could write about that really set my blood to boiling, it wasn’t some big “issue” in the Church. It wasn’t about sexuality or women in leadership. It was something small, a lie I heard spoken too often by the other mothers I came across in Bible studies or mom groups or gatherings where women talk. It was about failure and the spiritual life. It was about moms blaming themselves for their lack of prayer. It was about this chronic lack of grace I found repeated over and over in my own life and in the lives of the women whom I’ve encountered along the way.I started to wonder about how we see ourselves and our time compared to how God sees us and our time. I started to think of God as described in Matthew 23 and Psalm 91, the Mother God, the one who gathers her chicks, who protects, who touches us with tenderness. How does the Mother-Hen-God see all of us mothers walking shamefully through our days as “failures” of prayer? What if we’re not failures at all?
That’s the question I search out in my essay. And this book is full of so many other women who are telling brave stories and asking big questions about what it means to be a woman and what it means to be faithful in the Church.
Honesty and vulnerability always lead us to humility. And humility leads us to the kind of love for Christ that transforms ourselves and the world. And that’s why I’m part of this anthology and that’s why I’m inviting you to be part of it as well.
Talking Taboo will be released in the fall, but today kicks off an Indiegogo campaign to raise money in hopes that this book will be a catalyst for a movement among women within American Christian communities. We want to help people talk more frankly about faith and doubt and the issues that are all too easy to avoid. Ready to get frank about faith?
Thanks for joining me in the frankness,
PS Yes, that’s my face on the cover. (Yikes!) Sometimes I think that’s awesome. Sometimes I think that’s super crazy scary.