I want you to know how strong you are.
Growing up in the church, we learn things about ourselves—
How to be modest and virtuous, how to have a steady quiet time, how to be the best future wife we can be.
It’s not often said, “Ladies, you do hard things. You are strong.”
Instead, we often don’t even realize what’s being told to us—
That our place is in the home, that we are only as strong as men say we are, that we are called to obedience to the men who lead us, and that God holds that same manly image. We obey or we are shamed.
It has taken me 28 years and leadership in over 5 churches in various aspects of service to learn that manipulation is alive and well in the life of the church, and much of it falls on women who look weak, who don’t always recognize it at first.
That was me, sisters.
This is not to say that we see everyone as an enemy, but it is to say that we pay attention to the language used around us and toward us. We watch closely and we come to the truth that is embedded in who we have been created to be.
You are strong.
We are strong.
But how deep does the patriarchal manipulation of our faith go that we often don’t even know we are being manipulated?
Instead of growing up in a church setting that tells us to speak up for ourselves and to be strong, we are told to submit quietly, agree and stay out of trouble.
Instead, I have been taught that to get anything at all is a huge honor, and to have my voice heard is a little outside my own comfort zone.
I have been taught that it is wrong to stand up for myself if it means I lose relationships or someone sees me as a threat.But the reality is, we deserve a place at the table, our voices should always be heard, and standing up for ourselves will make this world a better one.
One that resembles the Kingdom of God.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus was never threatened by the women he encountered? Have you noticed that his ego never entered the picture? He never stood up stiffer and felt the need to flex his muscles because the woman at the well or the woman tugging on his robe challenged things in their time.
He responded and listened. He called them into the trueness of who they are, their bodies and their voices and their strength.
So, my dear sisters,
You have strength, whether you know it or not. You are called by Christ into your power, into your voice, and when it challenges the men and institutions of this world, you’re doing something right.
If you have given up on the church because it has abused and belittled you, we understand it. We see you. We’re still watching your journey because it matters. It’s still Kingdom.
But if you are still here—
Speak, fight for your place at the table, make people uncomfortable.
Intimidate privileged men who have never been intimidated, and let the men who are true allies stand beside you and amplify your voice.
You are a prophet.
Your voice ushers the Kingdom of God into our midst.
We need you.
And we need all of you—conservatives, moderates, liberals, independents, mystics, traditionalists, every race and ethnicity, rich, poor, educated, uneducated—
It is not about whether we agree or disagree as women, because we will.
The point is that we get to have our own arguments, and not men behind closed doors arguing on our behalf.
The church is ours.
The Kingdom is ours.
We are not second best.
My dear sisters, this is the truth of the gospel and the reality of Christ’s love for the church, and that reality finds its voice in you.
Do not give up.