Five Years Ago.
The sun was shining through the trees that lined the winding road and I was driving that green old minivan. I was signing Kanye until I was hoarse.
Now that don’t kill me can only make me stronger
I need you to hurry up now ‘cause I can’t wait much longer
I know I got to be right now, ‘cause I can’t wait much longer
Man I’ve been waitin’ all night now, that’s how long I’ve been on you
I need you right now, I need you right now.
I was going to will her here. My momma heart knew it was time. Last minute errands, there are always errands.
That stupid china cabinet. All those table cloths. Why not take them all out and refold them and organize them. Sitting on the floor of the great room. My back ached from bending down all day. Adam was working from home – just in case. He was on the porch, talking to a friend of his, a friend who had 2 or 3 children of his own at that time. “Her back hurts? Dude, she’s in labor.” Adam went down the street to pick up some Chinese food. I never got a chance to taste it. The smell made me sick. It was time.
We got to the hospital and mercifully they found room for me. Earlier all the rooms were filled, but somehow, by God’s grace, they had one space and filed me in ahead of the others waiting. My best friend’s plane was landing and she made it through traffic in time to hold one of my legs.
I pushed for three hours. I didn’t take that epidural (but I sure would on the other two to come). But Kathryn? Kathryn was hours of hard work, pain, and reward.
At 1:14am I held my baby. I felt like a “woman” for the first time in my life.
Weeks later, on a platform of our church, she was dedicated. The pastor had spent the week praying over her and the other babies being dedicated, trusting God for a prophetic word for her.
“You will be a Mother of a Peoples.” My missionary heart beat out of my chest.
I remember the day we stopped watching Sesame Street. I can see it now. The large TV, encased in wood, with the large and somewhat blurry picture tube glowing at me. There was a female puppet, wearing a plaid shirt and a construction hat. She was talking to someone and I was having a nice restful afternoon, happy to have a little rest after helping my mom with the new baby. We didn’t watch a lot of TV, but Sesame Street just made me happy. It was like being able to watch the Muppets every day of the week.
My mother stopped tending to the baby as her eyes crinkled a way I hadn’t seen before. “Women’s Lib; it’s taking over.” She shot up and turned off the TV. And just like that Sesame Street died.
I grew up in the church, and in my background, Christianity and Feminism are not compatible. Feminism denotes liberalism, and liberalism is what is bringing down the Church (or so I’d been told).
I was encouraged to be a teacher before I was to marry. That was a good career. If I wanted something “loftier” like lawyer, as long as I worked on behalf of Christians, that would be acceptable. I went to school for education (but only because I was scared to pursue only writing) but ended up in the corporate world of retail. I guess because I wasn’t married, it was okay. A girl has to support herself.
A girl? A lady? A woman? It was made clear to me that there was a difference between me and the other women at church. I wasn’t married. I didn’t have a place in women’s ministries. When I was married then I would understand. Married? Wait till you have kids……
When I voiced my desires, what I felt God had stirred in me, for seminary and full ordination, I was told to be careful….there was a Jezebel spirit rising……Well, then………
And this is why I am a Christian Feminist. But it’s not about my early journey. It’s not about all the things that made me, me. The imprints of my childhood. Yes, they are important. But.
It’s about my girls. And the callings that they have on their life. I don’t want them to miss that. I don’t want their voices quieted, their questions unanswered. These girls, these women, these people, they are going to move mountains. They are going to do those things they were created to do. They are going to know that they can listen to the voice of God inside of them that is calling them to create, all in different ways. And they are going to have an audacious boldness to do whatever they feel called to do without having to explain themselves.
So I’ll fight for them, and for you. I probably won’t regularly use the phrases patriarchy, gender inequality, or institutional bias in my writing. But I will be the one in church, in the classrooms, telling your girls to pray louder, sing louder, that their voices matter. And I’ll be teaching the stories of Deborah, and Junia, and Tamar, and all the ones that aren’t normally on any Sunday School list. And when some little girl tells me she wants to be a pastor, or go to seminary, I’ll tell her “eshet chavil!” and I’ll pray that she continues to hear and obey the voice of God.
So Happy Birthday, Kathryn, my sweet, brave child. You will get to be a mother of a peoples. Have at it, love!