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Blowing Up Evangelical Baggage – The Series (Jeremy Cushman)

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Welcome Jeremy Cushman to my blog today. He is the last weekly blogger in my series. I’m still keeping the series open but will have people on a less regular (probably monthly) basis.  I’ve enjoyed Jeremy’s seminary tweets, especially because went to seminary before twitter and often wonder what it would have been like to tweet the experience.  I love Jeremy’s take on the essentials vs. non-essentials and the slippery slope. Enjoy!

“It is the glory of God to conceal things,

but the glory of kings is to search things out.” – Proverbs 25:2

  In 2009, I had made the choice to continue attending a church whose pastor did not believe a really important doctrine, an “essential,” as another pastor of another church described it to me. When talking with a friend, I had confessed that I agreed with my pastor – that this “essential” doctrine wasn’t so essential. My friend told me, “What if you don’t go to heaven because of this?”

Doctrines are funny little things. They can bring communities together and reaffirm what is most important in the world. Or they can split apart families, leaving one or both sides saying about the other, “They’ve gone astray.” When I had made up my mind to stick with this pastor who didn’t believe in the “essential” doctrine (which, by the way, said absolutely nothing about Jesus), I was acting on what I believe to be most valuable to God: searching things out. “You’re walking on a slippery slope,” this other pastor told me, as if pushing people out of a church when Jesus welcomes everyone in wasn’t a slippery slope.

Instead of being encouraged to pursue the questions and doubts that I had – things that are actually much closer to faith than they are unbelief – I was cast out. No, no one ever told me I wasn’t welcome to their essentials-believing church, but they certainly expected me to agree with their doctrinal statements by the time I left. I knew that as long as I was reading books from “heretics” and being guided by my non-“essentials”-believing pastor, I would never be a true Christian in their eyes.

I’d be someone who lost their way.

Funny thing is, ever since I made up my mind in 2009, I have never, not even for a moment, felt lost. Sitting through religious studies classes at a liberal arts university was something I relished especially when we studied texts that seemed to undermine my faith in Jesus. I enjoyed those moments because no matter how unsettling they may have been, I always felt God’s presence.

I was always reminded that faith isn’t placed in doctrines and belief statements made up by a few pastors in a church with high walls. Faith is placed in God. And if there is any one place where God is, it is the place that society has deemed “dangerous.” This means, of course, that God is on the slippery slopes.

It is not as though I haven’t made mistakes; I’ve made plenty. But those mistakes had nothing to do with walking onto the “slippery slope.” They had everything to do with me making a choices driven by selfishness – choices that placed my needs and wants above anybody else’s. My mistakes were a matter of behavior, not belief. As far as beliefs are concerned, there was never a slippery slope. In fact, if anything, the path got a little straighter. What once was mud became dry ground – cool and refreshing to the touch, but firm and supportive for the walk.

The bags I had carried – bags filled with all the beliefs and ideas and books that I thought were “right,” “true,” and “doctrinally sound” – were left behind, opened and emptied in the mud. All I had with me was a bag of snacks and a walking stick, like a Hobbit returning to The Shire. The journey has still been difficult, but it has also been much easier. Now having completed my first year of seminary, I no longer resent all that had happened with that “essential” belief. Although it caused a lot of chaos at the time and, in a way, led to the closure of my church, I am glad that I chose the slippery slope.

I am glad because my journey would have been so different. I would have kept walking around in circles, coming across the same piles of mud again and again. I might have had the approval of the church with the high walls, but I wouldn’t have much of a faith. And I definitely would not have gone on to seminary. Beliefs are incredibly important, do not get me wrong. Yet when these beliefs cause us to act in the opposite way that God wants us to act, although we may feel like we’re defending the faith, we are, in actuality, becoming the kinds of people Jesus preached against most: hypocrites.

In my journey on the “slippery slope,” I have been befriended by people who love first and ask for belief statements never. Instead of condemning me to hell, they’re too busy removing all the hoops that others created to “weed out the weak.” And instead of warning me of dangerous ideas, they’re grabbing my hand saying, “Hold on tight.” In this community of “wayward” travelers, of “slippery slope” dwellers, I have found a home. As the above Proverb points out, God has hidden things and, like one giant Easter-egg hunt, wants us to find them.

God wants us to search things out.

God bless.

 

Wedding Toaster 2

Jeremy lives in Tigard, Oregon, where he attends George Fox Evangelical Seminary earning his Master of Arts in Theological Studies. When not watching Doctor Who or Sherlock, he writes about theology, faith, and biblical studies over at cushmanschronicles.com. And practically at any point of the day, he’ll be on Twitter as @JeremyCushman

Blowing up Evangelical Baggage – The Series (Carly Gelsinger)

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I am thankful that I found Carly Gelsinger on Twitter this year (I know, you are sick of hearing about how much I love the twitter). She was eager to share her story in this series and as you read you will see why.  You can read more from Carly on her beautiful blog. You will find other tales of baggage being blown up, mothering triumphs and woes and essentials like references to Tina Fey.

In my Christian circle, I knew there was one thing I was never, ever supposed to do. I heard sermons on it. I read books on it. I went on entire retreats and conferences entirely dedicated to it.

You guys know that I’m talking about S-E-X.

There were a lot of don’ts and dos for a young woman in my church. Don’t drink. Do read your bible everyday. Don’t swear. Do witness to your friends. Don’t play cards. Do go on missions trips.  Don’t dress immodestly. Do hold your hand to your chest when you bend over so men won’t see your cleavage. Don’t drink. Do go to church at least twice a week.

But above all else, there was One Big Don’t:

Don’t have sex.

And One Big Do:

Do stay pure.

I remember the first time I saw the “paper heart” object lesson, in which a youth speaker glued two construction paper hearts together and then ripped them apart. Both pieces of paper were torn and broken with remnants of fibers from the other piece, symbolizing what happens when we give ourselves away. Broken, damaged, worthless. I took this lesson to heart.

A diehard disciple, I not only read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but Joshua Harris’ follow-up book, Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust, which told me that a True Virgin does a lot more than just not have sex. A True Virgin guards their heart against lust in all forms.

I tried really hard to attain the True Virgin status, which wasn’t easy. It required a lot of prayer, a lot of guilt, a lot of fabric covering my body, and a lot of memorizing Scripture. It is one of the reasons I clung to God so fiercely those years. I needed God on the narrow road of staying a True Virgin.

I was told it would all be worth it, that I was protecting my future marriage.

And then at 22, I walked down the aisle in a white dress. All of a sudden, I was not only allowed, but also supposed to have sex all the time. This was nice and all.

But the problem was I didn’t know how to be a Christian anymore.

My spiritual identity had been all wrapped up in the Don’t Have Sex rule. It was a tool I used to test true teenage orthodoxy – the purer you were, the more serious you were about God. How can I prove I’m serious about God if I’m not a True Virgin anymore? This question set my faith crisis was in motion. If my purity defined my faith, how now do I relate to God?

The baggage I did carry into my marriage was not from my “slip-ups,” such as the boyfriends I had before my husband or the suggestive poster of Johnny Depp I taped to my dorm room wall. As backwards as this sounds to anyone with my background, my real baggage was my purity.

But God is all about starting over. As I rebuild my faith from the ground up, my focus is wholeness. I want to know God when I think, when I write, when I change diapers, when I feel lost, and when I make love. My sexuality is important, but my faith doesn’t begin and end with it as I thought for so long. I am throwing my skewed and lopsided faith before God, saying “here, take all of this and please make something beautiful from it.” And God is doing just that – blowing up my baggage one piece at a time, and replacing it with something good.

My new faith is shaky, but it is real and encompasses the whole of me. It’s rooted in something deep, something untameable, and something bigger than purity and all the Dos and Don’ts and all other things I tried to make it before.

 

 

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 Carly lives in California with her husband and toddler girl. She  loves breathing deep under the eucalyptus tree groves on the  Central Coast, laughing at lowbrow comedy, and watching her  daughter grow up. She unpacks the stuff of faith, doubt and  motherhood at CarlyGelsinger.com, and also hangs out a lot on  Twitter under @carlygelsinger.

Blowing Up Evangelical Baggage – The Series (Cara Strickland)

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Hello lovely readers. You may remember back in March when I wrote about a certain conference I attended: The Faith and Culture Writers Conference.  I wrote about how I loved the speakers, the time away from everyday life, the road trip with my friend Dena.  But what I really came down to was I wanted to meet some of my twitter friends in Portland (you know, because I have them). Cara Strickland was one of those friends.  Enjoy her work and be sure to check out her blog (and her exceptionally cool logo)!

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My Single Suitcase

I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school. It wasn’t a choice.

I watched my youth group friends dating. One senior friend told me that she and her boyfriend (her first) were “dating with marriage in mind.” He was quiet and shy (but taller than she was). She had a laugh that echoed all through the church where we met on Wednesday nights. They were an unlikely pair. When they decided that they were too unlikely, I listened as she assured him that they would still be friends.

The drummer, the one I’d been pining for from the sidelines, had recently been through a break-up as well. I should know. I was the one who had spent hours on the other end of the phone providing support, encouraging him to process, hoping that he might one day wake up and realize how delightful I was. He took my friend’s newly-exed boyfriend under his wing. I don’t know what it is about me, why people from all over seem to open up in my presence, but they do. I have heard the confidences of taxi drivers and government officials, camp counselors and college professors. That day, as I ate my weekly youth group hamburger, I listened to the drummer comfort his friend as we stood, a circle of three. “It’s amazing how a girl can reach into your chest, rip out your heart, throw it on the ground, stomp on it and grind it around in the dirt and then hand it back to you and tell you that she still wants to be friends.”

It has been years since I heard those words, and I have never forgotten them. I vowed then that I would never make anyone feel so used, so hurt.

We were on the swings near the church when another friend told me that I couldn’t start dating anyone until she did. She was a year older than me, and I was in her thrall. I wanted nothing more than to be her friend.

I nodded. It made sense to me.

Incidentally, she met a guy at that youth group, playing volleyball. She wasn’t sure how he felt about her, so she took me along to his house to “drop off some stuff.” We stayed and chatted for a while, both of them grinning (she was not usually one to grin).

“What do you think?” she asked me, as we left. “Do you think he likes me?”

“Yes,” I said. “I think he likes you a lot.”

That was one of the last times I saw her. They have been married for several years now.

In college, I started dating (long-distance) between sophomore and junior years.

I did so with a sigh of relief.

My Christian college was filled with couples. People did not go on dates, they coupled. You were not single, you were pre-marriage. Although people didn’t have sex, of course, if they did, it would be premarital, rather than extra-marital.

I didn’t feel a pressure to date, I felt the isolation of not dating. I felt the worry of association when my friends heard that I was single. Was it catching? Would I try to steal their picture perfect boyfriend?

Even a far-away boyfriend was better than nothing, for their purposes.

Outside the church, especially the evangelical church, it is not unusual to be single well into your 20s. My head knows this, and I’ve been working on unpacking this single suitcase for the past few years for the sake of my heart. I remove ring by spring and have you tried dating online? I shake out women will be saved by the bearing of children and you’ll find it when you’re not looking. I do not fold or handle ‘have you dealt with the sin in your life? for long, but hurl it straight into the bag labeled “Goodwill.”

The truth is, I’m single, and I’m a single story. I would love to be married someday (or today), but I’m not now. I am not unhappy most of the time, worried most of the time, or unfulfilled most of the time. I am not a threat to those who are married, or those who are single and feel differently than I do.

I am replacing the articles I’ve unpacked with a few new things I’ve picked up. I’m hanging fearfully and wonderfully made and image-bearer in my closet. I’m putting on precious, unique  and lovely. Unlike my baggage, I don’t want to keep these in a suitcase underneath my bed. I want to wear these words around, like a garland, or a sash.  

 

cara profile   I’m Cara Strickland.

When you first meet me, you might think that I’m quiet or reserved. I’m still learning how to relax my fingers, gripping tightly to how it should look and how I should be. I’d love to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine with you, to gradually pull out a few of my broken pieces, matching them up with yours and watching them sparkle in the light. You can connect with me on my blog, Little Did She Know, or over on Twitter
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Blowing up Evangelical Baggage – The Series (Suzanne)

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Please welcome Suzanne Terry to my blog today!  She is the second guest blogger in my “Blowing Up Evangelical Baggage” Series.  If you are new to the series, start here. I met Suzanne through Story Sessions  and have a special affinity for this post due to my love of 80’s music. Please welcome her here!

I love it in your room at night 
You’re the only one who gets through to me. 

My sister and I grew up with a family friend (we’ll call her G).  She was a few years older than I, and we both looked up to her.  She taught us how to put on makeup the cool way (glitter shadow, shiny lip gloss – basically everything sparkly).  She kept us informed on who the hottest heartthrobs were.

She introduced us to The Bangles.

We loved The Bangles. We dressed our dolls up to look like them.  We videotaped ourselves lip synching the songs and played it for our parents. And our parents didn’t seem to mind when we sang their songs. Their lyrics were a lot tamer than some of the other stuff we listened to.  I mean, compared to overhearing their twelve-year-old daughter belt out, “I’m hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet, yeah!” over Def Leppard and having to have THAT conversation, Mom and Dad probably considered “Feels so good when we kiss,” to be pretty acceptable.

In the warm glow of the candlelight
Oh, I wonder what you’re gonna do to me.

My youth group leaders didn’t know what to do with me.  I grew up in church, so I could spout all the Sunday School answers, and I was a goody-goody church girl most of the time.  But then they would hear me singing songs that they knew I did not learn in choir.  They never said anything directly to me, probably because my dad was a deacon and my mom was in choir and was part of every Bible study the church offered. Within a couple of weeks, however, the group lesson would be over the evils of premarital sex, and it would be followed by an invitation (read: strong suggestion)  to come to the front of the room and pledge ourselves to remain pure until our wedding night.

Southern Baptists do love their altar calls.

So I dutifully went forward and said, “I promise.” Then the next day, I went to G’s house, ratted my hair, put on blue eyeshadow and way too much eyeliner, and sang into my hairbrush for the camera.

You won’t regret it if you let me stay
I’ll teach you everything that a boy should know.

The church is great at telling people what not to do. The church gets so busy reducing holy living to a bulleted checklist of thou-shalt-nots that it often forgets to mention that God created sex to be a good thing. The few times I can remember what happens after marriage being addressed at church, it was creepy and weird.  It was a red-faced preacher pointing and spitting as he proclaimed, “It is a sin to withhold sex within the marriage relationship!”  It was a blushing, stammering young adult leader calling sex the husband’s right and the wife’s duty.

Wow.  Sexy.  Nothing gets women hotter than being shamed into doing it because it’s our job.

My friend Michelle once ranted that so many married women she knew didn’t like sex, and their church taught them that they didn’t have to like it – they just had to do it.  That is, they had to do it once they had found the man who loved them as Christ loved the Church (no pressure, guys) and once they had married him (and not a moment before). I can’t recall any church I’ve ever attended announcing a class for husbands on how to make your wife happy in bed.  And really, with the patriarchy demanding that being a man means knowing the answers already, who would have taken it if they had?  If these are the only messages people hear, no wonder there’s so much awkwardness and fear involved with sex, even when it’s church-approved.

I come alive when I’m with you
I’ll do anything you want me to.

Fortunately, while the church was wading through all the disclaimers and conditions, I had Susanna Hoffs singing things like, “I come alive,” and “I feel good.”  And she wasn’t the only one  She had help from Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and many others. Every time the church tried to put another brick in the wall between the sacred and the secular, 80’s pop music knocked it down.  I know I was lucky.  If my youth group leaders had been more adamant or less terrified of my parents, their voices might have drown out the music.  I might have grown up being afraid of sex, or – a more likely scenario – I might have rebelled against the negativity and hurled myself in the opposite direction.

I want to tear down the wall for everyone.

As a species gifted with the ability to reason, we need to hear different – even conflicting  – messages in order to come to a healthy, balanced view. The first thing I teach in my class on persuasion is to know the opposing arguments, because until we know enough to understand why people disagree on a topic, we don’t know enough to make an informed decision, and our arguments will be weak.  We might think the wall between sacred and secular protects us, but really all it does is keep us from seeing all that we could see if it weren’t in the way.

Let’s tear it down.

 

hairSuzanne Terry is a lover of coffee and a writer of fiction. When she isn’t teaching people to face their fear of public speaking, she can be found reading, dancing, and trying to resist joining an argument on Facebook. She blogs sporadically here.

Blowing Up Evangelical Baggage – The Series (Bethany)

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I’m so excited to welcome Bethany Paget to my blog today!  She is the first guest blogger in my “Blowing Up Evangelical Baggage” Series.  I met Bethany through Story Sessions  and have been thankful for her beautiful and honest words ever since. Please welcome her here!

 

My faith exploded two years ago.  I had what I like to call my pretty little boxed up with a bow faith where I kept everything in compartments and God was a legalistic judge whom I had to perform for.

And then I got really sick and had brain surgery.

And nothing has been the same since.

It was at that point that everything I thought I believed about God changed and I realized that I had been listening to the voices of those around me and not God Himself.  I was depending on their words that Jesus was going to make everything ok and not listening to the very words of Christ Himself in my time of deep need.

I stopped believing that everything had to be rigid and moral and “good.”  I realized that there is probably way more to God than I will ever be able to understand and that is okay, He is still God and He is still good.

I had to be okay with that.

Let me back up.  I wasn’t raised “in the church” but I grew up going to church.  My parents took us to the local Methodist church because it’s what good people did and my parents were all about having the appearance of being good.  I hated church as a kid because it was boring.  Once I got to the elusive Jr. High Youth Group though something suddenly changed and all of a sudden I wanted to be at church and go to youth group on Sunday nights.  It was as if a fire was lit.

That lasted for a few good years, then life happened, I got angry at God for the shit that was thrown my way and walked away.  I would come back to Him again a 24 year old pregnant drug addict desperate for some semblance of hope.

Hope He gave.

He gave.  I would soon learn though that I had a rigid standard I had to follow if I wanted His hope to keep flowing, if I wanted His love to stay with me and if I wanted to remain pure in His sight.

WAIT WHAT???

Yes you heard me.

That is what I was taught for the first six years of my walk with God.  I was taught, and absorbed that it was about living up to His high expectations of us as His children.  In order to continue to be loved by this God who had saved me that I had to follow through with His list of extremely high demands.  It probably saved my life in the beginning but six years in I was tired and rigid.  It was also difficult to live, work and have relationships because everything was characterized by my “need to save you from the fire of hell.”  You know because that’s our JOB as believers is to save souls

*hangshead*

I know now that I had a very hurt part of me that soaked up every single bit of what I was first taught about God because I didn’t want to go back to being a drug addict.  I couldn’t afford it, now that I was a mom to lose everything.  God was my salvation in more ways than just my soul.  He was the gatekeeper of it all.

That’s why two years ago I started to see that I didn’t want to be her anymore.  I was so tired of everything being so strict all the time and then feeling like I had let God down if I didn’t live up to His expectations.

I had gone to Africa on a mission’s trip and when I got home the shit hit the fan.  I was forced to resign from my career, I got really sick and my bible study ladies suddenly became unfamiliar and hurtful.  Suddenly I found myself in a place where I was incredibly alone.

That’s when I discovered the world of progressive Christian bloggers.

It was a scary but eventually beautiful and freeing thing.

My eyes were opened in a way they had needed to be for a long time.   I started to see that the way I was taught after giving my life to Christ was an unhealthy representation of faith.  It was a legalistic and fundamental tightly bound way of thinking.  I didn’t want to think that way anymore.  It wasn’t helping me grow; it was only holding me back.

The hard part about expressing my newfound beliefs and ideas is that I lost the majority of my old friends.  Once I started to disagree I was no longer allowed in the “inner circle” I was gossiped about, lied about and called a backslider and told that I was walking away from the Lord.  It was so hurtful to me that the women that had walked through the prior three years of my life with me no longer were accepting of me because I suddenly held differing beliefs.

I didn’t stop believing in God; no actually my beliefs in God have grown deeper and more profound in the last two years.

I didn’t suddenly stop professing my faith in the Christ, God-man who had saved me all those years ago.

No.

I just realized that certain things aren’t as big of a deal as it pertains to faith and I stopped holding onto the rigidly held idea that God would be disappointed in me if I don’t follow through a prescribed daily check list.

My faith now is messy, bold and deeper than it’s ever been.

I don’t know a damn thing about theology and I am okay with that.

God is good and He loves me.

That’s all I need to know.

As Always,

Bethany

 

photo  There are various facets to Bethany’s life. She is one part poet and one part punk. She is a dreadlocked, single mom to a beautiful wild girl (who still calls her mommy.) A justice and equality seeker for all, she desires that the love of Christ break beyond walls and barriers that have been set around it. Writing has been this girl’s safety since she first picked up a pencil. In the words, the story and the heart behind her eyes you’ll soon begin to see those various facets. Start with her stories at allthingstruthful.

 

Blowing up Evangelical Baggage – The Series (Intro)

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The expression just kind of came out of my mouth one day. A friend asked me, “How’s coaching going?” and out it slipped.  The expression fit though, this thing I was taking part in.  People would come to me because they felt stuck or wanted a career move or a relationship shift, but again and again the same burden reared its ugly head.

As we worked through the sessions, this thing would pop up like a mouse peeking out of a hole in the wall.  “Hi again. It’s me. Your evangelical baggage.” You could substitute in “Catholic baggage” or “Baptist baggage” or “name your religious upbringing baggage.” But it has been my experience that there is none quite so worthy of the title than evangelical baggage.

Obviously there are a lot of ways evangelical baggage affects people. Hundreds, thousands of ways actually.  But the part that I am most passionate about opening up (or blowing up) as a coach is the baggage that suffocates who we really are. The part that keeps us people-pleasingly nice or prevents us from owning our skills and talents.

At first I saw the evangelical baggage as a subtle niceness, a people-pleasing “Do you like me? Please like me!” sort of thing. And I would say to myself, “That’s ok, Jane. They just want people to like them. It’s ok. Move on.”

But then it became a bit more obvious. It was like the mouse was running around the edges of the living room now. “I’m here! I’m here!” And I saw their dwindled confidence, their unwillingness or inability to own what they are good at. This baggage was dragging them down.

Somewhere, some how, we end up hiding who God made us in the noble name of ‘humility.’ We carry around this heavy burden of being good, nice, humble all the time. Or fake humble? This is one I see a lot. Somewhere we have mixed up arrogance with owning what we are good at. Admitting you are a great writer is not arrogant. Putting others down and constantly saying you are the best writer is arrogance.

We often candy coat our word choice to be more appropriate or likeable (there goes that people-pleasing thing again). As blogger Micah J. Murray said at the Faith and Culture Conference this year “I don’t want to be a Christian writer, if it means writing from the heart and then hitting backspace until it feels safe.”

God is in the midst of all our emotions (even the ones that don’t feel safe), and I think he wants us to really own them. The Bible is full of people expressing all sort of emotions! Anger, love, lament, joy – the list goes on. He calls us to love people, not please them. God calls us to be kind, not inauthentic. And he calls us to be image bearers – to reflect his creativity. What’s creative about just being fake nice all the time?

Now, we have to get one thing clear when I talk about blowing up evangelical baggage. I’m not trying to just rip on “evangelicals” – trust me, that is not my bag(gage).  It is an expression to encompass all the false beliefs we have acquired over the years.  It is all that stuff we have learned in church that we need to unlearn now. We don’t need to unlearn it all but there is some damaging teaching out there.  I have hope that there will be less to blow up in twenty years than there is now. I have hope in the church. But we need to unpack our baggage and live our lives fully in Christ because when we do that, we experience freedom like none other!

Therefore as a coach, I have no choice but to blow up that baggage!  We break down the beliefs, the lies, and all that is dragging us down. We do it gently and with lots of encouragement. But we do it and so much becomes available when we do.

To that end, I am opening up some space on my blog for others to share what is available to them now that they have blown up some baggage. These people are not my clients; they are my blogging friends (or as my friends Natalie and Cara say, “Online friends are real friends, yo”), and all these bloggers are excited to share what happened to them when their evangelical baggage was blown up. Every week (for a while…get comfy) we’ll hear from a different person. I trust you’ll enjoy their words.

Please leave a comment and tell us what you think, or share a victory you have had blowing up your baggage!

Blowing Up Evangelical Baggage

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Last week I wrote about my excitement for Sarah Bessey’s new book Jesus Feminist and how she was coming to speak with my women’s group: Preach it Sisters. Two of my favorite activities that Sarah is doing to promote her book are a community photo project and a synchro-blog.  One of the synchro-blog prompts is to explain why you chose what you did for the community photo project. Here is my rendition. Please note, I am writing about women because that is mainly who I work with. I am in full support of men being Jesus Feminists as well!

I blow up evangelical baggage for a living and I’m a Jesus Feminist. And the more baggage I blow up the more I realize how much we need Jesus and Jesus Feminists.

Seeing women the way Jesus does will radically change the way men and women engage the world.

As a coach, I work primarily with Christian women who come to me when they want to manage their time better. They want to honor God with their time AND feel like they are living with some intention.  Their choice to work with me might also involve making a big decision, finding a more fulfilling career, getting healthier. They want encouragement, accountability and results.  We work on these things, they get new jobs, they get fit, they make decisions; all these things happen.

But I keep discovering again and again that underneath the indecision, the lack of motivation, the fear of failure (or success) they are steeped in evangelical baggage.  It’s not their fault – and most of them don’t even realize they are living this way. They are living the “Biblical” principles they have been taught: principles surrounding how women should behave – that they should be supportive side kicks not leaders, or Sunday school teachers not pastors. Some are living straight up lies such as the idea that thinking good things about your self is equal to sinful pride. I’m sure their parents, their churches and their pastors meant well but somehow in the midst of it all the way Jesus sees them is lost.  The results: guilt, shame, inability to love themselves, and the belief that there is a very specific, narrow way God (and fellow Christians) want them to live as women.  It has left them thinking about themselves in ways OTHER than the ways Jesus thinks of them.

What happens when we embrace the Jesus Feminist in us? What happens when we believe this notion that women are people too? Or when we believe that Jesus is calling all of us to a life where God makes the call on our worth, our skills, and our vocation? Sometimes it takes a little work to wade through what we have been taught. Sometimes we have to blow up our evangelical baggage. What happens when we do this and women live as Jesus sees them? Here is a sampling from my work:

*She preached her first sermon even though she didn’t really want to call it a sermon because she wasn’t so sure about women preaching or her gifting as a ‘speaker.’

*She came to the conclusion that she doesn’t need to be perfect even though she is a pastor.

*She figured out that she was a great writer and it isn’t prideful to admit you are good at something.

*She decided to quit her “good Christian job” and take evening classes to pursue the field she is really interested in: stand-up comedy.

*She realized she needs major therapy after a traumatic journey into first-time motherhood.

*She decided that she wanted to marry the woman she loved and that she was ready to tell her Baptist pastor parents about it.

*She owned the fact that being a stay-at-home mom was where she really wanted to be.

Without even reading the book (yet!), they became Jesus Feminists by accepting the radical way that Jesus was calling them to the truth that they are not only people but they are beloved women created in God’s image.

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