“We’re Going to Plow Right Through It”

When Senator Mitch McConnell said on Friday that the U.S. Senate was “going to plow right through it and do our job,” he was speaking to a group of evangelical Christians at the Value Voters Summit.  His words were greeted with enthusiastic applause.  McConnell’s comments came one day after Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed and Robert Jeffress publicly pressed for a quick confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.  Male Christian leaders are not the best people to determine the legitimacy of a claim of sexual abuse.

I wrote last month that in one 20-year period the three largest insurance companies that insure American Protestant churches paid out 7,095 claims of sexual abuse by clergy or volunteer leaders.[1]

Evangelicals, just like the Republican senators, still don’t get it.  Sexual abuse is rampant, including within evangelicalism.

I have a number of friends who are therapists.  When we hear clients begin to talk about a religious leader from their past, we know what to expect, and it is tragic.  So many of the perpetrators are still in leadership positions within the church. But if the client is not willing to come forward, and few are, there is not a thing a therapist can do.  Your responsibility is to your client.

That Dr. Blasey Ford did not come forward until now is no surprise to any therapist in America. It is not unusual to wait years until a client feels safe enough to talk about abuse.  What she will go through this week will also be traumatizing.  I will be praying fervently for her.

In the study referenced above, 92 percent of the abuse occurred in a church office, and 39 percent in a counseling session in the pastor’s office.  Over 35 percent of the perpetrators were lead pastors and 31 percent were youth pastors. Almost all (98.8 percent) were male and 73 percent were white.  Over 80 percent were clergy and 20 percent were church volunteers.  Again, that is only within Protestant churches.

In 2004 John Jay College was given unprecedented access to files of the American Roman Catholic Church.  Between 1950 and 2002, they found four percent of all priests had allegations of abuse against them, with over 11,000 victims.  Astoundingly, only three percent of those cases were referred to law enforcement.  And remember, this study was done in 2004, long before the current revelations, including the most recent in the State of Pennsylvania.

Yet clergy, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, continue to question the legitimacy of claims of abuse made by victims.  A senator diabolically says, “We’re going to plow right through it,” and evangelical leaders applaud.  I sometimes wonder if you have to be outside of evangelicalism to see the absurdity of the evangelical stance on abuse, misogyny and gender inequity?  I certainly did not see it as clearly when I was a male within that world.  And women in the evangelical camp are complicit.

The number of women who are supportive of abusers and critical of the women who confront abusers amazes me.  When Paige Patterson was forced to step down from his leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention this summer, over half of the signers protesting his departure were women.

Not only are abusers not confronted, evangelical women willingly remain in denominations that refuse to grant them access to power.  An article in last Friday’s Washington Post[2]quotes current Southern Baptist female seminary students about why they would not want to be pastors.  Their comments sound like something from a 1950s television show.  One said she thought women were just too emotional to be pastors.  I guess she’s not read the statistics on emotional expression at work.  Women are no more likely to show emotions at work than men.[3]

Dr. Wayne Grudem, a leading conservative theologian, says 14 of the 83 positions of leadership within the church are only open to men.  Of course, all 14 are the key positions of power.  That pretty much guarantees women will not be in positions of authority in which they can actually root out sexual abuse within the church.

The words of Mitch McConnell and the response of the evangelicals in his audience made me nauseous.  It also made me exasperated.  Evangelicalism must pay a price for its arrogant misogyny.  I hope it begins on November 6, when Senators and Representatives who support the conservative evangelical agenda can be voted out of office.  If you are not registered, register.  If you are registered, vote.  There is only one way to stop a nation that is willing to “plow through” the credible claims of traumatic sexual abuse from a courageous woman.  And that is at the ballot box.

God help us!

[1]”Child Sexual Abuse in Protestant Christian Congregations: A Descriptive Analysis of Offense and Offender Characteristics:  Religions Journal, January 18, 2018 Andres S. Denny; Kent Kerley; Nickolas Gross

[2]”What Draws Women to a Religion That Says Men Should Be In Charge?”  Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post, September 21, 2018

[3]Williams, Joan C. and Dempsey, Rachel.  What Works For Women at Work, NYU Press, 2014.

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The Perfect End to a Busy Day

Last Friday evening I returned from the Oregon Diversity Conference, where I spoke twice on the subject, “Is Life Really Easier For Men?”  The response was wonderful, and brought a whirlwind of emotions I will have to write about some other time.  But I was eager to get home.

I rushed straight from the airport to the monthly community dinner of Left Hand Church, where I serve as one of the pastors.  The evening was just what I needed.  Instead of coming home to an empty house, I came home to a backyard full of friends at Jen and Eric Jepsen’s house.

Most of the food was gone by the time I arrived, but the conversation was filling.  One group got into a long discussion about guns and how to keep our children safe.  One of our pastors had led a table discussion at a community gathering earlier in the week.  I joined another table, where the group was playing a “what if” game.  The questions were not the simple ones, like “What is your favorite tree?”  They were questions like, “What is the best part of your life right now, and what is the worst part?”  The answers were honest and moving.

I looked around the table and thought, “It is a great privilege to know these people.”    One woman is a mom who works closely with a religious community that has a person in sanctuary.  Another is a labor and delivery nurse who compassionately and competently serves mothers in one of the boundary moments of life.

One is a long-time elementary school teacher who loves her students with every ounce of energy she has.  Another left everything she knew to boldly fashion a new life for herself in Colorado.  The man at the table is a Colorado entrepreneur who serves on the board of the local homeless shelter.  Left Hand Church isn’t even nine months old, but the bonds of community are already powerful and strong.

Early in the 2000s, a group of people who became known as the New Atheists wrote about the damage religion has done to our species.  With the kind of confidence that comes from tunnel vision, they posited theories about the evolution of religion, and why it is bad for the species.  I understand their concerns.  Religion has done a lot of evil over the centuries, and is not exactly distinguishing itself for its restraint and fair-mindedness right now.  But the New Atheists begin with a false assumption.  They assume we are a species of individuals.  We are not.

We are a tribal species, one of only nine on this vulnerable planet.  Harvard and MIT sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson calls them eusocial species.  They have the ubiquitous selfish gene common to all species. But these nine species also have a tribal gene.  They thrive in tribes and will sacrifice themselves for the sake of the tribe. Humans are the only primates of the nine species.

Not all tribes are good, and yes, some religious tribes wreak havoc.  As someone who has been on the receiving end of that havoc, I will not dispute that reality.  But there is another side of religious tribes.  In their book, American Grace, How Religion Unites and Divides Us, authors Robert Putnam and David Campbell say, “By many different measures, religiously observant Americans are better neighbors and better citizens than secular Americans.  They are more generous with their time and money, especially in helping the needy, and they are more active in community life.” 

Their study found that the greatest benefit of religion did not relate to specific teachings about God, the Bible, heaven, hell, or even which religion you were a part of.  The greatest benefit of religion is how close people become to one another.

Mega churches thrive because they offer a great worship experience, not unlike what you might find at a good Broadway musical. They are transactional institutions. You show up with your presence and your offering, and you receive a great 75-minute experience and a ticket to heaven.

Transformative religion is not transactional.  It takes place when church attendance turns into lasting relationships and anonymity evolves into intimacy.  Contrary to popular opinion, that can be accomplished at big churches, but it requires more work.  It happens more naturally at smaller churches.  Unfortunately, most of the smaller churches cannot offer great music and preaching.

I love what God is creating at Left Hand Church.  Thanks to the brilliance of Heatherlyn, our worship minister, the music is wonderful.  And Jen Jepsen’s sermon last Saturday was just perfect.

We are a church of Millennials, GenXers, and Baby Boomers. We are gay and straight and transgender and married and single.  We do have our homogeneity.  We are all people who believe the truth will set us free.  In fact, most of us have paid quite a price for daring to live out that belief.

It is my prayer that Left Hand Church would continue to grow.  Aaron, Jen and I will do our best to help our members make that happen.  Churches that are diverse and open and honest and transformational are not everyone’s cup of tea.  But there are so many who are so desperate for a Christian community of honest spiritual seekers.  I believe we can meet their needs.

I am glad I rushed back from the airport.  I had one meatball, a little bit of chicken, and an amazing piece of upside down cake, but nevertheless, I left the dinner very full.

I Do Not Like Rollercoasters

When I was a kid we took a trip to Lake Chautauqua in Western New York.  After lazily lying by the lakeshore for a couple of days, we headed to a small amusement park in town.  While the other kids were excited, I was not.

There was a children’s rollercoaster that was probably no more than 50 yards long and 50 feet tall, but I steadfastly refused to climb aboard.  My friends thought I was being ridiculous. I knew otherwise.  I was saving myself from imminent peril.  I do not like rollercoasters.

I was sharing my last couple of weeks with my therapist (yes, we therapists usually have a therapist) and she said, “You do realize your life is an ongoing never ending rollercoaster, right?”  To have someone speak the words aloud was both comforting and frightening.  “Oh!  So there is a reason I feel like I’m flying up and down and flung all around!  It’s because I am!”  Let me illustrate.

Through the generosity of delightful a new friend, last week I was in meetings with some amazing corporate leaders.  When the afternoon was over I was in a rather melancholy mood.  I felt I could have done better in my presentation, and I was feeling inadequate.  It was the first time since I transitioned that I have been in a room with people at that level of corporate leadership.  Paul had no trouble fitting into those environments.  Paula struggled.

On my way home, as we sat on the tarmac waiting for the ramp to reopen after a thunderstorm, I called my co-pastor, Jen.  She talked me off the little ledge on which I had placed myself. Later that night she wrote these words: “Unfortunately I think your level of frustration and pain is commensurate with the level of comfort you felt as a powerful white male.  I’m not sure how to comfort you other than to say you’re doing very important work and I’m really excited to see where it will all lead.”

I don’t walk into any room with a leg up.  First, I arrive as a woman, and every single day I am reminded that women have far less power than men. Second, I am transgender, and even those who are supportive are usually a little wary upon first meeting a transgender woman.  My degrees, my 35 years of non-profit leadership, my breadth and depth of experience – once people know I am transgender, they are all discounted like a penny stock.

I have been toppled from my perch in the rarified air of white male power.  I have no doubt that cisgender women say, “Uh, huh. Now double that and you might understand my experience.”  People of color might suggest I triple or quadruple it. All of this is appropriately humbling, but it is still a rollercoaster.  And did I mention I do not like rollercoasters.

The fall from the peak of male privilege to being rejected by those you loved and worked with for years is gut wrenching.  No amount of harnesses or lap bars can keep you in your seat.  You hang on by your fingertips.  And then it keeps happening time and again.

With over 1.5 million views, my TED talk has been popular beyond my wildest dreams.  I receive wonderful emails from all over the world, followed by terrible emails from all over the world (well, mostly the nasty one’s come from the United States.)  In the past week I’ve been answering between 10 and 15 emails a day.  (I do not answer the nasty ones.)

My son’s book is done.  The book is entitled, She’s My Dad.  It’s Jonathan’s book, but I wrote responses to five of the chapters.  It’ll be out by the time we speak together at a big event later this fall.  I got the final edits last week.  It is so raw, and difficult, and painful and beautiful.  I had to read it in small snippets.  There were just too many emotions.

If you are transgender and trying to figure out if you should transition, be careful.  It is a road full of fallen branches and stones, and you must traverse it in the middle of a massive storm on the darkest of nights. It is not a journey for those who have not been called.

I suppose narcissists can travel it without too much trouble, because they don’t give a shit what other people think. But if your heart is easily broken, then prepare for it to be broken into a million tiny pieces.  Then, as you ride the transgender rollercoaster, those pieces will be thrust up into your throat and then down into your gut and then up into your throat. Over and over again. And did I mention, I do not like rollercoasters?

This Is The Reason

I have been memorizing sermons since the late 70s.  Memorization comes easily and is a critical part of my editing process. The message becomes streamlined and simple.  You forget things, and that is good.  What you forget is extraneous. You rarely forget the sections that advance the big idea.

My first draft is very different from the finished product.  If I preached the first draft, it would be a 45 or 50-minute sermon. Blaise Pascal apologized to a friend for writing a long letter.  He said he didn’t have time to write a short one.  It takes time to edit.  I wish more preachers understood that.  The hour-long message is rarely a masterpiece.  It is more likely a 25-minute message in need of an editor.

Going through the TED experience was a lesson in thoughtful editing.  My coach and editor, Briar Goldberg, works for TED and TEDxMileHigh.  She is a master of cutting and repositioning, pruning a 2500-word talk down to 1600 without losing an ounce of substance.  I wish every speaker could work with Briar.

Which brings me to my TEDxMileHigh speech last November.  If you speak for a TED or TEDx event, memorizing your talk is a requirement.  They encourage everyone to use their specific memorization method.  I rarely memorize word for word.  I memorize thought for thought, with key sections memorized word for word.  But I decided I would do my best to follow their word for word system.  Things progressed satisfactorily until the dress rehearsal.

I lost my place – twice!  The curators and coaches were not particularly concerned, but I was.  It had been decades since I lost my place in a message that close to its delivery.  Briar spent the better part of her evening with me, helping me figure out what happened.

Finally, she said, “Paula, forget everything we told you about memorization.  Start over and use whatever method you normally use.”  I took her at her word. I started at 9:00 PM and by 2:30 AM I knew I was ready.  In the process, I changed one single line.  I ran the line past Briar early Saturday morning, and she approved it.

The original line was, “Would I do it all again?  Of course I would, because the authentic life is worth living.”  What came to me around midnight was this line:  “Would I do it all again?  Of course I would, because the call toward authenticity is holy; it is sacred; it is for the greater good.”

Last Saturday I received a package that contained the mug pictured above.  I have no idea who sent it.  They did not identify themselves.  And with my talk having been viewed over 1.5 million times, it could be anyone from anywhere.  But whoever it is understands the significance of those words.  They are my understanding of God’s call.

Through a voice clearer than any I have ever heard, I was called to become Paula.  The message was not received with pleasure, but with surrender.  I screamed at God, “Don’t you know I am going to lose everything?  Don’t you know what my family is going to go through?”

All I heard was stony silence, but I knew I had been called.  I did lose all of my jobs and most of my retirement income.  My family did suffer, monumentally.  Not a day goes by in which I am not aware of how comfortable I could have been had I chosen not to answer the call.  Compared to my previous life, my life is no longer comfortable.

But it is good.

We live for future generations.  We live for our children and grandchildren and all who will inherit the world we create. It is good to leave the world a little more accepting, tender and compassionate than you found it.

Transgender people are as good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, brilliant and dull as any other human.  And women are not treated fairly in this world.  We are a very long way from gender equity.   But unless someone is willing to show those truths in a way that is not perceived as a threat, the world goes on its way, continuing in its destructive unknowing.

I let myself be known.  I answered the call toward authenticity.  And I have surrounded myself with others equaly dedicated to authenticity.  And because of Cathy and the kids and their spouses and Aaron and Jen and Christy and you, some days I get it right.  Some days I live for the greater good.

To whoever sent the mug, thank you.  Thank you for reminding me why we do what we do.

They Just Act Like Him

When YouTube views go up, so does my mail.  My TEDxMileHigh talk has been getting around 10,000 to 15,000 views a day over the past couple of weeks, which doubles the amount of correspondence I receive.  Every single day I hear from people from all over the globe.  Some days I hear from three or four.  Lately I have been hearing from 10 to 15.

I never look at YouTube comments.  Too many trolls live there.  I do occasionally check the YouTube thumbs up/down ratio.  It runs consistently over 90 percent positive.  Emails, Facebook messages, and other forms of correspondence run about 80 percent positive and 20 percent negative.

Almost all of the negative messages come from conservative Christians.  In fact, I do not remember the last negative message I received that did not come from a conservative Christian.  What do the negative messages say?

Well, let’s suppose someone just arrived on the planet, and had never heard about Jesus, or his followers.  Let’s say all she would know about Jesus would have to be taken from the correspondence I receive. What would she think?

Here is the very first line of an email I received Sunday morning:  “How do you work around that God said He created male and female?”   I never answer those kinds of emails, and rarely read past the first sentence.  As soon as the tone is clear, I hit the delete button.  The messages usually include the same elements:

  1. God created only two genders, male and female. It says so in Genesis.
  2. You are a tool of Satan.
  3. Repent before you spend eternity in hell.

If the messages are from people who once knew me, or knew of me, they usually say,

  1. You were a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  2. How can you live with yourself?
  3. Repent before you spend eternity in hell.

These are the negative messages I receive, time and again.  So back to that person who just arrived on the planet.  Based on these messages, what would she think of followers of Jesus?  First, I imagine she would think these people are really afraid of hell, since they never fail to mention it.

Second, she would wonder where in the world the sheep/wolf thing originated.  (I mean, really?  Why do people always choose that metaphor?  Is there a fill in the blank “suggested letter” they are all using they found somewhere on the Internet?)

Third, she would check out the Internet and discover there are not just two genders. There are, in fact, a plethora of intersex conditions, which would cause her to assume these people are not well read. Based on the correspondence, I doubt she would have much interest in following Jesus.

Now, let me share with you the contents of another message I received the same morning:

Dear Paula,

I’m writing you from (city) in Germany.  I just saw your TED talk and it was amazing.  It brought me to tears and touched my heart.

I have two daughters and my youngest, (name of child), has been “different” from the start.  From the beginning I had a gut feeling that told me that she is transgender.  And, with all the worries and anxiety I have, knowing how intolerant our world can be, I am blessed to have her.  Because I realize how much I love her, how much I love my children.  And I know for sure that as their mother, I love them and accept them as they are and want to be.  I acknowledge and respect the journey they have chosen to pursue in this life.

Paula, I thank you for your authenticity and your courage.  It empowers and supports me for the challenges to come.  I know that the heart and love is the most powerful force in the universe.  I am grateful for the experience and the opportunity to grow that I have, thanks to my children and especially thanks to (name of child.) 

I wish all the best.  Please continue your work and I hope you enjoy your life as it is.

With all the support and warm regards from Germany,

(first name) 

First of all, that is better grammar than I get from most Americans.  (I receive messages from all over Europe with that kind of command of the English language.) But look at the tone of the letter.  That is the tone of four out of every five messages I receive.  Rarely do the messages ever reference Jesus.  They just act like him.

Letters like that are why I continue to write and speak and preach.  They make me believe in the human capacity for goodness and grace and love.  They communicate the good news of the Gospel, whether or not the person writing the words claims to be a follower of Jesus.  That is the source of my hope that all things are being redeemed.

And maybe, some day, the conservative Christians will stop being afraid of hell long enough to realize that God’s love even encompasses them, just as they are.

A Time For Lament

Some times call for lament.  It is not something I do easily.  As a dutiful Sunday school student, I memorized the names of all the books of the Old Testament, including Lamentations, though I was clueless about the subject, or even what the word meant.  (The word means the passionate expression of grief or sorrow.)

I’ve never seen the word “lamentations” in a newspaper article or a contemporary novel.  Americans don’t talk much about lament.  I spent most of the last eight days in lament.  I cancelled everything I could, and holed up alone in the foothills of the Rockies.

When I was a male, I dealt with difficulties and setbacks by ramping up my busyness. Speed was my hedge against lament. I became crazy busy.  That is what I did when I was avoiding coming out as transgender.  It didn’t work so well then, but nevertheless, it is my default avoidance mechanism.  I choose the word “mechanism” with intent.  When I resort to busyness and speed, I am attempting to engineer results instead of trusting the flow. It is not a good life plan.

When you run yourself ragged by engineering results, you do not pay close enough attention to the needs of those around you.  Over the past week, I did not hold space for the feelings of one close friend, and I marched right over the expressed thoughts of another.  That stopped me in my tracks, rather literally, and ushered in an exhausting week of lament.  The lament took hold in a number of different spaces within my heart.  One area of my lamentations is private.  The others I can and will share.

I always acknowledge that my experience is my experience.  I cannot speak for anyone else.  I write often about living in a liminal space, somewhere between male and female, holding in tension the two genders within.  Recently I have been lamenting that part of the female experience I will never know, particularly the experience of growing a child within your womb and everything that relates to that holy experience.

Since the She Is Called Conference in May, I have been lamenting my inability to enter into the sacred circular I observe among women.  I reside in its borderlands, close enough to intuit something holy, but far enough away to realize I will never know what I cannot know. Women have been helping one another give birth since the beginning of time.  It is the foundation of their collaborative intuition.  So much female energy springs forth from that seminal experience.  I stand back and observe in awe.

The loss of testosterone and addition of estrogen affects the body in innumerable ways, including ample neurological changes.  Women understand the effects of estrogen.  Add to that the degree to which my brain was never at peace in a male body, and you are left with a transgender woman with a plethora of complex feelings.  Sometimes they pile up, like laundry, and you have to sort them before you throw them in the wash.  This has been a time of sorting.

I rue the days when in fear I refuse to trust the flow of my feelings and return to the old discomfort of engineering results.  In those moments I do not hold space for all the things being born in my heart.  In my time of lament, I listen to the flow of my heart, both its male and female parts.  I weep from the insights and wisdom that come bubbling up, out of the pain, as precious as the Holy Grail.

I am grateful I am not alone.  I am blessed with a precious few who walk ever so faithfully by my side.  With speaking offers and requests for book proposals and the like, the world wants to hear what I have to say from my home in the borderlands of gender.  I am an inadequate messenger.  I miss stuff, and sometimes the stuff I miss is pretty effing important.  I need help from those who are gracious and patient enough to nudge me back onto the path every now and again.  This learning to live as a female is serious business.

And so I grieve and lament, grateful that I dared to choose the road less traveled by,  with its fallen branches and stones and all. Like I said in my TEDx talk, “Would I do it all again?  Of course I would!  Because the call toward authenticity is sacred.  It is holy.  And it is for the greater good.”

Is She Going to Make It?

This week I’ve invited Jennifer Jepsen, my co-pastor at Left Hand Church, to write a guest blog.  You can follow her at http://jenniferjepsen.org

Is She Going to Make It

“The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.”
Audre Lorde

So far I’ve preached nine sermons. Each one is a birth – the preparation a labor, the delivery a relief. I preached this past spring on the relationship between Mary and Martha, and how as a Christian woman I’ve been coached over the years to believe that being a Mary is the Christian woman’s ideal, our gold standard. It is very confusing to me, as someone who carries significant parts of both Mary and Martha that Jesus would appear to rebuke Martha, while uplifting Mary. Wasn’t Martha just doing what she was supposed to do as an obedient women in the patriarchal culture of the day? I too can sit at Jesus’s feet, but I also know the importance of being productive, while respecting the tick-tock of the clock. As a mother with three children, pastoring a church, there are things to accomplish and gazing at Jesus all day wouldn’t fly well with my family and co-pastors.

The premise I offer is Jesus, in touting Mary’s dedication, is instead upending the patriarchal expectations of the day and inviting Martha to be with him. Jesus is inviting her into a relationship of restoration and renewal, of respect and inclusion. Jesus is calling to her toward rest – a luxury, I suspect.

We women still function within this patriarchal model. We rank ourselves in a room based on our bodies and accomplishments, our clean and wonderful children, the lines on our face, and grey in our hair. We participate in gossip to equalize the room, while injuring ourselves with fear of saying too much and doubt in our abilities. We try to play the patriarchal game too, but since our power is minimal in the world of men, we operate out of shame. We operate out of scarcity. We operate out of self-deprecating humor and downright anger.

And as I navigate this new world of pastor, the world of men is real. Many church systems have been built on the metrics of men – numbers, quality control, timeliness, etc. Churches, on the outside, are efficient, tidy, and things get done. Programs are built, meetings are had, people are processed in the name of Jesus. All contributing to the bottom line and to the good of the organization. If a church is growing, it must be healthy right?

The Church is equal parts She and He, and yet we function in this masculine-centric hierarchy oftentimes no different than any other system or corporation in America. And I wonder, is She going to make it? Is the Church going to come through this crisis of culture?

Only if we can return to our feminine roots – to the Church as a redeemed Martha.

I am now in the company of many remarkable and accomplished and talented women who adore Jesus. All would qualify as both Mary and Martha, the best of both. These women are building and leading and pastoring and mothering, redefining the hope of the Church, redefining the hope of the world. We are redefining the metrics, seeking abundance, setting aside the tapes of scarcity that speak messages of our worth being defined by appearance and accomplishment and age. Our worth is defined because we are.

Abundance is untrustworthy and suspicious. We are conditioned to believe there must be be winners and losers. Abundance is a new and unwieldy language that supersedes metrics. With no rank or hierarchy, abundance declares there’s enough with plenty of room at the table. But as women, as the Church, we have to reclaim abundance. The metrics of rank have no place in this space, it’s too beautiful and open. We cannot translate the patriarchal game of ranking and measuring, a foreign language of gibberish. Playing the game kills our souls and reduces our offering. This feminine work cannot entirely be computed or grasped, measurable data cannot define. This feminine work is ethereal and spiritual and air and light, weighty and fierce in the best of ways. Abundance is mother. Abundance is tender. Abundance is fierce. And abundance is an all-encompassing force of Love.

The shameful messages of scarcity in this patriarchal church culture are real and pervasive. And the She of the Church is suffering. She is withering under the current weight of the game. She won’t hold much longer. She can no longer compete over who has the best fashion or the cleanest children or masculine metrics. She must unleash and become Herself. She must know what it means to sit longingly at Jesus’s feet, while knowing her worth and value are in being, while affirming the beings of everyone else. She cares not for the accomplishments and the efficiency. She cares for the whole of people, the healing of the world.

She is a Mother.