I grew up in the church. And then I left it. But that does not mean that it left me. My lean in moments (over and over again), are those that intentionally — and often with great effort — merge my feminism with my faith. Easier said than done.
The most poignant and painful example of this was in the context of my 15-year marriage to a pastor—which I ended. Again, easier said than done. And hardly without angst. So much of my identity and belief was tied to my religious understandings of commitment and covenant. Surely, to leave my marriage meant that I was not faithful; that I was not willing to trust God to make it better, right, bearable; that I did not take seriously the two-shall-be-one truth. The work of gaining any other understanding, let alone one that might allow for a God who advocated for me—as a woman, as a mother, as a person with emotions and intellect and heart, took years. But once glimpsed and grasped, there was no turning back.
The moment I heard the words come out of my mouth, "I'm done," was the beginning of a life that has been rich with meaning and ripe with challenge. Yes, easier said than done. But in that moment, whether completely aware of it or not, I leaned—hard; I put my faith in the belief that my desire, my voice, my pounding heartbeat could be trusted; that my truth was worth telling—and living.
I am acutely aware that my story is not unique; that many women, especially those raised within the context of the church, struggle to find ways/means in which they can merge feminism and faith; activism and spirituality; boldness and belief. I am also acutely aware that this is nearly impossible without the stories of other women to companion, guide, and inspire. And it is my belief that those are to be found...just maybe not where we might have thought.
My everyday leaning in now involves the intentional work and embodied passion of re-imagining, re-telling, and redeeming the stories of ancient sacred narratives of women. Women like Eve. Women like Hagar. Women like Mary. And so many more. Freeing these texts from the patriarchy, from the centuries of oppression, from the ways in which they've been silenced and shamed - so that we can be freed from patriarchy, from oppression, and from silence and shame. Easier said than done, but no less significant, needed, critical, or longed for.
I am a feminist with faith. I am raising two daughters for whom I hope the same. And I'm leaning in to a world in which women's stories (past, present, and future) are seen, heard, and valued as legacy, as lineage, and as endless proof of our perseverance and power.