on becoming less divided.
- pam hogeweide, at the unladylike: resisting the injustice of inequality in the church event at the refuge this past friday night.
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in an effort to not be a divisive woman, i became a divided woman.
oh these words resonate. so many of us (men and women) have struggled in the church with not wanting to be divisive. there’s been a subtle and sometimes very direct message that any kind of conflict or dissonance equals being divisive and a challenge to unity.
really, it’s usually not about divisiveness; it’s about control. unhealthy systems will not tolerate any kind of pushback or challenge or questions. healthy systems will.
i believe one of the most important parts of rebuilding after deconstructing is to become more integrated, less divided–in our faith, in our souls, in the way we interact with the world. learning to accept and work with conflict is part of that.
pushing parts of us down to stay part of the systems we are in is harmful.
hiding because our real selves, our real questions, will not be tolerated damages our soul.
splitting off and pretending will drain us of hope over time.
not everyone feels this way; plenty of men & women feel undivided in church. it’s working fine (this post is not for you!). there are a whole bunch of others who know what i’m talking about. who feel that weird disconnect of desire & reality. who have been settling for crumbs for a long time. who long to live out the ways of Jesus more freely but don’t see how the church they are in supports that. who are called to lead but can’t. who have a lot of questions & doubts but are afraid to voice them.
who feel divided.
i have been called divisive by people who think that those who publicly challenge the church are sinning. any form of anger or discontent or challenge is perceived as negative. in my good-girl-days, i used to try to smooth it over and make nice, but what i keep discovering over the years is that well-behaved women (and men) won’t change the church.
if we keep trying, out of fear, to not be perceived as divisive, over time we will become more & more divided.
our passions & gifts will continue to be squelched. we will continue to give time & money to systems that don’t really care about us. we will live with a subtle and sometimes overt shame that who we are is either too much or not enough.
we will never feel free.
because we will never be free.
we can’t be free in a place that tells us we are less than because of our gender. we can’t be free in a place that won’t tolerate our questions or doubts or pain or struggles. we can’t be free in a place that only loves us when we are towing the line and following the rules. we can’t be free in an environment that won’t engage in healthy conflict. we can’t be free when we are being controlled.
the thing that makes me happy right now is that many people i know are finding freedom and becoming less divided. we’re breaking free. we’re finding our way. we’re loosening shame’s grip. we’re stepping into who God made us to be.
it’s not an easy task when there’s a nagging voice in our heads that says “if i just did x or y maybe it will work…why can’t i let it go?….why can’t i just be content with what i have?…they’re fine why can’t i be?”
even though we are supposed to offer grace and accept that things will never be exactly the way we want them, when it comes to issues of oppression & unhealthy systems of power, we need to listen more to our gut. we need to tune into our hearts and be more honest about what we are feeling. we need to open our eyes to reality. we need to ask God to show us the way to greater and greater freedom and give us courage to start walking toward becoming more whole, less divided.
i was struck by pam’s powerful words friday night & the subtle message that rumbles underneath so much of our hope–if we are afraid to be perceived as divisive, we will remain divided.
i was also reminded how Jesus was perceived. um, pretty sure divisive was the word. any pushing on the status quo will be perceived as a threat. he got killed for it. i’m pretty sure we won’t get killed, but we may lose our churches & some relationships & reputations & a lot of things we once held dear. but in the end i believe we will find life, real life–more abundantly. as i become more & more integrated and less & less divided, i feel more alive than i’ve ever felt before. i still have the nagging voice in my head sometimes, but it’s fading, losing it’s power over me.
that’s my hope for all of us, women & men alike. that we’d become less divided, more whole. less controlled, more free. less confined, more empowered. less stuck, more hopeful. less worried-about-what-others-think, more focused-on-what-God-is-stirring-up-in-us-in-deep-places-of-our-hearts.
God, help us let go of fear of being perceived as divisive and give us courage to move toward becoming less divided.