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In which I’m no angry feminist

 

I’m no angry feminist.

Oh, no, I’m a Jesus-following, joy-filled feminist. My eyes are full of God’s daughters, worldwide, making space for goodness, mercy, justice, wholeness. I’m no man-hating-blaming shrew, I’m surrounded by good men, men that are not afraid of women, men that celebrate and affirm and welcome and strengthen and protect. I don’t have a sob story about my dad or my mum or my family, there’s no bitterness in my words.

I’m not angry. I’m hopeful.

 

I stood in a room this weekend. It was filled with women.  We called each other sister, and we meant it, it wasn’t ironic. We called what we were experiencing a sisterhood, a movement, we wanted to be part of the change that we saw all around us.

We held a red thread in our hands, it wound throughout the room, we were all hanging onto it, this red connection of hope and relationship, the one at the back was connected to the one at the front, we understood that it meant that we all mattered. If one of us fell, we all felt it. If one of us was hurting, we were all hurting. (And we mean you, too, sister. We held you in our heart all weekend, you in Ontario, you in Burundi, you in Iowa, you in the Netherlands.)

So we laughed and we cried. We told each other the stories of how we’re making space for God’s love in our world. We talked about scary steps, about terrifying risks of community and trust and generosity. It was a reunion, a family gathering, a tribe of women that all get it, all understand, we don’t have time to be bickering and boundary-drawing, we’re too busy loving, we’re too busy getting on with the work of the Kingdom and the honour of our King.

My heart broke all over again, my heart was mended all over again.

While Jessica and Christina courageously sat on the white couch, telling their story of transformation, of restoration, of hope, of their months at Mercy, the room was deadly silent, not even the glow of iPhone screens to be seen. We were a force of women that wanted to gather around them, hold them in our hands while they spoke of pain and brokenness.

When one of our graduates fell silent, her voice cracking and breaking with the pain of remembering, the room was silent.

From just behind me, a woman’s voice cried out in the stillness, “It’s all right, hon. We love you. We all love you.” And that brave woman up there, that strong woman, our hero, she smiled through her tears at our voices from the darkness growing louder, we love you we love you we love you – and she began to speak again, to tell her story brave in her own voice, she owned it.

These women are a big reason why those graduates are sitting on that couch. These women have prayed for each of our Mercy girls, given hundreds of thousands of dollars for their home and counselling and well-being, walked the property in prayer, dropped off bundles of clothes, preached the Gospel with their lives to all of us. And as two of our graduates stood on the stage, standing for all of the Mercy girls, the women in the room welcomed them like daughters, like sisters, like they were the long-awaited child, for this girl we had prayed.

We collected and giggled over panties so that girls in Africa could go to school. We sent Idelette and Tina to Kelley in Burundi. We adopted inner city schools.We showed up at the pre-trial centre to teach parenting classes, to hug life-ers in the women’s prison without qualification. We packed Christmas hampers. We prayed. We worshipped. We laughed until we cried. We prophesied. We ate and we drank too much coffee. We had a few misunderstandings. Then we went back out to do it again.

This was Church, this was the people, the women of God gathered together for communion and community and Holy Spirit breathing, just to scatter back out and do it all over again. We’ll be back next year with a few more stories.

These are the women I know, in my real life, and in the stories I hear from all around the world. These are the women in my world. These are my people. It’s like a banquet, a feast of justice and goodness and guts and faith and differences.

No, I’m no angry feminist.

These are the feminists of my world, these are the women that love women, that love men, that love the Church, that love the world, and this holy love, oh, it is pushing back the darkness.

We’re just a small group, one little gathering, representative of a multitude all over the world, we’re the women that have decided that we will be the women who love

All images are by Judith Laurel Photography, available at LifeWomen’s Facebook page.

A huge thank you and God-bless-you to Pastor Helen Burns and the team at Relate Church who always put together a conference of women that feels more like a movement. It’s an honour to be a small part of life with you.

abundant life, church, community, faith, fearless, Jesus Feminist, journey, local, Mercy Ministries, missional, missional living, sisters, social justice, women
  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    Thanks for living a better story that speaks louder than anything a critic can say.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Well, you know the critics always have something to say … ;-)

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    Thank you for redeeming the other “f-word”, story by story.  What a beautiful picture you’ve written of hope, sisterhood, and healing.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      We’ll do it together, eh?

  • http://www.theblahblahblahger.com/ the Blah Blah Blahger

    AWESOME post!!! There is power in a room full of women…maybe we support, encourage, love, promote, defend, and honor in different ways, but at the same time, our love is multiplied and can do amazing things! Though I was not there, the way you’ve described your experience that day, I feel connected and I proudly proclaim that I am a I am a feminist, too! XO!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

    I remember that holy moment distinctly, “It’s all right, hon. We love you. We all love you.”… So powerful. 

    “These are the feminists of my world, these are the women that love women, that love men, that love the Church, that love the world, and this holy love, oh, it is pushing back the darkness.”
    Amen.Amennn.Amennnnn.

    xoxo,
    Teen
    P.S.I loved getting a big ol’ bear hug from you. Looking forward to beer and wings post-Africa!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I so want to go with you. Someday.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {the smitten word}

    amen and me, too. xo

  • http://gemmasjourneyoflove.blogspot.com/ Gemma Hartley

    Amen to being a feminist with hope and love. It is through these kinds of women that we will see justice in the world.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Amen!

  • Sherry

    um…you just made me a “former” hater of all women’s ministry – THIS is the type of women’s gathering I’d like to be a part of! And I LOVE your words…”I’m no angry feminist.” I hate the negative connotation this word has attached to it. I love the re-framing of it that appears to have taken place at this conference. Wish I had been there! 

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, the re-framing and reclaiming of the word is BIG to me, too!

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    So, so powerful, Sarah! Thank you for reclaiming this word that is so often misunderstood and misused. I am hopeful too. I join you in choosing to love.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks!

  • http://www.jennyraearmstrong.com Jenny Rae Armstrong

    Oh, you made me cry AGAIN! *sniffle* Love this post. Love pretty much everything you write. I seldom have much to say (since you’ve already stated it so eloquently) but I love it.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Jenny!

  • http://www.wanderingonpurpose.com/ Amanda @wandering

    That is my prayer – that I would be a woman who loves well. By His grace, He will help me even when I stumble in the learning.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes and yes.

  • http://twitter.com/erikalifeartist Erika Morrison

    Yes. Just YES.

  • http://sortacrunchy.net/ SortaCrunchy

    I just can’t even … my heart breaks and pours out. What beauty. What irresistible beauty!  Glory to God.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      That is EXACTLY how I felt all weekend. Lord.

  • Lyndaae

    Thanks for reminding me that life is about loving one another; loving everyone who crosses my path. Why is that so easy to forget? What an encouragement to extend GRACE! God bless you, each one. “if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Amen and amen.

  • http://www.lovewellblog.com/ Kelly @ Love Well

    I can think of no more fitting comment than a female-filled AMEN!

    This is what a true feminist is.

  • http://twitter.com/SeekingGrace316 Missy

    What an amazing post. Thank you for sharing your experience. 
    I’ve never heard of Mercy. I will have to check it out. 

  • Annie Baraiuk

    I’ve just spent months writing a dissertation on feminism and THIS blog post is what I needed. None of that “we hate men” mumbo jumbo, but truly strong women of Christ. Thank you =]

  • http://www.themommyhoodmemos.com/ Adriel Booker

    Reframing the definition of feminism. Breath of fresh air.

    This. is. happening.

  • pastordt

    Yea and amen. Preach it, write it, live it. Thank you.

  • http://femonite.wordpress.com/ Hannah

    Thanks for this post. I do like the ways that you’ve painted feminism as about relationship and as an exercise in hope. But I do think that it’s ok for feminists to be angry sometimes, and I that feminism is big enough to encapsulate both anger in hope. In fact, when it is channeled well and doesn’t just lead to cynicism, I think that anger can be a force that fuels us to work for change, so that we CAN in fact remain hopeful.

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