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.
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.