“You can’t be Han Solo you’re a girl!” this one sentence changed my life. It also started a bit of a wrestling match between 4 year old me and my best guy friend. I ran into the house covered in tears. Life would never be the same. As I sat with my mom she explained that even though I wasn’t required to play the role of Princess Leia, I was in fact a girl. I can only imagine how funny that moment was. Me screaming “I am not a girl” in my probably pink jumper and pony tails while she tried to fight back laughter.
I don’t remember a lot about my childhood, but I remember the fateful day that I found out that I am in fact a girl. It wasn’t that I didn’t know I was different than most of the boys who lived in my neighborhood, but I didn’t know the word for that was “girl.” I actually thought “girl” was a bad word. My street was filled with boys. So there was always lots of catch, kick the can, and street hockey. Whenever the older boys were teasing someone I heard them say “you throw like a girl!” “You run like a girl.” I thought being a girl was a bad thing. I was not about to be lumped in with the non athletic “girl.” My protest about being Leia had nothing to do with her gender, but more about the fact that I thought Han Solo was so cool. Let’s not forget he had a Wookie as a sidekick. I also liked Han’s outfit. To this day I love a great pair of boots. The irony is some Sundays when I wear my white robe I look a lot like Leia in her princess robe and often under that robe is a cute pair of boots. That says a lot about who I am. A girly girl Tom boy.
It’s been a lot of years since I first thought being a girl was a bad thing, but every now and than the idea pops up. This week was one of those weeks.
As many of us know this weekend was Halloween, but what many of you may not know is that this weekend was also the weekend we celebrated reformation Sunday and the day Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church to protest the ways he thought the church was living out of sync with the gospel. He protested things like pew taxes, and money being spent on huge cathedrals rather than on the poor. Many churches mark this by self-examination of the ways we all fall short of being the church of the New Testament. Someone decided to use the day to launch a personal attack on me, and my gender.
As I came to church Sunday and began my usual pre-preaching routine I noticed something taped to our front door. Someone had posted an unsigned “theses” in honor of Martin Luther against our church (they spelt it thesis but I think they meant theses.) They went as far as to call our church an apostate church, a fancy word for a church that has walked away from the faith. They spent the rest of the letter pulling scripture out of context and using it to say that a woman should not be a pastor or a leader in the church. I will admit at first I thought it was slightly amusing; but the more I thought about it, the more I became concerned. Someone knew this church had a female preacher. It angered them enough; they posted this tirade against women in ministry on our church. If they knew we had a female pastor, they also knew that pastor was me. Someone knew I am a pastor and that enraged them. They had come onto the church to make that clear. I felt violated.
I had to preach soon and I was rocked. I shared with the choir during our weekly pre-service prayer time that someone had done this. The amazing support I received from our choir spurred me on and encouraged me to preach with even more fervor than I usually do. As I sat on the stage I looked around at my church and smiled. This was a particularly good Sunday numbers wise and people seemed really engaged. As people shook my hand on their way out of church many stopped to say that the sermon had really inspired and challenged them. Most of the church didn’t know a letter had been left. They weren’t trying to encourage me, but simply respond to what the Spirit was doing in them.
I felt encouraged, but it took the whole day for me to stop feeling violated and slightly concerned. I also couldn’t help but feel angry that someone was critiquing me not for what I say but for who I am. I posted on Facebook my sadness over this person’s action and immediately was shocked how many people commented and even more who messaged me to tell me that they really felt God uses me to help them understand the gospel. I could spend the rest of this blog explaining why even to argue that biblically women were not to preach isn’t entirely true, and perhaps another blog will deal with that. But this isn’t that blog. Instead this is the blog that says yes I am a girl… and yes I preach like a girl- and you know what, God uses that.