Celebrating Valour

My grandma is one of the most amazing people I know. If anyone has displayed Christ accurately to me, it is her. During some of the most difficult years of my life, she would stay up with me for as long as I wanted to talk to her, and she listened, never judging or condemning, even when I talked about some of my frustrations with my parents.

She always checks with me before she cooks a meal to make sure that it will be something that I enjoy, and she buys my favourite instant oatmeal (Dino-Eggs, just for the record) when I am coming for a visit. She never criticizes my eating.

She encouraged me when I became frustrated with my inability to cook. She has been the one who reminds me that I am still competent and talented, and that I don’t need to be great at cooking after all.

She is honest, yet kind. Christ shines through her, but she doesn’t flaunt it. She is generous, yet wise. She is perceptive, but she does not worry about what she doesn’t know. She is steady in crises, and strong in more ways than one. She is a woman of valour, and her works deserve to be celebrated. Continue reading

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Maybe People are Okay

There are a few things that really get on my nerves:

  • When people are late
  • When people make me late
  • Harassment
  • When different foods touch each other on my plate
  • When people make jokes about feminism

Oh, I wish I had good comebacks for the things that people say.  I really do like the think that I’m witty.

I’m not.

So when someone makes fun of feminism, I just sit there and hate them.

I’m no stranger to feminism being looked down on.  It’s kind of discouraging, actually, how often I encounter sexism at school and at work.  It’s not unusual for me to hear someone talk about the so-called evils of feminism in a school where I am learning how to lead both men and women in the church.

This last week, a good friend of mine was on a roll with the feminism jokes: “I’m a feminist.  I have no problem with hitting women.”  “See, I don’t like feminism because then I can’t be chivalrous.”  “This is why I’m not a feminist: we guys don’t get as many bathroom stalls, so now I have to wait to use the washroom!”

And I sat there, and I got angrier and angrier.

I wanted to fight back.  I wanted him to understand how important feminism is to me, but I also wanted him to hurt like I was hurting.

But then I thought of Jesus’ instructions to love, and to turn the other cheek, and I didn’t want to.  God!  I said,  “Fight for me, because you said I shouldn’t fight for myself!  Defend my rights, because I can defend my own rights when I”m supposed to be willing to surrender them.  Fight for me!

Maybe what I meant was, Hurt him for me.  Make him feel guilty.

Maybe that’s why God didn’t agree to my suggestion.  Instead, God said, “Tell him.  Tell him that you are hurt.  Tell him how much this means to you.  Tell him how feminism means freedom from the abuse you experienced.  Tell him how rape culture has scarred women you care about.  Tell him about how feminism offers the hope that one day young ladies will be able to go for a run without worrying about catcalling or being followed by a group of guys.  Tell him that it matters to you.”

My hands shook as walked toward him after chapel.  I turned around twice, then resolved once again to go through with it.

Then I told him.  I told him about my family, about my friends, about me, and about how we all need feminism.  I told him that I couldn’t tell whether he actually believed what he joked about or not because way too may people do believe it.  I told him that I don’t want to tell him what to believe, but I do want him to understand how the jokes make me angry.

He listened.  He didn’t argue. “That totally makes sense,” he said.  He listened, and he apologized, and he stopped.

Maybe people are okay.

Maybe what is needed isn’t a fight, but a dialogue.  When both sides put down their swords and listen to each other, maybe things can start to change.

Getting Back To Thankfulness

I set up an interactive bulletin board last week at my college in preparation for thanksgiving.  It was covered in strips of blank paper, and said at the top,

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

What are you thankful for this thanksgiving?

Nearly all the strips of paper had been filled in by students by the end of the week.  Some were simple, some were profound, some were thankful for the people around them, a lot were thankful for good food.

Sometimes finding things to be genuinely grateful for is difficult.  Especially when the depression settles in, the anxiety brings up every worst case scenario, my body is sick and lacking sleep and is becoming increasingly uncooperative when I need to focus, and I have taken on way, way more than I should have this semester, I look at my life and all I can see is what needs to change.

What can I be thankful for? I wonder.  My life is okay, but it is not good by anyone’s standards!

I have to think about it.  I have to search for reasons, but they are there.

I am in my third year of my degree program, but this semester is the first semester in which my bank account has not drifted below $500.00.  This is good.

I received such encouragement this last week, which got me through my lowest week in months.

I have a reliable job which lets me take the time off that I need.

How I would like to take nothing for granted!  But I am not there yet.  So I will begin with today.  Though with only a few thanks, it is a step in the attitude I aspire toward.

The Challenge of Loving the Church

Many people seem to find it odd that, even though students in my college are training for ministry, even though they are the ones who, if anyone, should be passionate about Christianity and confident in their faith, it is during their four years studying here that many Bible students experience their worst period of doubt and discouragement.  They lose their enthusiasm for going to church and spending time with the Christian community.  Their attitudes are ones of cynicism and defeat.

Perhaps it’s not so strange as we think, though, that Bible students can so quickly become disillusioned with the church.  The more we learn about God’s will for mankind and his plan for the church, the more we become aware of just how short we fall of that.  It is difficult to remain passionate about something which has so vastly missed the mark.

Do we fight the church’s errors, accept them, or give in to them?  Or do we walk away from the disaster entirely?  It is not an easy question to answer.

After All

It shouldn’t have been that difficult, nor that frightening.

Why should I be afraid to volunteer to speak a ten minute message to 40 classmates?

When the professor asked for people to consider volunteering, I knew that it was my time to speak.

Yet I was afraid.  I was afraid that I was not worthy.  I was afraid that I would preach heresy.  I was afraid that it wasn’t God’s will for me.  And, most of all, I was afraid that my classmates would not support me and would not be willing to hear me.

After all, I had heard all the only-half-joking comments during my Homiletics course of the previous semester:

“Yeah, the guys are preaching after the girls so they can fix their theology.”

After all, I had heard the sermons from male preachers about where God has determined that females belong – and it definitely isn’t behind a pulpit.

After all, I had heard my pastor tell me that he never feels comfortable listening to a female preacher:

“It just feels wrong.”

In the face of these fears, I reminded myself of the Godly women who spoke before –

Esther risked her life to approach the king on behalf of her people.

Deborah was a prophetess, a judge, a counselor, and completely capable of leading a nation into battle.

Huldah prophesied destruction and was heard by the king.

The women who discovered Jesus’ resurrection declared the good news despite not being believed.

– women who spoke truth with courage and calling.

I reminded myself that I was not given a voice so that I could stay silent.  I am the bearer of an important message, and I will speak it.

So I walked straight from the classroom to the professor’s office.

“I would like to volunteer to speak to the class on the last day.”

He was excited.  He called me “Pastor Hannah.”  He expressed confidence that I would proclaim truth with boldness and accuracy.

When many of my classmates found out, they were surprised.  The girls expressed that  they thought it was very brave of me.

Less than half the class showed up on the day that I spoke.  Some quite clearly didn’t want to hear it from me.  But at the same time, many people heard my message, took it to heart, and encouraged me to continue speaking truth boldly.

After all, there is hope.