- Sonya Leigh Anderson
Updated: May 1, 2020
We’ve been having some interesting conversations lately—my husband and I. Not, as far as I can tell, related to quarantine. (Oh, there are plenty of those rants, too.) But these are more like diversions. Something interesting to noodle about when the days get long. Or when the fish aren’t biting. My husband is becoming an advocate of feminism. LOL. Of all people. Raised on the good old-fashioned meat and potatoes of a patriarchal system. Church, home, family. Middle of three sons, father to five. Male domination permeating every facet of this good man’s life. And now this. It’s not my doing. Honest. I can hardly get a word in edgewise. You’d think maybe he’d like to hear a woman’s perspective. But I bite my tongue, waiting, patiently, for my turn to talk. It’s our boys, throwing fuel on the fire. Young men in ministry of various kinds, and they’re asking the questions. Why can’t a woman do this—or that? WHY?? Their dad opens the text, and reads it again, with fresh perspective. From the beginning. Genesis. God, creating everything GOOD—very good, even—until something WASN’T. The man, alone. Not good. Something missing of HIS very own image. Male and female. NOW—they are one. One image of One True God. And then, the curse. Chapter 3. Forbidden fruit, eaten. The woman first, assuming a man, lurking, watching, somewhere nearby. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. My own husband, God bless him, repeats his epiphany, again and again. This is NOT God’s design, but a CURSE! He repeats this, too. Easter story. Jesus himself, waking from death. Finding the women. Sending them out to tell the men. Good news! The curse is broken. Hmmm. I listen, amused. A woman. And I wonder. Why now? This rant. This passion. I figure I may as well join him. Learning from story, I download a memoir, feminist, radical as they come. Halfway through I’m shaking my head. None of this has been my experience, this painful pursuit of Feminine-Divine. Which is NOT to say I’m immune, or clueless. The plight of woman has indeed, made my blood boil, too. We’re out at the lake, grilling salmon—purchased, not caught—when finally, it’s my turn to tell my story. Raised by a strong mother, cherished daughter, favored student. Not once in all my own girlhood do I remember thinking I was less. If anything, I looked with scorn at those small-town boys, thinking myself superior by far. (This no virtue, prideful heart.) And then. My own awakening. Young woman, full of passion. Explaining this to my good husband. More than once I’ve wondered if maybe it’s the men who have really been given a lesser vision. Cherished Daughter of my Perfect Father. Savior Husband’s Radiant Bride. Those poor men couldn’t possibly comprehend such exquisite image. And I hear a mumble. You’re probably right. But this is NOT to say I don’t get it. I look at Kyle, and he knows what I mean. My blood does boil. Just a few weeks back. Out at the Manske’s with Jimmy and Sidney, we ate our Chipotle, and I’m not even sure how this thing came up. The name of a mutual acquaintance, a teacher, who’d been two years oversees in Saudi Arabia. Sid’s dad retells the awful stories. Women so oppressed, I can hardly stand to hear it. And I say it out loud, there at the table. My blood boils. This, too, despicable practice. Education, here in our very own country. Seminaries—of all places. “Christian institutions.” Not all, but some, still getting by with modern-day discrimination. My own heart pounding at the very thought. So yes, I do get riled up, knowing, feeling, this female angst. And one more example, for my husband, joking, but not really. Holidays spent as female slaves in so many kitchens, while the men-folk slumber in post-feast rest. So yes. I get it. And yet. These men of mine. Husband, sons. Elevate ME—a woman—to highest status. They call me their PASTOR. And mean it. “Mom, you were meant to be a pastor.” Can you imagine the blessing in that? It’s true. My own church wouldn’t give me the title. Which I’ve never really wanted, nor thought I deserved. (I’m a part-time employee, by choice. And happy.) But. It is true, and my guys see the unfairness. Full-time women, doing the work, earning degrees, deserving of status. Alas. One such woman recently gave me her beautiful blessing. Empowering words. Bestowing vision. Like my sons, affirming my call—Pastoral Heart. And so. Doubly blessed. Yes. I rise. WOMAN. Empowered mission. Wife. Mother. Daughter. Pastor. Sent with mission. Jesus’ commission. Blood boiling with holy passion. Curse broken. Female and male. TOGETHER. Beautiful Image. One with God.
(For Kiana, whose birthday is today—as strong a woman as I’ve ever known. To Ali, who has inspired me to rethink my boxes. To Sidney, who did what no man could do last weekend! To Kara, who, I believe, embodies the image of beloved daughter. And for my mom, who has passed on to me her energetic and unquenchable spirit.)