It happens every now and then. In very special moments, I get the privilege of having a conversation with someone who has been taught that it’s wrong for a woman to preach. And sometimes, when the stars align just right, I get to be the woman preacher my conversation partner hears.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m all Zen about the fact that so many people are still influenced by churches that promote the subjugation of women. It breaks my heart and boils my blood just like “churches” who teach racism do. But frankly, life is too short for me to go all Don Quixote tilting away at all these churches. So I don’t.
Instead, I thank God for little moments like the one I had recently. When it’s just me, and you, and our common humanity can break through institutionalized -isms for a brief twinkle of an eye. I remember the very conversation that shifted the tectonic plates under my own feet, when I was 21 years old, when the barriers of what girls should do and what boys should do because God says so came tumbling down, and the vast horizon of what are my gifts and where can I apply them opened up before me like a West Texas highway.
So when the conversation comes up with some precious uninitiated child of God, in my mind, I’m taking off my shoes, for we’re on holy ground.
Knowing I’m a pastor, my young adult friend said, “My church believes that women shouldn’t be preachers. It’s against the Bible.”
And I said, “What do you believe?”
And she said, “I think that if God tells you to do something, even if it is different than what God said in in the Bible before, that you should do it. Did God tell you to be a preacher?” she timidly asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “I believe God did. But I studied the Bible and prayed a very long time about that before I said yes. And I’m so glad I did.”
“Okay,” she said, ruminating in a space where I could not yet go.
Then she was there at church Sunday morning, the brightest face in the bunch. When I stepped up into the pulpit to begin the sermon, her eyes widened big as saucers.
“O dear Jesus,” I silently prayed. “Make me good, for her.”