Abuse-Coloured Glasses

This is going to be my last post about women in ministry. It has been consuming a lot of time and thoughts and I need to lay it down. I have a lot of other cool things I can spend my time blogging about :)

Why the change? Great question!

I recently spoke to an elder and friend, whom I deeply respect, about how the topic of women pastors plays out in my life. We didn't talk about the issue itself, but rather what it looks like for me, individually.

You may recall in my last post that I wrote about pastors throwing out a blanket statement that "women can't preach." I said that, "without taking the time or care to understand the woman they are saying this to is an abuse of power." My friend challenged me in this thinking. He helped me see that, to me, it looks like abuse because I see things through "abuse-coloured glasses." My lens and filter of seeing things are coated with abuse.

There is no doubt that I have experienced my share of abuse over the course of my lifetime, most often at the hands of a man, and that there are situations where I see things through an abuse filter. That being said, my opinions and feelings should not be discounted because they may be influenced by that filter. I have done a lot of healing work over the past number of years, and I have been educated in social work, counselling, and the law.

I need to give myself a little pep talk here...

Okay, here is my fully expressed self: It's not my fault that I have abuse-coloured glasses. They were put on me against my will, and I have been working really hard to reduce the tint. They used to be black. Meaning, every man I saw and interacted with was out to hurt me. My glasses are not tinted that dark anymore, and I trust what I see more now than I ever have before. Will the glasses ever be completely removed? Probably not until heaven. So, in the meantime, I learn to live with them, to put myself in situations with whom I consider to be safe men, and I keep rebuilding the trust of men which was ripped from me. It's not my fault that I don't naively trust that men, and even pastors, are not going to hurt me. This is a part of my story - it has shaped who I am. And, for the first time in my life, I am starting to like me!

Back to the women in ministry topic... I am going to change my wording from "an abuse of power" (only because of the respect I have for the pastors and professors in my life, whom I know would never intentionally hurt me) to "inadvertent disregard." I believe that those who affirm this position of women, and choose to say it out loud, should seek to understand how their statement could affect the very people they are speaking about. Meaning, if they say it, they should have the desire to care well for those affected. That "care well" could come in different ways. For some, it may be simply addressing it with them, for others, it may be taking the time to hear their story and be willing to talk about it. Some women may simply say, "I agree," in which there is perhaps no need to pursue the conversation further. The key is that they be aware of their audience and be willing to have a chat with anyone who may be affected by what was said.

This isn't only true for women in ministry. I think the same approach needs to be taken when making blanket statements about things like divorce, abuse, worship styles, parenting, etc. The bottom line is to be cognizant of how our words affect those around us, and be willing to listen. You may think the statement is about a thing or issue, but there is always a person with a story behind the statement.

Let's care for each other well.