Joy Williams recently released a song, “Woman (Oh Mama)”. It’s a tribute to womanhood and while I prefer her earlier music, there is a line in her new single that perfectly describes how I am feeling at this moment.
“I am The Universe wrapped in skin.”
The universe is full of mysteries that will never be solved. It is complex, containing great big wondrous creations and tiny intricate slivers of life. It is full of light and dark. The universe is in constant motion but contained in the stillness of space.
I am the universe.
I want to speak honestly here, but I confess that I am afraid. I am afraid of what you might think. I am afraid that I might seem weak. Still, I know I am not alone in the place where I kneel. I know there are others with the same aches, same questions. So it is with fear and trembling, yet with humility and strength that I let my heart bleed out into my words.
You see, this past week, leading up to Mother’s Day, my tiny world was flooded with questions of a woman’s place.
I preached a sermon, my first, this past Sunday and it went well. I believe that God spoke through me, that He used me to say things that my church family needs to hear. But, I grew up in a tradition, different than the one I find myself in now, that taught me that men are preachers and pastors and leaders of the church. Women lead women and children and never men. So I wrestle with my place at the pulpit even when I’m sure the words in my mouth are from The Father.
Two days prior to my inaugural sermon, I came across a post from someone I respect that reiterated what I’d learned in my youth about women taking the pulpit. Doubt flooded my mind and heart. And the questions wrapped around my throat. More than “What is my place?”, the questions were “Woman. Who am I?” With prayer, and knowing I stood also in the support of many Godly men and women, the waters of doubt subsided and I spoke in the authority of The Spirit on Sunday.
Still, I’d be lying if I said I am certain now of where I stand as a woman.
And it wasn’t only my own questions. I had conversations with two students last week about women in leadership. Women in marriage. Women in life. They came to me, with hearts laid open. Looking for wisdom. Asking for a sounding board. Offering the pearls formed by the questions turning over in their minds. And I told them what I know. And I told them what I think. And I told them what I wonder.
See, this place in history, in MY history as well as in our collective history, is tearing at the soul of woman. On one side, the quest for equality is being blamed for the fall of mankind. But on the other, the strength of woman is being lauded as the missing piece finally found. From one voice I respect, “why women should not preach” and from another, “why shouldn’t they?“.
And then there was this:
And that makes women fear growth. As a single woman, it feeds the fear that if I continue to follow my ambition, my desire to grow into the things God has wired into my soul, that I will outgrow the possibility of ever being desirable to a man. It’s a lie. It must be. Men surely cannot be so intimidated or turned off by a woman following her dreams that he can only imagine life with a woman who has done nothing but wait for him to show up.
And yet, that is the lie that is fed to us so often.
And here I find myself, wrestling with these questions, this place in history ripping holes in the universe of my soul. I do not yet fully grasp who I am as a woman. Who I am meant to be. Where I am to stand.
Here is what I know:
- I delight in what God is doing with my days.
- I cherish the opportunities He has given me to grow.
- I desire to use whatever platform He gives to speak life.
- I enjoy this season.
- I ache for a new season.
- I love adventure and dream of someone to journey alongside.
- I pray for students and friends whom I am privileged to nurture in the now.
- I weep for the not-yet of my children whom I long to hear call me mama.
See, there are mysteries within me that will never be solved by anyone other than the Life-giver. There are within me great big wondrous creations and tiny intricate slivers of life. Both light and darkness fill my skin. I am constant motion contained in the stillness of the Maker’s hands. I am a woman.