My Tribe

My shoes are extra squeaky as I walked through my current work floor. I wonder if they’ve always squeaked this much. This morning, I’ve taken more of a marching approach to diminish the squeaking for the benefit of the other 80ish people who sit in this section of the building. I look like a fool. This is probably the 3rd time I’ve sat at this desk. In the past six months, I’ve severed four different positions, was desk-less for 3 months only to be moved around three more times before packing up again to move across campus to the new building. If I’ve learned anything, change is constant in this neck of the woods. CONSTANT. But I feel at home here, and it’s because of the people- my co-workers who have become friends, shoulders to cry on, partners to dance with, and good life-partners have make the changes easy. I think that’ the key in this world. Maybe it’s the entire earthly planet or maybe it’s just the Silicon Valley, which seems to run as fast as the wifi around here, it’s chaotic and exhausting but people make it easy.

 

Two Fridays ago, I cancelled my Facebook event for the MS Walk… Life was going too fast and I didn’t just want ANOTHER responsibility to host, smile and pretend. After a pep talk, I sent out an email to the tribe. My people. The ones who don’t care if I smile, will help host, and will laugh with me if I stumble over my words because I’m too tired. So, on the 23 we donned matching t-shirts, loaded into 3 cars and mobbed over to Vasona Park.

 

Standing at registration surrounded by my people was an “ahha” moment for me. It’s not that I’m hanging with my friends or that they were raising money for something that benefits me. It’s that these actions said, “we stand with you against MS.” I wasn’t alone. I haven’t beat MS. Shoot, it’s gotten a hell of a lot hard since this event. But the to stand in solidarity to wear a tacky orange shirt to represent the fight I go through brought me to a keen awareness of the community of the church. I was trying to fight back tears from simply feeling overwhelmingly loved.

 

I pulled my crap together. Seconds later, I hear a group yell my name. As I turn around, I see my family standing there in another obnoxiously orange shirt with a hashtag emblazoned across it reading, “Team Tee Tee 2016.” Just as I wiped the dripping mascara from under my eyes I see them and pretty much lost it. I cried like a little baby. They drove 9 hours through the night (with a toddler) to participate at the MS walk with me.

 

NOW, it’s really my whole tribe standing next to me saying, “We choose to fight this disease with you.” Do you know how humbling this is? I’ve read scripture about community, I know familial love, but this, this was looking around and thinking, “this is the church.” It was an honor to be witness to God people being God’s people.

 

1 Peter 3 reads, “Be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” They sorta understand my disease, actively showed their love by waking up early, walking 3 miles, driving 9 hours, and financially supporting an organization that doesn’t do anything for them as an individual- all this gives me strength to keep going. Yes, I hope every damn day that I will wake up to the headline that someone found a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. But the tribe makes it a bit easier till I see that headline.

 

On Tuesday, I got the news that my autoimmune system has begun to attack my thyroid and thus threw off a bunch of my hormones, sucked all my energy from me, and kind of just gave my body a general, “screw you” approach. This is a reality of MS, it’s slowly going to destroy my body. It sucks. It’s going to get worse. But then, I called my best friend and cried on the way back to work. I texted my pastor. I showed up to my boss’ desk and asked for a hug. This is my tribe that carries me when I can’t hold myself up. THIS IS THE CHURCH. This is what makes life do-able.

 

It’s not an organized small group Bible study or Sunday morning nylons, it’s tears of joy at a MS walk and encouraging texts when life gets hard. It laughter around dinner tables, prayers in your roommates bed, it’s in the every day that Jesus seems to do his largest miracles in the life of the church.

Sinner and Saint

My sister knew what she wanted to do since she was five. A couple decades since then she graduated college, got married, moved away and did exactly what she set her mind to at five years old. In those same two decades I’ve had the desire to be president, a trapeze artist in the circus, business owner, teacher, pastor, a sommelier, and everything else. At eight years old, I would cry in my mother’s lap because I would change my life’s goals every two weeks and felt like a failure because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wanted to be like my sister. I wanted to know. I wanted to fit in a box so I could follow a specific path to end up in a specific place.

In those same twenty years (crap, I feel old being able to type that), I’ve lived life, and it’s been pretty dang great. But, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up because I feel like I don’t fit in. I want to be everything and nothing. I want greatness and to stay in the shadows. I want to change the world but also to stay content in my lot. Do I fit any of these categories? Should I fit any of these categories? Lately, I’ve been trying to align myself to be ‘the good employee and climb the ladder’ but I also don’t give that much of a shit about a career. I’ve shoved aside my desire to be a pastor because I’m tattooed, uneducated, and have the inability to behave as a Christian ought to. I want to change the world but I’m terrified of pretty much everything. I want to fit in a box. I desire to be one or the other, life would be more simple that way.

Discussing this with a friend she told me, “God loves you regardless, you’ll figure out where you fit in soon enough.” Most days, to most people, that is a gracious answer filled with love, comfort and hope. My involuntary, “fuck that” response was written all over my face. The cause of the revolt was questioning if I have to figure it out. As a Christian, am I expected to climb into one of these boxes?  Am I not a good enough Christian till I can not contradict myself? Why do some people get their box to fit in sooner than others? Why did my sister get her box at 5 years old and I’m 27 and a lost puppy? Why is the idea of fitting in a box the most painful idea I’ve thought of all week? I’m glad God loves me regardless, but would he love me more if I fit in a box?

It’s in these ‘fuck that’ moments I seem to find my most intimate moments with Christ. It’s involuntary and leaves me vulnerable trying to sort through the thousands of questions that may never get answered. Do I believe in a God and a religion that wants to put us on a path to do specific things to end up in a specific place? And till I’m on that path then we are just wasting time ’cause I can’t get my shit together?  No, I don’t, I cannot. I do not believe God loves me regardless of not fitting in a box. I believe God loves me because I do not fit in a box because that’s how He created me. God created me to be a conundrum.

I believe I can be a sinner and a saint at the same time. Life would be a LOT easier if I were just one or the other. If I were a sinner, I would know I’m destined for whatever hell I choose to believe in. If I were a Saint, I know I’d be getting a lower-bowl seat in heaven. But that’s not the God or the religion I believe in. When looking at scripture, God chose the sinners, the broken, the messed up ones to get work done. Even when He accomplishes his work through them, they go back and mess up again (i.e. Noah’s drunk dance party). I desire to fit in a box, I probably always will, but acknowledging this has also freed me to sit outside the boxes with comfort. I am still a good employee even if I still just want impact the world elsewhere; I am shy and outgoing; I am a ‘bad Christian’ and can still be a pastor. I am a sinner and a saint. I am loved by God.

5 Myths of Male Headship

Found this article from one of my favorite blogs, The Junia Project. Enjoy this writing from Kate Wallace.

I sat down across the table from her. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was excited to catch up. She was a youth pastor, one of those with an obvious call on her life for ministry.

But as I looked into her eyes, I could see she was worn out. She explained to me that she had been having some problems with her boss. She told me that every time she had a disagreement with him, he would tell her that she had a problem with “male headship in the Church”.

I sat there, shocked that a pastor would know so little about headship in the Church, that he would use it to get his way with his employees. I think I blurted out my response before she had finished her sentence:

“Yes! You should have a problem with male headship in the Church!” We took the rest of our lunch to talk through the theological error this man had fallen into.

I have to admit, since that conversation I have been on high alert for every mention of “male headship” in Evangelical churches. I have heard it in many different contexts, and every single time it was used to elevate men over women – in the family, in marriage, in the Church.

It occurred to me that although Evangelicals are known for diving into scripture and analyzing it word for word, we have failed to do this with “headship” in scripture. Someone tells us it is synonymous with “authority” and we leave it at that – no word study, no look at context, no observing original language.

This has led to 5 myths about “male headship” that have weeded their way into our theology. Although I am far from being the first to write about this, my hope is that this post will help bring false thinking to light and challenge us to dig a little deeper.

Myth #1 – Male Headship in the Church

The Bible never teaches that there is “male headship” in the Church. Yup, you heard me right. Now, the Bible does talk about headship in the Church. But do you know who takes that position? That’s right – Christ.

According to the Bible, Christ and Christ alone is the head of the Church. Men are never given that spot. In fact, to insist on male headship in the Church would be to place men in the spot of Christ, and that verges on heresy.

Sometimes people use the language of “headship” when they are actually talking about leadership in the Church. This usually stems from a specific interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, a verse that never mentions headship. This is actually a different theological topic all together. The confusion of the two topics can lead to significant false teaching.

Myth #2 – Man as the Head of the Household

Did you know that the Bible never says that the man is the head of the household? That phrase is so common in our culture, and even though some of us assume it is taken out of scripture, it’s just not in there. So what does the Bible say?

There are two places in scripture that refer to a husband’s headship: Ephesians 5.23 & 1 Corinthians 11.3. When you read them, you see that these verses are specifically speaking to the marriage relationship between a husband and a wife. They do not say that all men are the heads of all women. They also do not say that men are the heads of Christian communities.

You will also notice that neither one says that the husband is the “head of the house”. In fact, the only thing the husband is called the “head of” is the wife.

So what does it mean for a husband to be the head of the wife? Some believe it has to do with leadership, but…

Myth #3 Headship as Leadership

Did you know that the Bible never says that the husband is to “lead” the wife? People who teach this are actually giving their own interpretation of scriptures that talk about the “headship” of the husband. They are assuming that the Greek word for “head” means “leader”. This is a common assumption because in the English language, “head” can be synonymous with “leader”. But not all languages equate “head” with “leadership”.

French, for example, is one language in which their word for “head” has no connotation whatsoever with “leadership”. Interestingly, Greek is another language that does not commonly equate leadership with headship. In Greek, headship can mean “source”, as in the “headwaters of a river” (1 Corinthians 11.3 seems to be an example of this, considering verses 11 & 12 of that chapter). The meaning of “head” in Greek is usually a metaphorical one, which can be understood through context of the specific passage.

If we read these passages without bringing our Western, English understanding of the word “head” into them, they look pretty different. But then how can we figure out what “husband headship” means in scripture? The second part of that verse holds a huge clue.

“The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church…”

If we want to understand “husband headship,” then we must understand Christ’s headship of the Church. So, how is Christ the head of the Church?

Christ’s “headship” in relation to the Church is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament:

  1. Colossians 1:18 – Christ is metaphorical head of the Church, source of life after death
  2. Colossians 2. 18-19 – Christ as metaphorical head of the Church, to help her flourish
  3. Ephesians 5.23 & 25 – Christ as metaphorical head of the Church, saving her, loving her, giving himself up for her
  4. Ephesians 1:20-23 – Church is metaphorical body of Christ, Christ provides for Church’s growth
  5. Ephesians 4:15-16 – Church is metaphorical body of Christ, Christ equips the Church for growth through love

How is Christ’s headship of the Church described?

  • Giving abundant life
  • Helping her flourish
  • Saving her
  • Loving her
  • Giving himself for her/dying for her

What don’t we see in these passages?

  • authority over
  • leadership
  • decision making
  • rulership

Many other times when Christ is called the “head” of something, Scripture adds language to explain that he is also in authority over that thing. This “authority over” language is missing in every single instance of Christ being the head of the Church. 

Christ’s headship of the Church has nothing to do with leadership or authority, but with love, sacrifice, death, and giving of life. Likewise, a husband’s “headship” of his wife would refer only to giving himself up for her, sacrificing for her, to give her a flourishing life.

For clarity’s sake…
Was Christ a leader? – Yes.
Is Christ the ruling Son of God seated on the throne? – Yes.
Are those the traits of Christ that husbands are called to mimic as “heads” of their wives? – No.

This is a servant role, not a leadership one.

Myth #4 Headship as Decision Making

Fun fact: scripture does not give husbands any sort of decision-making authority over their wives. In fact, the only scripture that addresses decision making in the husband-wife relationship instructs them to make that decision together equally (1 Corinthians 7.1-6).

Let me say this one more time, because I think it’s important – The only spot in scripture that explicitly addresses decision making in a marriage calls the husband and wife to make that decision together equally.

Scripture doesn’t give the husband a “trump card” in decision making. He doesn’t get the final say, according to the Bible. If we follow the example scripture sets, husbands and wives would make decisions together, through prayer.

Myth #5 Headship as Being in the Driver’s Seat

Too many times have I heard people equate a husband’s “headship” to authority because “someone has to drive the car”. Guess what? Marriage is not a car. Marriage is a covenant relationship. Plus, you can always pull over and switch drivers.

While there were no cars at the time the Bible was written, interestingly there is a vehicular example in the Bible of what two people coming together in this covenant relationship should look like – two oxen, equally yoked, pulling a cart or a plow. They must be equal, or the cart will be pulled off course.

In the scriptural example, we are not the drivers of the marriage at all. We are the oxen. The oxen do not decide where the cart goes – the farmer does. We put in the effort to make it work, and God decides where He will take it, and what He will use it for.

Men don’t belong in the drivers seat. Neither do women. God does. Remember, we are called to live differently.

Busted

The Evangelical myths of “male headship” teach that men have some sort of authority over women in the Church, community, and home. I believe the prominence of these myths stems from a failure to study the topic thoroughly. The Bible itself does not give men an over arching authority over women. In fact, it tells us that a husband is to show his wife the life-giving sacrifice Christ showed to the Church.

The world favors men. The Bible tells Christ followers to favor others – husbands to their wives, wives to their husbands, believers to one another. In this way, everyone is sacrificially loving and being loved. Egalitarians speak to this in their theology of mutual submission.

My youth pastor friend made a great observation during our lunch together. “If Christ followers are generally called to self-sacrifice, servanthood, and humility, this grasping for male authority doesn’t seem to fit.”

As Christians, we are not called to exert authority over people. We are instructed to love, serve, and lay down our authority as Christ did.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Phil.2:5-8

The Process.

It’s been four months since joining the internship. Woah. I’ll never forget sitting down on the couch in Casa Sofia listening to Jeff’s great idea of planting a church and what we want that church to look like and my only response was, “Uh, I don’t want to plant a church with people I don’t know…” I knew God called me to the program, I knew it was going to be good, but I was scared. Patrick has since nailed my personality when he pointed out that I greatly distrust what I don’t know but as I learn, I’m quick to fall in love. It’s so true. I’ve gotten to know the people, I’ve been introduced to new theology, books, and ways of study and I have fallen in love.

The community of this group has been healing to my soul. I’ve always hated small talk (shout out to the INFJs of the world) and this group gets that. I’ve been challenged in some of my views, encouraged in others, and always loved. The example of Christ’s love and pursuing of our hearts echoes in this group. Every Sunday I get to break bread, laugh, cry, and pray with my brothers and sisters in Christ. That is a blessing I haven’t experienced in my time on earth.

Saving Acts has become my love and brain baby. It’s scary stepping into the unknown, creating a ministry, and going over seas to see if the idea actually works. I’m scared this idea may die in a few months, or even a few good years; but I’ve never been this willing to put all my eggs in the basket and pray it works. If it dies, I’ve learned some amazing skills and found where my passion to serve The Kingdom lies. If it is successful, I’ve learned more of God’s faithfulness and His provision. Either way, it’s a win-win.

This paragraph was supposed to be about my soul’s growth. Instead, I’ve stared at this screen for 26 minutes with a small smile slowly growing on my face and the inability to explain in summary how the past four months have impacted my individual faith. A story will have to suffice. Today, I was walking around a book store with my best friend looking for Christmas presents for family. We approached the “theology” section of the store and began discussing the rumors of certain authors being uber wise dudes but really crappy husbands. My response was, “that’s why I want to be a pastor instead of a… shoot…” and then ran out of the isle into another to avoid the conversation that was about to unfold. The following hour had me finally admitting my desire to enter ministry full time and to the small soft call on my heart to go to seminary. It was terrifyingly freeing. After moving home from PLNU a few years ago, I gave up the idea of a theological education and a place in ministry as a woman. In the past four months, Jeff and the others have opened some deeply scarred wounds, cleaned them out and covered them in salve. It’s been five years since I could freely say I wanted to go to seminary and be a pastor, and I said it today in a book store. That’s the best way to describe my soul growth over the past four months. I’m not sure when I will go to seminary or what is ahead in my future, but I know it’s good things. I know this internship is preparing me for what I’ve been prepared for, whatever that may be.

Courage.

We are all made different, it’s just another reason why I love God’s creativity through personalities He makes, it’s also another reason why I struggle on this planet. The ordinary life of 9-5 is the American Dream; but the ordinary is where I feel rattled, unused, boxed in, and helpless. I call this the curse of the millennial. This dream is what our generation has been taught to pursue for the past twenty years and yet we hate it. We are the generation that grew up and saw the world change before our eyes through technology. We are the CEOs of billion-dollar social media companies, the college drop outs that moved to Africa to adopt twenty children, the one who creates micro-loans for developing countries; we are the generation that gets shit done and disrupts the status quo. Our Instragrams are dotted with fancy five-dollar lattes, views from rooftop bars or beaches across the world, and perfectly staged brunches. We have access to information 24/7 and act on that information 24/7. That’s what we think the millennial life should be. It should be busy and disruptive. But it’s not necessarily that way for everyone.

Some of us find comfort working the 9-5, getting married and caring for a family [this post might not be helpful to you folks]; and then there’s some of us, myself included, that find more comfort in the constant chaos and feel more at home in a third-world country than on the couch. Today, I woke up at 5:30am, drove to work, sent a few dozen e-mails, consumed 7 shots of espresso, drove home, ate cold pizza for dinner, and I just popped a Nyquil at 8:42 because I feel a cold coming on. I’ve been doing the past couple weeks. I am living in the ordinary. It seems easy for some, but every night I lay my head down and worry that corporate America is slowly killing my soul. I’ve learned what it’s like to be courageous when sharing The Gospel in a country that hates the name of Jesus; I know what it’s like to be courageous in the hospital; I am learning what it looks like to be courageous in the ordinary. I’ve learned that it’s actually really hard.

Why does “ordinary” require courage? The ordinary requires courage because, honestly, I’m selfish. I want to go do the fun crazy adventure stuff. I want to have the fun Instagram posts at 2pm on Tuesday. I want to know I’m tangibly making a different in this world and 60 hours of my week isn’t a waste. The pride that sits so deep in my soul thinks I should be the one bathing the feet of the marginalized, not hanging out with the engineers at a social media company. I would like to say this is how I’m built; I was designed to do the crazy stuff. I carry this thought alongside the undeniable knowledge that God put me at this job, with this company, and with the dozens of others on my team. So, how do I deal with this dissonance? Prayer. A lot of prayer. I really don’t have the confidence in God like I ought to have, He’s continually faithful to give a perfect amount of grace in all circumstances but I will continue to ask for more every Monday morning when everyone else is grumpy. I pray for courage to avoid the gossip and the temptation to leave 10 minutes early. I pray for courage to stand up for the right thing and cultivate ideas that point us towards love. I pray for courage that I represent Christ well. It’s a scary world out there in the 9-to-5, but God is faithful.