I Need to Approve of Myself

I don’t worry that you won’t like me.

I am under no obligation to please all the people all the time.

I do, however, worry that you will judge my husband based on me.

My husband is a pastor. He is a strong man of faith and conviction. He has been called to plant a church where we are now, and the community that is being built continues to inspire and amaze me.

He is a man of faith and conviction.

I am a woman in the midst of deconstruction.

He and I are not the same.

Years ago, I took a brick from the wall of my identity and examined it. It didn’t look quite right to me. Now, here I sit in a whole pile of bricks. I am going full KonMari on these slabs of mud and concrete that construct who I am. I hold each one up to the light. I turn it over in my hands and in my heart.

Some of the bricks will remain. Some are in a waiting pile. I’m not sure what I think about them. I can’t bring myself to throw them into the fire.

Yet.

To get more specific, the main brick I can’t throw out is Jesus. However, the other bricks that built my religious house are scattered. That means I am going to get some stuff wrong. I am going to get other things right. I am going to do and say some wrong things for the right reasons and some right things for the wrong reasons.

I am at peace with that.

But I don’t want someone to look at me and decide my husband isn’t worthy or the church he is leading is not for them.

I am not the face of his ministry.

I am only the face of me.

Right now, I am trying to follow Jesus and that means fighting for the oppressed. I will stand up for those whom society is trying to dehumanize.

I didn’t know about the local women’s march, or I would have been there. I’m sure that triggers some of you to make assumptions about my beliefs and values. You probably are assuming right in some categories, but wrong in others.

No one fits in one little check box.

But I do fit in the box that says I am a woman and I matter. I am not comfortable living in a society that seems unfazed by our president’s treatment of women, the language he uses when speaking about us. Have other presidents behaved disgracefully? I’m sure they have. The majority of my adult life has been spent under Obama, however, and whatever issues there were with his presidency, scandal did not mark it. Should I have been concerned when Bill Clinton couldn’t keep his belt buckled? Of course. But I was just a kid back then. I didn’t understand how men in power could affect my daily life.

Now I do.

Now I know what it is like to be a woman in a world where patriarchy still holds too much sway. Now I have watched rape victims take the blame for their own trauma. I have watched men walk away from their crimes because they are good athletes or rich white boys. I have taken pictures of my friend’s bruised and battered body and known, even as I encouraged her to speak out, that her rapist would not be held accountable.

I know what it feels like to walk across a dark parking lot alone, jumping at shadows, wondering if what I am wearing could mean a jury would see me as “asking for it.”

I have traveled and seen how good we have it in America compared to how women live in other lands.

But having it better than someone else doesn’t mean we rest on our laurels and trust the status quo. Because Iran used to be a land of liberated women. Read Reading Lolita in Tehran if you want to know more about that. Iran was a land where women were professors and dressed as they liked and lived their lives and then one regime came through and changed everything.

So I know my comfortable situation could change right before my eyes, and I know that my status as a white women has afforded me privilege that my sisters of color don’t have. My status as a heterosexual cis woman has afforded me privilege that other women of all walks have not been afforded.

So I will use my privilege to speak. I will use the voice God gave me to say the words I believe are right and true and just.

I cannot be at peace with myself and with Jesus if I am not seeking justice with everything I am.

My mother told me I should be praying for Donald Trump, and I assure you that I am. But I won’t use prayer as a cop-out either. If my own son behaved the way our president has behaved, I would pray for him. Yes. But I would also set his rear end straight and remind him how he was raised and I would not enable him.

I have told my boys as much. I have told them that if they ever treat a woman like the Stanford rapist did, I will not speak up for them in court. I will visit them in jail and pray for them and love them, but I will not let them off the hook of consequences. I will not let them behave that way BECAUSE I love them.

And I love America. I love the hugely diverse population of America. I love the mix of cultures and languages. I love the focus on freedom and equality. I love my country too much to enable its demise.

I hope, even if you disagree with my methods or my convictions, you who know me will hear my heart.

But if you don’t, that is okay too. Twenty years have passed since I was the gawky girl who needed to be approved of in order to have peace.

Now?

I need to approve of myself.

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2 thoughts on “I Need to Approve of Myself

  1. The latter part of this is exactly why I am doing equalities and diversity training in my role as a school governor next month, before I step down the month after. I understand the privileges I have that are mine as a result of my skin colour, my professed faith, my place of birth, the fact that I still claim the gender assigned to me at birth and so on. And I do not rest on that lightly.

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