It will take me a while to process the event, so this post won’t be that. Except to tell you it was good.
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to share the stage with three other women and the four of us instantly became family. We each answered four questions, and our answers and stories and wardrobes and journeys could not have been more different, but we have Jesus as our common denominator. Not a single one of our stories was tied up neatly with a bow. We are all undone. Just like you, I imagine.
And, in case you missed it, here’s a transcript of my contribution to the conversation. It’s a testimony to Jennie Allen that she’d make space for this conversation at IF:
Where is God calling you to risk?
I have this crazy idea that the North American Church can figure out a way to do this faith journey without drawing lines of division and throwing up walls to keep each other at a distance. For as long as I can remember, I’ve asked this question: “Of all the organizations and institutions in America, why is it that the church can’t figure out how to worship together across racial lines?” So, God moved me to Lincoln, Nebraska — a community where only 3% of the population look like me — to serve a congregation of people who speak different languages, and who worship in ways that make me fidgety. People who represent the full spectrum of skin colors and hair textures and sexual preferences and thoughts about gender roles. God has got a sense of humor.
What are your tensions / fears in that?
My tension — on a daily basis — is coming to grips with my own prejudices and biases. Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America, and I think it’s time for us to do better than that. But, in order for that to happen, I’ve come to realize everyone has to give up something. Beginning with me. I need to be willing to be misunderstood, misrepresented, misinterpreted, and mystified. I need to be willing to let go of the traditions and perceptions and agendas I hold so dear, so that Jesus — the one who came to tear down the walls that divide — can be the head of his Church.
Some days, my fear is that I may not live to see my dream come true.
How do you fully lean into Christ?
I don’t think I’ve figured this out, yet. I feel like I’m always holding something back. But I have an image that spurs me on: When my daughter was first born—a teeny, tiny baby—my husband would sit on the couch, my daughter on his chest, her ear pressed up against his heartbeat. And my daughter would cling to my husband’s t-shirt, gripping the fabric of his shirt in her tiny, tiny hands. She clung so tightly, my husband didn’t even have to support her under her little, tiny butt. She would just hold on, her ear pressed up against his chest. And wherever my husband went, she was there with him. Just holding on. I want to be like that with God—holding on, my ear so close to him, I can hear his heartbeat, and wherever he goes, that’s where I am. Holding on.
How has this played out?
All of those things I mentioned before—being misunderstood, misrepresented, misinterpreted, and mystified—they’ve all happened. Every single one. And I have lived to tell the story. My spirit, my heart, and my will—they’ve all been broken. I’ve been unfriended, talked about, and told I’m encouraging racism rather than helping to end it. I’ve cried more tears than I care to admit, and I’ve seen a sleepless 3am from the loveseat in my living room more times than I care to count.
But God is real. And Jesus loves us. This, I know. And the Holy Spirit is at work in The Church. And because this is true, and I have seen it for myself, I have fallen head over heels in love with the Rescuer of My Soul. I wouldn’t trade the journey. Not ever. Not for a moment. Not for a million bucks.