I preached a sermon recently in which I was pegged as a radical feminist. Not just a feminist but the radical kind. The kind that no doubt burns bras and hates men. This comment was made to me with grave concern. So he said: I should be aware of how I come across. I should be careful of how I am perceived especially when I find myself in the midst of search and call.
When this careful advice was offered to me, I was initially pissed off. I held my own in the conversation. I tried to be as open and honest as I could while a piece of me was rolling on the floor laughing.
For you see, I am not a radical feminist. Not by my own definition anyway. If you happen to think that feminism is the radical notion that women are people, then you have got me pegged. I’m far left of that.
I want to believe that we can exist in a world where these labels don’t matter. But, as much as I want to believe that’s possible, I know that there are still some places where I’m a radical feminist because I use feminine pronouns for God. That was the problem with this sermon. I dared to talk about God as if she had hips that swayed and boobs that bounced as she walked through the garden. Ok, I didn’t take it that far but I could have — and I’ve been spoiled by pastoring congregations that are disappointed when I haven’t gone that far. There may not be many of these churches, but the last church I served wanted more social justice. They were impatient and frustrated when I didn’t give them more. There were some that thought I was weak or even conservative because I wanted to find some balance between the extremes.
I waited a long time for this particular call. They weren’t perfect — and I wasn’t their perfect pastor. But I waited for them because I wanted to serve a church where I wouldn’t have to worry so much about feminine pronouns. I wanted a church where I could be authentic. I wanted to be real. I wanted to be who and what I am and be able to tell the real story of my faith without having to change the words. I waited two long years in search and call before I found this church who wouldn’t be afraid that their pastor was a feminist. They actually kinda liked that about me. And it’s something I really liked about them.
On my morning run, I wondered if this was a mistake. Maybe I should listen to the wise counsel of this caring person. I wondered this because earlier this week I had sent an email to someone pretty important in the church world asking for some guidance with Beyond Acronyms. I haven’t heard back — and perhaps that is my fault. Because it wasn’t a very professional email. It was one of those rambley emails with a heavy dose of my own self deprecating humor. Perhaps not the right tone, but then I remembered what led me to be called to my last church: I want to be my most authentic self. I don’t want to have to manipulate my tone and humor all of the time. I want to try to live into the amazing possibility that I might be enough just as I am. I am not perfect and I’m not trying to be — but I am my self. I am not trying to hide anything.
I’m trying to be my most authentic self.