Last weekend, I marched on the streets of my town in support of the giftedness of women. Okay, so that's a bit of a stretch, but I DID take advantage of one of the most glorious fall days ever to walk the half-mile or so to my church to attend a "town hall" meeting to share my thoughts on women holding the offices of elder and deacon.
As I crunched through newly fallen leaves and enjoyed the warm wind that blew through the cooled air, I prayed - a lot. I asked God to bless my words, to keep my nerves at bay, and to help me speak clearly. I prayed that I be a little bit funny, disarming, yet convincing, and not come off as some raving, fringe feminist hell-bent on empowering women at all costs.
I prayed that he'd help me share my story of my high school catechism teacher (at this same church) who told us it was a sin for women to go to college (what a waste if you're meant to stay home, he said!), and how much it shaped the teenage me when my church immediately barred him from teaching and affirmed and valued my gifts and gender. And I prayed that God would use the men who currently sit on our church's counsel and who will be voting on this issue to hold open the door for the women of our church.
I thought of how it was Carolyn Custis James, one of Gifted for Leadership's editorial advisors and author of Lost Women of the Bible, who put these words into my head: that it is very often enlightened men who hold open "doors" for women to walk through (and that we need to appreciate what they have done for us). When Carolyn first threw this thought out there, I couldn't help but smile. My mind flashed back to my, well, raving, fringe feminist days in college and early in my career when the idea of a man holding a door open for me - literally or figuratively - actually offended me. We can open our own doors, thank you very much! (Since then, I have tempered my emotions - though not necessarily my beliefs - and realized how silly it is that good manners could be offensive.)
As I walked, I realized the power of her wisdom in - and also the necessity of - showing gratitude to the very men who've held doors open for me - and all women. They've been instruments of God and should be recognized as such. Plus, it keeps us from focusing on those whom we see as "roadblock" in our lives. So as I got closer to church, I thanked God for my dad, my husband, my teachers, professors, bosses, friends - the list goes on and on of men who've helped me get where I was meant to be by opening doors of encouragement, wisdom, and opportunity.