Our Whole Selves

Our Whole Selves

When I joined the board here at Rise, Holly asked me to give her a bio that she could share with the other board members. I cringed as soon as I read her email because I really hate writing bios. There's such a fine line between being accurate and aspirational. It's equally difficult to strike a balance between demonstrating pride in your accomplishments and arrogantly bragging about them, and I really struggle with saying something positive about myself sans caveats or qualifiers. I wanted to include something about books and coffee, because other than Jesus, what more does a girl need? On top of that, one of my love languages is sarcasm and I wanted the bio to show that I have a sense of humour.

I was stumped, so I asked a bunch of girlfriends with whom I have a group chat for advice. These women are all either writers, editors, ministry leaders, and/or currently serving vocationally in churches. They are my favorites. They offered some helpful suggestions, but at the end of the day, I still had to write the darn thing. So after writing and rewriting, cutting and pasting, and a lot of procrastinating, I sent my girlfriends what I'd come up with. I thought it was decent, but knew they could make it better.

They recommended some edits to make it more readable and said that I'd done a good job of making it sound like me. I was pretty happy with it, so I sent it off to Holly.

Then, one of my girlfriends came back to me separately and challenged me on what I meant one particular sentence: "Andrea...empowers women to bring their whole selves—body, mind, heart, and soul (but especially 'mind')—to the table". As she put it, there was "too much Christianese". And she wasn't wrong. I'd used Christianese as a shorthand for what I was trying to say.

Here's what I was getting at: I want to help women to stop censoring themselves, to realize that being feminine and displaying your intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive, to recognize that emotions can be both helpful and detrimental, and to acknowledge that our bodies are more than just things that carry our brains around.

In a piece for Christianity Today, Tish Harrison Warren wrote, "Many of us internalize false messages about the nature of meekness, humility, and femininity that cause us to self-sabotage and devalue our own callings." I want that to end.

I want us to know our God, our Bible, our doctrines, and our theologies so well that we recognize those false messages for what they are and combat them with Truth. I want us to stop equating meekness and humility with silence, femininity with a lack of intellectual depth, and emotions with superficiality. I want us to stop thinking of our bodies as burdens to be endured, as challenges to be overcome, as objects that are inherently dangerous. I want us to realize that we are healthier and stronger and more powerful when we embrace our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls; when we use every bit of who God created us to be for His glory.

I want us to stand up and use our voices, to believe that our perspectives are not inherently less valuable or worthy of consideration because we're women. I want us to know beyond a shadow of doubt that we are capable of intellectually rigorous theology.

I want us to celebrate the incredibly wide spectrum of what it means to be feminine. We are neither relegated to, nor must we eschew heels, glitter, and decorating. If you love that stuff, own it. If you'd rather watch football, own that. If you want to do both in one day, be my guest. Whether you look like you just stepped out of an Anthropologie catalogue or couldn't find your way into one of their stores with Google Maps, you're still inherently, beautifully feminine.

Let’s stop drinking the Kool-Aid of cultural expectation—both inside and outside the church—and letting it dictate the boxes we force ourselves into. Instead, let’s look at what the Bible says about women and men, and clearly delineate between Word and the world. It won't be easy, but I can guarantee it'll be worth it. I want to see my sister and my girlfriends and the women around me walk into that freedom. But more than that, I want the next generation of women to be raised in it. I want the thought, "I can't do that, I'm a girl", to never cross their minds.

Holly asked me why I wanted to be on Rise’s board, but I didn’t entirely have the words at the time. This is why. I believe Rise is helping women walk into this freedom, into the fullness of who they were created to be and what they’ve been called to do. I am so proud and deeply honored to have joined this ministry. I believe in these people, I believe in this mission, and I believe in you.

So, to go back to that line my girlfriend challenged me on, I really do want women to bring their whole, integrated selves to the table. Because I think we can change the world if we do.


Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

An Open Home

An Open Home

Spend, Save or Give

Spend, Save or Give