While commuting to work this morning, I opened my WordPress reader instead of my book of the week and read an article entitled Black and Feminist, about the writer’s journey to becoming a black feminist.
A few weeks ago, I taught a bible study lesson on spiritual metamorphosis- “dying artfully to what you were to fully embrace what you are becoming.” What a gift it is to recognize your transition while you’re in the midst of it! The awareness of change frees you to yield to the process, instead of fighting or resisting.
Reading that post this morning and thinking about my own metamorphosis reminded me of a transformational moment during my ordination. In the Baptist denomination, ministerial ordination usually involves an
interrogation interview with a council of (mostly male) pastors and other ordained clergy. My co-ordinands and I were interviewed by the council as a group. The candidates before me were asked questions like, “To what type of ministry have you been called? Are there biblical examples of that type of ministry? How did you become a Christian?” When it was my turn to bat, the first question they asked me was, “What theologians influenced your understanding of soteriology, pneumatology and eschatology?”
In the words of my friend Kan, how did we get here?
This same line of questioning continued for roughly 15 minutes with me growing more agitated by the moment. Then an older pastor from the local area leaned forward in his chair, looked me square in the eye and said, “How do we know you won’t become one of those feminists?”
I wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. My initial thought was, “How does any of us know what we will become?” Perhaps he is afraid of feminists. I am afraid of people who think they have the right to dictate what others do or do not become. Who are you to block someone else from becoming?
I am reminded of a little girl at my church who, since she was a toddler, has been a handful to say the least. She is a fireball! Some would call her bad. I don’t think so. She is smart and full of personality. She is undisciplined because she has a mind of her own. She thinks for herself, regardless of what she is told. I have been praying over her for years. My prayer is that God will align her with teachers who can channel her energy and encourage her independent thinking. I pray that God will place adults in her life who can correct her behavior without crushing her spirit, who will build her without bridling her. She drives her mother bananas and I am anxious to see who she will become.
It’s been 12 years since I faced that council and became an ordained minister. In retrospect, I think that pastor was right to be afraid, not because I became a feminist (though I am definitely a feminist), but more so because neither he nor any other person could stop me from becoming.
And doesn’t that give you hope?