It’s been an interesting week. New president, marches, protests, a lot to process. And as I process, I am less and less ok. I’ve tried to write this blog three times, and I don’t know what to say because my head starts swimming with images of the week and confusion about what is true and what isn’t. Which way is up?
This week has more symptoms from treatment. (On a super positive note, possibly the only one in this entire blog, my cancer symptoms have mostly disappeared! Praise the Lord!) All the questions I’m asked on my weekly questionnaire are starting to make sense: My mouth throat dryness has a bad effect on tasting foods. ✔️ I have a lack of energy. ✔️I think it was last Saturday that I woke up and my mouth quit producing spit. Monday I awoke, and my throat was so swollen that if I weren’t going through treatments I would have thought I needed a tonsillectomy. Thankfully, my burns are higher in my nasopharynx , and do not make it hurt to swallow, just a bit more difficult because everything is so dry. I cannot imagine what this would be like with traditional radiation, or being treated for throat cancer. I am thankful for donors who have funded building Proton Centers around the country.
I awoke the morning of the inauguration or the morning after, it kind of all runs together. I started talking to God, asked him what he wanted to do to spend time together. I felt in my spirit 1 Peter 2:13. I looked it up – 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.- Kind of timely, huh? See I don’t agree with everything our new president says he wants to do. I’m holding out my final judgement on his immigration policy until I actually read a plan of some sort, but the things he has said in sound bites concern me, and greatly effect people I care about. I have other concerns as well, but I also disagreed with and had concerns with our former administration. So, in light of God’s leading, I am going to support our president. I will pray for him, as I prayed for Mr. Obama, I am going to use my words and actions to build him up.
The Girls… My daughter & niece visited this weekend! I needed to see them. This is the longest I’ve been away from my kids. I’m not a doting mom who can’t stand to be away, but three weeks is all I ever want. I know it would be difficult to be home and manage life right now, but I miss them! And as tough as they are, this is hard on them too. It was an interesting week to have 14 & 21 year old women around. There were marches around the country for women’s equality (at least I think that was the point). My first exposure to this was my friends who participated and posted on Facebook. I have to say, I was a little confused by the concept of feeling that we aren’t equal based on gender, but that is my life experience. I remember sitting in my dad’s lap as a little girl and he told me I could do anything a boy could do. I never doubted him. It didn’t cross my mind to think otherwise. I work for a large company, and I have never felt looked over or inferior because of my gender. In fact, my greatest advocate is male.
I don’t want to make it sound like I have never faced sexism, certainly in sports. Once, when my daughter was very small, we were with friends and the dads and kids were roughhousing. A father told her she couldn’t participate because she was a girl, and pushed her away. That hurt, a lot, but that doesn’t make the world biased against her. It makes one man, who had no sisters and no daughters unaware of how words can hurt. As a female pastor, I’ve had plenty of comments, but not as much as I expected, and I don’t consider that sexism in any way.
I have a professional organization I am involved in through work. When I started attending, I was one of three woman at the meetings. The older members used to make little comments that may have offended some (They are around Trump’s age), but it never bothered me, I just played dumb and went on with business. They respected me and treated me as an equal in business, even if they noticed I was a girl.). Those men retired, and I miss them. New people (male and female) are my peers, no comments get made, at least to my face. Now, the men in the organization play golf together and fish once in awhile, and if I want to be in that networking environment I have to be present, so I am learning to golf without cursing or throwing clubs. I don’t see me ever learning to fish.
I realize my perspective comes with generations of sacrifice. Woman have been treated as second class in our society, and I am so thankful for the men and women before me who fought for change. I was raised by a strong woman, who was raised by a strong woman. My mother golfs, and flys an airplane, directs the local health department, and went back to school with three kids to be one of the first generation of nurse practitioners. She has biked 100 miles in a day, and she walked 200+ kilometers in 8 days with me just months ago. She is an adventurer, and she taught me this along the way. She took my son to Washington DC to meet with her legislators about nurse practitioner issues they were making decisions about. I’ve seen her called, “The son her father never had,” lovingly by her brother. I’ve seen her live a life of feminity and strength. She has lived a life of equality because that’s what she chose to do, not because the rules were fair. However, her boldness, and that of women like her have paved the way for me to be me, and to live a life where I don’t feel discriminated against based on my gender.
Because I do not know what is true and what is not these days, I was researching a news post that led me to the White House website the day after Trump took office. I was there to read the top issues on the page. I was reflecting on how different Obama’s vision of what America should be is from Tump’s vision. I had a passing thought that stuck with me, “They have each come to their vision from life experience.” And I have come to my vision/ perspective on women’s rights based on my life experience. My experience doesn’t negate someone else’s, just as Obama’s doesn’t negate Trumps. They are just different, so I decided I support the march. I am thankful we have a right to assemble, and I suport people in exercising that right, even if I don’t understand their perspective. And we need to take a moment to appreciate that many people came together for a purpose and didn’t destroy local businesses or riot or injur police. Thank you for being that example. We need it.
That being said, if you wore a vagina costume or stood on a stage screaming obscenities, or threatened to blow up the White House, if you have used your influence in media for the past 20 years to make women sex objects by your behavior, then I am appalled by you, and the way you reflect on me as a woman. Our battle, ladies, to be feminine equals with men in business and life is not against Washington, it’s against Hollywood and romance novels! Wake up!
As I mentioned earlier, my first exposure to the march was from my friends on Facebook who participated or posted footage of some sort. I am thankful for that first impression because I am grieved by what followed. I cannot get some of the images out of my head. I keep telling myself that the outrageous is what makes news (why else would Joy Bahart and Whoopie Goldberg have a daytime TV program?). Right now, I am spending 1/2 hour a day strapped to a table with the scent of burning flesh in my nose trying to think of anything else other than where I am, and I am tired, so I have a lot of time to sit around and think. Monday on the table, I was processing these images. One in particular, of two women with a sign that read, If Mary had an abortion we wouldn’t be in this mess kept flashing in my head. (I’m not inserting the picture because I don’t want to further the hype, and it turns out it wasn’t actually from the march.) Upon first seeing it, my response was, “I don’t even know what to say to that.” But, strapped to the table, I found the expression. I felt hopeless like my nation was turning from God and there was nothing I could do about it.
Just in case you don’t know, I don’t do hopeless. If you are ever feeling hopeless, you need to back up and recognize that the Enemy of your life is in your head lying to you. Christ is hope! Hope is part of his character. There are 3 (actually more than 3, but I grasp these three most fully) truths to living a Kingdom live, an abundant life with joy and peace and truth. 1. Confession 2. Repentance 3. Forgiveness will turn your life around and close access to the accuser to harass you! So, I headed straight for repentance on that table, my heart full of grief and sorrow, I was reminded of Josiah, a king who did not know God’s ways because his nation was so corrupt, but who led his nation back to God through confession and repentance after hearing God’s word, and I started pleading with the Lord for mercy, that he would call us back to him and his truth.
I’ve been ending up in scriptures I didn’t like for several months, and it affected me to the point that I didn’t read as much. I kept landing in scripture about God’s judgement and I like to deny that part of things. I just want his grace, his mercy, his kindness, but justice is equally part of his person. For me to ignore that is to make him small, and right now I don’t need a small god. I need an all powerful God, one who comforts me in MRI machines, stills me when I am throwing up, and gives strength when I can’t face treatments on my own. On the table I was also reminded that God is not to be mocked. He is holy. His name is holy, and we are called to holiness as well. I was reminded of Ananias and Sapphira.
Acts 5 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
Over and over in scripture that God comes to people and wins them to him with his kindness and grace, but if we continue to ignore him, he speaks with judgement to get our attention. Because he’s a good father. As parents, we try to correct our children gently when they are out of line, but when they don’t respond, we have to be more forceful to save their lives, to grow them into mature people. Please, spend time with him this week. Ask, “Lord, what do you want to say today?” Then listen.