IF: Gathering 2018 – Jennie Allens’ vulnerable confession of doubt

My woman’s group hosts an IF: Gathering each year where we join thousands of women across the world for a weekend of powerful speakers and calls to action (IF is a Christian conference, for more information click here.) This was my second year attending, and after the year of spiritual growth I’ve had, I honestly wasn’t sure if the messages would resonate with me in the same way they had in the past. I approached the weekend cautiously optimistic but with very real reservations.
Friday night we watched remotely as Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering shared her personal struggle with 250,000 women worldwide. She asked us: “What is the darkness that comes against you that threaten the flame of your faith?”

Sisterhood of Faith: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Judith with the Head of Holofernes,  I was enthralled. Who was this woman? One hand grabbing the hair atop a decapitated head, her other holding the knife, and an expression that dared you to ask her what she had done. Her face so determined, her skin so pure,… her dress so clean for having just cut a dude’s head off.

Great Suffering and Great Love: The Tension of Faith

This may come as a surprise to no one- but I identify very strongly with Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet of the Christian Old Testament. I feel things- suffering specifically-so very deeply I am sometimes paralyzed. A simple conversation with my husband about gender roles and careers has had me sinking into a quick sand of thousands of years of patriarchy and “this is what we do to women” in a matter of minutes. And before he knows it I am sobbing for all the women of generations past with unrealized dreams because they were unfortunately born with the wrong sex organs. I can hear a sermon with only male gendered pronouns and find myself weeping for girls being sex trafficked in countries 1,000 of miles away- the connection so clear to me it pumps through my veins and leaves me exhausted from pain.

You Stepped Down into Darkness: Suffering & Psalm 44

This week my hometown community lost someone very special-my childhood pastor, my only pastor, really. A man who was exceedingly loving and kind and passionate. He devoted his life to his church and to his faith. His family was a pillar in the faith community. He was the type of father a fatherless daughter couldn’t help but envy.

When I finally allowed myself to feel the loss it came in waves. My sadness and heartbreak turned into confusion- How? How could this happen to someone who was so faithful? If anyone deserved healing it was this man. If any family deserved a miracle it was this family.

This loss came on the heels of a rather rough few weeks for me. You may have noticed I’ve missed a few scheduled posts. Been a little absent. A little off the radar. I’ve brushed it off as “being in a funk”  or “seasonal depression”- and that’s probably part of it. But underneath that is something more.

And Woman, made in the image of God said “Me too”.

When I was 14 years old I went to the beach with some friends from my youth group. Once unpacked, we laid our towels down on the sand and spread out, soaking up the glorious Florida sun. We laughed, passed fruit around, and talked about Jesus.
About 30 minutes in a man came up to us. He pointed up to the pier and told us that there was an old white dude taking pictures of us. When we looked in the direction he was pointing we saw the man quickly put his camera away and walk briskly in the direction of the parking lot.  How long had he been there?

“For you’ve wrestled with The Divine”

Ever hear of Bluma Zeiganick? Yea, I hadn’t either until a few months ago. Bluma Zeiganick was one of the first women in Russia to go to a University. Upon graduating she became one of the first female psychologists in the world. Our dear Bluma discovered the Zeiganick Effect which links memory to incomplete tasks (and she had the audacity to name it after herself!) Basically, your brain remembers uncompleted or interrupted tasks, going back to them again and again.  You haven’t finished the laundry, you’re about to fly across the country, and so it stays on your mind all day. Conversely, once you cross an item off your list you’re less likely to remember having done that task. Perhaps this answers why so few of us can remember what we did the other day, but we can remember what we still need to do.

All Truth is God’s Truth

During my first year of college, I had an 8am (!) Biological Anthropology with the intimidating, serious, not-messing-around, Dr. Madrigal. She would start each morning with a fierce  “It’s 8 o’clock lets begin” and boy did she.
It was from this formidable woman I first really learned about evolution. I had gone to a Christian school growing up, so all of my experience with the subject had been focused on poking holes in evolution and trying to convince us science was the devil.