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?”

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.

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.

Guest Post: The Redemption of Repetition

History repeats itself.

We’ve all heard it our whole lives, usually said with a sigh of resignation or a hint of disdain.

Tied up in this refrain we hear a note of condescension directed toward those poor, unenlightened people who came before us. They didn’t realize what we know so well, and because of their ignorance, history did, in fact, repeat itself for them. Time and time again.

Re-Imaging: Can Women Re-Image the Church?

God is a man.

You’re causing men to stumble.

Women can’t/shouldn’t be pastors.

You’re not enough for your family.

The man is the head of the household.

You’re too emotional.

Whether we learn it in church, from our family, or in all the subtleties of society, we have our limiting beliefs about ourselves that repeat and repeat. They are personally tailored to hold us back. So much of what I want to do with this blog is Re-Image these inane platitudes in religion and faith practice. Along the way I have found that these defeatists thoughts extend beyond religion into our psychology as well. This post is a bit of personal growth and spiritual work as a result.

Sisterhood of Faith: Sarah with an ‘h’

In the typical Western Christian church we hear a lot about the “patriarchs” – Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph- of the faith. We don’t really get a chance to hear the stories of the women leaders of our faith, the Matriarchs of the Jewish and Christian tradition. This isn’t really that surprising as we seldom hear much about women in the Bible in general, unless of course they are pure and virginal or considered to be a prostitute.