Living Life As a Woman In Ministry

Archive for the ‘Etiquette’ Category

At War With Women

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I was raised by a first generation feminist. My mother broke into a male dominated field full force. Her generation was the one who shouted, “I am woman hear me roar!” Her generation demanded to be treated as equal in the workplace and not just a piece of meat, “a honey”, or “a sweetie”.  She brought to the table the intelligence to do her job and the strength to push through boundaries of race, culture, and gender. My mother used terms such as Male Chauvinist Pig to describe men who tried to objectify her and tried to take her back to where she had to use her body instead of her mind as a way to move forward in life.

In the beginning of feminism it was about equality. Knowing you were a woman, but not limited to roles in job or pay. Today feminism, like every other movement, has gone to places I can’t follow. They have created a chaos in women’s identity but the one thing they still revere and I still appreciate is that they believe intelligence doesn’t favor a male, in fact, it is equal to those who choose to apply knowledge.

So what is the deal with women today? We have decided cleavage is power. Once again we don’t feel smart enough to compete in the workplace so we use our body. There is a term that when I first heard it, made me cringe and not believe it, but I have to be honest, I am agreeing with it these days. It’s called Female Chauvinist Pig and she is empowering men once again to objectify women by issuing her own war on women by allowing herself to be defined by her body. What causes her to breakdown the work of the women who forged a path for her? Clearly, it’s a self-esteem issue. She doesn’t think she has the smarts to win the battle in the workplace. Women admittedly say they showed cleavage because mistakes on the job were overlooked. Really? So when we don’t have a brain we show our body because being objectified allows us to keep a job we aren’t qualified for? I don’t think so. Women fought hard so that a woman was viewed as a whole person and not just the sum total of her breasts.

In Kathy Shiffer’s article Cleavage=Control? I Don’t Think So, she refers to an article written by Marge Fenelon entitled Cleaveage Does Not Rule where Marge Fenelon makes the statement:

Let’s go back to the title, which suggests that a woman can and should use her cleavage as a means of control over her life. In actuality, it’s not the woman’s life she’d be controlling with her cleavage – it would be the people around her and the way they perceive her. To take it a step further, she wouldn’t really be controlling her life; she’d be controlling the way people respond to her generously-revealed breasts.

Sorry but cleavage isn’t sexy when it’s free to everyone and no one ever looked down a woman’s blouse thinking she was wise.

Seizing Power

 

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Last week I wrote about the word bossy here as it pertains to women, primarily how it pertains to me. The gist of the post was about how I don’t find the word bossy to be bad. When bossy is used correctly it is necessary.  It describes a female leader. A male is described as a boss but the role is still the same. Since I post here and I link it to my Facebook and Twitter pages I was asked about a term I used. I wrote, “I know myself and I know what I am not. I am not a usurper, meaning I don’t seize power, and I am not emotional.” So that brought about a series of questions.  What is a usurper? And then isn’t a bossy woman seizing power?

Usurp – verb -1.  to seize power by force or without legal right 2. to advance beyond proper established limits or to trespass

First we define bossy – ordering people around, overly authoritative

Notice, bossy isn’t usurping power, it’s using power given, sometimes overly using power, I call this rookie mistakes, but within a legal right. The word boss means a person who makes decisions, exercises authority, dominates. A boss has a legal right. It makes sense though that people would think bossy and usurper would be the same thing, because we don’t understand the context in which power is used, and let’s face it, we don’t like power very much except when we have it. The difference is being bossy doesn’t mean we have the right to rule over someone. It’s not the one who barks orders and is demeaning. That isn’t leadership, that’s what I call the Bull In China Shop kind of person and I’ll discuss that in a later post, this person’s style is emotional.

A person who usurps takes over without right. It’s sad when we see it and it isn’t exclusive to women. I’ve seen men try to take over as many time as I’ve seen women.

In marriage, usurping authority are things like siphoning money from the family budget to buy things we want knowing that our spouse wouldn’t approve. It basks in contradiction, and it brings about disunity.  It’s saying you don’t care what the other person wants, it’s going to be your way. It’s threatening and not caring what is best for the whole, but only what we think is best. It can be abusive.

In business usurping authority is seizing power where it isn’t given. It’s playing CEO without the earned right to be CEO. Just because there is a disagreement over a decision doesn’t mean we gossip, set up teams, poke holes in the boat and try to take over. A bossy woman, may in fact, voice her opinion but ultimately she knows where her role and responsibility begins and ends and she will back the vision up.

 

Christianity Leaves Where Facebook Begins

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It’s not as simple as deleting a post or tweet. – Jake Iversen

I took a break from Social Media at the end of the year. I couldn’t take the whining and complaining and the perfection of selfies anymore. Not just others either, my own. I found myself wanting to respond in a negative way and it was no longer fun, nor good. Social media tends to leave manners at the door, and I was no exception. I have gone back on now and I’ve decided not to engage the meanies nor be one either. Some hot topics I will reserve for dinner conversations, live and in person because I have an opinion but sometimes I need you to hear my tone.

In church for the past month my husband has said every single Sunday, that if we have an issue with a brother, we are to go to that person as directed in the bible, not to Facebook. These are the kinds of things that people see and read and cause them to call us hypocrites.

They’d be right.

We can defend nothing.

We use people like pawns, those people who know nothing about the situation rush to the defense of the person who wrote the “cryptic” message, making the writer feel justified. Those who know what’s going on begin to text and call each other. Sadly it sets up a battle right in the middle of the congregation.

Which is exactly what the person posting wanted to have happen.

They won’t go face to face and confront but

anyone can be an attacker.

And it’s not just the church I attend, or the one you attend, or the one your friend attends, this is acceptable behavior in the Christian community, just as it is in any community these days. Only for us who call ourselves followers of Christ it’s not scriptural nor does it follow the example of Christ. And we think we invoke Jesus justifiably. We’ll preface it by saying, “I’m waiting on God’s will for this situation”, or “Is God trying to tell me something?” “I’m praying about what to do.” Then we proceed with the modern day Holy War. 

So when I took my social media break, I thought about not coming back on. I didn’t want to contribute to the negative stereotypes of Christians and because I have a sarcastic sense of humor and very opinionated views, it doesn’t always translate well on paper. Even more than that, I didn’t like how it made me feel and react.

We need to weigh our words. They aren’t anonymous and you can hurt people with them. You become a publisher and it’s more than ink on a page. It’s there for as long as the Internet is around, and right now, it isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

What I Am Not

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Perhaps, when you and other girls hear bossy, you can think of leadership. Perhaps, bossy could mean someone has an opinion and is comfortable sharing it with other people. Bossy could mean someone has a plan, that someone is bold. Bossy could mean that someone is the boss, a leader!~ Helen Drinan 

There is this movement to ban the word bossy. I’m not a fan. My second grade report card stated, “Susan is extremely bossy…” The grades were straight up good. I received the award for most outstanding student, most outstanding reader, most outstanding in math. Here’s what I remember about my second grade teacher. She spoke very broken English and it was very hard to understand her. I remember asking her to repeat herself many times. I was also a rule follower. She would make a rule and then when children weren’t following it, she’d become exasperated and yell and throw chalk, but never followed through on her point system. So I’d remind her. Someone had to. The black and white thinker that I am was already formed at this age. If you said that you’d take points away if we misbehaved, then I took you at your word and felt that you should.

Bossy doesn’t bother me. Female leaders are often deemed bossy but my thought is hey someone has to be the leader. I can get things done, I work very well with others. All that being said, when my mother read the teacher’s comment to me and asked me about it, she smirked. I think she’s always been understanding of the bossy girl that was born to her. I remember explaining the issues to her. She told me to try to get along with her. I do not remember the term bossy hurting my self esteem nor making me feel less than. I know myself and I know what I am not. I am not a usurper, meaning I don’t seize power,  and I am not emotional. When this teacher would yell and throw chalk I would just watch her and try to understand why she couldn’t take control of her class. I would raise my hand and ask why she didn’t use the point system and write our names on the board. Then she would break chalk on the chalkboard writing all of our names on the board. Obviously she wasn’t bossy.

Here is where the misunderstanding of the word comes in. Men are not called bossy and weak men are intimidated by a woman who know what she wants and knows how to lead. I would never be able to married to a weak man. He would not be an equal and it would be frustrating. My husband is an easy-going, super nice guy but he is anything but weak. Everything I do in our life is discussed with him and I get the okay before I move. E V E R Y T H I N G. Some things are discussed longer than others but ultimately his no is no and his no is honored. He is great about directing me. I am heard and he explains why an idea is a go or not. We work well together because he is a visionary but I am a detailer. So when he gives me an idea, I can make it happen.

Where women like me clash is with the personality of what I call the Bull in the China Shop kind of man. They run around barking orders, and puffing themselves up. They lead by bullying. Bossy and Bullies clash. This is why women in politics and female executives get such a bad rap for the most part. I’ll let that sit.

Getting rid of the word bossy will do absolutely nothing about personality types. We need to focus on directing those bossy second graders to greatness.

Something About Absence and A Heart

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I stopped writing at the end of November. Not just here on the blog but on my book as well.

Not that I had nothing to say. Only because life got in the way. 

Familiar kid problems and a medical issue and having to face some reality moments sent me to dig deep and rather than fight it out with my words this time, I decided to take it private and pray.

Because sometimes it’s just you and God.

The stillness is a good thing.

I stopped writing and I got off of social media because sometimes things have to change and you have to get focused on the change and create new habits and ideals.

I’m back online and of course I have tons of opinions about a lot of things because, well, I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. So check back on Monday I’m going to tell you about what’s been going on!

Parenting Isn’t Weak

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The child was running around the clothing racks at a store, knocking down clothing and running into people. Oblivious mom was saying in a sing song voice that the clerk was going to “get” her child. The child would look over at the clerk and then proceed to run amok.

The teen who is having issues at home walks into church. I smile and greet them, only to hear the mother in a stern voice say, “Now! Tell Pastor Susan what you did and see if you still think it’s no big deal.”

So let me ask you a question: How secure, as a child, would you be to tell the store clerk that you lost your parent in the store and that you’re a little scared?

Then: How secure would you feel as a teen in our church to come and tell me something that was on your heart, if you thought I’d side with your parent?

When did we lose our heart as parents to our children? When did we lose the ability to handle situations ourselves? Why do we have this need to look good at any cost, including the well being of our children?

Words Have Power

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In the scope of a week in my world:

1. Paula Deen gets fired for saying the N word 27 years ago.

2. I scan over an article, deem it worthy of sharing on FB, then as I am reading it out loud, I realize it is over the top in language and I plunge towards my computer to delete the message. Too late in those few minutes a bunch of people have read it and I am mortified. I apologize for it, but too late I’ve already been judged it for and it’s fair, and I accept the blame.

3. I see a picture of one of the church guys on FB. He’s dressed in a tux and sunglasses and someone has responded about the pimp in the picture. Never mind that he is a husband and a father of daughters. The same daughters that pimps would try to exploit if they had the chance.

We all make stupid mistakes.

In the case of Paula Deen I guess my question is has she changed? Is she sorry she got caught or is she more evolved? I will never know, I don’t run in her circles. I would want my sorry to mean something though.

I have never said the N word. I wasn’t brought up in her neck of the woods. In my vicinity it’s more about the spics, the wetbacks, and the coconuts. I’ve never said those words either but I’ve felt their sting before. More lately the words seem to be sexually powered rather than racially motivated. Pimp, ho, gangsta, biatch (which always catches my attention because of the spelling). I’ve also taken note of the people who say them. They tend to be ignorant.

“So what are ya?”, I was asked while in Texas.  Ok, I tend to be more than a little sarcastic, so I replied, “a woman, what do you mean what am I?” “I know that! I mean where ya from?”  “California, third generation. I’m American. Do you want to know if I’m a Latina? Yes I am.” “I know that! What kind?” As if it would matter, “Mexican.” And there it is, the little sneer that tells me that you think I’m less than you and where I wish Alex Trebek would show up on cue and show you I am not any more or less a person, but I more than likely have you beat in my world. I get the fervor over Paula Deen’s comment. It stings.

I also see life from her perspective. She was brought up in a place and time where there was an us and a them. I’m from the next generation and don’t feel that way.  I was born in a time after desegregation and so my friends were everyone. Our generation, those who weren’t ignorant, didn’t go around calling each other stereotypical names. It was too fresh and too raw. We knew better. That’s where my generation parts ways with the generation that comes after us. To call someone the N word, a pimp, a ho, gangsta, etc… is met with distain and offense on my part because I know what those words mean and I don’t think by making them seem cool changes the meaning of the word.  The generation after me glorifies sexualization and money no matter who you have to enslave to get there.  Suddenly being a pimp and selling women to get money seems like a cool way to make a living. Until it’s your daughter.

Words. They are powerful, they mark territory, people, and more importantly show who we are. Use them carefully. Weigh them out. Would you be okay if someone called you a profiling name and then said, “oh just kidding”? Let’s be smarter. I promise to be.

The Object Of My Affection

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In  a Human Sexuality class that I took in college we studied the topic of public displays of affection, or PDA. We determined to shelf what Western Civilization deems as normal, holding hands, a kiss. We discussed the topic of making out, grabbing each other’s butts or breasts, or grinding on the dance floor. What did it say about a person? How did it make those around them feel? What was the meaning behind it?

The discussion went along the vein of it makes others feel uncomfortable when a couple is groping at each other. Until that discussion I had never really thought about what it meant. Yes, it can be uncomfortable and very inappropriate to view someone’s private life on display in public but was there a meaning there?  Then the professor brought up a thought process that I had never considered. He proposed that the groping of each other in public is actually not for the sexual pleasure of the couple but rather a branding or peeing on territory. In other words, grabbing your girlfriend’s butt in public let’s everyone know he/she is your property. Grabbing her breast in public shows everyone what little respect you have for her and what little respect she has for herself. She becomes a willing object rather than a human being. Interestingly, along comes a study in 2010 by the University of Virginia called the  National Marriage Project, it showed that couples who engage in PDA are 1.5 times more likely to end in divorce. Why?  PDA is more about performing and looking good for others than putting the needs of your partner first.

Then there was the topic of hickeys. Sucking on someone’s neck until you bruise them. Interestingly if you bruise a woman or a child you could be charged with abuse, but bruising a neck has no such connotation until you think about it. What does it speak to the world about you? It plainly says that you are intimate. For a married couple that should be a given, for a single couple that says what? It also brands you as property. One male classmate actually shared that he gave hickeys as a sign to his friends that he had gotten somewhere with that girl. Interestingly, the guys in our class thought it was trashy for a women to have hickeys, but didn’t mind giving them. So they were saying in essence that they would devalue a woman if she devalued herself. I will never forget that discussion.

Ladies, we aren’t cows that need to be branded as someone’s property. I don’t need to make out  in public with my husband to prove our intimacy with each other. Time will prove if what we have between us is real or fake.

Have you ever thought about what it says to the world when you show up to work, school, church, or a friend’s house with a hickey? It means you are someone’s object. I am not some thing. I am someone. I am a daughter of a King. I am not one who considers that a small insignificant matter. I am not defined by any man’s perspective of me. I’ve been defined already.  I don’t know, I think we’ve fought too hard to get to where we are to cheapen ourselves and let the world know that we don’t consider ourselves much.

The Joy Of Service

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I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy. ~ Rabindranath Tagore

There is something really great about service. In the deepest throws of depression it uplifts me. In the mundane day to day life, it brings excitement and purpose. In the busy hectic world in which I live, it slows it down to a pace outside of myself. I watch the expression of gratitude on the face of a recipient and it brings a feeling of gratitude to my heart. There is something wonderful in a life filled with service. What can you do to serve even one person this week? How did it make you feel?

If Only Relationships

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Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and “playfully” scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if only relationships: This marriage would be great if only  …   and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes. 

Flynn, Gillian (2012-06-05). Gone Girl: A Novel (p. 29). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Have we all not been the uncomfortable witness to this scene before? While on vacation I came across this couple where they professed undying love and showed constant annoyance while just kidding.  They sighed and bickered at each other each time they engaged in conversation, they sparred skillfully since it was nothing new to them, stabbing each other verbally, extracting the sword as if it was par for the course and laugh it off.  I sat and wondered if people realize how hard that is to watch? Do they know how uncomfortable it is for us who don’t want to play this game with them? If this is their public image, how absolutely awful must their private life be? 

One day the person wishing their If Only Relationship was something more will find their If Only Relationship is gone. Then the cry will be If Only they were here.

I am a firm believer that God will teach us daily lessons if we’ll pay attention and today my lesson was learned. Be grateful and kind to your spouse. Learn to forgive and let things go because if you don’t, you’ll end up like those two, trying to say what your heart is bitter about through public insults. 

I have to go and kiss my husband’s forehead and tell him that he is my ONLY and there is no IF about it. I accept him as he is!

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