A short blog this week as I am on the road visiting friends in Durham and attending Duke’s Pastors School Convocation. Being away from the house gives me a break, it’s true, from being a mentor/program director, but also gives me some time to think about what a truly amazing project we’re embarking on.
After being accosted by a man on the street this week telling me that what I was doing was “usurping a man’s role” and that I could be a missionary or pastor’s wife, but not a pastor, it was a beautiful thing to come home to a warm house of young women passionate about church work.
I am constantly reminded what a difficult, and yet beautiful task ministry is, which is often given an extra layer of difficulty for young women due to church language and structures that alienate women from leadership roles.
It is amazing how often I still have to fight battles in the church because I am a woman and I am one of the lucky ones. Blackburn’s Chapel UMC is incredibly beautiful, wonderful and supportive. Any opposition I encounter has not come from inside my church, but out. It’s hard to have to hold your breath every time you tell someone you are a pastor, not knowing if you’re going have to fight the woman-in-ministry battle this time, or not.
But with all of that, I have these women to come home to. These women who sit with and love on and encourage me, even as I am the one in a position of leadership in the house. Even when we frustrate and annoy each other, I know they are standing next to me. This blessing is illustrated beautifully by Toni Morrison in her book Song of Solomon:
“[Hagar] needed what most colored girls needed: a chorus of mamas, grandmamas, aunts, cousins, sisters, neighbors, Sunday school teachers, best girl friends, and what all to give her the strength life demanded of her-and the humor with which to live it.”
While we cannot forget that this story is primarily about the struggles of a young African American woman, I believe the need for this type of support system resonates with some of the needs of women in ministry. Especially young women. We need those choruses. The choruses of other women urging us on, pushing us forward, opening doors in front of us or beating on them with us. Cradling us when we are tired and rejoicing with us when we triumph. Most of all we need other women that give us strength and humor to live life.
What a blessing to have these four women beside me, praying with and for each other, encouraging each other and trying to love each other the best way we can.