In my early twenties I worked at my Full-Gospel church in the role of receptionist. Our church counselor, a woman I came to love and admire, was a strong Christian woman I’ll call Kay.
Kay was warm and kind and “full of the holy ghost.” Those who counseled with her would report answered prayer, healing, and an overwhelming sense of god’s love through her. She was, to me, the most remarkable woman of god I’d ever known.
Hearing Kay praying behind her office door was a daily event. Her compassion was evident as she cried over sin and suffering, beseeching god on the behalf of those in need. My! How I had hoped to one day be as mature, wise and spiritual as Kay.
Three years after beginning my job, my time as the church receptionist came to an end as my husband and I packed up our belongings to head for seminary and then, on to the mission field. Kay promised to undergird me with prayer and keep in touch. Years later, when my husband and I returned, I immediately made arrangements to meet with Kay.
I’d missed her so much and I wanted to thank her for her prayers but, even more importantly, I wanted to confide in her. As a minister in our church, I felt she could shed some light on my ongoing struggle.
It was becoming apparent to me that my emotional state was deteriorating. The more I sought answers to god’s patriarchal organizational structure of the body of Christ, the more I slipped down the hole of depression.
- Studying the bible only increased my pain … as god’s word was clear on the role of women.
- Prayer led to further frustration … as god remained silent on the issues.
- Studying apologetics only added more questions … as arguments turned into a game of maddening semantics.
Kay let me talk for nearly a solid hour as the pain poured out. I flipped through the pages of my bible to scripture after scripture, passage after passage where women were limited in their role, where they were abused, raped, sold and subjugated. I made my case with real life examples from the mission field and from the Christian ministry in which I’d worked while at seminary.
“I’ve been seeking after the god of love and freedom,” I lamented, “but instead, I’ve found a god of oppression and sexism and I feel so alone. Am I the only woman who struggles with this?”
She sat in front of me with eyes full of compassion and tears and with a deep breath, she squeezed my hands and said something I’ve never forgotten: You’re not alone…
“I once repented to god for being a woman.”