Category Archives: Faith

Equality In The Church

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*This blog post was submitted to The Junia Project for a blog contest. You can find out more about the Junia Project at http://www.juniaproject.com

Women’s Equality in the Church aka There would be no church without strong women

Countless women are named in the Bible and esteemed by God and Jesus in both the Old and New Testaments. Growing up in very conservative congregations, I could only read about these strong women because women were given minor roles in the living church.

While girls in the church weren’t always explicitly told what our roles were to be, they were mostly unspoken. It was just assumed that we would be in relationships where the man was the head and women ultimately did not have much say. We were told to dress chaste as to not tempt men in the church but men were not told to be respectful of girls and women as to not enter into temptation.

The first missionary I ever met was a girl who spoke about her mission to Japan. I don’t remember what the missionary shared but at that time, I knew that I wanted to be a missionary no matter what. No one asked me when I was young what my plans were but I was ready with an answer if ever I should be called upon.

From a very young age, I assisted and took care of children, from babysitting, to nursery, to teaching Sunday School, AWANA ministry, you name it, if it involved children, I was there helping out. This service to the church extended to my late twenties.

When I transferred to college to finish my Bachelors degree in Christian Ministry, I was just sure that I would end up doing some sort of ministry somewhere. I assisted informally with my church’s youth ministry and when a more formal position became open I found myself not selected in favor of someone who had a better look (but not theological studies or even youth ministry experience). In that moment, I was so devastated that I knew I was having a mild heart attack (it was one of those votes that came before the whole church). That became a defining moment for me not just as a woman but as a Black woman. Many women in the Black church are able to hold the position of minister but are often not tasked with major ministerial duties. I knew that it would be more like Children’s Ministry although I applied for Youth Ministry positions as well. As I applied for ministry positions, I ended up getting one interview at a local congregation for Youth Ministry. Well, I did not get the job. In fact, I think I was just interviewed for the position because there weren’t many applicants. At that moment in time, I knew that there would never be a place for me in ministry and I stopped trying. I completely gave it up. Here I was with a newly minted degree and nothing to show for it (the true story of my life). I later segued into education and faced other hurdles and barriers which would be a whole other blog post.

As long as I have been a member of a church, women have been regulated to supporting roles (until I met women Presbyterian ministers). It took women ministers to reaffirm to me that truly God calls all of us and not only that has given us all gifts that can benefit all who need them. In contemporary churches, women preachers are some sort of enigma who has massive followings and money to basically do what they want (as long as they don’t go too far ala anyone who has a strong opinion that goes against accepted church teachings).

Continuing to relegate women to second class roles not only in the church but in society perpetuates a standard of living that is not only un-Biblical(if we are truly living out Christ’s teachings) but also weak. Because without the inclusion of strong women in positions of leadership not only in the church but also in society, we continue to set a disastrous example for future generations that will not have as strong of an impact on the world than an egalitarian position would. When I read the Bible, I see men and women as equal because that is what God teaches. Equality in the church is not something that we can continue to wish for and hope for some time in the future, it is a standard that we have to uphold now in order to move forward in a direction that will be empowering for both men and women.

Perpetuating inequality in the church is a true bastardization of God’s word and anyone who continues this practice will have to ultimately answer to God for it. This does not mean that these views should be allowed to have such a loud and smothering voice in the church, but rather, the views for equality and justice have to speak even louder, even when it hurts.

 

2016 What About Your Friends?

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I was wrong. A few things had happened and I took them to be something different then what they were. So I proceeded to talk about a friend behind their back. I did this instead of talking to my friend about it. Well, of course what I said went back to my friend and they were hurt. I figured as such and I reached out to apologize. I felt bad. I was wrong for what I did.
So my friend told me how much I hurt them. I was devastated about what happened. So my friend said I needed to make a public apology and guess what? I did. My friend means more to me than the people that I was talking to and even if our friendship is never the same, atleast they know where my heart is. I also know that I have to reevaluate my friendships. Maybe the truth is that I consider everyone to be my friend but in reality I don’t have any. Don’t let my Twitter or Facebook followers fool you. I probably have more associates than anything. At this point in my life even though it makes me sad, I have to be okay with that and I will. So many people underestimate me and cannot begin to understand the pain that I have felt in my life. And again that is okay. People may have to be hard pressed when I go mute because I’m really really good at it.
At the end of the day you have to ask yourself what and who matter. There is no point in letting people get me down just because it is easy. But oh it is so easy. So I’m going to go through the motions just to get through because that is important to me. Maybe it is much less important that my voice be heard because in a vaccum of white noise everything cancels out anyway. I’m very disappointed in myself for believing that things were different. I only had a few friends growing up and I don’t even have them now.
So here’s to me learning a lesson in being quiet.
Peace

2016 When Everything Turns Up Roses

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Hey y’all. I hope this finds you well. If not, I hope you feel a little better after reading. Why? Because you deserve to feel great. I know it sounds cheesy, but once you start telling yourself what you deserve, you start feeling better. Now this may get a little bumpy as I tend to go all over the place(just like my writing, and another reason why revision is a great thing, not something to fear or hate).

First things first, this semester is going awesome. Like I totally turned things around in Stats(and each class session is even more awesome). For instance, last week we began a conversation about multilevel modeling and I am telling you it was like poetry. Pure mathematical poetry. Every day I realize that I love math(a lot).

Second, I got an awesome job. Like it is so awesome that I still can’t believe it. I just can’t believe that I have this opportunity. The people that I work with are great. I get to work on real world projects. I am in a good space.

Third, every single conference that I submitted to, I was accepted. I still can’t believe that people want to hear about my work and what I have to say. So, a lot of people are proud of me and I have been given permission to be proud of myself. I am. I am.

Fourth, everything is working out wonderfully, so for the first time in a long, long time, I have no drama. Yep, you read that right, no major drama in my life(or the dancery quoting MJBlige). What does this mean? It means that I have a lot of time to make up my own internal drama(filled with over thinking and wondering where Prince Charming is). But I have an amazing support group who nudges me and jostles me out of the drama cloud and I am on my merry way again.

So, I plan on doing a better job of writing on here. So, be ready for a bunch of stuff because I have a lot to talk about(or be ready for a little bit of stuff because I might get busy lol). Who knows, let’s just be optimistic and hope for the best.

I am hoping for the best in all things. Even though I am turning that big scary 3-5 in a few months, I am going to be optimistic. Even though it seems as if Prince Charming lost all of my contact info, I am going to be optimistic. Even though there are a million things that I cannot change, I am going to be optimistic. Because really at the end of the day, I have no other choice.

Peace, love, and light y’all 🙂

 

2016 Gratitude

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    Hey y’all! I just wanted to post some good stuff. With all that is going on in the world, I don’t think positive vibes hurt anything.
In line with the year of yes, I accepted a super cool job. My family is proud of me. My friends want me around. I am doing well in my classes.
     I know that doesn’t sound much but it means a lot to me.     No I haven’t met the great love of my life yet but I still manage to smile at the world. I’m trying to be the change that I want to see in the world and on most days, I think I’m on the right track.
    It seems like everyday I have an epiphany about something and I’m humbled. I know that my journey is only through the help and strength of a ton of angels on Earth.
    I got to hear my sponsor’s experience, strength, and hope tonight and I know that God blessed me with her awesome example of living life on life’s terms. I have had the opportunity to hear so much wisdom from my professors and I’m blessed to learn from them.
    So I’m just a bundle of gratitude because when we talk about the promises, I know that I didn’t envision anything that even remotely looks like my life today.
   I’m grateful for you taking the time to read my roller coaster of a blog.
Thank you!

2016When God Says No

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Hey blog readers. Hope you are doing well. I am actually doing pretty well(that’s an understatement) but I want to discuss a few things that are on my mind. Let’s just say that 98% of life is going well for me right now. It’s the other 2% that I am still processing.

So, I know that I talk a lot about mi vida loca particularly when it comes to guys and relationships. What I am about to say, just pile it on top of the loca hot mess pile called Gemma’s love life(aka no life). Let me tell you a story. It’s true. Names are being protected to spare the guilty. Okay, so here it goes. A long time ago(over a year ago), I met someone. Let’s call that someone Mr. Fire. Just go with it. Mr. Fire is nice, charming, handsome, and would potentially fit the list of good on paper. Mr. Fire asks me for my number, which I give to him. Mr. Fire calls me. Mr. Fire texts me. Mr. Fire emails me. Mr. Fire always checks for me. Mr. Fire takes me out to a bookstore where we have interesting conversation because that’s what you do with Mr. Fire. Let’s fast foward to a more recent time. A friend mentions, Oh, Mr. Fire is married. I’m like Oh, okay. That’s interesting because Mr. Fire has never 1)worn a wedding ring 2)spoke of a wife 3)mentioned being married and this is why Mr. Fire is Mr. Fire.

Let’s just say this is where God steps in. Because in recovery we talk about God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Well, God showed up and out. It was finally revealed that yes indeed Mr. Fire is married(with kids) and that’s how you know God speaks through people. So, what did I do? I deleted Mr. Fire out of my phone and tried not to explode when everyone that I mentioned it to, put the onus on me and what I did or didn’t do. Because apparently, men can do no wrong, even when they are dead wrong and everything will always be my fault. For the record, I never did anything tawdry with Mr. Fire.

In another weird turn of events, an old acquaintance(like someone I know of) saw me and asked me about my ex(because people who remember us together only know how to ask me about him for some reason). Well, he said that my ex is back and closer than before. So I have been trying not to freak out(I’ve been praying about it) because my head is like “Yep, he wants to kill me”. People close to me have told me that maybe he has changed(which is possible). But I just don’t even want to see him.

I got Mandy Hale’s new book and she talks about not dating for a year(which is something that I keep telling God about or rather He keeps telling me that that is basically the situation). I’m not sad about it, I just wish that I could just be completely turned off(if that makes sense). Like, no crushes, no nothing.

Thanks for reading

 

2016 The Year Of Being Open To Life

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Hey blog readers and viewers. I hope you are having a great new year so far. I know I am. I told God and the universe that I wanted to be open and a lot of good things have come my way.
     I had two interesting job interviews this week. I hope to hear a good word soon. Classes started back in my doctoral program. I don’t think I have been more excited about a semester. Anxiety aside, things are looking up. People are showing interest in my research. I’m getting amazing feedback and that’s great fuel to keep writing.
     I renewed my gym membership so now I have to go. I’m going swimming tomorrow. I have been getting in some good workouts.
     I met someone. I know it’s early but it is so interesting. We are getting to know each other. We spend time talking. He seems to be into me. Which is surprising. I already laid down the law. He knows where I stand. So even though things feel great, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think he is intrigued because I’m not looking to hookup. I’m also very honest.
     We are using SAS this semester and I had to get another laptop and amazingly found one for just my price and all I need. I’m calling it an early birthday/dissertation gift.
     I feel like I’m in a really good place at the moment and that’s great. One funny thing is that now that I found someone to be interested in, all of these other people that I was interested in before have all made a point to reach out to me. One day I was thinking about how many guys may still have my number in their phones. I know that’s an odd thought.
     But whatever happens, it’s nice to have someone to think fondly of and know that someone is thinking about me too.
Well I better try and get some sleep.
May your tomorrow bring even more joy than today 🙂

2016 Defending The Reality Of Poverty

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So for those who may or may not know, I quit my job a few weeks ago. It wasn’t because I was like oh hey I don’t need a job anymore. There were some changes going on at my job and due to a lack of communication(which was continually documented) and having to rely on the bus as my mode of transportation, I had to quit my job. Everyone knew this, no one was left the dark, they just chose to act surprised when it happened.

So I applied for unemployment(as we all have a right to do). When you apply for unemployment benefits, you have to have an interview which requires you to answer questions related to your case. Well, the interviewer asked me questions related to my commute and related to my mode of transportation. First I had to break down my actual commute by time and miles. Second, I had to reiterate that these proposed times were never concrete. Then, the interviewer  asked me how long I had been without a car.

For the record, I have not had a car since 2010. Not because I don’t want one. Not because I can’t drive. Not because I don’t have a license, but because I cannot afford a car. So my main mode of transportation is the bus. Which works pretty well during the day but some sort of switch flips at night and it is only good in certain parts of town. Our city is shaped like  a wagon wheel and most of the buses only cater to four sections of the wheel.

At the end of the interview, the interviewer mentioned that not having a reliable mode of transportation would hinder my unemployment benefits. Which made me think that many, many poor people are unable to access their unemployment benefits because of the fact that they are too poor to afford a car.

It also brought up the usual of people who have never been in poverty not being able to understand the reality of what it means to be in poverty. Yesterday a friend had to drive to my place to leave a note for me about this interview because there was no way to reach me without my phone. All of these things add up and don’t help those who are already down on their luck.

Here’s to new jobs in the New Year 🙂