Repentance and Reconciliation

shutterstock_539861749I am going to write this piece and then take a break for awhile. I have been taking on a lot of pain lately. What many of my friends do not know is how closely I have been watching the SBC on Twitter. I have been investigating, because the amount of abuse that has come out of their organization (as well as the Catholic Church) should have us on our knees in mourning, but it isn’t happening. Abuse apathy is something I noticed in church in 2016, and what almost sent me away from church forever.

Something that has bothered me in church is our inability to go all in with the truth. We think there are always two sides, and if we are angry then we are unforgiving and not extending grace-or we may become what we fear. I agree all of this can happen, but let me tell you this – I am not worried about that for me because my focus is on my faith in Jesus Christ, not being right. If I err, I am more than willing to apologize. I have laid myself out there to make mistakes, but I have also built a reputation of one who is seeking truth. I am not looking to tear down because my feelings were hurt. I worked years through my pain to get to this point.

There are some things I am going to work on in my break. I am going to explore ways I can call out abuse in organizations without making generalizations. What I would like from my friends who know me is to explore maybe untangling ourselves as being accused because we were-or are- a part of that organization. I lament church all the time, but I am still a part of her. I believe in her, and I know who she could be. I will call her into account when she is harming people. In the same way I expect to be called into account if I am causing harm. That is what living in community is all about. But I hope that we are more of encouragement than calling into account people. That is another downside to church in America as well. We do not build people up. Wilshire is the first place I have experienced such encouragement.

The SBC – we cannot overlook it. What they have done is organized crime. This doesn’t mean nothing good is coming out of the SBC, nor that lots of good has come out in the past. Of course good has come. The Bible is full of problematic stories, but love still finds a way. But right now the SBC is in a state we should not be defending in any way. And those a part of the SBC – I am asking you to call this organization into account. We aren’t calling out people, but powers and principalities. Women, children and men have suffered so much abuse. Abusers were moved around from church to church – using church autonomy as a way to avoid accountability. It was a good-ole-boy system. Loyalty got you everywhere. If churches affirmed women or gay preachers – church autonomy was not ok. They have a creed called the BFM2K in place to call everyone to uniformity in these cases.

Calling out crime doesn’t negate all the good that has happened. I am going to say this again. But Spirit isn’t having it anymore. The SBC convention proved they are not taking the abuse seriously. Their language on women and LGBTQIAPLUS is getting worse. They used a gavel to open the convention that was a gift from a slaveholder. And they have not appointed a minority leader yet. Plus, the BFM2K does not have Jesus as the hermeneutic (lens to read scripture), and they are calling themselves a christian organization. They have made Jesus a mascot, and that mascot is hurting people. We need to be aware of what is happening in our faith when people say they are hurt, but we see the abuser get the benefit of the doubt time and time again. Once again, I am calling out power and principality – not people. I believe tons of faithful people are in this organization. I can’t say that enough. Many are my dearest friends.

Many are unaware how rare it is to hear a woman’s pain spoken in church. This is why Wilshire was a balm to my soul. My pain mattered.

We cannot reconcile if there is no repentance. The Jewish faith has helped me understand christianity’s weak posture on repentance. I am going to link Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg’s article explaining repentance from a Jewish tradition. Christianity (and I hate to make generalizations, but what do you do when this seems to be the overall experience of the masses) tends to skip right to forgiveness. The one who does harm gets a pass, and the harmed continues to hurt – and their pain gets re-traumatized by the church not weeping with them/us. “You just need to forgive” “He did not mean it that way” “This happens everywhere”…the list goes on. These are hurtful statements people who have experienced abuse hear.

I know we are still in the infant stage of christianity. Our faith isn’t that old. This is why drawing from other faith traditions would be wise. We have a problem in our family, and we need outside help.

There is no reconciliation without repentance.

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/06/04/women-of-faith-danya-ruttenberg

Heartbreak

shutterstock_1022245885.jpgI have tried to write another blog post over and over. Words keep failing me even though I have a thousand thoughts I want to write down, but I can’t seem to type anything of substance. The past two posts (Why Can’t We Be Friends? 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement) have taken so much out of me, and I haven’t had anything more to give – other than Facebook posts or tweets. I think I am now on empty.

The SBC continues on without remorse. Oh, words of anger might be said, but the actual heartbreak isn ‘t happening-and doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon. The lack of feelings from everyone hurts me the most. The BFM 2000 brought to light what the actual problem is, and I have been a mad woman trying to share it with anyone who will read it. I got get Pete Enns to read it! And he commented that I did a great job- and I am doing exactly what needs to be done. That is huge! Pete is a big deal to me. “The Bible Tells Me So” is a book that drastically changed my outlook on life. Turned night to day. God is good all the time. And that phrase doesn’t feel like a cliche now. I believe those words. I bought ten of his books (I had no money to do this), and I passed them out to anyone who would read them. It was life or death for me.

Marlena Proper Deida Ramos Graves, a Latina Professor, author and missionary to Am. Church also reached out to me. She told me that she saw me. She said God sees me. She said maybe I needed to know God saw me by her letting me know she sees me. This gave me fuel I desperately needed. She is a beautiful soul you need to know. Tender, kind, honest and full of all the love in the world. I am grateful to know her on Twitter. She told me to keep speaking. It may take years, but shunned voices are heard eventually. She has seen voices that seemed to be winning fall unexpectedly.

I have shared the BFM 2000 blog post I wrote over and over with so many people. This is not something I normally do. It was scary for me to do, actually. David Dark, an author – professor- and justice-fighter, taught me persistence. When you see something as a gospel issue, then don’t stop until they listen. It is a gospel issue to me, because we are trying to argue faithfully as christians with an organization claiming christianity and do not have Jesus as their lens for scripture (hermeneutics). Jesus is the whole point of the gospels for crying out loud. I am listening to people say the SBC situation seems demonic – it is. It is the highjacking of a faith organization for power. Getting people to listen is really hard. We have to adjust our approach.

I don’t know what needs to be done knowing this, but I know trying to argue Jesus is failing. All they can say is Paul and Timothy’s names. No amount of pain or abuse is working either. They are still making sure women can’t preach. Even the ones kind of fighting for women’s voices are doing so because Beth Moore is a big name. I doubt they would be moved otherwise. I want them to prove me wrong. But even with Beth, their arguments fall flat. Not bold enough. They are still treating us like children needing their approval to preach. I am over it.

Al Mohler said he never thought he’d see the day outside forces would go after them on complementarianism.  Well, Al, I never thought I would see the day I would have to fight my own faith for my right to exist fully in the faith community-and that my pain matters. I am still grappling with this. (Thank God for Wilshire Baptist Church). Here is another thing, Al, my freedom came by accident. I left where I was because I could see exclusion of anyone was demonic. Turns out I wasn’t free either. I could not see. I was so overtaken by the narrative, and could not feel the oppression-until I fell apart. I had to ask someone what was wrong with me when I could not feel ok anymore. I could not insert myself back in either world I was in previously – soccer or church. I felt weird all the time. A former pastor told me I was grieving. I had no idea what that was.

I pray the SBC falls apart. Not out of revenge, or any malicious feeling – but because I want the SBC to find love. Love is at the bottom. Go through the pain. Stop trying to fight your way through something that is dying. Sackcloth is needed right now. We don’t need warriors fighting through this terror. We need tears and prayers. I don’t know what else to say. I am going to weep for the SBC, I guess.

2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement

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http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/preamble.asp

A few months ago, I saw Beth Moore and Denny Burke have a disagreement on Twitter. I saw Denny responded to Beth-who was telling him they went too far (including herself) in holding women back in the SBC-that he believed in the Baptist 2000 and Danvers Statements. This peaked my curiosity. I knew I was going to be horrified, so what helped me was thinking of the Baptist 2000 as a Super Baptist. I had Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor (Tim Allen on Home Improvement) running through my head grunting and saying, “Baptist 2000-More power!” Turns out, my imagination wasn’t too far off- unfortunately.

I have included the Preamble in the link above. It reveals why SBC seems more like disciples of capitalism vs Jesus Christ. Writing things down really helps to clarify things. They are living this message, and I am glad they have a provision in there that they can revise their statement of faith as it seems wise and expedient at any time.  Oh! Oh! Oh! I’ve got my hand up SBC. Now! Now is a good time. This statement is really bad, and I can’t believe you got away with your sin of eliminating this sentence from the 1963 version: “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ”. You literally took out Jesus. Which you had to do to make this statement. Jesus is not a part of this.

I want to highlight a few things about this statement in this post. First, the arrogance and falseness of this message right here:

Our confession of faith are rooted in historical precedent, as the church in every age has been called upon to define and defend its beliefs. Each generation of Christians bears the responsibility of guarding the treasury of truth that has been entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:14). 

Treasury of truth? The truth is a bank account that has to be guarded? No sirs! (And I have to say sirs because women don’t have a seat at your table). The truth is freely given and poured out to everyone anointed by the Holy Spirit. You are not the appointed gatekeepers.

And since when do we guard the truth?! If we are filled with the truth, why aren’t we out there living it so everyone will know who is in us and want to glorify our Lord too? (Matthew 5:16). Notice people will want to join the flock when they see our good deeds, not when we guard it in a vault.  Our lives must be a reflection of our faith, or it is dead religion.

Also, “defend beliefs”, please stop. You are not here to defend your beliefs. You are here to defend the sheep. People > beliefs. Jesus said: Feed my sheep (John 21:17) No one cares about your defense. We want food. And eventually, the sheep become shepherds too. We are not to stay on top. My pastor, George Mason – who wants to me to be an ordained Baptist minister, gave me the best quote: The trajectory of the gospel is to see eye to eye. Isn’t that lovely? He wasn’t letting me see him as a giant. He called me friend. He is not the least bit worried about me joining him in the work. Neither are countless other men in my church – of all ages. I am quite stunned. I have been complimentarian for 40 years. I had no idea the damage it was doing to me. It damages men and children too. No one wins in patriarchy.

Your message is so fear-mongering. Stop with the truth is under attack. It is not. We are not persecuted. Not even close. People are hungering and thirsting for the truth, and you are guarding it in a vault. It doesn’t have to be this way. And we could be a help to other nations where the truth truly is under attack. The goal is not persecution – it is freedom. No “us vs them” theology. It is evil. I truly believe the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is when humans decided they get to decide what is right and what is wrong. We can live in harmony and not understand why others are they way they are. We can ask questions and listen. Listening changed my life. The Hebrew word for obey, I learned from a Rabbi should have been translated to diligently listen. That changes the tone. We only need to intervene when someone is harmed.

Baptist history has an aversion to creeds. But you have made this a creed. You de-emphasized soul competency to making everyone accountable under the word of God. You have made this doctrinal accountability- which will trump soul accountability. This is what you wanted, and we see you now.

Dr. Hobbs warning to you about all of this is playing out now. You have used this creed (because that is what this message is) to get people out that are a threat to your power-churches, universities, etc. This statement is written under the influence of Paige Patterson as your President! That matters. He is a known abuser. He counseled women to stay in abusive relationships, and has made inappropriate remarks about underage girls. Inappropriate remarks are wrong at any age, but we are talking a minor here. Your church is overflowing with abuse against women and children, and this message created the environment for that to happen.

You should be in sackcloth, SBC!

Lets talk Beth Moore and what you are doing to her. This woman, who I do not agree with a lot on theology, saved my faith in my early days. She is the only pastor (and she is a pastor-it makes you so jealous you can’t see straight) I heard that I truly believed loved Scripture. Scripture gave her life, not rules to make me feel awful about myself. You are abusing her because she preached one sermon on Sunday morning. And honestly, you have always abused her. The Holy Spirit isn’t having it anymore. You take advantage of people who are vulnerable. You aren’t answering the call to any woman who is hurt. Your obsession on women in the priesthood being forbidden is a sin, and a betrayal of the highest order. You know your theology is creating this mess, and you are trying so hard to make it not so – including sacrificing women and children. By the way, you are sacrificing men too. This message is hurting men too.

I researched this Baptist 2000 statement more in depth after I saw Beth having to prove to you she was within the BFM standards. Gross. Also, RC Sproul comparing women having a role in church to vandals who commit crime because of their pain…I have no good words to say, so please let that sink in. I was so traumatized by his message. The strong men being in control of us, and reducing our pain like we are children-and only wanting a role because we are trying to steal a man’s position because of our pain.

Capitalism is killing us. Your statement is capitalist-driven. It is fear-based and believes in scarcity.

SBC – we serve a God of abundance. A God who freely shares. A God who has enough love for all.  I will see you in the pulpit one day, and I hope by then we are friends. You can turn this around. It doesn’t have to be this way. We are better together.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

This week has been unbelievable in the SBC world. Well, let me back up and sadly say-believable. It is kind of surreal that my experience from a few years ago is now giving me the voice I need for such a time as this. And I no longer feel arrogant saying this. My whole life I have been taught not to be noticed, or conceit will inevitably follow. While that can be true, that is only true if we get away from those on the margins who are saying this system isn’t working for me – and they are literally dying and suffering abuse. Also, this message was never given to men. Men were taught to be leaders, and were trained to be one-whether they wanted to be one or not. Women it was a no-go, even if our desire is to lead.

My voice is smaller than most, and for that I don’t mind. There are plenty of women with larger platforms calling out abuse because they actually were abused by the SBC. My abuse came elsewhere, and it is harder to organize, because it isn’t one big organization. It was little pockets of every facet of my life. I am here to say it isn’t just the SBC – it their theology. It infects a lot of churches and flows into public life. I am grateful for my friends on Twitter today who noticed how I was treated by a complementarian pastor. It is not social media causing this abuse. That has been happening my whole life. It is being brought to light.

Before I tell my story, I want to express my grief for all the women and men witnessing the lack of care by SBC leaders regarding abuse. Our experiences are erased because we aren’t at the table. And for some reason “women can’t be pastors” is more important for them to shout vs addressing the abuse that is rampant in their organization. They have this idea women want to take over versus be friends. At least I think that is the reason. There is something sinister happening, and we must loudly denounce it. My experience witnessing the lack of care from my own church regarding abuse prepared me for this moment. When the SBC abuse was revealed – I knew they weren’t going to care. Giving up theology that gives men power is a Hell of a drug.

Here is why theology matters – it plays out in public life. My story.

I was raised in a complementarian church-‘Church of Christ’. We do not have an organization that combines our voices, so calling out their theology is much harder. I actually think organizations are good. They are supposed to combine resources to serve the world, our faith is for the world-not from it, and be friends. I love the connections I am making through CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) and Alliance of Baptists. Plus, all the seminary connections I am going to make. This is setting my soul on fire. Friendship is the name – not a competition. Numbers is not the overall goal (membership, baptisms and budgets). No! While those are good things – that is not our driving force in our faith. Our faith is to live like Jesus. Truth is our driving force. And we will lose those who do not want to go along with the truth-because it can get uncomfortable. Truth will unseat the powerful. Owning a narrative has gotten comfortable for too many. No one owns the narrative. The story is all of us.

From the time I graduated High School and went to college, and I went to a state school (not christian) – Oklahoma State University, misogyny was only growing. Here is a post I wrote about my friend who ran for SGA (Student Government Association) President, and how she was treated by the newspaper the O’Colly, and the fraternity with the man running against her. Anxiety, My Story (It also addresses my anxiety growing up with certainty.) She won, but it was an abusive experience. I could not believe what was happening. I called the former president who was in the same fraternity, and I ripped him. I did not know I had in me to do that. He talked to me for a bit, and told me he was trying to not be involved. I let him know he had no choice- he was involved. I have been fighting my whole life for my place in this world. I end up being appointed the Treasurer. My bestie wanted her fighter by her side. Ha!

Then I graduate and move on to the Oil and Gas Industry. I wrote about this in this blog post Learning about Politics before I was political. This was an eye-opening experience too. Also, we were Venezuelan owned, and had another set of politics going on. I was treated like a peon who had no value, but they wanted me because I work hard and would play by the rules. There was a project they threw at me, and right away I saw what might be the problem. I was told it wasn’t possible, so I wasted a year, long hours, and tears working on it – just to come to the conclusion I saw from the beginning.

The one time I got praise working for this company was when an auditor (from Venezuela – not a normal auditor) told me to stop a process I do every night, and we never went back to make sure it was set up again. I emailed the refinery and my department to apologize that I had dropped the ball. My boss asked me why I did that, because it was the auditor’s fault. But something strange happened, the Refinery Manager emailed everyone back praising me for taking responsibility. He wished more people were like me, because it is easier to identify problems when we can admit mistakes. I still have that email. And I still admit mistakes. 🙂

Then I work in the soccer world – for no pay- because I want to help tell a better story. We had seen what the big club soccer-machine was -and still is- doing to parents and children. Here is the story: Our Mutiny FC Story . I was ignored by the leadership team for the value I added creating teams, and finding space for people to play when weather was bad. I was ok with it, because I was doing this for the kids. Parents loved me, and would reach out to me when they left for various reasons. They knew I cared and wanted to know. This meant so much to me. This is where I feel Beth Moore and I have an intersection happening. She is fine not being valued by SBC leaders, because she is adored by people who grow from her ministry. The abuse heaped on her is seen as her standing up to the oppressor. While that may be true, she is human. Just because she has a high tolerance to take on emotional pain-doesn’t mean she should. I am not here to control her, or condemn she is staying-and wanting to keep the same theology of complementarian (calling her version soft-no such thing). She is taking on something where they don’t value her humanity, and it is crumbling despite her wanting it to be as it was. That was me at Mutiny FC. Our humanity has to be valued. Holy Spirit says so.

When I saw my own church barely react to the most vulgar sex tapes released of our President’s words, and how he admitted he treated women by grabbing them- because he is famous! And the church said -Meh, but the emails. Dear Lord in Heaven. I left. Also, Hillary was blamed for her husband’s actions. I could not believe my ears.

So I will close with my journey to Wilshire, and how egalitarian theology has changed my life. I walk into church every time not believing this is real. I leave wanting to come back immediately. I love them, and they not only love-but like me back. And my pastor says I am called. I was (and still am) so disoriented by this attention, because I am used to being ignored. I was on cloud 9, and then I went through depression from it. I know that is weird but Science Mike addressed this when he finally accepted Hillary McBride, one of his co-hosts on the Liturgists podcast, liked him. We both had to go back and remember our abuse. We have had a young child hidden in us waiting for the bully to come and get us, and everything fall apart again. The Journey to Wilshire

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Washington D.C. After Thoughts

I am including our statements we made when repenting for the sins of our nation.  These are powerful. 

img_2687The other day on Facebook I posted this:

Want to hear a story about me and Donald Trump? We don’t know each other, but it feels like our lives have these intersections where we meet, and I think to myself; “that’s not business” (when I worked in business) and “that’s not Christian behavior” (when I realize even my christian world isn’t what I thought it was).
This is going to be condensed. I am fleshing this out in a blog post. It’s not lost on me I got to go to DC during his term as President (hopefully one and only)-and counter his rhetoric.
Years ago, I watched a show called “The Apprentice”. The concept was interesting to me as I had just started working in the business world. Also, I was never deceived that Trump was a good businessman. I knew he was bankrupt most of the time-so it made me more curious. I was feeling like I was lousy at work, so I wanted to know what this guy did that was so great- even though he pretty much loses all the time.
Turns out I was right. The show wasn’t about business. This was him getting out of debt. The misogyny was fierce. He let go of one of his sidekicks to put in his children. I looked into it – it wreaked of something wrong. This show was flat-out to get him and his bank out of trouble, and gain a competitive advantage for his empire (that is actually fake) with the show. He has branded his name.
By season 3, I could not take his arrogance (which now I know is narcissism-which gets worse with more power). It was clear the show was going towards celebrities verses training future business people. I turned off the show, and thank God he’s now out of my life.

But, here comes Obama’s presidency, and Trump won’t shut up. I thought he was a joke, and no one would take this seriously. Then next thing I know he’s running for president and heralded “appointed by God”–lifted up as a Christian, even though everything he said was the opposite of Christianity.

So here I am again thinking – I don’t know business, and I don’t know Christianity. Or we see it very differently-and these aren’t agree to disagree moments.

I know Trump hasn’t felt love from his parents. I weep for that. It’s done so much harm to him, and I hope someday-on this side of Heaven-he can feel what real love is. But he will still need to face the consequences of those he hurt too. Love does that.

I wrote this because I recently wrote a post for my church about my D.C. trip New Life in Washington D.C. I was always excited to go to DC. Who wouldn’t want a trip like this?! But I was disappointed I was going to DC with the current president in office. This has nothing to do with political parties; it has everything to do with valuing human lives. Now I am discovering there is a lot I did not see before this moment. And after writing the earlier post, I realized Donald Trump has affected my life in ways I never really thought about.

My life and Donald Trump’s life keep intersecting in every life change I have made since becoming an adult (business and now my spiritual transformation). It is kind of weird when I think about it. And now I am in D.C. while he is the President-not an accident. I get to counter his story with a better story. This is significant. Here’s why:

When he was elected, I fell apart. My personal life had fallen apart too, and I just wasn’t sure what to do with humanity anymore. Rob Bell to the rescue. The first podcast I listened to he was explaining the power of a narrative. He said we can complain about everything that is wrong, but we will just be making more noise. He said, “Tell a better story.” That was powerful to me. He then told me Jesus’s story as a counter-narrative to Caesar.

Now I am getting to do this with Trump. By the way, never thought I would be doing this with Baptists. It just occurred to me- I am also countering a bad Baptist story too. I was in DC with Baptists, and Trump is president, and we are repenting for the sins of our nation. Chills.

I am learning what it really means to be Baptist. It is a good thing. I have only been a Baptist for a little over a year, and now I am going to seminary to train to be a Baptist minister. And Baptist was the last denomination on my mind when I left home. I am kind of in shock that listening to podcasts, reading books, and talking to pastors on Twitter were actually leading me somewhere beyond just my own personal healing. I get to be a part of a better story all around. Here is a bit of my faith journey to a Baptist Church, if interested: My Road To Emmaus

More on what went on Washington DC in another post.

Also, I want to note this observation, it makes sense that Trump would intersect with my business and spiritual world. Many of our churches (white church to be more specific) have been discipling people by the way of capitalism, and not the way of Jesus. This is a truth we must face. Many businesses must face the music too. In my short time in oil and gas, we were told how to vote. Misogyny was blatant, and profits were put over people. (Church and business)

 

 

 

New Life in Washington D.C.

I was going to write about my trip to Washington, D.C., last week, but my beloved Rachel Held Evans passed away. I am still at a loss without her. I never knew how much I relied on her guidance.

Rachel is the first person I talked to George about when I said why I am at Wilshire. I had just read Searching for Sunday, and I longed for everything she wrote. I was so mad at church, but I still believed in her too. I knew it could be better than what we were doing. I came with a fire in my belly because of her; and I heard Mark speak these words I longed to hear at Moxie Matters: “We welcome everyone.”

I know I have written about this before, but this matters, because now I find myself going to seminary, and I went to Washington to attend the Alliance of Baptists conference a few weeks ago with the help of a few friends. A few years ago, I thought I was just listening to podcasts and talking on Twitter to pastors for my own healing. Now I have lost the ground beneath my feet, and I have not regained my footing since. Speaking of, I had to take my shoes off in D.C. because I had horrible blisters. A police officer on a bike immediately saw me do this and asked: “Are you sure you want to take your shoes off here?” I told him about my blisters, and he felt compassion for my plight. But I could not help but think that this happened because I am standing on holy ground. I know all ground is holy, but this was a moment. This also happened at the Diana Butler Bass presentation I got invited to attend.

The whole weekend was amazing. Every little detail was savored and enjoyed. I feel like a child who is finally getting to play after years of being benched because I am a woman. I had no idea it took this much of a toll on me. But the joy I am experiencing now leads to nothing but gratitude for the life before — and the life now. The life I had before plays into this weekend too.

I went into the airport by myself. I hadn’t flown in 14 years, and things have changed. Geri McKenzie told me to just look like I knew what I was doing. I did a great job at this, because immediately a TSA agent asked me if I needed help because I looked confused. I totally cannot do anything undercover. Then I got on the airplane, and a kind lady immediately asked me to sit with her. I told everyone around me I hadn’t flown in 14 years. A man immediately got up and helped me put my bag in the overhead bend. I got to my seat saying: “Everyone is so nice.” Then the flight attendant brought me two Dr Peppers because they accidentally prepared two. My neighbor on the flight said: “They heard you hadn’t flown in 14 years.” (Mark Wingfield burst my bubble later by telling me not to be deceived that courtesy has increased in air travel.)

The conference was amazing. I heard sermons by Rev. Jacqui Lewis. She also hugged me and told me she loved my hair. I could have passed out. She is a hero of mine, and her sermon brought me to my knees. Then Judge Wendell Griffen the next day. It was supposed to be Otis Moss III, but he got snowed in at Chicago. But with less than 24-hours notice, Judge Griffen brought us a word. I wanted to join the interpretive dancers during the singing because I was on fire. And I am laughing so hard writing this: A Church of Christ girl-turned weird Baptist, in Washington, D.C., doing almost everything I was told no to. Women preaching, music, dancing, non-binary bathrooms, and I got to be involved in voting. I have never done that before. I got to vote on a statement to counter the Nashville Statement. That is huge to me. That statement grieved me for our LGBTQ siblings, and now I find myself getting to be a part of the counter-narrative. Joy!

What is craziest of all is a friend from middle school who now lives in the D.C. area saw on social media that I was there, and we got together. We had not seen each other since middle school, and that night you would have thought no time had passed. Then the second day in D.C, even though I was tired from all the excitement, a friend from my previous church was sitting next to me in the pew. Neither of us knew it until we turned and looked at each other. I thought I was having a vision. It was pure joy to see her and hug her. I worked with her mom for 10 years, and her mom loved on both of my babies. I also met one of my friends I have chatted with on Twitter for a year. She is a transgender woman, and we had the best time talking face to face. Our God is a God of connection.

I wish I could write more. This journey is wild. There is something about letting go and saying yes to something new — something you never thought you were allowed to do. I am getting to live and tell a better story because of Wilshire.

New Life in Washington DC

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I was going to write about my trip to Washington, D.C., last week, but my beloved Rachel Held Evans passed away. I am still at a loss without her. I never knew how much I relied on her guidance.

Rachel is the first person I talked to George about when I said why I am at Wilshire. I had just read Searching for Sunday, and I longed for everything she wrote. I was so mad at church, but I still believed in her too. I knew it could be better than what we were doing. I came with a fire in my belly because of her; and I heard Mark speak these words I longed to hear at Moxie Matters: “We welcome everyone.”

I know I have written about this before, but this matters, because now I find myself going to seminary, and I went to Washington to attend the Alliance of Baptists conference a few weeks ago with the help of a few friends. A few years ago, I thought I was just listening to podcasts and talking on Twitter to pastors for my own healing. Now I have lost the ground beneath my feet, and I have not regained my footing since. Speaking of, I had to take my shoes off in D.C. because I had horrible blisters. A police officer on a bike immediately saw me do this and asked: “Are you sure you want to take your shoes off here?” I told him about my blisters, and he felt compassion for my plight. But I could not help but think that this happened because I am standing on holy ground. I know all ground is holy, but this was a moment. This also happened at the Diana Butler Bass presentation I got invited to attend.

The whole weekend was amazing. Every little detail was savored and enjoyed. I feel like a child who is finally getting to play after years of being benched because I am a woman. I had no idea it took this much of a toll on me. But the joy I am experiencing now leads to nothing but gratitude for the life before — and the life now. The life I had before plays into this weekend too.

I went into the airport by myself. I hadn’t flown in 14 years, and things have changed. Geri McKenzie told me to just look like I knew what I was doing. I did a great job at this, because immediately a TSA agent asked me if I needed help because I looked confused. I totally cannot do anything undercover. Then I got on the airplane, and a kind lady immediately asked me to sit with her. I told everyone around me I hadn’t flown in 14 years. A man immediately got up and helped me put my bag in the overhead bend. I got to my seat saying: “Everyone is so nice.” Then the flight attendant brought me two Dr Peppers because they accidentally prepared two. My neighbor on the flight said: “They heard you hadn’t flown in 14 years.” (Mark Wingfield burst my bubble later by telling me not to be deceived that courtesy has increased in air travel.)

The conference was amazing. I heard sermons by Rev. Jacqui Lewis. She also hugged me and told me she loved my hair. I could have passed out. She is a hero of mine, and her sermon brought me to my knees. Then Judge Wendell Griffen the next day. It was supposed to be Otis Moss III, but he got snowed in at Chicago. But with less than 24-hours notice, Judge Griffen brought us a word. I wanted to join the interpretive dancers during the singing because I was on fire. And I am laughing so hard writing this: A Church of Christ girl-turned weird Baptist, in Washington, D.C., doing almost everything I was told no to. Women preaching, music, dancing, non-binary bathrooms, and I got to be involved in voting. I have never done that before. I got to vote on a statement to counter the Nashville Statement. That is huge to me. That statement grieved me for our LGBTQ siblings, and now I find myself getting to be a part of the counter-narrative. Joy!

What is craziest of all is a friend from middle school who now lives in the D.C. area saw on social media that I was there, and we got together. We had not seen each other since middle school, and that night you would have thought no time had passed. Then the second day in D.C, even though I was tired from all the excitement, a friend from my previous church was sitting next to me in the pew. Neither of us knew it until we turned and looked at each other. I thought I was having a vision. It was pure joy to see her and hug her. I worked with her mom for 10 years, and her mom loved on both of my babies. I also met one of my friends I have chatted with on Twitter for a year. She is a transgender woman, and we had the best time talking face to face. Our God is a God of connection.

I wish I could write more. This journey is wild. There is something about letting go and saying yes to something new — something you never thought you were allowed to do. I am getting to live and tell a better story because of Wilshire.