Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So we're giving up on the Better Christian Woman . . .

. . . referred to from here on out as tBCW. Erin, Happy, and others have proved to my satisfaction that if tBCW really does exist out there, she shouldn't. tBCM either. Okay, so maybe there are a few females out there who actually do enjoy having this box to fit into, and it's comfortable, and they're good at it, and all that. Whenever there's an unreachable standard, there are always a few exceptional people who can reach that standard and enjoy congratulating themselves on how much better they're doing than everyone else. But don't we all have better things to be doing than checking off boxes about how we're doing? Spending time tracking our progress takes time away from our making progress. Don't we all know that we have enough to be working on without piling more on top of each other? Anyways.


So what I want to know is, what does a church of that look like? And how do we avoid this:


When do we recognize that if it fits in a box, it's too small for God? How do we keep our theology big enough for God, and how can we grow into our theology? How can we do it together, as a people, as a *community* of faith? Without worshipping at the altar of our rampant American over-individulism? For surely, while God calls us as individuals, he also calls us as a body . . .
I want a community that *doesn't* want me to be tBCW. I want to walk this road with other women and tell them that they don't have to be either. That they can be something better than that. I want to raise my daughters with this understanding. I want to be the best me that I can be. Which might actually involve doing some of the things on the BCW list . . . I can only hope that I'm too focused on loving God to remember to check off the boxes.

9 comments:

Erin said...

Sara - I like what you have said about not tracking our progress. I do think I experienced that - the comparing of notes on how we all are doing in achieving the BCW. It really stressed me out.

And I don't mean to say all the things I've listed are bad...but that they can't be the standard by which to measure our (or each others') success as TBCW.

Sara said...

thanks, erin. I think that maybe this measuring ourselves and others against some standard is a good deal--perhaps even the primary thing--that gets us in trouble on these issues. Doesn't matter if I'm thin-er. I'm still not thin enough. Doesn't matter if I use my gifts--it's not in the right ways. Doesn't matter . . .

and all that is legalism. Not grace. In grace, my husband says, "I love you just as you are. I don't need you to change." And that makes it safe for me to try to be a better me. A more *ME*, without the pressure of whether I'm going to succeed or not. And that's what needs to happen through the whole church, I think.

The Pharisees were great standard-setters and check-boxers, and that wasn't what Jesus was about.

I'll admit to liking check boxes, and lists that I can cross items off of. (It's one of the things that I noted that I share with Hap, back on the 6 things meme.) I have my daily and weekly lists to help remind me how to stay on task with the goals I'm moving towards. Yet I've learned that there are many days that I don't cross anything off and that doesn't mean that I haven't gotten anywhere . . . but "practice learning to be constantly aware of Christ's presence" is neither something that really seems like appropriate list material, nor does it ever seem very cross-off-able. Nor does "make sure to give my daughters lots of hugs" or "today, just keep from completely losing it before the first cup of coffee." Let alone things like dishes or laundry or paperwork, which, by the time I've finished the ones I was thinking of when I wrote them down, there are more.

As always, a balancing act. In this case, I think, between what Meyers-Briggs labels P and J, which are measures of how much closure a person likes. The church, as an organizations (like most organizations, really) is very J. If *organizations* are to thrive and go forward, they require that decisions be made, growth happen, and that there be ways to measure those. It hasn't come to terms very well with the fact that life is a very open-ended, messy process.

Happy said...

hence the advent of things like "Organic Church"....

good stuff. :) good fuel for thought. I love what you said about Rob loving you without requiring you to change, giving you the freedom to do it then without fear of failure... that's a cool picture of what love really is, and in a lot of ways gets at God's heart for the church, the BCW, the BCM (did you see Barry's post?) and well, everybody, really...

sorry, rambling...fever... must go sleep. or something. talk to you later. :)

Erin said...

Well the P/J thing makes sense to me. I'm a total P. I hadn't thought of it in terms of the church, but maybe this is why I don't fit into many manifestations of it. Thanks for the insight.

Sara said...

Personality typing changed my life. It gave me a framework and language to understand myself and to put words as to why I never felt like I fit into anything. It also was the first step in my giving grace to the rest of the human population for *not* understanding me.

I've heard people say that the dangers of something like the Meyers-Briggs is that it tempts us to cram people into boxes, to think that if we know their type, we know them. I can see that might be a danger--but I think that there's too much truth and insight there to let it go.

I'm also a fan of the number/enneagram personality typing system described in the book "Personality Types" by Riso and Hudson. For each of its nine personalities, it describes nine levels of health and what they look like. The explicit recognition that we can all be emotionally/psychologically unhealthy or healthy individuals, and that the ways that we display that sickness or health is related to our core being is an important one.

Erin said...

Wow...personality typing changed my life too...only because I found out I'm not broken...that there are people just like me out there, who can actually "get" me. I'm an INFP/4...and knowing those things enlightened me so much as to why I am the way I am. What I read was so completely true of me it was amazing.

I did an unscientific poll last fall...if you're interested.

Rob said...

FWIW, I'm an INTP, and a five with a four wing.

Sara said...

I'm an INTJ/5. And while Kiersey claims that there's no male/female split to the personality types, it remains that female INTJ's are *rare*. I've only ever met, to my knowledge, one other. She was not the first other INT that I'd met however . . . that would Rob (INTP). He was the first person I'd ever met who I felt really *got* me. So I married him. :) Truly a gift from God.

Erin said...

Well, let me point you to Emerging grace's master list from last fall, if you don't already know about it. There's at least three girl INTJ's there.

Keep in mind these are unscientific...I think pretty much everyone self-tested...so some might not be entirely accurate.