Who made me into the advocate for women that I am today, writing these blogposts for Christians for Biblical Equality?
I’ve sometimes given credit to strangers who catcalled me, or middle school boys who bullied me for being too smart. These experiences made me empathize with the mistreatment of other girls and women.
But the truth is, I wouldn’t have been upset by this if the vast majority of men and women in my life hadn’t convinced me that I was worthy of equal treatment. I wouldn’t be an intelligent and compassionate spokesperson but for so many great men in my life. Today, I want to thank them. They really deserve the credit for developing me as a leader.
Some fathers leave their kids or love their work more. But some fathers, like my dad, say “I love you” every night before bed, make decisions as a family, and model respect for their wives. Dad, thank you for prioritizing relationships and serving God excellently in your career. When you bravely apologize and admit weakness, you teach me what grace is.
Some families prioritize educating boys over girls. But some, like both my grandpas, sponsor their granddaughters’ education and support their wives as teachers (of the Bible too). They challenge young people to take risks, read, and learn from the rest of the world. One of my grandpas feeds the world’s hunger as a farmer, the other follows God’s call as a pastor. They taught me that “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner). Grandpas, I feel honored to be part of your legacy.
Some uncles, cousins, friends and brothers abuse women. But some, like mine, respect and celebrate women as whole people. My brothers and I sang together while doing dishes. My uncles took me canoeing, built a sailboat with me, and let me babysit their children. My cousins taught me to bike, debated over long car rides, and did crazy skits together. My friends cooked and prayed and volunteered and joked with me. Thank you, men, for being trustworthy, and for trusting me with your hopes and fears. Your simple presence means more than you know.
Some people say girls are less analytical, rational or intelligent. But some, like my teachers and professors, stay after school tutoring girls in math and science, or give encouraging feedback to promising writers. Instead of calling girls names, they call a favorite nickname for a girl raising her hand. Thank you, educators, for challenging me and believing in my potential.
Some men harass or belittle their female colleagues. But some bosses, co-leaders and co-workers, like the ones I’ve known, encourage everyone to bring their gifts to the table, show new ways to think and do things, and unite around a common mission.
Some pastors focus on developing men for leadership and let women minister to the women and kids. But some spiritual leaders, like mine, invest deeply in whomever God gifts. Pastors and chaplains, thank you for tutoring me in Hebrew and theology and mentoring me in ministry. Youth pastors, thank you for inviting me to weed the playground with you and playing guitar for my talent show rap. Your passion for a just multicultural community is contagious.
Dear men in my life, thank you for who you are. Thank you for daring to be people of character, joy, and humility. In a world that sometimes seems so messed up, you are refreshing and healing. You’ve impacted so many people – I’m blessed to be among them.
Your turn – who will you celebrate today?
Photo by Sukanto Debnath from Hyderabad, India (A happy man) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons