Women are not always allowed to exercise the full authority given to them by the charisms of the Holy Spirit. Authority is defined as a struggle to be self-defining. It is not found in what others say, but in the inner voice of self. A gift from God. This is the voice in our lives that reflects upon the happenings and the roles we play. This is the voice that lets us know if something is right or wrong about what the other voices or influences tell us. Having this voice is described as having agency. Agency is important in order to develop the spiritual practice of discernment. An agent is a cause or power that produces an effect by its action. The inner voice of a woman should be strong enough to have the power to bring about the action in her life that she desires to produce. In other words, a woman should be able to know herself and to act in ways congruent with who she is in the world. The other voices either confuse or affirm her. If these are domineering voices, they suppress women’s voices and thus suppress the voice of the Spirit within. To suppress is to keep down, to keep from appearing, to keep secret. Basically, they quench the Spirit. When the Spirit of God is quenched, the Spirit is grieved. The woman’s own voice is checked and the flow of Christ’s leading and will in her life is restrained because she has learned to hear that voice through the filter of the dominating voices of authority. Even the Scriptures are heard through the screen of those other voices.
A call in a woman’s life is the Spirit calling her to come out of herself. It is Christ’s compelling love. It restores the authority of her voice that God created within her that she might become what God desires. We have learned to repress, or at least, to shape ourselves according to the image of another. However, “call” means that the feelings and the gifts that have been hidden, are now called forth from their secret places in order to be let loose for the purposes of God. For we too are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). The call in our lives is the Spirit’s voice bursting forth within the woman to give birth to her and through her. The call connects her with the fire of the Spirit that creates, redeems, restores, and makes whole—the ministry of reconciliation.
This makes a woman’s sense of call especially strong because it is centered on the authority of the Holy Spirit and because she has had to hold tenaciously and discerningly to that authority as opposed to the authorities in her life, like the church. The Spirit authorizes a woman in her call and gives evidence of that through the giving of gifts and ministries.1 It is also the Spirit therefore, who becomes midwife to the ministries of women as they bear fruit.2
1. Loida Martell-Otero, “Women Doing Theology: Una Perspectiva Evangélica,” Apuntes 14,3 (Fall 1994): 77.
2. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, “Hispanic Protestant Spirituality,” inTeología en Conjunto: A Collaborative Hispanic Protestant Theology eds. José David Rodríguez and Loida I. Martell Otero (Louisville, KY.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 141.