I’ve been talking about it for what seems like forever, or just short of such. I’ve also vacillated, made excuses, hemmed and hawed. And though I’ve beat myself up mercilessly for such, the process has been worthwhile. It’s taken every bit of this time to get under everything else to my deepest message, or, as Gail Larsen would say, my original medicine.
The signs have been prolific the past seven or eight days ~ cosmic, heavenly, and oh-so-earthy reminders that this is what I talk about, love, and know. And so, in acknowledgment of these and all who gently (and not-so-much) prod me toward my destiny and desire, I offer these words:
A bold-faced defiance of my fears and an increasingly confident declaration of what I believe. More than anything, why I write:
We need stories of heroines. We need stories that inspire us beyond the damsel in distress, the prince on a white horse, and a happily-ever-after ending. We need stories that show and speak to the realities we find ourselves in every single day. Places of harm, shame, confusion, and fear. Dry, desolate, deserts.
We need stories that allow for a woman’s understanding of God, unbound from and unrestrained by religion, theology, and doctrine. We need our own revelations and our own ways of believing that are resonant with our lives. Countless stories exist that name women’s life- and God-experiences in honest, palpable, and hope-filled ways. Few however, have been told. I have chosen three of my favorites: narratives that invite me into the realities of their lives and therefore my own; into their encounter with God and therefore my own. They have been nourishment for me; deepest well in driest desert. And they have introduced and enticed me to the dangerous, wild God who has been nourishment and endless spring in their deserts, as well.
The Woman at the Well
The Woman of Revelation 12
Parenthetically, I find it both ironic and poetic that two of the three protagonists do not have names. Nothing is lost of their power, their beauty, their strength. And nothing need be lost in or of God when without name, language, or all-inclusive comprehension.
Hagar’s is the story of a woman who is running from harm. Her literal and experienced desert is an escape from harm and even abuse and the place in which God sees her and she sees God. It is a place of promise. She returns from the desert with promise in the midst of pain. Her story has no happy ending. No bow that ties it up neatly. In such, this is a story to which I can relate; a God who is revealed uniquely to a woman in powerful, hope-filled ways.
The Woman at the Well tells the story of a woman who is hiding from shame. Her literal and experienced desert is an escape from the pain of being misunderstood and the place in which she is both seen and heard by God. It is a place of empowerment. She returns from the desert with a voice where she once knew only silence and self-contempt. Again, no tidy, feel-good summation here. It is another story to which I can relate; a God who uniquely sees a woman in validating, strengthening ways.
The Woman of Revelation 12 tells the story of a woman who is carried to comfort. Her literal and experienced desert is respite for safety and healing after suffering nearly incapacitating fear and the place in which God cares for her with intimacy and intent. It is a place of restoration. She returns from the desert with the strength to do battle on behalf of all she has created and birthed. Hers is the closest we get to a fitting end, but still leaves us with the awareness that much work remains – much labor to endure – and many dragons to slay. It is a woman’s story to which I can relate; a God who uniquely cares for a woman in personal, compassionate ways.
These are three deeply significant stories of women. And these are three deeply significant stories of God. Though they have been told many times before, rarely have they resonated with the stories and lives of the women who have heard them. This is tragic.
In my faith tradition the story of Hagar was about a woman who was belligerent, outside her bounds, and unappreciative of authority. In many ways, her story promulgated the idea that abuse was deserved, harm legitimate, and that God would mete out justice…or not; but that obedience was key. The Woman at the Well was described as argumentative, manipulative, and evasive. Jesus’ only motivation in speaking to her was to get her to admit her sins and change her evil ways. And not surprisingly, the story of the woman in Revelation 12 was rarely if ever told at all—a woman of radiant, glorious beauty and strength who was passionately cared for by God.
- It is no wonder that women feel disconnected from their own stories and long for new ones.
- It is no wonder that we are consumed with messages of not being enough – or often, too much.
- It is no wonder we struggle to have an experience of God that is resonant, personal, or filled with meaning.
- And it is no wonder that we feel crazy.
We are bombarded by stories with happy endings while living ones that are anything but. We slog through a desert while being told it should be lavish spa. Life feels hard, confusing, and even isolating, made even more so by overwhelming messages from our culture telling us things should be easy, prosperous, and enjoyed in a perpetual state of thinness, beauty, professional success, and endless love.
We are desperately hungry for stories of women that normalize and encourage our own, that enable glimpses of hope and strength, and that invite an experience of God in the midst of our struggles – not as reward once we’ve finally gotten ourselves out of them.
The truth is this: I need stories of heroines. I need stories that inspire me. I need stories that show and speak to the realities in which I find myself every single day; my own deserts. And I need to understand and experience a God who shows up, sees me, and cares for me in this terrain – no matter how hot, no matter how endless, no matter what.
Despite my awareness that I can’t not write this book, your thoughts, perspectives, opinions, hopes, desires, and encouragement have been, and remain, deeply appreciated and ever-welcomed. And of course, if you are (or have access to) a literary agent or publisher who longs to get in on all this – and then some? Come on!!!