I spent a couple of lovely hours with a young woman this morning who asked me what I thought about spiritual oppression.
“Do you think that the deep insecurity I feel, the fear of saying what I most know to be true, the anxiety over how others will perceive or understand me could be spiritual oppression?”
This is a paraphrase of her story, her words, her experience, but it captures what I hardly believe to be unique to her.
What does it mean for us to truly believe – and act upon – what we feel and hear deep within ourselves? What do we do when we can anticipate – far ahead of time – how others will respond to our “truth” or our actions? How do we quiet the voices that tell us it is better to remain silent, behind the scenes, hidden, adaptive? And how do we honor the deeper voice that tells us we are beautiful, strong, wise, gifted, powerful, worth hearing? Not easy questions. And they are familiar questions that are imbedded deep within our souls – particularly as women.
My spiritual director has often said to me, “Ronna, what God offers and invites is always life. Do the questions (and their answers) with which you struggle bring you life or death? If the latter, they are not of God. Choose life!”
As I listened to this woman this morning I wondered what her life would bring: what realms of ministry, relationship, struggle and hope will she step into? What will her questions invite both in her own choices, as well as in the lives of others? How will she totally change her world – and the world around her – by choosing life, over and over again, no matter the cost? I believe that this is what God wants of and for each of us: changing our own world and the world around us by choosing life – no matter the cost. Splitting the world open…
“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Muriel Rukeyser