Speaking from My Gut

Chef and I have one phrase that can stop a debate, a disagreement, a battle of wills. We never pull it out willy-nilly, it is the big gun. Fortunately we both respect the rules of engagement, we understand the force of these words. They mean something. “My gut is saying…” means there is something deeper happening that maybe I can’t fully express and I don’t have to. I have a twitching, a twinkling, a clenching, that says,”Listen.” We trust not only our own gut-warnings but each others. That message means back off, let go of the argument, your spouse is hearing something and you need to pay attention. We have never gone wrong with this system, only the times we have individually ignored those warnings. As I talk to many of my female friends, I notice a tendency to dismiss that inner voice, to minimize their own early warning system, to find ways around it. But what if this is the Holy Spirit, what if this is God with us, speaking directly to us? No lightening bolts, no burning bushes, no angels, our own connection to God through an opened soul ready to hear Him say, “Be aware.” Would we dismiss this voice so easily?

My sweet friends are conditioned to ignore their inner voices, to challenge their own motives and look for the greater good. This is important, this is work towards a selfless life, one that Jesus asks us to live. Becoming accountable to each other is critical in our walk, ensuring our motives are not based in old drama, yucky patterns that distract us from growth and true soul searching. Yet my friends are just that self-aware, I think so many women are, and still they allow the external voices to drown out what is whispering inside of them. Excuses, allowances, bending, finding space for what feels wrong because that seems like what we are called to do. Yet I think we are so busy being nice we forget to be strong. The bible is filled with women who listened and acted, made some folks mad and furthered the work of God. Why are we afraid of making anyone mad? Where does our fear come from? Why do we have culture of being nice, of going along within the church?

When you speak up and are dismissed, when you ask questions and are gently rolled over, when you are not even invited to the table, you learn what is expected. You learn that while liberation may have come to the country, it may not have fully settled into the church. Just as we have a long way to go to find equality in government positions, look at leadership spots within the church, does that reflect the true make-up of the congregation? Do women handle education and men the finances? Is it really biblical that women follow quietly while men lead?  I am a rebel, I want to find our Jaels, our Abigails, our Esthers, Lois and Eunices. I want to hear the voices of our strong women whom I know God is speaking to, I want to listen to what their guts have to say. I trust their wisdom.

I think about what my former pastor always said at each baptism, what if this is the one? The one to cure cancer, the one to stop wars, the one. He allowed us to see each babe as full of possibilities, swaddled in a purpose only God could see. Our job was to nurture that child along the way, to open the doors so that God could speak freely to this child. He didn’t just do this for the male babies. All babies. Somewhere along the way, we as women stop trusting our guts and so does the church. What a loss for us all.

What if you are the one? Would anyone know because you are too nice to speak up? Prayerfully considering what your gut tells you and then using the voice God gave you may just change the world. We might have to get louder, we might have to get mad. We might even have to flat out ask that our voices be heard. Thank God Chef accepts my gut as worthy, as enough. May we all be so generous to each other.  May be find room at the table for loud women, strong women, women who are followers of Jesus, not men. That is a revolution I believe Jesus can get behind. My gut just tells me it is true.

Waiting for the Ultimate Win

Confession time: I don’t know the words to the Cubs song. I can barely remember the chorus. I grew up watching the Cincinnati Reds back in the Pete Rose days, I played Little League before they really let girls join, my little brother and I spent hours playing catch during hot summer evenings. Yet I have fallen away from the sport, too much life, I have found my excitement elsewhere. I am not one of the faithful.

Chef took me to a Cubs game this season, they lost. The star pitcher was taking a day off, the back up players were taking over. The experience was still awesome, the crowd was loud and wearing various hats and shirts supporting their Cubs. They sang the song. They knew the words. They still believed, hoped, held onto the promise they saw in these young men. I loved being part of the group but knew I was a pretender. What would it be like to really belong? I left the game and didn’t consider it any further. I wasn’t moved to join, I didn’t catch the spark.

Chef and I made the 3 hour trip to Chicago to revel with 5 million others, to celebrate the greatest win for a team well loved among people who have waited and believed this day would come. They all knew the song. “Hey Chicago, what do you say, Cubbies gonna win today.” I could hear it breaking out spontaneously all around, on the train, in groups of people on top of bus stop shelters, in trees. I couldn’t help thinking of Zacchaeus who climbed that fig tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus. (Luke 19:4)  It was incredible to witness. I was in it but knew I didn’t really belong. I was not one of the faithful. I didn’t watch all of the games of the World Series, I even went to bed during the last game. I did get back up towards the end, more to support my Chef than out of team unity. Yesterday I felt jealous, green with envy in a sea of blue. I couldn’t claim the full joy when I never experienced the agony of losing years, suffered the taunts from others who backed successful teams, sang about Cubbies winning only to experience another loss. I just didn’t put in the work, never gave it my heart and soul. I was an outsider.

As we moved through the crowds, I realized this is what it feels like to be a believer in Christ. We wait, trusting in the promises of that day when He will come again. We suffer setbacks, terrible seasons that make us question our allegiance. We are persecuted by others who think our confidence is misplaced, we are tempted by teams who are showing wins now. Yet we hold strong, we keep singing our songs. We meet up regularly to discuss our standings, we confess our doubts and encourage each other to keep strong in the faith, to remember that our team will eventually win. Just as I didn’t follow the Cubs religiously, I have dipped in and out of church throughout my life but have not fully abandoned my faith in God, the ultimate coach. Fortunately this team is forgiving, welcoming regardless of any history of allegiance. They welcome new fans without mocking them as fair-weather joiners. They make room in the “bleachers” and offer snacks. God’s team is not made up of one color, one uniform. Young and old are welcomed, people die before seeing the big win, Jesus coming again. Yet we hold on. We keep singing.

I know the promises He has given are true, I just know. I can wait, I believe just like those Cubs fans trusted that one day they would fill the streets of the city and glory in the team that fulfilled all the hopes of an entire generation. I am not going to be an outsider for God’s big parade. Participating in His work to bring in others who can claim the same is what He has asked of His team. Yesterday saw the 7th largest gathering of people in human history. I was one of those people. Next time, when God brings His son back to us, I want to know I belong and have that feeling I witnessed yesterday. Surely the crowd will be  even larger but I know first-hand it feels so much sweeter to have been involved all along. I will sing loudly, I will know all of the words. I am already a fan.