Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the start of the melting

{via pinterest}
i remember the day that i melted. i think i will always remember. it was the very first day that i dared to question what was laid in front of me. i was seventeen with eyebrows tinged white from the missionary mime make-up. it was merely days after the quietest moment of my life. my toes were on foreign soil, in a land that has forever woven a spell over my heart.

it was the night of the talk. you know the one. we were gathered together, boys and girls and men and women. the words spoken to us were inspirational. at the time, they conjured something different than they would now. it was a type of shame, it made us blush. but we knew the drill :: we'd all heard it before, and the feeling it brought was familiar. they talked about shirts too low and jeans too tight, they looked us dead in the eye and told us to protect our brothers.

they taught us how to hug, arms draped around the shoulders from the side, never too long. they taught us about closed doors and warnings and dreaded plane trips home should we embrace too long, should a boy-toe ever enter the room of a girl. 

and then the talk ended and the mood changed. there was laughter and friends chatting during a short break, an appropriate hug exchanged here and there, but everyone was careful. it was ingrained. we knew what to do.

and then came the mention of the yearly mother-daughter cruise. there were cheers. there was excitement. and then the lights dimmed and the slideshow started to roll. and something inside me melted like wax.

the fabric was bright. blues and whites and yellows and greens and pinks. typical bikini colours. it was a cruise after all, all full of mothers and daughters bonding together. and they were on a ship in the ocean, and BarlowGirl was singing, and the girls were wearing bikinis.

i felt his hand on my shoulder, my friend, my heart-brother. i remember the look in his eyes, the way he whispered with head buried in hands, peering up at me through his fingers,

are they watching me? is this a test? i don't know where to look.

i remember when the lights came up and the burst of courage filled me. i was seventeen. i had never questioned anything before, not like this. but i couldn't let it go. i couldn't forget that look in his eyes.

with shaking fingers, i walked to the woman who ran the show, the one whose face we all knew, the one who smiled at the door each morning and spoke God to us each night. i touched her arm and took a deep breath.

"i'm sorry. but that didn't seem right. not after what you just said. all those girls in bikinis, the guys were confused. i was confused. i don't understand. it felt wrong."

i knew what i was expecting. i was expecting an answer, an easy one, some sort of explanation as to why. but she looked at me and pursed her lips and said, the Devil likes to cause turmoil at times like this. we don't need that kind of attitude here. 

i cried that night into my pillow, my roommates gathered around me with their hands on my back. it didn't feel right to them either. they told us not to look, they told us to keep our eyes closed and bodies covered. they whispered shame but screamed contradiction in our faces.

but what could we do? we were just teenagers. we were just girls.

i was so confused, everything all twisted up inside. was this what purity meant? i always thought it was something holy, something bright and white and glorious. i didn't know it then, but this was the start of my uncovering. my casting aside the millstone and taking a lighter yoke on my shoulders.

at the airport, two days later as we all winged our way from South America to long-missed families, my soul-brother hugged my neck.

i've never forgotten.

this is why i'm a Jesus feminist.
this is why i fight.

slow-stepping out the shadows, allowing the dark soul-night to teach me something. i'm learning how to put a face to the shame, slipping a voice against the palm of the voiceless.

{this is a piece of my journey. join with the wild mystics for a deep journey into the dark night}

13 comments:

  1. There's so much we NEED to reveal, not keep covered. I am a Jesus feminist too. Your story will speak to many, many young girls who get the same mixed messages and don't know what to do with them, but need safe places to talk it out. Love this!

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  2. Dear Rachel
    Oh, how I feel your confusion. That is what religion does; preach the one thing, but not doing it themselves or lifting a finger to ease the burden. Sort of preaching love, but living under the law. But our Beloved's burden is light and His yoke is easy. The word religion comes from the Greek, "religare" and that means to bind up. And I want to add; in a tight grip. Jesus called the religionists of His day who claimed to have Abraham as their father, that they were of their father, the devil. I admire you courage and tenacity, dear one!!
    Blessings XX
    Mia

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  3. YOU, sister, were my encouragement for today...and tomorrow...thank you! And thanks for sharing your story. It is yours...uniquely painful and beautiful. Thanks for speaking. You've got a GIFT!

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  4. smiles...a familiar story for many...and one that many need to hear...ugh on the woman as well and her response...and sadly this is one you will get...defensiveness when they too realize what they said and shat they do is very different....

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  5. Beautiful words from your tender heart, Rachel. Yes, you ARE a Jesus feminist!

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  6. Wow, very well said. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Good for you for questioning and standing up. Shame on her for her response to you. There was a blog post that went viral this summer where the mother said she would unfriend any of her son's friends who chose to wear skimpy clothes and post them on Facebook and IN that very post, her own boys were all in their swim trunks on the beach - many photos, handsome boys, no shirts. It screamed of double standard to me. Being a believer is hard. There are so many lines drawn in the sand and everyone makes their own and expects everyone else to follow their lines. And I think that in the end what matters is what Jesus thinks of our hearts. Are they truly His? Only He will truly know that. Thank you for sharing. I followed from Emily's post on FB about sharing our blogs.

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  7. I linked to Shadow Story and saw your link. (Mine might not be linked yet, but it is in the comments section). Anyways, Thank you for sharing your story about a moment in time that caused you to question everything you've been taught..I've been there myself. Good for you for standing up for what you believe in. Kelly

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  8. I love your tender and poetic heart, Rachel. This is a gift.

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  9. Another beautifully honest story that illuminates so much. Thank you for sharing Rachel.

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  10. This was really good, thanks for sharing.

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  11. Such a poignant story. You described it perfectly. The disconnect between what is taught and what is done IS massively confusing. I don't think that it is only in the area of feminism. I see it in countless other ways. It ought to melt all of us. Beautiful post!

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I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon