from Dale: Many who leave churches are blamed for unfaithfulness. Yet what if it their faithfulness that leads them to leave? One of our mentors in our Freedom Builders community shared this with our group recently, after a painful departure from her church. See the haunting paradoxes of gender and authority many women face. As you read, share a favorite line in the comments. #YearOfGender
On leaving a church I tried to love and serve
You, man with a voice, with position and power,
You listen to me confess that I felt disregarded, ignored.
If I spoke often enough, I felt like a pebble in the shoes of the powerful.
If I spoke directly enough, I felt like a thorn in the side of men.
You tell me these men are not power seekers.
You say, they are just fumbling around, trying to lead as “God calls”.
They don’t have a clue, you say.
They need to hear my voice, you say.
You say I am the one with understanding.
But they are the ones who must hold position, “God says”.
They just don’t know how to do it well.
They need my voice, you say.
I see plainly what these men do know.
They know that the people should obey authority,
Honor position and trust.
Trust the men to know and lead and decide.
If this be what they know, then this is why we go.
You hug me soft, and say this is hard.
You, woman I love, woman who is not afraid.
You ask me why.
You hug me hard and offer seat, soft together,
I tell you whys and you listen long.
We sit in silence before you speak.
You tell me that you hear my discouragement.
You understand it and know it for self.
You tell me that I am right – these men don’t get it.
So, how do you survive? Woman that I love?
You stick to your own, you say.
You don’t bother with the men.
Women, they are the thinkers, they are the listeners,
They are the doers.
You are not afraid to use your voice, you say.
I know. I have heard it. I believe you.
But, do you believe your voice is heard, woman?
You know they do not often listen.
This is just the way of it, you say.
The men hold position and believe they hold the power.
The women walk around and behind,
Bending their necks, but they get it done.
Where is the beauty in this?
Where is the coming together?
Where is the love and passion and fun?
Is this the beautiful dance of which they talk about?
Is this the mysterious way of a man with a woman?
If this is your love and beauty, then this is why
We cannot stay.
Does this poem illuminate anything for you? Which lines resonate?