Longing To Belong (in the wrong place)

Well that escalated quickly. Yesterday a tweet I posted went as viral as I’ll probably ever be, completely by accident.

The funny thing is, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a happily married woman (to the same guy I was married to back when I was trying to be the perfect Christian wife). I was simply reflecting on the years spent trying to fit in a culture where I was never meant to belong.

Clearly I’m not the only woman to ever feel this way after reading all the replies of solidarity from other women who felt like they didn’t make the cut either.

Proverbs 31, Titus 2… for centuries men (and women) have taken passages in the bible out of cultural context and tried to apply them to the modern day Christian woman as a shining example. The problem with these fictional examples of the perfect Christian wife is just that, they’re so perfect no one can achieve them without losing their true self in the process.

Patriarchal thought is so deeply entrenched in American evangelical Christianity that women, including myself, happily bend and twist ourselves into someone we barely recognize. All in the name of eternal life, and the glory of a god we can’t begin to understand.

We keep breaking off pieces of ourselves, putting them in a box on the shelf, hoping that Jesus will make those parts of you that don’t fit just disappear. Because as women in the patriarchy we learn quickly to be who we are told be; someone who makes everyone else comfortable. This is done under the guise of imitating Christ’s servant heart, but really it’s just another way to control women.

Often times when women in the church are struggling, fellow Christian women or pastors tell those who struggle that you just need to pray more or read your bible more. For young mothers, or mothers of young children, this task can feel impossible. All it does is make your struggle feel abnormal, and like its your own fault for not doing all the things. It’s heartbreaking to me when I see moms of young children in the church, thinking they’re supposed to be completely fulfilled by being a wife, homemaker and mother. Especially when they’re frustrated that they don’t feel fulfilled.

So if you’ve been struggling with your ability to be the good Christian wife and mother, maybe it’s because you know deep down you are more than what you’ve been told you’re allowed to be.

Does this mean all Christian women feel this way? No. I’m sure there are plenty of them willing to tell you how much they love their life and wouldn’t change a thing.

But for those of us who felt suffocated under the pressure to conform, getting out was essential. For some it means walking away from an abusive marriage. For others like myself, it just meant walking away from abusive theology and the evangelical machine at large. For some it meant walking away so they could fully embrace their true sexuality, because their humanity was dismissed by a religion that labeled them sinners.

My point in tweeting about these things is not to rail against Christianity on the whole. It’s to share my experiences with others, in hopes that someone else feeling broken, lost and alone in the wilderness will realize they are not, in fact alone; but in good company.

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