Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Martha Stewarts and Musicians

So, a good friend of mine was pointing out that in church. . . . .the majority of women who are help up as examples are either "Martha Stewarts or Musicians".

This, unfortunately, caused her to feel a bit out of place and left out. She also doesn't feel comfortable sitting in a church at times, because of some past pain on this issue. I have a few thoughts, but I'd love to hear from some women on this one . . .
(we have yet to have a female commentor on this blog, besides my lovely wife. . . who coincidently, is a martha stewart and a musician :) )

1) Home making and artistry are two things that we naturally associate with femininity. So, the holding of those things in high regard is understandable and natural.

2) It is unfortunate, though, that we don't celebrate, more often. . women who are great administrators, financiers, philanthropists, etc. . . . Even if it that a woman is "generous" or "kind and soft spoken". . .those would be great things to point out and celebrate as well.

3) The same thing happens with men as certain types of masculinity are held in higher regard than others e.g. Man's man. . . . .engineer. . . . . rich. . . . .physically strong (I can testify, as I am none of these :) )

The bottom line, is that we all want to feel as though we are significant and contributing to the life of the church with our various gifts. So, we should do a better job of pointing those out and celebrating them IN EVERY PERSON in their varied gifts, talents, and personalities.

Anyone felt "left out" in the church?


Jody Britton said...

I know, I'm the wife...and let me just say I'm neither a Martha Stuart or a musician. I'm an imposter really. Like most women, I want to be good at something...anything. I want to be noticed for the things I do. For me currently, my lot in life as a wife and a mom (and one married to a musician), I've chosen to grow the "martha/musician" qualities in my life. Prior to that, I was a manager, and administrator - and a good one at that. Certainly not Martha. However, that pressure comes in when we begin to surround ourselves w/ others who pursue their current giftedness as well. And no matter what those gifts are, most of us will always feel some level of "not fitting in", or being different, or worse -- not living up to the standards in which other women in our phase are accomplishing. When you put this in the context of the church walls (which I might add is only one realm we feel such pressure), it just happens that most women (speaking in stereotypes here) APPEAR to pursue either Martha or Musician. What is sad to me in our pursuit of whatever we pursue is not so much the feeling we get of being alone or left out or different ...but rather the lie from the Enemy Himself that we are not enough. I'd hate to be part of something where everyone was the same, and where it was partly my fault because I didn't take a risk in pursuing who Christ made me. Maybe in my next life I'll pursue the "gently quiet spirit". HA, now wouldn't that be different (for me that is). :) So there it is Aaron - a female perspective (sorry it's mine again).

Jody Britton said...

See, look, I can't even spell Stuart right. Stewart I mean..... :)

pmoffitt said...

One place of confusion is that those areas we "hold in high esteem" are, I believe, sometimes mistaken as the "goals" of a good Christian woman, ie, displaying the feminine qualities of domestic engineering and organization and artistic creativity can mistakenly be seen as the places God will inevitably lead us to as women of faith. I just went through a Bible study wherein the group discussed (through a study by a prominent Christian theologian) a "woman's place" in the church. It was not exactly an experience that encouraged me to step forward with any leadership, organizational, financial or administrative skills. As a divorced woman, and one who is (happily) on the return flight side of middle age :), I think we do the same things, inadvertently perhaps, based upon marital status and age. As someone who has been an active part of a church for nearly 20 years, I sometimes think that there are accepted behaviors, not just for women, but also for a woman (or man) whose life experiences or age have somehow moved them to the "fringe" of desirable service categories. That may not be all bad, and it may be reflective of the tendency we all have to qualify and quantify, but as Christians we should probably all let eachother "breathe" a little more so that the giftedness God so kindly gives might be more freely shared and encouraged.

Aaron said...

These are all great points.

I feel like the issue, though, is not what gifts are acceptable and/or not for a woman or man to exercise in the church. There are a myriad of gifts, some similar, some different by gender to exercise in many ways.

I feel like the issue here is how we let the comments of one, or a few people, color our attitudes and actions (for 40 years in this case) about church.

I have to think there's some spiritual warfare at play, or perhaps leading our lives out of pain, instead of out of victory.

I just think a few conversations early on can help these misunderstandings (even intentional inappropriateness)be understood.

Maybe the "understanding" is that you'll need to go to a different church. :) But, at least there won't be a root of pain towards "most churches" that will influence our actions for years.

Let's just seek to mature out of the "take my toys and go home" mentality of so many adults toward church and/or relationships.

(which you two women have done well at, I might add :) )


pmoffitt said...

Good points. Some of richest experiences of my time with the church have been the result of simply bulldozing past expectations, perceived or otherwise. Since He came to give us freedom, the more "real" that is to us, the more successful we will be in maturing and living outside of the more limited world we think we must function in.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not sure it's been 40 years of feeling on the outside of Christian fellowship, but I am interested in your thoughts on my comment. I think a community (Christian or otherwise) has an identity -- not of one but made up of all. Intimacy, openness, exposure require a safe place. Lots of communities require a shield or a cover. Sometimes it's just common sense not to bore everyone with the details of your life. Well the one place I fit in is with Christ and that's been true for 46 years. A good friend.

aaron said...


Thanks for your comment, let me just say that the original story that sparked this thread led to memories of many stories similar to it. So this thread is not addressing anyone specifically, but those who have been hurt in this way by the church, generally.

I agree that communities need to be safe and that it isn't always up to the "offendee" to do all the work there. You are right on this.

My point is that many times open communication has simply not been achieved before someone bolts, (externally, or inwardly). I just want to challenge all of us to:

". . . as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Romans 12:18

God bless,