We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.
I have to admit July 4 has never been my favorite holiday. Maybe it’s the heat and bugs, or the crowds, I’m not sure. Growing up, my family celebrated the day with minor enthusiasm, often accepting an invitation for a barbecue and fireworks. I don’t know from where my lack of interest arises, but I find the day annoying.
Mind you, I must be clear, I have a lack of regard, shall we say, for all holidays that aren’t Christmas or Thanksgiving. The pomp and build-up, the overtaking of social media, the inevitable comparisons that reveal my lack of interest and/or creativity are overwhelming. I tend to wish these days away. Valentines’ Day? Yuck. St. Patricks? Forget it. Halloween? Never. I do love, however, when friends who adore celebrating invite me along.
But this 4th felt different. More than an annoying day on the calendar, or an obligatory social event, It felt oppressive and uncertain. I know how fortunate I am to live in this country. I know I have freedom to spout my frustration. I have privilege to say the things that I want to say. I can go to fireworks if I want, or stay home if I don’t. I have much to be grateful for. But this day, this year has been hard. Conversations are fraught with difficulty. Family gatherings are more silent than conversant. I wish it was different, but I’m not sure how to make it so. I try. I fail. I leave feeling bereft.
When you love something, you can also hold criticism for it. I love this country. I love the people in it. I love the vision we’ve been invited into. I love democracy and the idea that we all have equal participation.
But do we?
Do we really have equal participation?
As a woman I don’t believe I do. And I don’t believe black people do, or brown people, or indigenous. I don’t believe gay or transgender people do, nor do people from less than upper, middle class. Which leaves us to one specific demographic – white, wealthy, straight men.
I took my daughter and son to see Wonder Woman this week. As the credits rolled and the lights came on, my daughter took a deep breath, and stared at me with her eyes wide. Her affirmation of the movie was clear. She uttered an expletive and I shared her awe. We departed the theater with light in our eyes and hope in our step. My twelve year old son wasn’t quite as enthralled and a bit confused by our exclamation. He enjoyed the movie fine but couldn’t identify with our passion, delight, and enthusiasm.
Driving south toward our cabin, out of the little mountain town, I shared vehemently, but not unkindly, with him the reason for our exuberance. As I blew through the reduced speed limit signs onto the rural highway, I failed to notice the flashing lights in my rearview. Explaining the significance of a female lead in an action movie with actual fight scenes, the beauty of women, and the ferocity of a Mother God who desperately adores us, I had no idea of my speed.
The officer asked if I knew how fast I was driving, to which I replied, “No, I’m so sorry. I was too excited. We just saw Wonder Woman!” Amused but stern, he departed, license in hand, leaving myself and children to reflect on my mindless mishap. My son mentioned, to my deep joy, how proud he was of my lawbreaking abilities. The 68 MPH clip was significant in the 55 MPH zone, but the officer let me off with a warning and a reminder to slow down, also mentioning he did not want to ruin our perfect Wonder Woman evening.
“Thank you so much, sir.” I said, with undaunted enthusiasm and relief.
The hope for our communities, churches, nation, and world rests in the rise of women. As Wonder Woman claimed her power and understanding throughout the story, she experienced points of great pain and disillusionment. But this did not lead her to rest in defeat. After careful consideration, she owned what was, and determined it was her work to bring the relief and justice and mercy to the situation, to the people.
I believe I was justified in my sadness yesterday. I believe I am justified in my resolve today. I know the work I am called to – whether it is scratching my child’s back, making a meal, planting a church, writing a blog, or hosting a dinner – is changing the world. And the grief, disappointment, and resolve are my super powers. Through the process I find the strength that has always been mine. I discover the desire, the gifts, the burn to put myself in the hands of my call. I marinate in the resolve, owning my agency in creating a more just and generous world.
Women will change the world. We already are. Not at the expense of white, wealthy men, but alongside, in equality. Let’s discover what truly makes us sing and what makes us want to spit nails. These are significant clues to what matters and what we are designed to offer our world. Do not believe for a second you are not worthy or qualified. Each of us equipped to do the good work of reconciliation and restoration. The essential work of Love.