Artwork: “They Stood (The Daughters of Zelophehad) by the Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman of A Sanctified Art, LLC
At the beginning of March, our church’s youth group met at my house to watch Disney’s latest animated feature: Turning Red. (I had volunteered as tribute since I was the one who failed to read the fine print that it wasn’t coming out in theaters, but instead streaming on Disney+). I had not seen it, nor had I read anything about the “controversies.” So, less than twenty minutes in and bam! “Did the ‘red peony’ bloom?” And we’re all falling on the floor laughing.
Luckily, it was all girls that night. In reflection, we were glad some of the sixth grade boys hadn’t made their first trip to youth group that night, because they might have been scarred for life. We also knew the older boys would have been fine. And after some further conversation we all realized how awesome it was to see something that is such a regular part of our lives included as part of regular life for one of the characters in this awesome movie. It was just normal.
Even more interesting, my five-year-old sons, in all the dozens of times they have seen that movie, have never even noticed that it was a thing.
Rewind to several years ago at a Montreat Youth Conference when the leadership chose to use the story of Jesus healing the hemorrhaging woman from the gospel of Mark as one of the focuses for the day. That morning the keynote speaker explained her malady in this way: she had been having her period for over a decade. Every woman in the audience – young and old – gasped in horror. Can you imagine?
What I love about that story is not only that Jesus healed her so that she could finally return to life and be a part of society, but that Jesus didn’t shy away from what was happening to a woman’s body, like so many other men had. He saw her as human. As part of the family. And he wanted to return her to the community.
They touched – and the world didn’t end.
For millennia, women’s bodies and what happens with and within them have been a taboo subject, especially in the west. Let’s just cover them up and not talk about what really happens, partially because if we were honest in our conversations, we might just find out how incredibly powerful those bodies truly are. What is more, the less we normalize and understand what is going on, the easier it is to isolate women from one another and keep control over half the population. Make us feel dirty. Keep us underneath.
But that was never God’s intention. God formed us in God’s image, too. Gave us, women, the ability to take part in God’s creative process if we choose to. God has chosen women to do remarkable things throughout history, despite every roadblock that men have put in our way. God even sent women to preach, first.
My point is that we are God’s children. God’s authentic and wondrous creations. Made to rock this world like the powerhouses that we are. If we can survive all the ridiculous things our bodies put us through, not to mention all the ways that we are put down for daring to speak out of turn and refusing to be the quiet little ladies we were raised to be, then just imagine what else we can do.
God gave you a voice. Use it. Show this world the incredible queen that you really are and tell your story, too.