Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Quack Like a Platypus

I've struggled for a little while now of how to put this into words, but here goes...

I was privileged enough to be able to receive a great education. I am truly blessed to have studied under some amazing and wonderful minds, forerunners in their fields, and scholars respected worldwide.

I also received a much more covert education in the process. In the process of learning Biblical text and Koine Greek, Family Systems and therapeutic theories, I learned that I needed to be a certain type of person in order to be successful.

Successful ministers, especially successful female ministers, are quiet and reserved. They're modest and conventional in their appearance. Their interests and hobbies should be related to the church, home or family. They are well versed in scripture, but they aren't preachers. They have excellent organizational skills, but are not to be in leadership.

Successful therapists also dress conservatively, but should also be in fashion. They aren't loud or boisterous. They are always presentable and never appear to lose control. They are always available and compassionate, but they are asexual and slightly aloof at the same time.

No one spoke these lessons. They weren't on any syllabus, and I even had some professors actively fight these messages, but they were received any way.

When I became a mother, particularly a mother in a politically and religiously conservative area, I got a whole new set of messages: Everything should be about my children. I should feel completely fulfilled in every way when I change a diaper. I should sacrifice my body, mind, and spirit for the purpose of making my children happy. My value as a woman in this society is based upon how presentable my home is and well behaved my children are.

Again, no one person told me these things, but still these messages took root in me, and like Devil's Snare they tangled me up and gripped me in their thorns. This weed grew slowly and it took a long time to realize how much I had let it strangle me.

I love my God and the Church, but I am neither quiet not reserved. I love with great passion and my soul delights in boisterous worship. I am truly honored to be in a place where I can serve those with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, but I could never be a therapist in 50 minute blocks. I care too deeply for people to detach in such a way. I absolutely love and adore my children and they mean the world to me, but there is a whole big world beyond these two little souls.

I have recently begun to notice how I let the expectations and messages of my particular religious and geographic culture shape me into someone I am not. I have stuffed my own passions and loves down in order to fit some ideal with which I don't even agree.

I say, "No more!"

From now on, I am exactly who God created me to be, and that is more than enough. God made me to be a loud, crazy, hyper, lover of people and art, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. My husband told me today that no matter how hard you try as a duck, you'll never be a fish. A friend followed up and said screw the duck, be a bad ass platypus.

So here I am, quaking like a platypus and proud of it!

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