Being from Southern California I feel almost handicapped on the difference in culture here in the Bible belt. Growing up, I never thought about whether or not someone was of a different race. People were people were people. And as I say that it’s probably because I was white and because California is a little bit more progressive in their stance on issues, so it didn’t directly impact me on a day-to-day basis.
Coming to the south 5 years ago I feel like I have been enlightened to an entirely different culture that isn’t absent in So. Cal, I just believe the South is slower to adapt to societal acceptance and so the contrast is a bit more prevalent. I’ve also noticed it as woman — the differences in culture for me, for the first time in my life.
Last weekend I sat in the green room at church and was able to talk to several friends. We started with light topics like: why women aren’t speaking up on controversial issues – primarily in the church. 🙂 I don’t do light people.
While I normally wouldn’t categorize a culture by the color of their skin, I feel like there is a separation here, a lot more so than in California which is why I’ve made the distinction.
Let me back up a little bit.
When I started Soul Collective, I noticed a trend in my followers — I like seeing where people are coming from as they stumble across my site and it helps knowing what your audience is responding to. I noticed that many of you from my small community are African-American women. While my friends in my predominantly ‘white church community’ have supported and liked my blog on Facebook (thanks y’all!), I found that people I didn’t know were willing to speak up and share a controversial article more so than my white friends.
Hmmmm…my brain started to churn. Naturally my mind wanted to figure out why there was a separation in cultures in freedom to speak up.
A friend of mine, Sam Collier, who hosts his own radio show (check it out here) and travels the nation as a host, dives into these kinds of questions on a weekly basis, so I figured I’d drop a light topic on the green room table for discussion and ask for his insight.
His answer blew me away at how succinctly he captured what I had been trying to feel out for weeks.
My question was: Why do you think there is more freedom to speak on controversial issues within the African American female community based on what I’m seeing a response to, on my blog?
His response: “Generationally, there has been an absence of African American husbands and fathers’ presence within the family unit. Therefore, women naturally step up into that lead role. So, if you are an African-American woman there is a an expectation that you are strong. They lead their families & their children confidently because they want to and need to.”
I went back home and chewed on that nugget until I could speak clearly on the question underneath the question
“Why are women in church not speaking up?”
Speaking on real topics; the things that we mutter and complain about in our small groups, the things affecting our families when it comes to time, resources, ministry, the talk in our green rooms, on our stages, and in our pastors’ lounges. We’ve got our bases when it comes to being a “good mom” or “good wife,” but who’s talking about all the other areas that make up who we are.
Not just why aren’t we speaking, why aren’t we doing something to create change?
If I apply Sam’s thoughts that absence creates an automatic need, then fear doesn’t have a hold in that situation. It’s not even an option to do it. It’s a nike commercial moment. We just gotta do it whether we know how to or not. Whether we want to or not.
Andy Stanley spoke directly to this during his sermon last week and said:
“You don’t have to be afraid, even when there is something to be afraid of.”
Fear is tricky to navigate for sure, but just doing it regardless of the present fear, trumps it instantly — we went from inaction to action in a single bound. So, when the need isn’t there, then there is naturally less inclination to step out into unknown waters. Fear. We have an option and it’s a safe option we all like to hang out in. Fear of venturing out that could cause a ruckus.
I think Jesus was a ruckus maker just by who He was. He wasn’t rude, but he was bold. He also wasn’t widely accepted. He was the new dude in town that was causing all the ruckus.
It can be tough. It can be scary. Someone can squash you and say “Thanks, but no thanks. Your opinion isn’t needed here.”
Leading in ministry (whether on staff or behind the scenes) is hard. I don’t hear any women saying that from our stages. I don’t see a lot of women on our stages in fact. I feel like women’s culture in the church can be categorized in two ways, neither or which is super appealing to me:
First: I’m a woman leader, hear me roar. I will plow over people. I’m in control. Do not wrong me.
Second: The Lord has placed something on my heart, but as a woman, my place is in the home. Southern culture. That’s my place. I know my place as a good mom or a good wife and I don’t want to ruffle feathers or cause a stir.
My heart gets anxious as I type both those sentences & it’s because it’s our current truth.
What happens when a calling and culture come into conflict?
For me, I’m going with the calling. I don’t have a bone to pick, but I do have a bold burden. Ladies, we can be bold/direct and still deliver a message with an encouraging love. We can tackle tough topics and call out a blind spot even when everyone else thinks ‘it just is what it is’…because that is what God has placed on our heart.
Our inaction on a calling is the place where our souls go to die.
Watching the IG feed from Catalyst West last week, my pastor Andy Stanley had a great quote that I saved as a screen shot.
Has God placed a burden on your heart? He has mine. Burdens tend to take us to places we’d never have wandered on our own. Guess I sang Oceans one too many times and something took. 😉
So why am I saying all of this?
I desire Soul Collective to be the conversation starting point where women decide to start taking risks. Taking risks by sharing their stories in vulnerability and leading in action. To be able to share a piece of our soul from within those moments of conflict and tension; to grant the availability to one another as a trusting community to conquer these pieces together.
Let’s not be the sideline critiquing crew anymore. We’ve done that. It’s not changing anything, it’s just stirring the stew.
‘Cuz ladies…if we all collectively decided to push past insecurities where it gets a little scary and vulnerable and work WITH one another, we could run this gosh darn world. Not so that we could dominate. Not for ultimate control.
Why? For world-changer influence with Jesus-like love!