Do we give up too easily? | Being a Woman in the Indian Church

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I was watching a video of Aimee Mullens’ Ted Talk, for maybe the eighth time. I had already watched her talk several times before deciding to teach my students about about her speech or more so the power of her passion and how that elevated her speaking. She was poised, put together, passionate and was standing on prosthetic legs. She challenged society’s notion of what a “disabled” person should be and I looked at her and thought that if I were her, I wouldn’t have dared to stand on that stage. I wouldn’t have become a runner like her. But she, with her disability, was doing things I could only dream of accomplishing.¬†

Watching Aimee Mullens made me think- she trusts her legs. She trusts her prosthetics, probably more than I trust my flesh and bones. If she doesn’t give up, why do I?¬†There are many times in life when we may face seemingly insurmountable challenges. Some of these hurdles have presented themselves in my experiences as a woman in the Indian church. In the moment we believe that things cannot and will not get better, that we are limited in some way. But looking at Mullens I am reminded that our definitions and perceptions of situations can be challenged and that maybe- we give up too easily.¬†

There are two ways people can respond to set backs. There are the Cains of the world and the Davids.

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Characteristics of Cains 

  • Jealous
  • Cynical

Cain and Abel are the children of Adam and Eve. Cain grew jealous of Abel’s sacrifice to God and this ultimately led to his demise:

…Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the¬†Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the¬†Lord¬†respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. Genesis 4:3-5

Cain’s jealousy of what his brother had and what he lacked led him to ultimately killing his brother. Instead of trying to offer something better to God, to be something more- he turned to sin. How many times do we feel like we just cannot do or be more? I believe we all know that feeling all too well. We fail in some way or form and instead of trying again, we give up. A friend of mine told me that before getting the job he now has at a big financial company, he applied to 99 jobs at the same firm. He now worked in hiring and can see all applications that come in for the company and noted how most people apply maybe once or twice. While hearing his story, most of my friends admitted that we would do the same. If a company rejected us after a couple of applications, that was it for us. But my friend didn’t give up on the company he wanted to work at until he finally got a position.

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Characteristics of Davids 

  • Resourceful
  • Hopeful

David was the youngest of his brothers and naturally passed by for opportunities. But David didn’t let his background hold him back. In fact, David leveraged the very qualities that would make others think he was weak. In the classic bible story of David and Goliath, David used the unusual tool of a slingshot to defeat a giant.

 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.(1 Samuel 17:49-50)

In a situation in which others would have given up, David remained hopeful. He trusted in everything that God had provided and in the end was triumph. Growing up as a female in the Indian church, it was hard to have an older brother in some ways.

Being a Woman in the Indian Church

I frequently spoke at church and was very open about how I loved public speaking but no speech I ever gave seemed to measure up to the sermons my brother spoke. He rarely spoke publicly and didn’t care for it, but the few times he spoke were admittedly spectacular. There were many times I wanted to give up on my love of speaking. Why try to have a voice in a society that would rather hear from a man, especially when others could speak better? There were many times when I felt as though the opportunities given to me in the Indian church would be so much grander if I were a man. How could I not think that way when even in one of our most prominent organization, Pentecostal Youth Fellowship of America (PYFA), I have only once seen a female leader in an organization founded in 1981.

My parents and grandparents would pray every night for my brother to be a minister of God, but I never once heard them pray for me to minister God’s word. My grandfather was a prominent pastor and my brother was the only grandson born with the last name “Thomas”, the default heir. My mom recounted that a prophesying preacher once spoke to my parents and told them that they had prayed and hoped for ministry to come from their family from their son, but it would come from their daughter. My mom shared what was said to me but reminded me that she still hoped for my brother to one day minister.

If Aimee Mullens doesn’t give up even when she was prosthetic legs, why would I give up because I’m a woman?¬†Everyday we choose whether we give up or keep going. Giving up can happen in small ways. We stop working towards that goal we really had set in our heart. Or maybe we stop moving forward in acquiring a new skill we long to have. It could even mean underestimating ourselves because of whatever our “disability” may be.¬†There are days that can feel so dark and times in which all hope is lost but I pray that if you cling to hope, you too can do the seemingly impossible.

 

 

 

 

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Could I be inherently bad?

If you grew up in a Christian home, chances are that you remember the story of Solomon and two women who presented a predicament to him. Essentially, there was one good mother and one bad mother. The bad mother was pretending to be the mother of the others child. Okay, I may have just confused you. Go read the story with my hyperlink! It will make more sense.

Anyway, Solomon, in his wisdom, told the mothers that he would cut the baby in half. Naturally the good mother wanted to save her child and the bad mother replied, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”

I don’t remember how old I was at the time, maybe six or seven years old. But I was cast as the bad mother. My best friend was the good mother. My line was simple, “Cut the baby!” I repeated this a few times while my friend said, “Don’t cut the baby!” I was later dragged away by a “prison guard” as the audience cheered.

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Taken from freebibleimages.org/illustrations/solomon-moody/

 

I would like to think that the assigning of roles was an arbitrary decision but that role I was given has always been something I’ve struggled with. Could I be inherently bad? Was there a reason I so naturally fit into the part of “bad” mother.

I was the kid who was tough to get along with growing up. I grew upset easily with my friends and would start fights all the darn time. Heck, I get annoyed with myself thinking back on it. I was needlessly mean when I wanted to be and I’ve been told I have a natural disposition of saying things that hurt others without realizing it. I’ve been distracted by the things of this world and constantly struggle to be better, to be kinder.

I was pondering whether or not I could be inherently bad for the first time in years and I believe God sent me an answer, oddly enough through Harry Potter. For any Christians raised in ultra conservative households like myself, do you remember when saying you liked Harry Potter was the equivalent of saying that you loved Lucifer? To think of all the time I wasted not reading it! 

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Taken from lulusketches.tumblr.com

 

Harry, like myself, struggled with feeling as though he could be evil, or have the potential to be bad within himself because of his abilities and who he inherently was. Within Hogwarts, the Wizarding school he attended, students were placed into different houses by an all knowing sorting hat. When the sorting hat for houses was placed on his head, he repeated to himself that he didn’t want to be in the Slytherin house and was then placed in¬†Gryffindor. Slytherin was famous for housing every wizard who had ever become bad.

Feeling as though he had the ability to become evil weighed heavily on Harry. But Dumbledore’s advice to him offers me a sense of comfort and reassurance:

“[The sorting hat] only put me in Gryffindor,” said Harry in a defeated voice, “because I asked not to go in Slytherin‚Ķ”

“Exactly,” said Dumbledore, beaming once more. “Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

I acknowledge that within me is the potential to be awful, selfish and completely unworthy of anything that I have. But isn’t that why scripture tells us in Romans 3:23 that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Just beyond that verse that really exposes all of us for who we really are is a beacon of hope in verse 24, “and all are justified¬†freely by his grace¬†through the redemption¬†that came by Christ Jesus.”

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Taken from desertcart.ae

Every single day I choose again to follow God and accept the salvation he offers to me. I choose to reject my selfish nature and destructive thought patterns. I choose the good that God offers over the beauty and rotting allure of the world. And lastly, I am reminded by Dumbledore, that it is our choices that show us who truly are, far more than our abilities.