I’m often identified first by my chest, its often what people will comment about right after they greet me. My sweet Mema (my grandmother) always told me to stand proud because men “like them.” The media’s portrayal of boobs this or boobs that can really shake a girl. This morning on my drive in to work the radio hosts were discussing, “would you rather have bigger boobs or be smarter?” as if that is even a legitimate question. I’ve had men tell my best-friend to advise me to wear different shorts because of my long legs. Don’t get me wrong, I love my body and, on my own metaphorical island, love every bit of the figure the Lord gave me. No joke. I can wear bakinis on beaches with strangers and spend a majority of my time in private and with my family wearing whatever and not feel self conscious. I sleep naked every night. I love looking at myself and have NO shame when alone with my figure.
But I hated the way I thought other people viewed me because of my curvy body.
I remember once in my sophomore year of high school, three girls ran up to me after chemistry class and told me that some of the football players, well-known guys, were all talking about my rack (*shudder*) in the middle of their class. This was so strange for me because in high school, I avoided guys at all costs. Most of them probably believed I was shy. I was in every way unapproachable. So these guys never even said, “hey” to me in the hallway. No smile. No fun conversation and certainly no joking.
I’ll always remember after my first performance of Godspell junior year of high school, much of the focus of the audience was on my comedic character and off- the- wall- Lucille-Ball acting. After the performance, I was swarmed by two upperclassmen guys and many of the kids in my grade who I never talked to, and they couldn’t believe how funny I was. Yeah, I am funny! I am full of life, really. I wanted to be known and loved, but not many people knew me outside of my very close friends in the theater. I didn’t need guys, right? I didn’t want attention. I was scared and awkward and wanted to stay invisible. I walked the halls of Hun with my bitch-face or my eyes on the ground, because I was SO known for my body I never let guys know my real heart, my real personality.
Even in kindergarten, I remember I would chase the neighborhood boys around telling them I would kiss them. I loved the attention, I am sure, but it made me known for kissing. I remember one boy named Chris refused to take the bus home because he was terrified I would kiss him. My teacher lovingly told me in the bus line and told me I had to stop.
I remember the first slow-dance I ever had in sixth grade, I cried on my dad’s lap afterwards for an hour. The first guy who ever liked me sophomore year in my Algebra class was too intimidated to talk to me, so he talked to EVERYONE else about his obsession. Every day, someone new would come up to me and tell me how much he liked me and wanted to “go-out” with me. My math teacher would have to quiet the class down because all the boys would tease us. If math was my first period class, I would beg my parents to let me go into school late. I figured, the only reason I got all of that attention by that senior and his friends was because of my body. For a whole year, I only talked to the kid on online. He would come to my shows and sit front row center as I danced in West Side Story and watch me in a way that flattered me in retrospect, but most of the time left me scared, nervous and unsure of myself.
So much of my views on femininity was tied to my body. So around other people, and especially men, I shoved the desire to be a lady down deep. To be female was to be weak and to be exposed to heart-ache.
I also rejected femininity as expressed by the church and knew that I never could fit the mold either. I always mocked Brio magazine and the perfect ideal Christian woman. I always felt I couldn’t be the woman who baked cookies, who laughed all the time at men’s jokes, who followed mindlessly and who was a good mom in the mini-van. I wasn’t small, I wasn’t smiley, I wasn’t “scoopable.” The christian-woman kept men from stumbling, and I believed my body and who I was as a person automatically caused men to stumble, no matter how many cartigans I wore. I was told, Christian-women didn’t have a sex drive, but guys did, and it was our job to lead them from temptation. How often would I grow angry and bitter when I heard other girls say, “I guess I am just really sexual, because…” as it was the plague to desire physicality. Which essentially made me feel like one-big-walking-temptation. Just recently, Relevant released an article which describes this process of shame perfectly,
Thus, from a worldly standard and from a Christian standard, femininity scared the hell out of me. To be weak or to be temptation both were terrifying options.
Thank the Lord (and I really do mean that from the bottom of my heart), that He gave me countless fathers in my life. I could go on and on about the male role models in my church family and in my biological family who treated me like a cherished daughter of God. I feel completely at peace hanging out and being myself with older men, no problem. It was guys my age who scared me shitless. Thank the Lord again that in the last six years he’s brought godly brothers into my life who rocked my opinion about how men viewed me in general.
But even in so many of my male Christian relationships, the thought of me being feminine, opening-up, following, supporting, encouraging were all shut-down to a bare-minimum. I still had to have control, I still had to have the uppper-hand and had to know at all times that they never viewed me in a romantic way or would even entertained the notion. I was the Xenon-spiritual warrior princess and had no desire at all to be treated like a female, or someone they would even consider flirting-with. I didn’t need men, I didn’ t need anyone but Jesus. Which in turn, made me treat my male friends as less-than-men, feminizing and degrading them and keeing them away from leadership roles in my life.
I was in a real bind. I thought my only options were to be de-sexualized and act pseudo-masculine or be feminine which was synonymous for me with being a sexual-temptress. Both were two very dangerous extremes that didn’t line up with how the Father viewed me at all. Thank Jesus for his ransoming & redeeming work in my life!
It didn’t help that in the middle of the tender teenage years when you figure it out what it means to be a woman, I entered a typical deadly “Christian” relationship (despite many warnings of my friends and church-leaders). When trying to discuss with my boyfriend the typical conversation, “How can I help you from not stumbling?” I was told there was nothing I could do to keep men from “stumbling” when they looked at me. I learned in that relationship that my body and my sexuality was why I received attention. He told me the only reason guys hug girls is to feel their chests, leaving me uncomfortable to hug any man for years after. As the story goes, I fell in love with him, and I am not sure he ever knew who I was at all. I was quiet. I was shut-down, but regardless he spoke to my womanhood. Ah yes, high school-relationships, so quick and yet so damaging. I later went through healing for that, and can tell the story now with little emotion. I was completely freed from any hurt associated with this relationship, and would encourage any woman who hasn’t gone through forgiveness & healing for past intimate relationships with men (emotional or physical), to seek a prayer-minister trained in this area.
Fast forward to the first month I go to the University of Georgia. I am walking in the center of campus when the famous Tate-preacher is standing on stage explaining that when you come to know Jesus you will never sin again. Me, coming right of a prep school and feeling that every social and religious problem needed my immediate attention, I publically challenged him and quoted Romans 7:14-21, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…” He verbally rips me apart for what I am wearing (short khaki shorts, and a v-neck floral tight shirt), tells me I am leading every man into sin and that they would masturbate to my image that night. Holy smokes. Ofcourse I Xangaed about the experience, vocally dismissed everything he said… but to that day I never wore that shirt again and the fact that I’ve lied about what I was wearing while telling the story before, shows that condemnation crept in and settled on me and stirred shame and guilt that was never vocallized.
Studying abroad in Oxford was the first time I felt known and loved by guys not only for my body or my spiritual leadership, but for my feminine attractive personality. My desire is for this to happen in the church! I can gurantee if this did happy in the Body, alot less girls would go down-town every night to party. Then, right after that three months of flirting and crazy-fun in Europe, I went to the Middle-East and to the opposite pole of a complete suppression of my femininity and of my voice and intelligence by the Muslim culture but mostly from Christian men around me.
All of these lies and confusing pendulum swings walked me right into my junior year, the hardest and spiritually heightened year of my life. While I was attending an all-African American church and dealing with major culture shock and rejection from a fake-dating relationship, I entered into the hardest season of my life. Jesus saved me again and again spring of my Junior year. His grace became personal, his sacrifice became my own gain. I was cleaned of my self-righteouss pride. I know who I am now without Him. Thank the Lord for His grace! Remember these times & these prayers??
This year – my church started a biannual worship weekends called “OneThing” and this March’s weekend focused on inner healing. You could sign up for a slot and be “sozoed,” leading you to cut soul-ties and reclaim memories for Jesus and all that jazz. For more on this inner-healing practice, click here
Ofcourse, I signed up for a slot.
The basic structure of the two hour meeting was my leader would go through each person of the trinity; Father, Son, Holy Spirit and you would say words that you thought about each person in the godhead and then ask the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for words or pictures about what they thought about you. I am a poet, I can do images lickity- split. And I expect non-cliche obscure, raw-emotion evoking images, not lame-o images. So, when I got to the Father and asked him to give me an image about how he viewed me and he gave me “cacoon” I was a tad-annoyed. And after the Lord saw me become uncomfortable with His image, he responded so quickly with a memory I had long forgotten.
Background Info: Probably some of my best all-time childhood memories come from Wacko-Weekend, a chilren’s retreat my church hosted every year. Three days in the wild, without your parents, living in a cabin with your best friends. The first sips of independence, being in nature and experiencing the Holy Spirit. Me and the God were tight. During that tender childhood time, I would feel Him holding me in his palms, swinging me in the treetops and pressing his fingerprints on my spirit.
So, as I laughed at God’s words, he instantly struck me with a memory. During Wacko Weekend, there would be caterpillars all over Black Rock Retreat center. So, ofcourse I would collect all the caterpillars and hide them in the dresser drawers of my cabin. My earthly dad always brings up a time when I was so zealous to get more caterpillars for my collection that I ripped open a nest of them, and they all landed all over my face and body as I smiled ( see picture above). To this day, if my earthly dad describes that moment he will start laughing. I bet to little me, that moment was commonplace. That was who I was. Messy Katie with a red-upper-lip from the fruit punch I’d drink in the cafteria, shoelaces untied, bouncing and loving life with every ounce of my being.
As I laughed at the word cacoon, God responded with that memory and I heard him in the deep places of my spirit say, “…how dare they tell you that is not feminine.”
Strong-walled, impenetrable, controlling grown-up Katie broke down in tears at her Fathers word’s, as I heard His loving protection over who I am in His arms. At His voice, all lies melt away.
“How dare they tell you you’re not feminine…” You are a lady, you’re beutiful, you are made that way, I created you to be that girl. You’re not a tom-boy. You are not masculine.You don’t have to control. You don’t have to hide. You are not sexualized. You are altogether lovely. You are who I made you to be.
How dare anyone tell you otherwise, Katie.
My counselor then asked me many questions that confirmed the Father’s words, “Do you feel the need to take on a masculine role in your relationships?” Uh, yes. . “Do you take on the sin of men around you and feel shame at other’s sexual temptation?” Yes, yes and yes. Dead on.
God cares about being female and what some of the church & the world preaches about what it means to be female is wrong.
Last week, the Lord led me to this sermon by Kris Vallotan. After I forgave the church for how I’d been hurt, the Lord opened my eyes to the way the Church is changing history with their message of redemption, purity and Holy Spirit power for women…
If you have time, please please watch this sermon, it’s worth your time and money.
Women’s ministry is not a side note with cliche conferences, images and pastel colors. It’s a crucial part of the story of the gospel and key to the victory of Christ over the enemy in this earth.
On Easter as I read in John the first words of the risen King to a woman I can now hear Him speak to her fashioned-femininity & tender heart,
“As Mary wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” ”
Father, I pray that you would continue to seek out woman and speak their language to them. Show them Your protective heart and Your redeeming voice. Speak truth and speak beauty and show them the power in weakness, their inheritance as your daughters and the unspeakable joy in knowing who you are in Christ. Thanks for raising me up, Jesus. Thanks for raising and being a curse and sin for me. Thanks for seating me in heavenly places. I pray against the Spirits who continue to oppress women all over the world. Give me authority over those spirits and give me discernment to know how to intercede. Father, thanks for showing me who I am. You are good, may you alone be praised Jesus!
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