Resistance is My Stance of Hope

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Some people call it deconstructing or unsettling. I feel like I’m just trying to sort stuff out.

I was raised in the church. I went to Sunday School, Girls’ Club, Youth Group and Church Camp. I was taught all the stories, memorized all the bible verses and could hold my own in a “sword” drill. I am grateful for the knowledge I was given and the faith that is my own.

But.

Yep, you knew it was coming and there it is. But.

What about?
How come?
Who said?
Why?

That’s the zone I’ve been living in for the past number of years. At first I was embarrassed by all of my questions. I was annoyed with myself for not just believing what I was taught. I felt like I was being a Bad Christian because I wanted to know more than the facts. I wanted to live in the heart of it all. I wanted to know my faith, my God, my salvation. I wanted to bask in the grace that has been given to me, but I couldn’t until I explored its limits and tasted its goodness.

For me, this time of exploring and tasting wasn’t framed by acts of rebellion culminating in an epic Come-to-Jesus moment. It was quieter and personal and life-altering. It was giving myself permission to ask questions, dig deeper than Sunday morning sermons and seek out voices that were so very different than mine. It was going to the highways and byways to sit in relationship with those who I’d “ministered” to, but never known. It was a time of resisting the boundaries I had been raised in and plotting my own, wide-open, understanding of Jesus.

You’d think I’d feel unmeasured freedom—and I do, sort of. Before I found freedom, I had to wade through—slog through— miles and miles of guilt. I had to disentangle myself from questionable theology and religious rules that mascaraded as gospel truth. I had to set my heart on seeking the heart of Jesus, instead of training my mind on the situational works of The Holy.

And I had to breathe.

I never questioned God’s love for me during this time. I never felt like I was disappointing God. I knew God could handle my questions and he celebrated my expanding heart. I knew that we were good. Solid. In sync. I also knew that my path would not jive with some of his other kids. I knew that some churchy-church folks, people I loved dearly, would not understand or condone the journey I was on.

I knew I had to choose between being good with them and being good with me.

So I leapt towards me. I flung my arms wide and jumped with wild abandon, knowing that Jesus was right there with me. I jumped, knowing he might be the only one with me on this leap. And I was okay with that.

During all this, I wrestled with accusations that I had a rebellious heart. I have had moments of heartbreak when confronted with my “sin” of non-conformity. I have struggled, and maybe that struggle will always be present, but I have also had a revelation: Resistance is not an act of rebellion, it is a stance of hope.

I did not begin to question the status quo of my faith and resist the religious boundaries that contained me because I wanted to lead some kind of feminist anarchy. I resisted because I could feel More and Better. I could feel it growing outside the boundaries and I wanted to experience it. That was the grace and goodness my heart was craving.

In 1914, Nellie McClung and several other mothers of suffrage and temperance staged a Mock Parliament in Winnipeg. This was a popular tradition of the time. It was one of the few avenues forward thinking women had to express their political views in a socially acceptable way. What made the Winnipeg theatrical so memorable was the events surrounding it.

The day before the play debuted, Nellie McClung stood in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly to make the first formal appeal for women’s suffrage in Manitoba. She leaned in as Premier Rodmund Roblin rebutted her argument by stating that giving women the vote would result in the total breakdown of family and society, because women were unable to commit fully to their duties as wives and mothers if their brains were clouded by politics.

Twenty-four hours later, Nellie McClung stood on the stage of the Walker Theatre, in the role of premier of the all-female assembly, and argued that “politics unsettle men, and unsettled men mean unsettled bills—broken furniture, broken vows and divorce.”

The crowd went wild for McClung’s spot-on impersonation of Roblin and his flimsy arguments. Historians tote this moment in history as a turning point for suffrage in Canada. McClung later wrote that it was never the aim of suffragettes to overthrow the government and create an all-female system. The mock parliament was only meant to display how absurd it is to have a nation lead solely by one gender, one point of view, one life experience.

She resisted, because she knew we could all do better. And she was right. Exactly two years after this performance, with continued questioning and challenging the staus quo, women in Manitoba won the right to vote. The struggle didn’t end there. It was 45 years more until all men and women, regardless of gender or race, won the rights of citizenship. There is always More and Better we can do—that is the dream of my heart.

I don’t want to overthrow the church. I don’t want to stage a coup. I just dream of something more than we’ve experienced until now. I dream of living in the territory of abundance—where there is space for everyone, where fear of lack is abolished. I dream of an ever-expanding grace where we can sit with the Other and know each other, know each other’s humanity and feel challenged to be better for all of us.

I resist, not because of all that is wrong, but because I know there is More and Better waiting for us.

I don’t think I’ll ever move on from this place of questions and sorting stuff out. I hope I don’t. I hope I live here forever and I hope you feel welcomed to join me here. I hope you see there is space for you—wherever you are on your journey—to sit here with me, find rest and just be. I’ll not offer very many answers, mostly because I don’t have them. I have Jesus. I know him. I bask in his grace and goodness. He’s okay with my questions and he invites yours. That’s probably the only answer I have for now.

And I’m good with that.

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Nichole Forbes
Nichole is just a regular gal loved by an extraordinary God. She believes in community, justice, freedom, reconciliation and the sacredness of storytelling. Her journey to connect with her Metis culture and history has been her own liberation song. She tries to live bravely every day and say the kind words that need to be heard. She raises her three Not-So-Wee-Ones in the middle of the Canadian prairies with her favorite person ever—her husband, Brad. Nichole blogs, writes and speaks on the things that fill her heart and frame her world. 
Nichole Forbes
Nichole Forbes
somerandommother http://somerandommother.blogspot.ca