Red Is Meant To Be Worn (A Christian Feminist Perspective)

red

At the end of 2014, I found myself leaving my children’s pastor job in Virginia Beach. Luke and I loved our “family” at the church we served at, but I found myself dying inside. I never thought that silly string, treasure boxes, and “Jesus loves me this I know” was beneath me; it simply was not my ultimate passion or purpose.

I served for almost 2 years and was asked to preach from the main stage to the grown ups one time for five minutes (don’t worry, I took a full half hour). The men in leadership were not trying to hold me back; they simply expected me to do my job, as children’s pastor. That was my “role” in our church family.

Truthfully, I would have been fine with simply doing my job and fulfilling my role if I thought there was room for me to grow, but I had searched for enough ministry jobs all around the United States to know that “kids ministry” is pretty much the end game for many female ministers – trained or untrained.

Quite honestly, I didn’t know who I was or what my specific calling was in my late 20s. I sort of lost myself during that period of my life.

I got married at 25 and I didn’t know how to just “be me” anymore. I have a “gypsy soul” and I love to travel to minister, see friends and the world. Marriage makes it a bit more difficult to be a committed gypsy. Thankfully, I have a hella cool husband (born and raised in Northern California), who sends me off on trips when we can afford it.

But it’s more than that; marriage takes over one’s soul (at least it did mine). All of the sudden, it was not just about me anymore. Since I struggled to find a ministry job (even with a master’s degree in biblical studies), most of the financial burden fell on Luke and he sort of fell into the role of “provider.” That was not the plan.

Luke and I met in graduate school. We were going to both build our careers. We were going to both be “providers.”

There was no way I was going to simply fall into the role of “stay at home wife.” It just was not me. I think I tried a few times, mostly by making sure Luke had a nice frozen dinner when he got home from work. Hey, it was Trader Joes brand (don’t judge). I clean sometimes; ok almost never, so what the heck was my role going to be in this marriage?

I had heard that some women take over the finances and budget when their husbands are the “provider.” Ya, I am terrible at math and have very little tolerance for stress. Luke is good at math and can handle an insane amount of stress, so I simply let him take care of the finances.

One thing that does stress Luke out is returning stuff to the store. It’s pretty funny to pretend like I am going to make him “return his own shirt” this time. He sort of starts hyperventilating and sweating. So, I accepted that my “role” is to be the “returner.” I guess that is the least I could do.

But, being the “returner” and the “children’s pastor” were not enough for me. I wanted and needed more for my life. I had all these gifts inside of me that were not being seen by anyone with any sort of influence or motivation to help a sister out.

I have a lot of the gifts women are not supposed to have, which intimidates society and the Church.

I was born to lead. I was born to be an evangelist (which means much traveling alone). I was born to preach the good news. I was born to help bind broken hearts. I was born to set captives free. I was born to confront injustice. I was born to tell and live the truth. I was born courageous.

If I would have been born male, I would have been the “ideal” candidate for most high level church jobs.

I just finished a (must have) book called, “Lime Green” by Jackie Roese (Find Here). I actually know Jackie and adore her because she cusses when she preaches sometimes. I didn’t grow up around any sort of cussin’ in church, so I find it amusing and real.

Anyways, Jackie tells her story about how she found herself as a “pastor’s wife” in Texas surrounded by a bunch of “light pink” church ladies, and she stuck out as “lime green” with her loud and bold personality, with gifts to lead and preach. She didn’t fit the “light pink” sweet, southern, quiet, submissive, diplomatic “pastor’s wife mold.”

The truth is though, many women who are trying to be “light pink” to please God or men or whoever, are not really “light pink.” There are some fabulous “light pink” ladies out there, but I am not one of them.

I spent a little time thinking about what color I am. Maybe hot pink or fuchsia, I thought. Then I heard God (or maybe my inner ego) say, “Oh no girl, you are RED!”

So of course I did what any rational human being would do in 2016 and I googled “the meaning of the color red:”

Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.

Oh yes, my husband can attest to the “raises blood pressure” bit.

I love that I am the color red, but most people are intimidated by my shade. So much of my adult life I have not felt important, valuable, wanted, or needed. I have felt pushed to the back of the closet, hoping that someday someone would be courageous and secure enough to wear me.

I wonder how many “red” or “lime green” women are out there trying to be “light pink” just to fit in? 

The Church, and really society as a whole, has a way of telling women who they should be, what they should wear, and what they should and should not do with their lives. But, if we cave to the pressure, we will lose our color.

That is what happened to me as a children’s pastor. I caved to the pressure of what the Church wanted me to be out of necessity for a job really; but overtime, I began to lose my fire, energy, strength, power, determination, passion, desire, and love.

I guess I hoped that if I became “light pink” for a season, someone would take notice that I was actually “red” and start utilizing my gifts for God. It turns out that when we hide our true colors, people don’t see who we actually are, and they will never give us the space to use our gifts, because they don’t even know we have those gifts!

I have to say this though; many people will NEVER give you space to use your gifts if it means that they have to “slide over.” As Christians, we are supposed to be constantly “sliding over” for others, but many local churches have lost their way in this (specifically when it comes to “what to do with” women who are not “light pink”).

Even so, I think we as women (and men too) are designed to chase our specific color. When we try to make all women “light pink” and all men “bold blue,” we miss out on the beautiful and countless shades found within the body of Christ.

I am still finding myself everyday and becoming more and more who God designed “Jory” to be; but here is what I have learned in the last couple of years. God painted me the color red and God does not want me to spend too much of my time with people who will keep me hidden away in the back of their closets. Red is meant to be worn!

What color do you think you are? I would LOVE to know! Go ahead, google it, you know you want to! 

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20 Comments

  • My color is blue. I’m comfortable with being around people and having conversations. It’s nothing for me to speak in front of a thousand people I’ve never seen before.

    I’m energized by people. I’m not one for details so I like to keep it simple (online banking, yeah!) I take care of the household expenses while hubby takes care of saving money (not that I’m a spend drift by any means). The older I get, the more diplomatic I am because there’s too much friction in the church to start arguing back and forth with people. However, I don’t mind stating my thoughts on things. I do need the Lord to help me to not turn my diplomacy into complacency and be bolder.

    I don’t mind conflict but often I choose my battles. If it’s not going to be important tomorrow, why try to lose your mind over it today?

  • This is so great, Jory! I laughed and cried when you said God says you are red. He has made you so red! I love it! I just read the book “Brazen” by Leeana Tankersly and she talks about finding your color and being YOU. I love the color analogy.

  • Thank you for sharing this! I’m dark brown, the color of chocolate and coffee, but there are streaks of red in me, too. I’m warm and comforting to some, but very strong, outspoken, and fiercely independent (to a fault, sometimes). I’m passionate about what I believe, and have dealt with darkness a great deal in my life due to depression. I’m not afraid to talk about or be honest about the darkness, and I don’t like sugar coated, Sunday school answers to the hard, soul and gut wrenching questions that suffering, grief, pain, and injustice bring about. God is not diminished by our honesty, but glorified in our vulnerability. This often makes light pink folks squirm and/or others in my faith community try to fix whatever is wrong. I’m compassionate toward others because my pain has made me more tender toward people. But I struggle to give grace to those who hurt other people.
    I like to think, read, and communicate beyond the surface, and superficial relationships suck the life out of me.

    • It sounds like we are a lot alike, Casey! I love this line, “God is not diminished by our honesty, but glorified in our vulnerability.” I am going to tweet this line out! HAHA

    • So…Aztec hot chocolate? Dark, intensely chocolate, with a hot pepper and cinnamon kick to warm you right up? Sounds lovely.

      I have never met you and I like you already. And this made me smile.

  • Well done! Cobalt blue here, I think.

    Something you helped me to notice:
    Let the lovely light pink ladies BE what they are made to be. If I am forced to ape their particular way of living, it cheapens what my sisters are doing, so much more graciously than I could. I don’t want to mock or distort the value of my sisters’ “shade” by trying to be that color myself. I just muddy things up.

    What if one way for us sisters to love each other is to refuse to force each other into our own molds? What if one of the ways I affirm my sisters who more ably fulfill socially expected roles is to choose differently for myself, and not try to pass myself off as one made to do well what I do not, in fact, do well?

    Let me play to my strengths. And let me depend upon (but not mock) others’ strengths.

    Hmmmm…in a different paradigm–I’m not a pinterest fail. I’m just a different program, a different platform. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be calling you for help with awesome teacher appreciation gifts later this week….

  • Great post! I think I’m teal – which apparently means I’m creative, spiritual, emotional, and trustworthy. I am, too!

  • This is brilliant. Need to ask God what my colour is but He is showing me it’s time to get out of the cupboard and let myself be seen. I love to talk and am more and more speaking out my strong desire to preach and share God with mass audiences. He is encouraging me to be vulnerable and real. It’s ruffling a few feathers, not least in me, because the cupboard is a safe quiet place and I’ve got used to it, decorated it with false modesty and other nice self-denying decor that seems holy but is actually God-denying. Thanks for this post. I see it’s time for my my colour consultation. 🙂

  • I love, love, love this post so much so that I had to comment. Something I don’t usually do. I relate to this post so much and appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings on the matter. I often feel silenced and misunderstood by other women mostly to be honest. Somehow I have gotten use to dulling my sparkle or in this case, not being true to my own color because It makes me too “intense” or too “passionate”, or too whatever someone thinks about me when they get a glimpse. I don’t know when or how I started to stifle myself, but it needs to end now.

    Thank you for making me feel that I am not alone in feeling this.

  • Hi Jory, I really liked this blog. I did do the stay at home mom thing, and being with my children especially before they were school age was one of the most fulfilling things I ever did. But it plagued me since I was an adult single, and became an agony for me when I was a stay at home mom, that the “pink” women have such a small orbit. I never became disinterested in music, current events, things that were happening in the capital city 20 minutes away. The women I knew who were interested in more than their kids, their husbands, and the women’s bible study were few and far between. I wish there had been something more for me during those years when I wanted to do some traditional mothering but I was definitely not a soft pink woman.

  • Girl you are so true red! Love it! Be proud! I have always had 3 favorite colors, blue, pink and purple. I think I have small bits of each, but I am purple in every sense of the meaning! I fit in with the group of girls who never fit in!! Lol Purple is sensitive, compassionate, understanding and supportive. Gentle and a free spirit, feeling run really deep. Time means little and are often late for everything. Dislike being apart of a crowd, likes to stand apart to be noticed for individuality. And so much more of who I am, dude man! Lol Oh and I love the quote from earlier “God is not diminished by our by our honesty but glorified in our vulnerability.” Wow! Knowing who you really are, is very important in realizing how God is wanting to use you! We are all apart of the body of Christ, and are all needed! But I am no light pink, I need people, I need to feel needed, but I also need to go against the grain with lots of positivity! I feel that God wants me to break the mold as well, just in a very different way than God has called you to Jory, which is very cool! Everyone is needed, everyone has a wonderful place in the kingdom of God. God is so awesome in how He made us all, it’s just nice to know where I fit in, or why I don’t always fit in! Lol

  • “The truth is though, many women who are trying to be “light pink” to please God or men or whoever, are not really “light pink.” ”

    Oh Jory…how this resonates with me…and no doubt many others….For over 30 YEARS! I was light pink…or so I projected myself…until the blushes became so strong that I turned red and no one could figure out how that happened, least of all me. Some of us take a lot longer to know ourselves.

    No words can describe how it feels to really wear your red and stand your ground after years of ‘giving in’ and ‘accepting’ the labels and persona dictated by others. I hope young women reading this will NEVER let this happen to them. What can you do when you discover at the END of life that you were never pink? BE whatever colour you are deep inside and never let others tell you who you are. One thing is true, a Godly woman isn’t supposed to be a ‘biblical womanhood doll’…but a real 3 dimensional human being.

    When you see a PASTEL lady, ask yourself…is she really pastel? God made us a rainbow of colors so we can all shine for Him…I really like them all, just be the real color that shines from within and don’ let others DILUTE your color because I don’t think “pastel” is in the Bible. “…the righteous are as bold as a lion.” and “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”(NIV)

  • I’m a bookish intellectual geek, and I feel like I’m not what the church at large wants in a teacher or preacher. From what I see, the church has chosen preachers who are entertainers – comedians even, and that is what is valued. I finally got to the point where I had listened to too many ‘sermons’ where the pastor was an amazing speaker who held the audience spellbound, had them roaring with laughter, could work them up and work them down, while the content showed a lack of internal development and relationship skills, and a haphazard grasp of information on anything from science to history.
    I now belong to a house church which is a community, rather than weekly seating for entertainment. We take turns leading, and the teenagers have stepped up to lead from time to time, and done a stellar job. My style is different from others – I love to research, and dig up interesting facts, and find connections. The group lets me be me, without either trying to change me or trying to imitate me.

    I’m the color of books.

  • I love this post! Like seriously! I, too, feel out of place at times. I’m the opposite of red, though, haha! I’m not sure what color I am, but I often find myself in what is traditionally the boys’ club. I like computer games, all things science fiction, and I feel comfortable in comic shops full of introverted misfit geeks. Sometimes I feel like I need to be more “light pink” so that other women will like me more, and so I don’t get accused of being nerdy just for the sake getting attention. Girls are supposed to love hopelessly romantic chic flicks, not Battlestar Galactica, right? Thankfully, internet culture has finally allowed me to see that there are actually lots of other girls like me! It took many years, though, (and I sometimes still struggle) to come to terms with my real personality amid so much social pressure.

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