This chapter was one of the hardest and most beautiful of the whole book, if I’m allowed to say that. I wrote about God, in whose image we are fashioned.
I wrote about the God that is fully masculine and fully feminine. I wrote about the God who is not a man; but who is not genderless either. I wrote about the God who is genderful. I came to this understanding of God over time, like ants slowly building a hill. I painstakingly carried little pieces of experience and study and imagination until I made a home, one that feels expansive and full, the kind of home in which God would have plenty of room to stretch out and be comfortable.
I hope you read about it in the book, which – you guys! – comes out in just over a week. I’m so excited and nervous and giddy, and I’m so grateful for you all. You’ve encouraged me, you’ve pushed me up the hill, and we’re almost ready to send it out into the world. But I’d like you to read something else today about God’s image, something generative and beautiful from one of my new friends.
Erin S. Lane is a thirty-something writer and facilitator who, in her own words, “schemes ideas for better belonging.” In addition to working for The Center for Courage and Renewal, she has written an absolutely stunning book called Lessons in Belonging From a Church Going Commitment Phobe. Seriously, I’m having a very difficult time putting this book down. It reads like a letter from your best friend, telling you secrets about what really matters when it comes to God, church, and your own agency within all of it.
Erin did her masters thesis on God’s genderfulness at Duke University, and she also wrote an excellent article for Q Ideas, which I’d like to repost here (with her permission). She’ll also be my guest this week on the podcast, so make sure to check that out. Enjoy!
Give me one moment while I have a conniption fit,” I cautioned Rush. We had been fine a few minutes earlier, talking about a worship service he was planning for his youth group. Our friend Will, who would be leading music with him, had just spent an hour picking and strumming and singing in our living room. I apologized to Rush for being a hermit and not coming out of the bedroom to say hello, but there was no bad blood between us. Not until he mentioned a particular song he was planning to sing.
Sunday worship is the hardest hour of my week. And it’s not because I’m an introvert who often sits alone. Nor is it because I have trouble hearing God in a service that relies so heavily on words, words, and more words. Sunday worship is the hardest hour of my week because it’s the one in which I show up begging to get a glimpse of God’s abundance and leave feeling a little less human. It’s the one where I worship a God who is always a he.
“You’re singing the jealous song?” I asked, actively working on my tone. Rush tells me my tone is often off-the-charts awful. I tell him maybe he’s tone deaf. Either way, I wanted to play nice with my partner.
“And that’s the song that says something like, ‘He loves like a hurricane and we bend like a tree under his wind and mercy?’”
By now Rush could tell something was festering because I was trying too hard and trying too hard was the telltale sign. Something did not fit.
Read the rest of Erin’s post here.
Erin S. Lane works remotely for the Center for Courage & Renewal to develop programs that deepen the leadership formation of people of faith and support healthy congregational life. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband Rush, where she is a board member of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South and she belongs to a United Methodist church. You can follow her on Twitter and check out her website for more information. You can purchase Lessons in Belonging from a Church Going Commitment Phobe here.
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A big congratulations to Kristy Berksza from Norwood, Massachusetts, who won last week’s copy of Beginnings.
I’m giving away one copy of Beginnings per week between now and release. I will sign it and mail it, totally free. All you have to do is email me, or send me a picture, of WHY you need a copy of Beginnings NOW. It could be hilarious, poignant, deep, shallow, whatever. It just has to be to me by Monday, December 28th. Email me at Steve (at) stevewiens.com or post it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, tagging me so that I can see it, and using the hashtag #BeginningsBook. I will pick one winner per week, based on my own completely random judgment of which one is best. Ready, go!
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If you’d like to read the first two chapters of my new book, Beginnings, please click here. I’d love to hear what you think!