This Lady’s Tea

My church put on a Ladies Candlelight Tea recently for the women of the congregation to enjoy. Which I though was a really nice idea, but all the same I decided not to attend because of keeping our spending down in anticipation for Christmas and tax season. Friends asked me if I would go and I felt welcomed and warm at the thought that other women in church actually wanted me around, which is something I hadn’t experienced at this church for the past 6 years I’ve attended. I was encouraged, but all the same, the expense was unnecessary, and I decided that I didn’t want to spend money to go drink tea when I had so much of it in my cabinet to finish at home. Plus I like relaxing evenings at home.

A couple Sundays after the announcement that the Lady’s Tea was going to happen another announcement was made that they were still looking for men to help serve at the Tea and where they could sign up to assist. I couldn’t help but let my inner feminist feel a twinge of injustice at the thought, and it really spoke volumes to me and revealed just how strong and out of place my feminism felt in conservative atmospheres.

My biggest worry about evens like these in Christian culture, is they’re usually more about men then they are about women. While the ladies attend and are served by the men from the congregation, and I understand why they are trying to be thoughtful and have all the women feel like they can take part in the festivities rather than working on serving and managing the event, I feel like it undermines the part women play in serving in conservative churches and in turn sends a really weird message.

You see, in many conservative churches, women are usually only allowed to serve other women and children. Not to serve men, unless they are married to said man. So have the men serve the women is kind of a double standard, but also takes away an opportunity for women to serve one another. While I know that the intent of the event was to give women an opportunity to have fellowship with other women without the hinderance of having to pay attention to serving and other such tasks to distract them, it appeared to be more of a platform to flaunt that men were serving women.

I became even more disappointed when the church posted photos of the event, and it was mostly of what the men were doing. Every single image had the male as the focus. It was so disheartening and disappointing to see an event that was supposed to be empowering women in faith, was undermined by the men who were meant to be serving at it. I didn’t even go to the event, so maybe that’s not how the whole night was, but if a person of the public saw the images without context I got the feeling they would think: “Awful lot of men there for a ladies night.”

 

I wonder too about the women in attendance who had husbands there serving. I can imagine the distraction it would be to have my own husband there. While he has a servants heart and I am well taken care of at home, I know plenty of women in want of their husband’s time, energy, and service. I can imagine any woman at all being saddened in her heart and even bitter about how her husband is putting on a good show for all the other women and men at church and serving all of them so well, and knowing when he returns home and feels he no longer has anyone to impress anyone, goes back to being himself. A self that she bends over backwards to please and doesn’t see any reciprocation from him. I think of the women who may feel these things and might secretly or unknowingly be verbally or physically abused at home and their husband is once again intruding in a space that is meant to be safe in the name of appearance (yes, even in church, people are toxic and have secret dark parts in their lives. Some couples aren’t even aware that they’re abusing each other, because they grew up in toxic homes and know nothing else).

I don’t want to exclude men from the conversation about what is going on in the intimate spiritual lives of women, because it probably isn’t that different than the spiritual lives of men and I’m sure a lot of misunderstandings could be eliminated through thoughtful communication, but I also don’t feel that having men serve at an event directed at and for women is really empowering women. In many cases it might hurt women.

 

I realize though, that this causes an inner conflict in myself. Because I have a very contrary belief as to how to conduct these kinds of events and they tend to lean more coed. These thoughts started when I did a bible study with a couple other girls on the book of Esther, and by the end of it I had wished every man I had ever known personally had seen and read it. Now that I’m married I certainly wish my husband would read some of the women’s ministry books that I do. I feel like some women can better explain what I’m going through than I can. In turn I feel like I ought to read more men’s ministry books to understand how men of faith are leading other men in faith in regards to how to conduct relationships with others, incuding women. That probably sounds a little nosy of me, and in truth it is, but how are men and women of faith supposed to learn how to live together in Christian brother and sisterhood, if we aren’t even including each other in the conversations? How is segregating our literature and events supposed to help enrich our lives together in humility and with serving spirits? God didn’t make certain promises to men and other certain promises to women. He made them to everyone.

So why are we being so exclusive? That’s easy: Excessive sexualization.

For all the reasons I mentioned earlier as well as the obvious “boy meets girl” and sexually abusive ones I didn’t mention until now, is why we can’t bring the opposite sex into the discussion. Sexual predators are a huge issue in Christian culture in both men and women alike. Sex and sexuality is a touchy subject that many churches either avoid or overly glorify, and I doubt that anyone has really found a solid and effective way of having that conversation ina church setting without someone being emotionally wounded in some manner. So there is a lot of miscommunication and unspoken emotions, desires, and toxcitity that isn’t being addressed. This can cause a lot of issues, all very complex, and can result in sexual deviants within the Christian culture, which when toxic, can become predatory. While not all men and women are looking to harm another person sexually, enough of them have successfully done so to cause both sides to shut down the connection and only conduct those kinds of conversations within the intimacy of romantic relationships. Which is also a broken system, because not only might it be too late to start that conversation by that point, but it can cause dating couples in a Christian community to start confusing dating and marriage and not look deeply enough into their relationship to see when it is definitely not working and to call it quits.

This last point, I say regretfully, but also in praise because Gods grace is restoring this part of my life, is something I fell victim to. Some men I dated in the past used these kinds of conversations to convince me to stay whenever part of me knew I should leave them. This is exactly why we have such broken relationships between men and women in faith, and exactly why we have broken events like women’s teas, and why we have confused young Christian feminists like myself who know the issues, but settle for things as they are because getting people to care especially when they have strong aversions to the words “feminism” and “equality” in their worldview, takes a lot of time and effort. Time and effort that some of us are too tired to invest anymore. Especially after so long of trying.

Thats this lady’s cup of tea.

Advertisements

Eyes

“We had to send him home.”

“Why?”

“He came in with pink eye.”

“…”

“Yeah.”

“Hand me that hand sanitizer I plan on rubbing it in my eyeballs just to be safe.”

People who come in to work sick upset me, especially when they have something as highly contagious as pink eye.

Thanksgiving

It came up at Thanksgiving while the family was together in Chicago. My mother told me I should stop speaking so poorly of myself, because it worsens my perspective on life and she thinks I’m such a good and sweet … Continue reading

How a Dehydrator Makes Me Look Like I Have My Life Together

My grandmother was a Garden Master. We even called her such. She always grew tons of great things in her garden. One year we harvested 80 lb of tomatoes and spent nearly a week canning them all. Those were some of my most memorable days (I won’t say fond though, because canning that many tomatoes is probably the most boring thing an 8 year-old could do). Upon purchasing my first house in October of 2016 I was determined to at least grow myself fresh herbs. I romanticized the benefits of having a garden like most 20 somethings with their first house probably do. My grandmother enjoyed it after all. Why not? I could do what I wanted and I wanted independence from the norms. Because homesteading for reasons and some crap like that.

I tried to grow my herbs indoors at first, because Pinterest is really good at showing you the prettiest gardening tips in the world and you think to yourself “Man that’s a really good idea, I could totally do that.” I’ll be really honest with you. You can’t. Not with plants. Don’t even try. Jewelry DIY and indoor décor crafts…sure. Food and recipes? Maybe. The limit is plants. Plants exist to make you hate yourself for trying to control them and in return we wage war on them, eat them, and force them to stay alive and provide us oxygen like little green slaves (it’s science look it up). No joke. Ignorantly, I planted my plants in cute little pots and teacups and kept them in my kitchen windowsill. Like a good hipster. Oddly enough, gardens indoor or outdoor require work to maintain and if you’re a 20 something like myself you probably know that life demands a lot of your time and efforts. Some plants died and some lived. The ones that lived didn’t go over well with my 17 year-old cat who discovered she was not, in fact, too old to jump on the kitchen counters. She ate them. All 50 bucks worth of them gone much to my dismay. At least someone got to enjoy them — just not me. Needless to say, my cat is lucky I love her. Outdoor gardening it was.

My garden was pretty pitiful and though I had the excuse of being super busy with a lot on my plate, I still managed to feel terribly about myself. The garden itself was basically weeds. Golden Rod and Dandelions to be precise. Tons of Raspberry plants too that I could try to fight and keep confined to one area. But really, why bother? It’s a losing battle. Still, I managed to get some herbs going in a small little square of prepared dirt. I’d be foolish to miss out on some of my favorite herbs so I felt like it was worth it. I dug out the sod of 9 square feet and proceeded to do what I could. A little Rosemary, some Cilantro, a couple Lavender plants, some Chives, Basil, and Sage. What better feeling than being able to take a scissors out to your own garden and clip a few things yourself? I was determined to not mess them up. Not after all the time and money invested in them by going to the greenhouse. Not after the cat incident. I was super proud of myself by the end of that day. Then a week went by and more weeds grew. My Basil was my first casualty. I was probably more upset about it than I want to admit. Thankfully most of the other plants were hardy and not easily killed. Good. I tucked that into my brain as a mental note for next year. If I couldn’t be a Garden Master, then I would at least fake it until I made it for Instagram and Facebook. Like any normal Millennial would.

I realized early on in my gardening adventures (which are still going somewhat badly), it would probably be better for me to get a dehydrator if I wanted to preserve my herbs. Drying in the oven required too much effort of me and I’m not a stay-at-home wife where I just have 10 hours to watch my oven and make sure my house doesn’t start on fire. So I bought a Nesco Dehydrator ironically named “The Garden Master” last month. I’m not sure why I chose this particular model, but I can guess it was probably because I hoped the name would manifest some kind of internal power and I could earn some Level Up points to get to Garden Master and then as I used it I could earn some Achievement Points and thus the titles of Garden Wizard or Garden Enchantress or something (because that’s how life works). While none of that has happened (yet) this dehydrator has been the answer to many of my food wasting woes. Including my fear of losing my herbs that I spent probably too much money on.

As Fall began to set in I was able to go out digging through all that stupid Golden Rod and remnants of Dandelion in my garden and dehydrate my Rosemary and Sage to top off my herb jars. I didn’t stop there, though. I even found out you can turn Raspberry leaves and Dandelion tops into tea. Just in the last week I’ve managed to dehydrate a huge bag of apples that were going a little soft to make some apple chips, which are surprisingly delicious when you leave them alone and dehydrate them as is (who really has time to fancy up their food when they work full time and need to have a life at some point). I even got a little carried away and dehydrated a whole bag of my husband’s snack oranges (he was not amused). The fact of the matter is, while I have not mastered being a Gardener, I have come to master dehydrating, and with this Nesco Garden Master it took pressing 3 buttons to do it. It required little to no effort of me, which is exactly how I like things. I don’t even have to keep an eye on it. I just set it and let it do it’s thing so I can do mine. It’s the Garden Master so I don’t have to be. It makes me look like I have my shit together. Which means, in short, I freaking love it.

 

Stuck in the Past

“See all those marks and dents on the table there?”  “Yeah?”  “That’s from him slaming his phone repetitively until it broke.”  “What?”  “I went on Amazon and bought the same style phone in bulk. He just kept destroying them. Few … Continue reading

Turn Off Your Brain

“Whatcha thinking about?” “Nothing.” I watched as my husband stared at nothing in particular and wondered, but I didn’t pry further. Surely he wasn’t thinking of nothing. Or rather, surley he wasn’t capable of not thinking of anything. No one … Continue reading

I’m just doing my job

“Are we having a meeting about how big Emily’s file sizes are?”  “What?”  “Emily sent a huge file through WeTransfer the other day. It’s too big. People don’t delete things off their computers and it takes up a lot of … Continue reading