Would we be having this conversation … if my name was Julian?
Several years ago, when I was in a graduate school internship, I had the pleasure of witnessing a ‘moving’ episode which, for me, was revolutionary. The scene was set in the Board of Education conference room. Seated at ‘the round table’ [actually it was rectangle], was the Superintendent, several teachers, staff representing the National Honor Society, and myself. I, the lowly student intern, was there to observe. And observe I did.
Candidates were discussed; weighing service, academic achievement, and teacher endorsement. All went seemingly systematic and without incident, until they came to… I’ll call her Mary. She had an exemplary service record, she was at the top of her class academically, and very well liked by her teachers. So what’s the problem? ‘Mary’, was about to have a baby. Keep in mind that she has made arrangements to take her regents exams, make up class time, and not miss a beat on assigned work. But, Mary was having a baby.
The discussion went back and forth and then… SOUTH. Much was said so let me summarize into two themes… “But what about the message she is sending to the rest of the student body? We are talking about HONOR Society and standards.” [Standards in double portion, that is.]
In my own private conversation in my head, I am thinking… “What part don’t they like? The responsible, service-oriented, or well-liked part of Mary’s record? Which of those attributes are not to be viewed as ‘HONORABLE’? HUM?
And then, like the Grace of God came down and landed on the Superintendent’s head, I heard her words echo to and through me… “Would we be having this conversation if she was a he?” “If we were talking about the father of the child?” WOW! It was all I could do not to stand up and applaud. [As a guest and student intern, I thought that might be a tad inappropriate.] I had the upmost respect for this Superintendent prior to this event. But that day, she ruled!
OK. I am still in recovery from my woman-hear-me-roar days. But in all honesty, I have seen the error of my ways and I do see a divine calling in submission. However… apples for apples, oranges for oranges. Would the answer be the same if a she is a he? In the real-life scenario I have outlined, this female student did not lag behind the rest; she was under attack because she was a she, and she represented the role in this motion picture that ‘showed’.
To give closure to this story… ‘Mary’ was inducted into the National Honor Society. And to all who take issue… “he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” [John 8:7] What! Nobody? Where did you all go? [John 8:1-12]
So why did this memory of my professional training stand out? I have earned a Master’s Degree plus NYS Certification, tenure, and even received honor from a yearbook dedication my first year. What do I need to prove?
The he/she thing hit a chord with me. Had I sought qualification, validation, accreditation with a more intense velocity, knowing I had a steeper mountain to climb? Had I something more to prove, because I am a woman? Did not my works speak on my behalf? It may appear that I am addressing the past… but I am not, entirely.
Now to the present… I share my current field of study… Jesus. My credentials in HIM, stem ‘soul’y from the grace He bestows. It’s not about me. It’s all about HIM. And furthermore, I count all else as nothing compared to the gain I acquire through Christ. But sometimes I wonder… If people would shut their eyes and open their minds, would they see, hear, and know me, not considering ‘the she’, in me? Would I be viewed the same, if my name was Julian?
Sometimes I want to say to the Christian pharisees; those who think they have more pull with Jesus than I do… “Get off my spirit!” “This body may have the flesh of a female, but my spirit knows no gender.” I do get a flare of righteous anger when anyone tries to define, who I am with God. It is not for man to define or qualify me, or to critique my relationship with my Lord. It is God who is my Father, my Savior, my Shepherd, my cover, my qualifier. Do not mess with my Master!
In going back to ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’, would you contend with me, Oh pharisee, if my array of blessings fell upon the frame of a man, rather than a woman? Would there then be HONOR in my journey? Would my words then carry weight? Would my voice speak with volume? Would my vision reach its place?
So I wonder… Would we be having this conversation, if my name was Julian?