One constant in life is, change. Change enables growth and perspective. With that said, Emma and I wanted to take a new direction–a progressive approach to story-telling. We open this forum with heart, intention, inclusivity, curiosity, and love. We acknowledge that this world is made up of culture, diversity, and creativity. It is our differences and our uniqueness that adds ‘extra’ to extraordinary.
Our friend Julia wrote a beautiful essay about what it’s like to be a christian feminist. Emma and I felt this subject was important to discuss for our relaunch and Julia exemplifies it perfectly. Emma and I also understand this topic may be controversial for some and even difficult to read at times, but Julia’s voice breathes a freshness that often lacks in words today. We are excited and honored Julia shared her heart with us.
Please take a moment to read Julia’s essay below,
I left the church when I was 12 years old. My parents still made me go twice a week, bless their hearts, but that’s when I checked out. I was in a bible study during a choir retreat when the youth group leader told us that homosexuality was, for some reason, the only sin that God couldn’t forgive. I sat there, with the wind knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe. I took a look around the room, sure that I wasn’t the only one who was hearing this, but all were in agreement. I wasn’t.
That was the first time my faith was challenged by my feminism, but it wouldn’t be the last.
I don’t know when I started calling myself a feminist, but I knew I was different from those around me. It probably happened somewhere in the years that I discovered the internet, but I was hooked. I finally found people I could connect with about politics. Growing up a white girl in southern Orange County, the closest I’d gotten to liberal people outside of my nuclear family, was walking through the Castro in San Francisco on a Girl Scout trip. I felt the sandpaper texture of my feminism scrape through interactions with friends, family, and strangers and I filled out my bra and wore my curves around town. I eventually met more like-minded people through high school theater programs and late night coffee trips to Laguna Beach. But until then, this was my window into experiences, thoughts, and beliefs I’d never known.
I also learned just how fucking racist, sexist, classist, and xenophobic I was. I felt convicted, learning that I’d never again be able to wear a bindi, say the C or N word, or call judge a girl for wearing certain clothing again. I read further and further, looking for some sort of caveat, some way that I could justify my behavior, my ignorance, and keep gliding through life as the micro-aggressive piece of crap I was. I shit you not, these are things that I actually thought. If you know me now, this is your opportunity to laugh and shame me. Hell, I used to laugh and shame myself. But now, I own it. I own that shame. I was wrong. And you know what? I got the fuck over it.
It’s my belief that this is where most people struggle. It’s somewhere between the realization and the transformation that you either swallow your pride, apologize, and change, pretend you never learned what you did and keep living, or amplify your preconceived notions in an attempt to drown out whatever it was that temporarily disturbed your former peace. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s most often the latter two.
I have no problem admitting that I’m wrong, but I used to. Most of the examples in my life had taught me that it was bad to be wrong. Teachers, family members, church leaders, all of them taught me that being wrong meant facing reprimand or shame. It’s taken a lot of therapy, embarrassment, and apologies, backing myself out of previous declarations and teaching myself that it’s okay to say “You know what, you’re right. Sorry.” It was really scary at first, but then I learned that there is so much more freedom in being receptive to the experiences of others, rather than approaching every conversation ready to play defense. I think that approach is the calling of any feminist, any christian.
Believe you me, I am wrong a LOT. I fail big, and I fail hard. But I’m so grateful for the people in my life who have taken the time to meet me where I am, and educate me. Educating someone, confronting them, is an act of love. It may not be perceived that way at first. I think of the story of Saul’s conversion in the book of Acts. Before Paul wrote most of the New Testament of the Bible, it was like his main purpose in life to kill christians. Like that was his thing. But still, God appears to him and just asks him. “Why are you persecuting me?” That’s it. He doesn’t strike him down, kill him, send him to the depths of hell or any or that. He just asks him: Why are you doing this?
I learned that there is so much more freedom in being receptive to the experiences of others, rather than approaching every conversation ready to play defense. I think that approach is the calling of any feminist, any christian.
This has always baffled me. Standing face to face with the person who killed so many of His people, God was like, hey buddy, let’s chat. Like what? Are you kidding me? When I meet people who are bigoted, sexist, racist or xenophobic, my instinct is to scream at them. As loud and as often as possible. I’ve tried that and I am sorry to report back that the outcome has been less than positive. Shocker.
The change happened for me when I remembered the courageous people who confronted me in my ignorance. I thought of Saul, who went from being the worst villain in the Bible to arguably the most influential person in the book. Saul and I were changed because someone loved us enough to ask us to be better. The least we can do is pay it forward.
Most people who meet me are surprised that I’m a christian and a feminist, that those two terms could exist in the same space. I used to think they couldn’t either. I used to think that believing in the social, political, and economic equality of everyone meant that there was no pew strong enough to hold me. But I can’t separate the two. The more I learn about God’s heart and how He loves people, the more I want to love people the way He does. I should clarify: How He loves people. Not how fallen humans do–the humans who use His words out of context, and only to further their own agenda.
I want to clear the air if you’ve been told otherwise: God loves you. Period. There is no asterisk at the end saying “God loves you.*”
*But only if you are a white, cisgendered, upper middle-class heterosexual who votes conservatively.
Jesus gets painted as this zen white dude with a beard and abs who walked around and healed people just by blinking in their direction. There are so many things wrong with that. The Jesus I know, and continue to get to know, is the Son of God, born in the Middle East to a poor family, who loved those that betrayed Him, who flipped tables in the temple because he was so passionate about us, who hung out with prostitutes, the sick, and the poor, and loved us so much that He gave His life for us.
Jesus was the first feminist, and every time I encounter Him, He makes me a better one.
Behind the scenes on our shoot with Julia!
Make sure to follow Julia on social media! Her Instagram handle is @lagunapeachy. Julia also has a podcast with her partner called, The Dishes Can Wait live now on Apple Podcasts– Please support this incredibly talented woman!!