Female accomplishments come at a cost. Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In, p. 17
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? p. 25
I’m finally at chapter one. Now, that isn’t to say I won’t jump back to the introduction.
Working in vocational ministry for 15 years as a married mother of one, two, and then three has come with great joy, transformation and cost. It’s easier to celebrate the joy and transformation, but it has not served me to dismiss the cost of pursuing this particular call as an Asian American Christian woman.
In the eyes of most of my family I still do not have a real job; as an Asian American woman “family” does not (if ever) mean my nuclear family. It means FAMILY – nuclear, of origin, and in-law with varying generational depths spanning continents and time. Despite working 40+ hours in this faux-job, the individual funding model used to raise support does not do me any favors. Traditional networks for missionary support require involvement in traditional evangelical networks from which I do not come from.
In the eyes of the Asian, and particularly the Korean-, American evangelical church in the Midwest I am a bit of a anomaly, which is a polite way of saying I don’t fit. It ties back to vocational ministry not being a real job. I am not a pastor, nor am I a pastor’s wife. I am not a youth director, children’s pastor or women’s pastor. I am not credentialed – no MDiv, no M anything (not even Mrs. since I didn’t take my husband’s last name when we married), no ordination. We women are making strides, but one of my flaws is my impatience.
And there has been a cost to my husband and family. Imagine our horror when a pastor met privately with my husband about my behavior. Actually, I wasn’t surprised, which is the horror of it all.
It’s not all bad, not all horrible, but at a recent book club discussion I did share with my fellow readers and women that I am a bit tired of blazing trails. It gets lonely. It gets hard, confusing, and exhausting.
Which is where part of Sandberg’s motivation for her book comes in to nudge me back.
What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? Actually, the question for me goes back a step. Why and of what am I afraid of? My faith should inform me. The Lord is my shepherd, and I lack nothing. The psalmist writes the same Lord “delivered me from all my fears” .
I am afraid of failing. Of success. Of disappointing others. Of trying too hard to please others. Of losing myself.
But if I wasn’t afraid, what would I do?
When I wasn’t afraid I managed to repel off of a mountain face in Colorado. I helped write a book. I told my husband to get his mother out of the delivery room. I asked a stranger if she was going to be OK because the young man she was with was yelling at her. I told people I was still sad, months after a miscarriage and years after my youngest child almost died. I asked for a brief leave of absence from work when things were getting emotionally difficult.
The Lord is my shepherd.
What are you afraid of? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?