I wish I could be with my mother right now.
I am grateful that she is just hours away, and not gone from this life like other friends’ mothers, but today I wish I could hold her hand and cry together. I wish I could squeeze her tight and tell her to her face, looking into her steady brown eyes, how wildly and deeply grateful I am for all the ways she has worked to fight for people to have better lives, to know they are loved by you, to live as though they know that love and believe others should know that love, too. I want to thank her face-to-face for all the ways she has sought justice, freedom from oppression, and a life full of joy for all and not just for herself. I want to thank her for all she has endured her whole life long as she spoke out for civil rights, carried a reusable bag for her groceries before it was cool (or the law) because she cares about your creation, and kept her given name because it is who she is – married or not – and she has always lived into that identity that you first gave her.
I want to hold her and tell her that her assault experience at the hands of someone in authority who told her no one would believe her anyway if she said anything was not her fault. I want to cry with her because she was brave enough to speak out eventually and to encourage other women to speak out. I want to cry with her because my own assault experiences are largely quieted away because I fear what people will think of me and because somehow, with all my liberal arts education and belief in the value of women and upbringing with such encouragement and empowerment, I still feel ashamed of myself that they happened at all, I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed because I should know that I did nothing to deserve what happened except be a woman, and I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed because I should be angry and outspoken instead. I want to cry with her because women are still not believed, just like that man said to her forty years ago. Just watch the news, God. You know.
I want to pop a champagne cork with my mother, who doesn’t like champagne near as much as I do but who has always been an enthusiastic laugher and encourager and has celebrated me in my accomplishments, because today there is a woman running for the highest office in our country. And it doesn’t matter what she’s done or how people feel about her, how I feel about her. Less than 100 years ago, women couldn’t even vote, were not even treated as valuable enough for a voice in the political process, how we live out living together in this land. Women, half of the population, so many of them devout women of faith who know that how we live out our lives together needs to be something that starts with what we believe about you and how YOU want us to live out our lives together, had no way to exercise that in the way we live together as Americans in these United States. I want to pop a champagne cork, not because a candidate makes everything okay (no candidate can make everything okay), but because I still get called a “lady pastor” and see the surprise on people’s faces when I introduce myself, and have to repeat to them that I am THE pastor of the church I serve. But a woman has run for president.
Do you remember when I was a little girl, God? Do you remember how fearless and confident I was? Before I learned how to internalize the shame others would want me to feel for my body being big or my voice being big and my thoughts being many and smart? Back when I saw how strong and determined my mother was to be who you created her to be and believed that’s how life simply is for us all? I’m sorry I let her go away in the face of words, experiences, and learning that life simply isn’t that way for so many because freedom isn’t equitably lived in this place. I’m grateful that my eyes were opened to realize that great as this nation I did nothing to be born a citizen of has been in some ways, there are so many ways that “greatness” has been built through the oppression of so many freedoms and the preservation of inequities and iniquities for the benefit of a few or a simple majority. I’m sorry I couldn’t be stronger and more sure of who I have always been in you. Today I am remembering it all, and I am remembering who I am in you a bit better. And I am forgetting the horrible words that have been hurled at me because of daring to be different from a standard of subservience and daring to serve in roles men have long dominated. I am setting the weight of experiences and learned shame down, and standing on top of them for a better view of the world around me and the many other people who still bear the weight of injustice, oppression, and despair. I will stand up for a better position from which to use my voice to feel empowered and even better to empower others. I want to be like my mother.
Thank you for her. Thank you for her story. Thank you for letting me be a part of her story. Thank you that I still have her hands to hold and eyes to look into, even if I can’t do that today. Thank you for calling me your precious child, too. Thank you for giving me a voice. Thank you for bringing me through so much and for all the things I haven’t had to face by your mercy and by circumstance. Thank you for letting me be a part of herstory today, too. Help me to keep making herstory for the sake of the story you would have the world share for your glory, your joy, your will.