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They said I was a little too religious.
I worshipped a stage; a little wooden table on too flimsy stools,
where a man, usually old and balding and always white, would stand up and tell me how to think
I was taught to sit down, sit quietly,
surrender the parts of me that questioned and challenged to save myself from eternal damnation.
I loved it, hung on every condemning syllable-
but somehow, somewhat unfortunately, I never quite got it right.
What some would call a talent was for me a handicap
I listened too carefully, too cautiously to overlook
Mr. I-Know-Better’s careless, too-busy, too-tired, unimportant mistakes,
the words he overlooked, the stories he didn’t tell, or the people he left, ignored and forgotten,
outside his soft and simple reality.
For what about the widow? the single-mother? the divorcee? the rape victim, the victim of abuse, the woman who dreamed of more than a homemaker’s life?
They were all left stranded, stranded outside the ideology of some nice people whose God was one of comfort, and not love
And then I met a different kind of God.
I believe in a God whose love leaves no woman with scars or dreams too big to fit in someone else’s narrow mind on the outside.
I believe in a God in whose story women led armies, brought down generals fearlessly and alone, and built civilizations bigger than a brick house with room for just one man and one woman. (Don't beileve me, just Google “Deborah” or “Jael”.)
I believe in a God who’s not scared of the changes in our world, who recoils not from feminism but from hatred, and not from equal rights and open love but from bigotry and oppression.
I believe in a God who sees me not as a number from 1 to 10, a s*** or a prude.
I believe that my value comes not from how men see me,
Not from the things I wear or the number inside my clothing
Not from the person I date or live with or marry,
But from the things that I do with my life and the way I treat everyone, especially those who don’t deserve it.
I’ve read far too many books that have taught me that I need to be clean,
that the greatest gift I can gift to the world is a life with no coloring outside the lines,
no mistakes, and no decisions more important than which man gets to own me.
I believe that –
for everyone in this room, whether they believe in the Christian God or something else or nothing at all –
it is time for us to transcend the inequality that has plagued us for centuries.
Until a woman is more than a 2, a 6, or a 10, we have not done enough
Until “God” or “Christianity” is no longer used to silence the voices of women who have just as much to say, we have not succeeded
And until we can truly stand for the rights not of “all men” but “all people” –
rich and poor,
black and white,
Muslim and Christian,
man or woman –
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must still fight for change.
I have not fallen away.
I have found life.
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