“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.” – Henri Nouwen
Every breath of air is rationed by the excessive amount of people in this room. An elbow pokes close to my rib. Hot and tight we fill the space not only with our bodies but our stories. Our stories of being unheard, unseen, and assaulted. We are bodies of fire and grief and sorrow. We are desperate for a change, some hope, a connection to tie us together. We long to be educated on helping the movement that has begun—one to sweep the top news anchors out of jobs and movie conglomerates to jail. A voice, a revolution, women saying NO MORE to being treated without respect or consent.
I entered the space at this Christian writers conference with my own skin prickling in anticipation to absorb what the panelists might say about the #MeToo movement. This is why I acquiesce the elbows too close to me in my bubble. I am hopeful for a coming together of collaborative wisdom rooted in the common belief of the tenants of Christianity.
The doors close, encasing us in.
I lean slightly to the left and arch my neck to the right to find those called to the front to teach. With brief glances, I see beautiful women of various ethnicities and backgrounds, and marvel at what they might teach me—until my ears are assailed by boisterous noise. Noise from a conversation quickly erupting into a firestorm of stone throwing. Topics accelerated from the original topic to many other heated topics in our culture that divide, separate, and isolate us.
Opinions are thrown like stones. What was meant to be stories and heartfelt perspectives rapidly collapsed into “you” statements attacking all Christians are doing wrong.
I begin to suck in air. I can’t breathe. I am in my childhood home with only the sound of ice swimming in a whiskey-filled glass and rage-filled words spit out in disgust. My body remembers. My body wants out. To run out of this room as fast as I can. I am trapped. I begin to sweat and shake. How can I stay present, here in this moment? The decibel rises as panelists interrupt and stand in righteous indignation of all that is wrong with this world. I leave my body and wait for the clock to tell me I am no longer caged in by these women.
These women don’t know me. I don’t know these women. Their words intended to motivate and inspire. Words I believe were sewn with intention to convict me and others left me shattered and afraid.
I have thought a lot about this experience, and it’s caused me to ponder where we are as Christian women and how we are treating each other.
Seinfeld debuted 29 years ago and the phrase “yada, yada, yada” remains a cultural giant.
According to Merriam Webster, “Yada, yada, yada is boring or empty talk, listening to a lot of yada yada about the economy—often used interjectionally especially in recounting words regarded as too dull or predictable to be worth repeating.”
Currently, we are bombarded with information and live in a culture of great division and disconnection. With instant news feed and so many venues for opinions and platforms we’ve become anesthetized by the staggering amount of noise. Much of this noise is peppered with hate-filled messages, online bullying (by all ages), and rage-filled debates.
Our society is drowning from the lack of real human connection created through social media. And I believe it is beginning to hemorrhage the community of Christian women.
When will it cauterize?
“She is a journalist! it is her job to scrutinize and write about this!” the Twitter woman tells me. I questioned her and the author of the article in tearing apart another woman writer—this woman whose theology is considered off, whose background isn’t “blockbuster book worthy” in their eyes, and who should be questioned for her written work.
”She chose to put it out there, so she opened herself up to scrutiny,” the Twitter avatar tells me.
I try to console myself with the reality that “Six in 10 people who share news URLs on Twitter don’t actually bother with reading them.” Most don’t digest the words that scroll past on the screen, a simple “yada, yada, yada” in a news feed.
A deeper dive into the word yada reveals that it has a profound meaning contrasting the idle palaver of yada, yada, yada. It has deep roots in Hebrew that means “to know.”
I probe further asking the journalist, “Do you know her? Did you sit down and speak with her? Get to know her first, before writing this scathing report of her?”
“When did drops of blood begin to fall?” I want to ask her. “When did we start breaking the skin that once bonded us, women, together, united by the actual blood shed by Jesus to wipe away all of our sins. When did it become ok to stone another sister and call it ‘job responsibility’?”
We have a problem, we Christian women. We have stopped seeing one another and forgotten about the example given to us in Scripture by the one who didn’t throw a stone, but built relationships.
I find myself convicted of this same stone throwing and am trying by the grace of God to be more mindful of this in my own life, to take a step back and stop the bleeding. We, women, are the only ones who can do it.
There is room for all of us, and I implore us to move away from a culture of criticism and ripping apart the platform of another because we disagree. The world is doing enough of that right now. Why do we need to join in?
Instead, my prayer for women is to take a step back. To begin to “yada” and take time to know another. To listen and ask question like, ”help me understand how this is what you began to believe?” Or, “tell me your story.”
Women, we don’t need to criticize each other; clearly, the world is doing enough of that. Don’t we just want to be seen and known? To be understood and offered grace. Yes.
We need to begin to know one another more intimately.
We can set down our stones, and instead invite, include, and accept. Do we have to agree? No, but can step over the line and sit with each other in our grief, pain, and differences. The world needs more of that. More of us as women rallying together and letting each other be the people God created us to be, without attacking, shaming, or berating. Let her be wherever she is on the journey, because God is the one who will do the work in her; it won’t be done by stoning her.
I am trying to lay down my stone, to see that woman and to know her. It is my prayer and desire that you might choose to do the same.