With two daughters and a lifetime of experience as a female, I have a few things to lament about the way our world treats the ladies.
This year, our pastor at Grace Evangelical Covenant Church has been asking members of the congregation to write laments on different topics as we spend time in Lent considering the ways we need to repent and change. Last Sunday, I read the one I had written to lament the troubles that afflict women and girls.
The process of writing this lament was harder than I had expected. I usually enjoy writing, but this piece did not feel like it was coming out well. At some point, when I was trying (and not succeeding) to write it as a song, Lucy shone some light on the situation: “Just say it with words, Mama. You don’t need to write a song.” (Lucy often has surprisingly clear and wise judgment when it comes to creative pursuits and fashion advice.)
I finally realized that, although there are plenty of beautiful laments in the Psalms, I didn’t need to tie myself up in knots trying to make my lament into poetry. Between Lucy’s wisdom and my desire to simplify during Lent this year (as opposed to my usual tendency to complexify), I found a stride that seemed to work for me. So let me offer these few words from the heart with the hope that Jesus can take our mess and create something absolutely gorgeous out of it.
For the Sake of My Sisters
Oh, Lord! We’ve really made a mess of things.
Today, Lord, we are particularly thinking about girls and women in this world. You created man and woman in your image, and you said, “It is good.” And yet we have a history of creating cultures and systems in which women lose out to men.
Lord, we grieve over…
- babies whose parents are saddened that she is a girl instead of a boy.
- girls who begin to dream big about their futures, and then have their visions squelched by those around them.
- princesses who feel that they have to wait for a prince.
- women and girls who are hurt, both in their hearts and their bodies, by those who are close to them.
- girls who learn from the images and people around her that her body should be smaller or shaped differently to be called beautiful.
- women, single or not, who struggle to find their identity outside of their relationships to men.
- billboards that use women’s bodies to sell things that have nothing to do with women.
- the catcalling that afflicts fourteen-year-old girls and forty-year-old women alike.
- young girls who are prevented from receiving an education, even though they desperately wish to learn.
- widows who find themselves without a place in the world once their husband is gone.
- the way we value women’s work less, and pay for it less, or not at all.
It’s not right, Lord, but we have been known to say to women and girls…
- you don’t look pretty enough
- you’re not doing it right
- you throw like a girl
- don’t be that way
- you’re being bossy
- don’t make a big deal out of it
- are you crying?
And it’s not right. It’s not right to say these things.
This happened long ago and it happens today. This happens here and it happens far away.
Lord, your intent is for women to be full and complete. You have great purposes for female lives. You have big plans for little girls. You have hope and vision for women, and yet we tie ourselves in knots about what is proper, acceptable, and normal in our cultures and societies.
Lord, we need you. We need to see things your way. Help us now.
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy