Inch by inch, piece by piece, I unpacked. That which had been boxed and put in storage in the Spring of 2013 was now, in the summer of 2014 being carefully placed in just the right places. It had been, to quote Eugene Peterson, a huge long obedience in a single direction.
I remembered seeing my hand going up above my head and heard my words, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” as I felt myself descending into the wood pile outside the West Seattle grocery store, slamming spine first into the jagged edges. October 2013. Unable to pick up my right leg upon righting myself, I was barely able to assess my injuries for the fact that running after children as a family care specialist was no longer going to be my ‘save’. I lay in bed for a week, the signal gone between my right leg and my brain first in despair, then in surrender, to hear the Spirit whisper what I was to do to earn a living.
Detractors and people with a lot of scams and wrongdoing, people who had yet to learn how much God loved them and how the truth would set them free had done their very best to discredit me from earning a living. Now, it seemed they may have won. Using my early childhood teaching certificate had been the way to do an end run around them and keep my chin above the water line and do what I could to send my children in a different direction than poverty.
To my surprise and delight, two of my most faithful client families continued with me undeterred. “You are a force for good in my children lives” one of them later told me. But it wouldn’t be enough. I filed for early Social Security. It wouldn’t be enough either. God reminded me everything above my waist was working just fine. I’m a writer and a teacher and a motivational speaker and a musician/singer. There was going to be plenty to work with if I continued to work hard.
Finally, I realized I was going to have to acknowledge that which I had discounted and underused my whole life for various, what seemed to be, good reasons. I was going to have to use my brain.
Much has been made recently of encouraging young girls into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM. Like title IX, years ago, which encouraged female athletes, these new invitations are meant to support girls and young women with bright linear minds in using their natural resources to positive effect.
When I was in Junior High, I was told a number, by my mother after a bunch of testing. I’ve lived in conflict with that number my whole life. Out of that experience I ask a genuine question. Is the world really ready for, does the world really want, smart women to start taking the lead?
There are physical differences between the brains of men and women. Y Chromosomes’ brains don’t jump the hemisphere’s the way X choromomes’ brains do. Women can operate from their head and heart at the same time. It means women can be type B people sitting easy in the saddle while riding life, yet have type A thinking making very fast connections and coming up with very solid solutions.
The number I was given meant nothing to me until I was in my late thirties. My mother prompted me, immediately after disclosure of the test results, that,”You must always remember when to hide your intelligence around boys and men.” She didn’t even tell me why.
With a “C” average when you mixed in the A’s, B’s and D’s depending on whether I was interested in a class or not, bored because they always wanted me to show my work, which seemed a slow and stupid thing to ask, especially when I usually didn’t know how I got it, I just got it, school would have been a dismal experience if not for drama club, Acapella choir, and a hefty social life.
Thinking of myself as smart was not on the list. Only when I went to England my senior year and sat three A-Levels did I take an interest in education. I was enthralled. Followed by four years at a women’s college where men were just dessert after a long week in class when I could raise my hand as much as I liked, the real world was a slam in the face after graduation.
A Masters degree achieved in a traditionally female area, Seminary, the worst , came next. My vivacious spirit and new found self respect was squashed by the professor who, in response to my questions and comments said, “Ah, but what does a woman want besides the love of a good man”. Yea...really. Then there was the professor of Systematics I who when I asked if we could discuss Einstein’s theory of relativity and new discoveries about time on the impact of theology and preaching responded, “Yea, if you think anyone is interested in anything YOU have to say” Indeed, two weeks before the final another student shouted loudly, “Would you tell her to be quiet! I didn’t pay my tuition so I could hear what she had to say.” I slunk out of the class feeling like an entire truck of of wet cement was poured on me. I never returned, forfeiting the class, and my tuition payment. That single act continues to haunt me today. I did return to class to fulfill two class requirements for ordination, but I never recovered.
Until this year. Faced with homelessness and had already started eating from the Food Bank, I was going to have to use every one of those points in that number to regroup and retool. Bravely and boldly, I determined, having, to their credit also acquired a number of positive male mentors who did not understand my reluctance to put myself out there, to fire it up and lay it out. I was going to have to accept and use every God given brain cell I had.
If somebody was threatened or annoyed by it, well, so be it. They could just grow up. What athlete withdraws from the race because they are worried or want to be considerate of the flabby muscled or untoned or those who have not discovered their own gifts and talents yet? Yes, I can actually read and enjoy four books at once. No I don’t have to hear the rest of your sentence to know where you’re going with it –well...actually that’s just Philly. That doesn’t really have anything to do with my brain cells, just how they were trained to coordinate with my mouth.
And yes, I also intend to recover ‘absolutely gorgeous’ this year too. Full on woman. Full on smart. As I use to tell my highly intelligent oldest son, it’s just a muscle. Everybody has their gift.
To the young girls behind me, I say, linear thinker or humanitarian, or athlete or artist, whatever your strength, use it all!! Shine like a star!! Enjoy!!!. Tell the world. Let dealing with it be their problem, not yours. It’s all a gift from God and God likes women a lot! Loves them, in fact. Be undeterred. Having it all means, relishing every ounce of who you were made to be and are today! Share it with the world.