Shedding New Darkness on the Past

This is the first of seven posts in the Becoming a Wounded Healer: My Story Through Abuse series. All posts available here.

I remember exactly how I found out. It was winter in 2010, and I was living in my college dormitory, just over an hour’s drive from my family home. I was in the last semester of my bachelor’s degree, and though I was doing well academically, I was also coming to terms with having depression. My parents had planned to come visit me that weekend, but a surprise snowstorm meant the driving conditions cancelled their visit. They called me on the phone, instead. When my mom began the conversation, “I didn’t want to tell you this over the phone…”, I knew it wasn’t good. A youth worker from my old church youth group had confronted the church leadership: the youth pastor, John, had been abusing the teenagers. I was one of them.

At first I was incredulous. Surely they had gotten it wrong. Surely I would have known if I was abused for seven years. But as my mom continued to explain, I started to reinterpret my past in this terribly dark and twisted light. She was right, and I had had no idea.

I hung up the phone, and walked back to my room, unsure of what to do next. My friend asked me if I was okay. In a hollow, confused voice, I told her I wasn’t, and tried to explain the conversation I had just finished. The next few weeks are somewhat of a blur as I tried to understand what my teenage years really meant.

Shortly after, I found out the church had formed a committee to investigate what had happened. They wanted me to meet with them and share my story. I agreed, and typed it up in advance to read at the meeting, because I knew I couldn’t explain anything clearly otherwise.

I walked into the church to face a panel composed entirely of men. Given that we were talking about a male youth pastor who had abused teenage girls, this didn’t seem appropriate, but I continued. Here is some of what I shared:

In many ways, the youth pastor to youth relationship was reversed between us.  It seemed more so that I was his counsellor and he told me his problems.  He always painted himself as a victim.  Everyone else was against him.  His relationship with his wife was bad, the church didn’t understand him, parents were giving him issues, and the volunteers weren’t doing a good job helping at youth.  He always said that I was the only one who truly cared and would listen to him and could help him.  That I was the only one who knew these things.  He told me many times that I shouldn’t tell others what we discussed…such as things about his personal relationship with his wife – their intimacy, that he thought she had a mental illness that she refused to seek treatment for, and that if things didn’t change, he wanted to leave her after his kids graduated. He told me of a time when he almost committed suicide.  He said he…had a noose tied to a part of the roof and a chair underneath.  He said he would have done it if he hadn’t had someone walk in before he did it.  Then of course he told me not to tell anyone about it.  That was something very hard for me. I thought that if I told someone else what he told me, that something bad might happen and it would be my fault. 

I feel used, dirty, and violated.  Sometimes I wonder why I feel this way because he never physically or sexually abused me.  But I know that these feelings are legitimate.  Even though emotional abuse has no physical mark, it still has strong consequences.  I have thought – “If only I were more perceptive and discerning, I could have seen this and stopped it so much sooner!”  Sometimes it is hard not to partially blame myself for what happened.

To give you a better picture of how this has affected me, I want to read you a poem that I wrote shortly after I found out.

Silent Rape
Did it really happen?
Or was it just an affair of the mind with yesterday?
Tell me what I want to hear.
Tell me reality was only a dream.
Was this abuse unwittingly done or,
menacingly exacted?
You raped me without a sound.
I was a fool.
But now I look down and see wounds appearing from thin air.
They keep coming, consuming my flesh until it is a carpet of blood.
My mind is a cheap carving.
Connections to rational thought severed by your crooked, desirous dagger.
Did you hate me or just love yourself that much?
Did you ever care or am I that good at believing lies?
Maybe you didn’t know but it’s still your fault.
I thought I could trust you.
My heart thumps – numb, anguish, numb, anguish…
You. You did it.
We’re not even. Can I kill you too?
What do these years mean now?
What was the truth?  What did you twist for me to believe?
Who am I?
You tramped all over me,
Emotionlessly rubbing dirt into my self-concept.
You never cared.
Now I wish I could say the same.
You used me for your own selfish ends,
Discarding me by the side of the road like I never mattered.
I hear you screaming “garbage” in every memory,
Though sometimes it looks like care.

As I finished sharing, I asked the church committee what they were going to do about the situation, and told them I thought he should be let go. I still remember my confusion when they asked me why I was so angry, and when I would be able to forgive John for what happened. I left the meeting naively believing their promise to keep me informed of the situation, and somehow trusting for a good outcome.


Becoming a Wounded Healer: My Story Through Abuse

“Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers. Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.”

– Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

For many years, I lived my life in answer to the question, “How can I hide my wounds?” The things that happened in my past were too painful to process, and too scary to share. Although shame was not my burden to bear, I was weighed down by its reality.

More recently, I have been asking myself, “How can I put my woundedness in the service of others?” This is a fundamental shift in response to years of processing with prayer and tears. It is in this spirit that I want to share more of my story. I am hoping that as I cast off the shame, my wounds may become a source of healing.

What follows will be a gradually released seven-part series detailing events in my past, and the path I have been on towards healing. Names have been changed. With forgiveness, there is no room for revenge or retaliation. These posts are intended to bring light into darkness, and perspective into confusion. They are not intended to target anyone, including the perpetrators.

Illusions and Poverty: The Best of a Life in Control

I have a confession. I am a control freak. I used to describe it as being well prepared and thorough, but let’s call it what it is. Having back-up plans for your back-up plan’s back-up plan is paranoia.

You could say it’s a lifelong illness. I remember hoarding coordinating work on group projects as a kid so everything could be done to my standards. Clearly, the other children were there to bring me down. I’d like to say I’ve been transformed, but I’ve only changed projects about polar bears to projects about policies and statistics. I’m the same, but I’ve found more politically correct ways to describe my obsessions.

I hate being out of control. It feels messy. Like I’m going to be swallowed up in the swirling vortex of chaos. Or like I’m treading water in a vast ocean with no sight of land, and if I don’t get sand under my feet soon, I’ll drown. If you know that feeling, you also know that you’ll do pretty much anything to get rid of it. You make back-up plans for your back-up plan. You stop or limit delegating. You manage deadlines. You organize until everything is in a neat little compartment. You influence others to your way of thinking. If all this fails or is impossible, and you cannot manipulate your external environment, you turn inward. For me, I convince myself I don’t care as much as I do, and that I’m not affected by another person’s actions. I withdraw and numb. I become overly serious and stoic. Empathy and care are replaced with curt replies, still civil enough to defend if needed.

Though these strategies still my immediate fear of chaos, I’ve been realizing that the apparent short-term gain is not worth the long-term loss. What seems like self-protection actually acts to impoverish. I cut myself off from the resources all around me. My numbing spreads to encompass all beauty, joy and possibility. It steals life, and the ability to love. Moreover, by trying to be in control, I live an illusion. The reality is everything is out of control. No one knows the future, and nothing we can do will ever change that. So, what’s the alternative?

In the midst of striving, I sense God asking, “do you trust me?” It’s a simple question, but my answer is fraught with complexities. To paraphrase a man who asked Jesus for healing – I trust; help my distrust (Mk. 9:24)! I’m thankful for Anne Lamott’s reminder that “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty.” I don’t need to achieve a perfect state of trust (or control) before approaching Jesus. I need to come as I am, with all my fears, doubts, and chaos. I feel so unworthy, but I think that’s grace, right?

I’ve heard it said that you need to learn to live out of control, but I think that’s only half of the truth. You also need to learn to live knowing that God is in control. I’m still learning what that looks like, but here’s my thoughts so far. It’s delegating and accepting another right way to do things, even if it’s not your way. It’s pressing in and engaging vulnerably, even if there are no guarantees. It’s being honest with yourself and others about how much you do care, even if you’re not sure they care the same way. It’s acknowledging and experiencing pain, refusing to put up another wall. It’s praying, not my will, but yours be done (Lk. 22:42).

When I think about it, I know it’s going to cost me something. I also know it’s not going to cost near as much as attempting to maintain the illusion of control. I suppose it’s a choice. I know what I’m choosing. What about you?

Wrestling with the Buts: Women in Leadership and the Bible

Lady in the MarketThese days it seems like everywhere I turn, I’m getting pulled into discussions about what the Bible does or does not allow women to do. Can they be pastors? Can they preach? What about other teaching and leading ministries? How about leadership in the home? Articles such as this one by Matt Walsh, and this one from Got Questions, have been sent to me with requests for my perspective.

I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have extensively thought about, prayed through, and researched these issues. I grew up in a complementarian church, and have written previously about how I changed my mind about women in leadership. This article, though, isn’t about my personal process. It’s dealing with the popular objections Christians have about women in leadership. In short, we’re wrestling with the buts. Instead of reinventing the wheel with my own written responses to the arguments, I’m including a series of articles that respond in a much better way than I can. Here we go…

…BUT Adam was created before Eve (Genesis 1-2; 1 Tim. 2:9-15)

A scholarly take on the ‘creation order’ argument –

Word study on helpmeet (Heb. Ezer kenegdo) –

…BUT no women are found teaching men in the Old Testament

An examination of women and their ministry throughout the OT & NT –

…BUT Jesus was a man

This article deals with this objection, as well as the larger context of God and gender –

…BUT the 12 apostles were all men

Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian’s article deals with this objection beautifully –

…BUT Paul says women can’t be church leaders or teach / have authority over men (aka the 1 Timothy 2 argument)

The short answer –

The long answer –

The meaning of ‘authority’ in 1 Timothy 2:12 –

…BUT the man is the head of the home (Eph. 5:21-33)

On the Significance of Kephalē (“Head”) –

Q&A: Does the Bible Allow Women to Have Authority Over Men? –

There are probably many other ‘buts’. To be honest, even with everything I have read on these topics, I still don’t have all the answers. However, what I do know leads me to believe that the Bible’s answer to the question of women in leadership is a resounding YES. Leadership, just like any other ministry in the church, depends on one’s gifts, calling, passions, and interests. It does not depend on gender.

All in all, everyone is entitled to their viewpoint, and we do need to learn to disagree agreeably. People are supposed to know we are Christians by our love (Jn. 13:35). But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m tired of defending my ability to exercise my gifts, so I’m just gonna be over here getting shit done for Jesus.

Further Resources

For an overall scholarly treatment of the biblical basis for women’s ministry in the church, NT Wright’s video and article are excellent.

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy – Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis (eds.). Available from Amazon.

For Individual or Group Bible Study – In the Image of God: Exploring what the Bible says about men and women. Available as a PDF from Proost.*

*I have gone through this study myself and with a group, and found it a non-threatening way to examine and think through key aspects of this topic.

Christians: Quit being the boycotting beast

I was intrigued recently as I scrolled through my Facebook news-feed. Christians were calling for a boycott of the new Beauty and the Beast film, featuring Disney’s first openly gay character. When I investigated further, it was more than a mere individual boycott. Entire theatres, such as this one in Alabama, were refusing to show the film at all. Of course, I believe everyone has the right to decide what they want to watch or not watch, but I couldn’t help but wonder: why this movie?

From what I can tell, the boycott argument is that individuals, theatres, or others, do not want to support the gay lifestyle. Okay. So, going to see a film that happens to include a gay character means supporting homosexuality? If we follow that logic through, then wouldn’t watching a violent movie support violence? Wouldn’t watching a movie with premarital or extramarital sex support promiscuity and infidelity? Wouldn’t watching a movie with abuse promote abuse? If the primary concern is what watching a movie will support, then perhaps the choice should be made to abstain from watching movies altogether.

Alternately, perhaps the outrage is not just that a movie contains a gay character, but that a Disney movie has a gay character. Disney is supposed to support wholesome family values. They’re supposed to make movies that are ‘safe’ for our children to watch. Really? If you take a critical look at the movies Disney has produced over time, you’ll see among the cute kids and fluffy animals: witchcraft, violence, war, sexual abuse (or, at the very least, unwelcome sexual advances), theft, and manipulation. Again, it does not seem that Disney is behaving inconsistently. They are creating films that people will relate to, because it makes money. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: society is not Christian and it is not society’s responsibility to create media or other paraphernalia that corresponds with Christian values.

The point is not to cocoon ourselves in a blanket of do’s and don’ts in an attempt to shut out the advancing bogeyman representing our worst fears about society going to hell in a hand-basket. Watching a movie with a gay character isn’t going to corrupt us. A more realistic approach is to realize that there are myriad of influences pushing and pulling us each day, not just one film. We need to engage and think critically about all that we are consuming.

In my mind, the inconsistency in logic of reactions to the film point to the deeper issue of a fear-based and judgmental response towards those who identify as homosexuals (never mind those who identify as transgender, queer, or something else). Christians seem to feel threatened by what they do not understand, and by what seems to challenge their deeply held value system.

The reactions also reflect the fear Christians in the West seem to have over loss of influence. They are no longer at the center of society and decision-making. Their power is marginalized and sidelined. As some have said, we live in a post-Christian world.

Fear leads us into action, yes, but it is subjective, illogical, tight-fisted, and often hurtful. Boycotts confirm what many outside the church already think of us: we are narrow-minded, irrational, prejudiced and arrogant. Boycotts make us look like the real beast. This repels people and goes against what most of us want more deeply than we feel fear: for people to know Jesus for themselves.

Instead of responding with boycotts, why not take a fresh look at how the early church operated? They, too, were a minority group in a society that did not share their values. Instead of lashing out, they sought God in prayer and relied on the power of the Holy Spirit. They proclaimed the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection in word and action, were persecuted, and saw incredible growth. Maybe today that means we go see the film. Maybe it means we bake cookies for our gay friends who experience harassment and discrimination because of who they believe themselves to be. We hear their stories. We love them. Because love isn’t predicated on agreement with someone’s lifestyle or choices. After all, God loved and loves us like that. Let’s stop acting like the beast, and show the world the true beauty of the gospel.

My Top 5 Books in 2016


For as long as I can remember, and even before that, I’ve loved to read. The librarian’s blank look when she told me she had run out of books to recommend is still vivid in my mind. I don’t read as much as I used to, but I did manage to leaf through a few gems in 2016. Here are my top 5 reads.top5in2016

Rising Strong – Brene Brown

Out of the corner of my eye, in the middle of a coffee shop at an all-inclusive Mexican resort, I spotted Rising Strong amidst the unappealing fiction novels. I opened it to find it was a signed copy! I couldn’t believe it! This book came at just the right time for me. I’ve thought for some time that Brene Brown makes emotions accessible for INTJ’s like me, and this was no exception. Following on from her previous bestsellers, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, this one focuses on what you do once you’ve been vulnerable and it’s gotten messy. Developing emotional awareness, getting curious about the findings, being honest about the stories we tell ourselves, and moving into action, these seem like simple things, but they’re actually quite revolutionary. This woman is pure gold. Check out her stuff! (If you’re skeptical, let her TED talks convince you first.)

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women – Naomi Wolf

Written in 1991, I still found this book prophetic in 2016. “The beauty myth tells a story: The quality called ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it. This embodiment is an imperative for women and not for men…it is biological, sexual, and evolutionary…this system is based on sexual selection…it is inevitable and changeless” (p.12). Exploring the myth caused me to question the status quo and gave me a new lens through which to see the world. If you’re interested in the politics of beauty, or you just like to be challenged, this is a great read.

Writing to Change the World: An Inspiring Guide for Transforming the World with Words – Mary Pipher

Every time I picked up this book, I got excited about writing. Every. Time. Pipher is encouraging and instructive, sharing pieces of her own story as she enables you to share yours more effectively. She helped me along the path to discovering my voice and passion to say what only I can say. I’d never read a book on writing before, and I’m glad this was my first one.

The Stream Runs Fast: My Own Story – Nellie McClungimg_8267

I’d been on a bit of a suffragette binge since watching the British film of the same name, and getting photos with the ‘famous five’ statues in Ottawa earlier this year. So, getting to read some of Nellie McClung’s story, a suffragette from my home province of Manitoba? Yes, please! I had no idea this woman was so incredibly accomplished. Not only did she write numerous books and speak around the country, she was a politician, and raised a family. All in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Amazing. The thing that impressed me most about McClung was her grace and poise in dealing with those who disagreed with her and tried to destroy her efforts for equality. An example to me, and all of us advocating for one thing or another. Definitely worth the read.

Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

At first I was just highly intrigued to read about a life utterly different from my own. Ali was born in Somalia, and also spent time in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Her stories shed light on a worldview and perspective foreign to me, and helped me see my ‘glasses’ – my way of seeing things – more clearly. I was captivated by her story of escaping an arranged marriage by fleeing to Europe. I was shocked with the civil war in Somalia. But I think what struck me most was her critique of Islam and how the Western world too easily embraces it with an eye on tolerance. I’ve heard many arguments against Islam from other religions, but a Muslim? That was new to me. If you want to know more, read her book.


So there you have it. My top 5 books of 2016. Are you rushing to Amazon to order them yet? 🙂

Do you have any book recommendations? I’m always adding to my list!

Taking Off Our Glasses: A Leadership Lesson

I’ve worn glasses for a long time. I think I got my first pair when I was three, or at the latest, five. I’ve worn them for so long that I often forget I’m wearing them.


I suffered from depression for six years. Everything felt so dark and hopeless, like wearing a pair of sunglasses that could never come off. I couldn’t imagine that life could look any differently.

I think how we see and engage in leadership is not so different from these experiences. We become saturated in a single perspective and we cannot imagine it could look another way. We do not even realize we are wearing glasses. So, we continue thinking and operating with a narrow, anemic perspective, believing that’s all there is. Maybe we find mentors, read books, go to conferences, or take courses. Seemingly we are engaging in good things and becoming better leaders. But all of these things are the same colour as our glasses so that we are never challenged. If something different does manage to break in, the threat of the anomaly is quickly quenched. To reference Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a popular Nigerian author and speaker, there is great danger to a single story.

Most of what I have seen, read, and experienced regarding leadership is from a white, Western, male perspective. This is not a bad nor a wrong perspective, but if it becomes my only set of glasses, then it is incomplete. Some time ago I came across Next Leadership. It’s a UK-based organization founded by Kate Coleman. Not only is she a woman, but she was also born in Ghana, and has been a pioneer for women in leadership in a number of areas. Her book ‘the 7 Deadly Sins of Women in Leadership’ was the first book I ever read on leadership by a woman. For the first time in my life, I saw a different perspective on leadership, and discovered well articulated, unique challenges for women in leadership.

A number of months ago, I found another book on sale: ‘Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women’ by Dr. Halee Gray Scott. This was my second book on leadership by a woman. Both Coleman and Scott recognize that from the outset, many women are disqualified for leadership based on their gender, especially as it relates to specific theologies among Christians. However, they write presuming (and presuming correctly) that women do have leadership gifts and are already leading in all kinds of arenas. Through these books, I began to see more of my glasses.

One particular aspect stuck out to me from Scott’s book. In her studies, she focused her thesis on perceptions of female leaders serving in para-church ministries. She discovered one of the unique challenges for women in para-church leadership (and likely in Christian leadership in general), was the discrepancy between how good women were perceived compared to how good leaders were perceived.

When women display the desirable leadership traits – confident, competent, assertive, and bold – they cease to be viewed as warm and caring and are instead perceived as tough, aggressive, and domineering. This creates a double bind, because if women act in ways consistent with gender stereotypes, they are not viewed as competent leaders, but if they act in ways consistent with good leaders, they are not liked. In political circles, these women are called ‘iron ladies’. (p.107)

Scott adds, “since perceptions of female leaders strongly correlate with perceptions of successful leaders, but greatly contrast with perceptions of women in general, it means that Christians view female leaders as exceptions to the rule” (p.115). From my own experience, her research results ring true. I’ve had to decide that I will use my gifts and pursue my calling regardless of how favourably people view me, as a woman or as a leader. More women than I can count have told me they could not do what I do. This could be true, since we are all given different gifts and abilities (1 Cor. 12). However, even those that could lead likely believe it is not possible. Scott concludes, “whether we like it or not, we do not think a woman can be both a good woman and a good leader” (p.107). We lose out on capable leaders because many women consider this price too high to pay, and choose instead to act in ways that will gain them social acceptability as a woman.

How can we move forward? The first step is to realize the danger of a single story about leadership, and have the courage to seek out other perspectives. Imagine you actually are wearing a pair of glasses, and that leadership can look differently than you may have believed until now. With your new and evolving viewpoint, challenge others to see beyond what’s right in front of them. Use whatever privilege you have to encourage people, especially women, to pursue leadership in ways that are unique to them. Whatever you do, refuse to let a single story dominate the leadership landscape.

When the Nameless Have Names

“It’s so hard to wait. All of us are waiting.” Razia* looked at me with her w14241621_10157380559890697_1156738265325242717_oeary brown eyes, not expecting me to do anything, but happy to speak English and share her story. She was one of many Afghans, Syrians, Iranians, and Iraqis I met this past week at refugee centres and camps in and around Athens. Most of them are waiting for their papers to move on and settle into another country.

Mustafa, his wife, and their two daughters, came to Athens some months ago from Afghanistan as well. He showed me photos and video of their journey on his phone. Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and now Greece. I wondered how they were alive after seeing the cold, barren land they traveled through. “Our youngest daughter almost died from the cold on the way here, but we came so our children could have a better future.”

Ahmad and his family, from Iran, were volunteering at one of the care centres. “I have been to Canada to present at conferences. I have a PhD in meat science. Now, I’m a refugee.”

Pari*, holding nearly 2 year old Fatima, welcomed us into her small, white tent with a smiling face. She and her husband, Hassam*, had been staying there for the past seven months. I asked if they had family staying in the camp. She said they were all in Afghanistan. “Can they come visit you?” I asked. “No, it is impossible,” she replied, sadly. Then I heard why. Many marriages in Afghanistan are arranged by the parents, but they married for love. Pari comes from a rich family, and Hassam from a poor family. Hassam’s family didn’t agree with his choice, and were trying to kill him. They were still not completely safe, even in this camp thousands of miles away. When I asked if they would move on to another country, like most of the other families hope to do, Pari told me it was too expensive. What will their future be like, living in this tiny tent?

This is just a glimpse into the lives of many who have fled their homes because of political instability, terrorism, family threats, and a host of other reasons. Their lives are incredibly difficult, and their futures uncertain, but their past was enough for them to feel like they had no choice but to leave. I have no idea what that is like. I can’t wrap my mind around what they think, feel, and experience each day. I found myself wishing that I could escape. That I hadn’t even come. It was so much easier when they were ‘just’ nameless people on the news. I cried and I prayed. I asked God why. I still don’t have those answers, but I have experienced a small piece of God’s heart for the poor and oppressed.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1

Now, I’m on my way home, and although there’s a sense of relief, there’s also a twinge of guilt. I have a home. I realize the privilege I have that I can choose how much of the suffering in the world I want to see. I can turn off the news, but for Razia, Mustafa, Ahmad, Pari, and Hassam, it is their everyday life. I’m more connected now, but I fear I will easily forget them. Will you remember them with me?


*names changed

Be yourself, but exactly like this.

boxing-gloves-300x300Debra looked at me wistfully with a light in her eyes. I had just told her about my kickboxing hobby, so why the look of an unfulfilled longing? “I’ve wanted to box for a long time, but always thought it would make me less of a woman,” she said with a shrug of her hands.

Why would she say something like that? Sports are not inherently gendered. Somewhere along the way in her life, she must have internalized a message of what someone else thought it meant to be feminine. Maybe it was communicated by her family, friends, church, local community, broader society, or the media. Maybe it was all of these. Either way, a feminine box had been created where some things were clearly in, and others were clearly out.

Boxes in themselves are not necessarily threatening, but the consequences of non-compliance are enough to facilitate a community of cubic figures. Those who dare to transgress the sacred walls are shamed and shunned. The innate human desire to belong and to be loved easily overcomes the equally innate human desire for free self-expression. On one hand, society screams “Be Yourself!!” and on the other, it adds “but stay within these exact boundaries.” In Christian circles, it can be even worse, because compliance is connected to what is ‘biblical’, so salvation is on the line.

What are the results? People like Debra are robbed of their wholeness, and we are robbed of their beings and talents. Maybe she could have been a competitive boxer, but we’ll never know. It may not be sports, it could be anything – music, art, emotional expression, fashion – so much is defined by ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ boxes.

People like Debra need the freedom to be themselves. Boxes need to be challenged, and not just those related to gender. We need to value wholeness more than conformity, for the individual and the community. Our joy, and even our future, depends on it.

Reflecting on Leadership

Are you a reflective sort of person? Do you ever find yourself getting lost in thought? Or maybe not find yourself, just get lost? I know I do.

So, I thought, why not make something of all that reflection? I’ve had a lot of fun working together with the lovely folks at the Sophia Network in the UK to create a ‘Reflective Leadership Corner’. It’s a bi-monthly installment where I write short (400ish) word reflections on various aspects of leadership. Things that I’ve been thinking about and wrestling with recently. It’s real. It’s short. It’s practical. Why not check it out?

Enjoy. Oh, grab some tea first, okay? 🙂