I’m a Christian feminist

I’m a Christian feminist. Yes, there is such a thing and no, that f word isn’t an obscenity.

The label may not be a familiar one, but Christian feminism predates well known secular feminists and activists including Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem. There is, in fact, a long history of Christian women devoting themselves to fighting for the status of women, and the right of women to vote, to own property, and to defend themselves in a court of law against rape and domestic abuse. Women like Nellie McClung who, based on her understanding of God’s intention for creation, together with Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Irene Parlby and Louise McKinney, launched a legal challenge that would pave the way for women to be declared “persons” under law and to participate equally in all aspects of life in Canada. Thankfully, theirs is a rich tradition of pro-life feminism that continues today.

Within the Christian church, there are two schools of thought regarding the roles of men and women. Complementarians believe that men and women, though equal in worth, are meant to have distinctly different roles. Egalitarians, while agreeing that men and women are equal in worth, believe there should be no gender restrictions on what roles they can fulfill. Marriage and ministry are the primary points of disagreement between the two viewpoints.

When we first married, I was a baby Christian. I tried to be the submissive wife that my husband had been taught was his due simply because he was born with a Y chromosome and an extra appendage. It didn’t work. He wasn’t a good leader and, truth be told, I wasn’t a good follower. All the while, I wondered why God would want me to submit to a sinful man. Then I realized that He didn’t. We were meant to be partners, submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21) with God as the head of our household.

But what about Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18, verses that exhort wives to submit to their husbands? We can’t simply ignore portions of scripture because they make us uncomfortable or dismiss the parts we don’t like. Sometimes we have to grapple with scripture. We have to understand the context and the time in which the words were written. We have to dig deep and seek to understand the principles being taught and then figure out how to apply them in our time and place.

“It’s dangerous to cherry-pick a few stand-alone verses, particularly when they are used as a weapon to silence and intimidate, effectively benching half the church… We can’t read letters written to specific people with specific situations in mind in a specific context and then apply them, broad-brush, to the whole of humanity or the church or even our own small selves.”  Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist

These select verses telling wives to submit to their husbands line up with the Greco-Roman household codes that were part of Pax Romana law at the time and in the place that the apostle Paul was writing his epistles. They were the law of the land at that time and, as in Romans 13:1-2, Paul is telling his readers that “everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.”

Interestingly, just four verses after Colossians 3:18 instructs women to submit to their husbands, verse 22 tells slaves to obey their earthly masters. While wives must submit is a core teaching in most Christian churches today, no one takes that verse literally and suggests that slavery is actually a godly practice. I jokingly respond that if I have to submit to my husband, I also want my slave!

In addition to slavery, which is never actually prohibited in the Bible, the church has rightfully done away with many Biblical practices including polygamy, the buying and selling of daughters, stoning, the requirement that baby boys be circumcised, and many other ancient practices that were once culturally acceptable. Gender inequality is just one more example of an injustice that we need to let go of.

Nowhere in the Bible does it suggest that any of the gifts of the Spirt, which include teaching, pastoring, prophecy, evangelism and leadership (Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12), are gender specific and yet many Christian churches today exclude women from these roles. Sadly, in spite of the fact that there are numerous examples of women leading, teaching, ministering, and prophesying in scripture, patriarchy is alive and well in many churches today. This is clearly contrary to Acts 2:18 which says “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Paul himself says in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I served on the board of our previous church for seven years, but in our present church I would not be allowed to because I’m a woman. I’m okay with me not being on the board, but I’m not okay with half the church being denied full opportunity to use their God-given gifts simply by virtue of being female and I’m not okay with a church board not having the benefit of the female perspective. The very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God created male and female in His image and gave THEM dominion over all that He had made.

According to Genesis, God did create Adam first, but He also said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The original word translated in English Bibles as helper or helpmeet is ezer, a word used twenty-one times in the Old Testament: twice in Genesis for the woman, three times for nations that Israel appealed to for military aid, and sixteen times for God Himself as Israel’s helper! God created His daughters to be ezers, strong and resourceful partners for His sons. He also makes it clear that in relationship, they are to become one. That’s partnership, not patriarchy! When a woman is held back, hushed up, minimized or lessened in any way, she is not free to walk in the fullness that God intended for her as His image bearer, His ezer.

“When half the church holds back – whether by choice or because we have no choice – everybody loses and our mission suffers setbacks.” Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church

So what do I make of 1 Corinthians 14:35 which says “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”? Again, if we were to delve into the historical context for this verse, we would find that it was written in direct response to disruptions that were occurring in the Corinthian church at that time. The underlying principle is not that women 2000 years later should be forbidden from speaking in church, but that a church service ought to be orderly, not chaotic, a topic that Paul actually begins to address at the beginning of chapter 11.

And what about 1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.”? Again, Paul’s restriction was given in the context of a personal letter to Timothy giving advice about a specific issue concerning false teaching that had arisen in the church at Ephesus. There is no suggestion that he was establishing church policy for all time. Neither is there any mention of this in the rest of Paul’s writings or elsewhere in the Bible. As has already been mentioned, there are clear examples elsewhere in scripture of women teaching, prophesying, and taking leadership roles.

So why do I, a Christian feminist, stay in a male-dominated church? First of all, there aren’t a lot of options in our small community. Fortunately, however, there are ways that I can use my spiritual gifts of teaching and faith within the confines of a patriarchal setting and I’ve always been comfortable worshipping with genuine believers who don’t see eye to eye with me on all matters. I also believe that God has placed me behind enemy lines, so to speak, for a reason. Though it likely won’t happen in my lifetime, I can pray for change and speak for justice for the women of the future. I may not be allowed to preach from the pulpit, which I don’t feel called to do anyway, but I can speak the truth, as I know it, when opportunity presents itself and I can certainly preach it from my keyboard!

For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend:

  1. Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, Carolyn Custis James
  2. Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, Sarah Bessey
  3. The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, Beth Allison Barr
  4. A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans

This is, of course, a controversial topic. I invite dialogue in the comment section, but I also insist that it remain a safe and respectful place for the expression of differing viewpoints and experiences.

Must haves for 2022

LogoThe internet is filled with lists of fashion items that every well dressed woman “must have” in her closet. Though I have neither, most agree that we should have at least one white button up shirt and a little black dress. Today, however, for my first fashion post of the new year, I want us to look at a completely different list found in Colossians 3:12-14.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Whether you work from home in your pjs, wear a uniform each day, dress to impress in a corporate boardroom, or don PPE to care for the sick and dying, you won’t go wrong if you clothe yourselves in these six items.

When the young mother in front of you holds up the line in the grocery store while she fumbles in her purse for her wallet and tries to hush her crying toddler, practice patience. Have compassion for the cashier and offer her a word of kindness when it’s finally your turn at the till. When a friend, overwhelmed by the world that we live in today, posts another negative and poorly informed tirade on Facebook, be gentle with your response. When someone at work offers constructive criticism, accept it with humility and consider whether or not they might be right. Show love by listening to another’s story and acknowledging their struggles or by doing something unexpected for someone else without expecting anything in return.

Even if your smile is hidden behind a mask, your beauty will shine through for all to see when you clothe yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

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One Word for 2022

For the past few years I’ve chosen one word to inspire or guide me in the new year as well as a scripture verse to go along with it. There’s actually a whole #OneWord365 movement on the internet urging members to choose a word to focus on every day, all year long; a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.

Much has been said over the past 22 months about how the Covid-19 crisis has robbed us of our freedom. Thinking about that led me to my word for 2022.

Freedom

Interestingly, of the 165 people worldwide who have registered their One Word for 2022 online so far, I’m the only one who chose freedom! I’m a tribe of one!

The Bible verse that I chose to go with this year’s word is a good transition from last year when my word was TRUTH.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

So what is freedom? Oxford Languages defines it this way:

  1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint
  2. absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government
  3. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved

There are really two kinds of freedom, freedom to and freedom from. There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has, at least temporarily, curtailed our freedom to travel, to gather in large groups, to celebrate special moments with those we love, to enjoy many of the activities that we once took for granted, and so on. Though it’s difficult to be optimistic with the Omicron variant running rampant, I do hold out hope that some of these freedoms might be returned to us before this new year comes to an end.

As I settled on freedom as my One Word for this year, however, it was actually freedom from that was at the forefront of my mind. While I’m enormously thankful that we, in the western world, are for the most part free from the kinds of oppression that are common elsewhere, I was thinking on a more personal level. For many years, I suffered from what has been identified as betrayal trauma. As a result, I clung to a root of bitterness that gave me a sense of stability. I was afraid that if I let go and let myself trust again, I would be completely blown away and destroyed. Several months ago, as God began to gently loosen my grip on that root of bitterness, I pictured it this way…

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For some of us, art can be a creative and healthy way to deal with trauma. My daughter, whose own journey toward freedom included an art therapy course, illustrated the words of American author and activist, Glennon Doyle, in this beautiful expression.

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Regardless of how confined we are by the present health restrictions or those yet to come, I want to live 2022 in the fullness of the freedom from that I have finally found! I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t also point out that true freedom is found by surrendering our lives to the almighty Creator of the universe. Galatians 5:1 tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” and 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Have you ever chosen a word to inspire or guide you in a new year? What would your one word for 2022 be?

The miracle of adoption

Eight years ago, a beautiful discussion took place between our daughter and our then 5-year-old grandson:

Drew: Mommy, what is adoption?
Melaina: Adoption is when a baby grows in one mommy’s tummy but she can’t take care of him so another mommy and daddy adopt the baby and become his new mommy and daddy. Uncle Nate is adopted. He grew in a different mommy’s tummy but then we adopted him.
Drew: So Gram and Grandpa still got to be his mommy and daddy?
Melaina: Yes!
Drew: Wow! That is like a miracle!

Yes, Drew, yes it is! And now, many years later, Uncle Nate is himself the father of two adopted children!

When this conversation showed up as one of my Facebook memories recently, I was reminded of the many “miracles” in our extended family, but my mind also went to Romans 8:14-15a

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.” (NLT)

and Ephesians 1:5

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (NLT)

Wow! Nate’s adoption story is an amazing one, but is there anything more amazing than being adopted into the eternal family of the Creator of heaven and earth? How can that be?

When we brought Nate home at three days old, it wasn’t a temporary or part time commitment. We weren’t just babysitting. It was for life. He was 100% ours! That’s how it is with God too. He wants 100% of your life for all time. That’s why He sent His Son to die to take the punishment for our sins, so that by accepting that amazing gift and surrendering our lives to Him, we would receive His Spirit and be adopted as His children.

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With Christmas time fast approaching, that’s really something to think about, isn’t it?

He completes me

Have you ever thought about what you’d like to be able to tell your much younger self? If I could, I’d tell the naive young woman that I once was that the romantic notion that a woman needs a man to complete her is absolute balderdash!

After 45 years of marriage, does my husband complete me? No! Absolutely not. He has a different skill set than I do and different spiritual gifts, so we are better together than individually, but he does not complete me nor I him. In many ways he complements me, but he cannot possibly meet all of my emotional and spiritual needs. There is no man on this planet who could do that and to expect otherwise is to put a load on another’s shoulders that there’s no way they can carry. I wish I’d known that sooner. 

In the 1996 romantic comedy/sports drama of the same name, Jerry Maguire uses the line, “You complete me” when trying to win back his love interest, but in the real world a partner or spouse should not define who you are. While “I love you” speaks of genuine affection, “You complete me” reeks of dependency, of needing another person to fill a gap, solve a problem, or heal a wound.  

So who completes me? Am I complete in and of myself? In some ways yes, but not entirely. 

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I am not a theologian or even a Bible scholar, but I do know that only God, the one who created me and knows me more intimately than I even know myself, can truly complete me. 

So what does complete mean? In this context, the dictionary defines it as to make something whole or perfect

Does that mean that I think I’m perfect because I’ve surrendered my life to Christ? Absolutely not! That will never happen this side of heaven, but God has imputed His perfection, His righteousness to me. That means that when He looks at me, He sees Christ’s perfection in me, not my own human imperfection. His estimation of me is equal to His estimation of His Son! 

Being completed by Christ means even more than this though. It means that because I am united with Him, I can lean on His absolute sufficiency. Hard as he might try, my husband can never be my ultimate source of peace, joy, or security. He is human. He will fail me. If I look only to him for meaning, significance, and value, I will be disappointed. No, these are the things I gain when I allow Christ to complete me. 

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These are things I would like to tell my younger self. 

Thoughts on turning 69

It seems that every woman has a birthday she dreads; an age that she has trouble accepting. For me, that age was 60. The whole time I was 59, I dreaded turning 60. It was such a big number and sounded so old, but then the day came and nothing really changed. It was just another day, another new beginning, and I’d wasted an entire year worrying about it!

Now, nine more years have passed and tomorrow I turn 69! My 60s have not been easy. They brought three different cancer diagnoses, relationship trauma, the death of both my parents, and now a worldwide pandemic, but through it all, I learned endurance, perseverance, and resilience. I also learned to live one day at a time.

Learning not to count on the future, but to see every day as a gift and a blessing, was a very valuable lesson. When I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer shortly before my 61st birthday, I really didn’t expect that I’d still be alive today. Four years later, I threw myself a “still alive at 65” birthday party and now, just one year short of 70, I’m still here and still going strong!

One thing I know that I won’t be doing when I’m 69 is wasting time worrying about turning 70. Instead, as long as God gives me life, I’m going to be busy living it to the fullest and doing my best to accomplish whatever it is that He is keeping me here to do!

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Blogging woes and cancer news

My beloved MacBook Air is getting old; old enough that I’m not able to update to a newer browser. Recently, whenever I opened WordPress to check my stats or work on a post, I received a message telling me that I was using an unsupported browser. Until earlier this week, however, I was able to click through to the appropriate page and work as usual. Then came the fateful day when all that I could open was a blank page with the WordPress logo in the centre!

As I usually do when something goes wrong in my blogging world, I fired off a cry for help to WordPress support and hoped for the best. They’ve never let me down yet, but while I wait to find out what they can or can’t do for me, I’m typing this on my husband’s computer. Not easy! Mine is a Mac, but his is not. The keyboard is a different size and my fingers don’t know what to do. Things jump around when I’m not expecting them to and then there’s the issue of all my photos being on my computer and not knowing how to transfer them to his. With practice, I’m sure these things will get easier, but this is, at best, a very temporary solution! I’m hoping that I don’t have to invest in a new computer right now as mine still does everything else I want it to do, but I have to be able to blog!   

Now, for the other news… 

In mid August, I went through a series of tests and scans, as I do every six months, to determine whether or not there were any changes to my cancers. When the results became available online, I was concerned about a spike in one marker that is particularly significant to neuroendocrine cancer (NETS). Not only had the level increased dramatically, but it was now slightly above the normal range. Knowing that I had to wait several weeks to see the doctor for an explanation, my response was similar to when WordPress quit working. I called for support. I sent out a cry for help to eight godly women asking each of them to pray, not only that my cancer had not grown or spread, but also that I wouldn’t be anxious as I waited for answers. Almost immediately, an unnatural peace descended on me and I was able to go on without undue stress or anxiety. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

And now for the really good news… my cancer continues to be stable and the doctor has no concerns! Though the spike in that one marker looked concerning to me, she assured me that it would have to be much higher before it was anything to worry about. Praise the Lord!

The last ten

When I sat down to write this evening, my initial plan had been to start working on this Friday’s fashion post, but something else has been weighing on my mind and I decided to go in that direction instead. I’ve written about the Christian and social media before, but tonight that’s where I found myself going again.

I’ve been using Facebook since December 2007. We were about to leave for a year-long teaching assignment in Japan and our daughter insisted that I had to have Facebook as a way of staying in touch. In fact, she actually created my account and chose my first password and profile picture! She was right. In those days, Facebook was a great way to connect with friends and family. We enjoyed exchanging news and posting photos of our families and our daily lives. I even reconnected with a few people that I had completely lost touch with over the years.

Over time, however, Facebook has morphed into something very different than it was in those early days. I don’t mind the proliferation of ads on my Newsfeed because I realize that very little in life is free and someone has to pay for this platform. No, it’s not the ads that bother me, it’s the negativity, the anger, and the misinformation. Gone are the days when people annoyed one another or flirted with one another by “poking” each other on Facebook. Now, many use social media to lash out at one another or to hurl insults at those who disagree with them. Instead of sharing our lives, we try to prove each other wrong.

So, what does the Christian do? Can we be salt and light on social media or would we be better to avoid it altogether? These were the questions that I was wrestling with in late January when I learned of a free 10-day challenge called Instagram for Jesus. Offered by an online women’s ministry called Well-Watered Women, the challenge is simply a series of 10 short emails designed to help users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok examine their motives for using social media and the potential that it holds, as well as set life-giving boundaries. If this sounds like something that might be of interest to you, check it out and sign up here.

If I had to choose the one thing that impacted me most from the 10 short messages, it was this recommendation from Day 8, “Scroll through your last ten posts, and ask yourself what a follower would know about you through those images and words. Consider opportunities to shift that understanding to a clearer image of what it means to walk as a sinner saved by grace.” Even if you’re not a Christ-follower, that first sentence is worth considering. What do your last ten posts tell the world about you? Is that the image you want to portray? If you are a believer, is this how you’re called to represent Christ to the world? If not, what are you going to do about it? For me, the simple practice of looking at my last ten posts, which I’ve been doing from time to time since completing the challenge in February, has been an excellent way to ensure that I’m being the kind of online presence that I want to be. 

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International Women’s Day 2021

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Today is International Women’s Day. It saddens me that we should even need to set aside a day to focus on women’s rights, to remind the world that women deserve equality. It was never meant to be this way. 

I’ve been focusing a lot on what the Bible has to say about womanhood in recent weeks as I’ve started leading a ladies Bible study on women of the Bible. The very first statement about women in the Bible comes in the first chapter of Genesis. Verses 27-31 say: 

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. 

Do you see what I see? First of all, we’re told that God created men and women in His own image! Both were meant to be His image bearers. Second, He gave both of them dominion over and responsibility for His creation. It was a joint assignment. God did not give men dominion over women! That was never His intention. And finally, God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. His plan was equality for men and women and it was very good

In chapter 2 of Genesis we’re given a more detailed creation story. Verse 18 says, “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The King James Version of the Bible uses the words help meet to describe the woman’s role. “Meet” is an archaic adjective meaning suitable or proper, so the phrase simply means a suitable helper. Perhaps this is where the idea that men should dominate came from, but that was never God’s intent. In the original language, the word translated as helper or help meet was ezer. Ezer is a word that appears 21 times in the Old Testament; twice in Genesis for the woman, 3 times for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid, and 16 times to refer to God as Israel’s helper, their shield and defence. It was used consistently in a military context. That hardly brings to mind a meek or subservient helper! Perhaps strong helper would be a better translation. 

Sadly, God’s plan for a partnership between men and women didn’t play out in human history. It didn’t take long for the relationship to deteriorate to the point where women were simply possessions of their fathers or husbands, barely a step above their livestock. Their primary role was to serve the men in their lives and to produce sons to carry on their husband’s family line. 

These may be radical thoughts for a woman who attends a patriarchal church, but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and women’s issues have been a passion of mine for a very long time. The reality is that we need to do much more than set aside one day a year to draw attention to the plight of women worldwide. It is something that needs to be addressed 365 days of the year! 

As long as there are places on this planet where parents sell their daughters because they can’t afford to feed them, where girls walk an average of 6 kilometres a day to collect clean water for their households, where they are denied education, where they are forced to undergo female genital mutilation and/or forced into child marriage, we must do more than celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women on International Women’s Day. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the atrocities inflicted on women in foreign lands when they aren’t happening in our own backyard, but there are women living in abject poverty in Canada, the United States, and other developed countries. Objectifying and exploiting women is still alive and well in our culture. Violence against women is still prevalent. Human trafficking happens in our own neighbourhoods.  

Though the situation may have improved over the years, women have yet to achieve equality in the workplace. As a current example, women are at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19 as front-line and health sector workers, scientists, doctors and caregivers, yet according to a UN report, they get paid 11 percent less globally than their male counterparts!  

What, then, can we do to press for progress for women? First of all, we need to educate ourselves, to look beyond our comfortable lives and become aware of what the issues are and which reputable organizations are working to change them. If you’re serious about wanting to have an impact on the lives of women around the world, I would suggest that you begin by reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book was a life changer for me. Kristof and WuDunn are upfront and clear; they hope to recruit their readers to get involved, to become a part of a movement to emancipate and empower women by helping provide the economic resources that can help transform their lives.  Half the Sky not only inspires the reader to get involved, it gives many suggestions how.

It was after reading Half the Sky that I began making micro loans to women in third world countries through Kiva, the world’s first online micro-lending platform. It’s one small step, but it’s something I can do. Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows a person to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in one of 77 countries around the world. When a loan is repaid, the money can be withdrawn or used to fund a new loan. I choose to lend to women with children at home. All too often, money in the hands of men goes to alcohol and prostitution but in the hands of women, it nurtures children, feeds families and promotes education.

It’s International Women’s Day. What will you do? 

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One Word for 2021

For the past few years I’ve chosen one word to inspire or guide me in the coming year as well as a scripture verse to go along with it. There’s actually a whole #OneWord365 movement on the internet urging members to choose a word to focus on every day, all year long; a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.

My one word for 2020 was Bold. I wanted the boldness of the early disciples who shared their faith in spite of great opposition. I wanted the courage to confront injustice and stand up for the downtrodden. I wanted to boldly speak up for what I believed in or knew to be true. That led me to my one word for 2021.

Truth

The dictionary defines truth as that which is in accordance with fact or reality.

There seems to be very little of that going around these days! In fact, fake news, propaganda, and false information seem to spread faster than Covid-19! I have an insatiable desire to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding; to know the truth about anything that affects my life. Perhaps it’s simply a reaction to having been the victim of lies and deception in the past, but I abhor falsehood of any kind.   

When I see something online that I’m unsure about or that doesn’t sound right to me, I check the facts and, in accordance with my desire to speak the truth with boldness, I often post my findings in the form of a comment or a link. This hasn’t always been popular. In fact, one acquaintance called me the “resident fact checker” in an online discussion. She clearly didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I fail to see how seeking and speaking the truth could be anything but good! Thankfully, others have expressed appreciation either online or in person and I’ve even been approached a couple of times by people looking for help in checking the validity of something they’ve read or been told. 

We live in a day of relativism; the idea that you can have your truth and I can have mine. That isn’t actually truth at all; that’s belief or opinion. Unfortunately, belief doesn’t create fact. Truth is independent of belief. Being able to discern between fact and opinion, between news and editorial, between truth and belief, is a very important skill.  American politician, sociologist, and diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was quoted as saying, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” 

Accepting that absolute truth exists is an essential foundation of Christianity. God was very clear in the Bible that what He revealed was truth. In John 14:6, Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s either true or it isn’t. It can’t be true for some and not for others. 

There are many other Bible verses about truth, so choosing one to accompany my one word for 2021 was challenging. I finally settled on 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

That’s what I want to focus on in 2021, correctly handling the truth. Not just Biblical truth, but all truth. 

Have you ever chosen a word to inspire or guide you in a new year? What would your word for 2021 be?

truth