One label after another turned her down. Why? Her boobs. They were too big for the world of Christian music. Her life then took the trajectory we all saw plastered over the tabloids and MTV.
I spent this past weekend with 30 “Jessica’s” – women who didn’t fit into a mold the church had created and they either contorted themselves to fit that mold or they just left feeling alone and unloved. The one thing they all had in common was the perfectionism that this abandonment caused. I co-led a retreat and dived into why we were all deeply broken, tired, and unique.
All of these women (as all are) were born gifted and along their journeys someone told them they were not good enough; that they shouldn’t do what they were doing. So they all tried harder and harder. Most of the women were in their 20s and 30s and one extraordinary woman came with her twentysomething daughter as they were both in the “recovery” process.
It was remarkable to see that there is a generation of women coming of age that feel the need to perform, hide, try harder, do more in order to feel loved, accepted, wanted and worthy. They are carrying around their baggage all by themselves because the church either told them they didn’t fit in or they gave them so many more bags to carry because they were “the mold,” and it appeared they could handle that much more. They continued to carry it around and it got heavier and heavier.
I wanted to hold this retreat because just like Jessica got her record deal finally at a non-Christian label, so are these women finding places of belonging outside the church. The church has not become a safe place so women go dancing and make out with men to feel something. They join new age book clubs to dialogue about life. They marry an abusive person so they can climb the “you’re supposed to” ladder at church. They eat too much or nothing at all or puke it up to hide their pain. Their boobs are too big – their dreams too large – their intuition too right on and the patriarchal church didn’t know what to to.
There are no models for this. No one has done this before with Jesus. You hear of women going so far over that they are now Buddhists or New Age or interfaith. One woman’s husband said, “Oh so this is a one of those man bashing retreats.” But in actuality those who were married talked all weekend about how much they loved their husbands, but their perfection held them back because they didn’t know how to love fully. So then women historically have turned to non-Christian sources for healing and restoration and more and more women find comfort outside the church. Those resources are not always bad or evil but my point is why is there not more room for them at the inn? In a lot of ways it is the story of so many women in the Bible and Jesus himself – they didn’t fit.
So we lit candles, walked a labyrinth, smashed plates, played Red Rover, tore apart magazines, painted, drummed, and danced to reclaim ourselves and to meet Jesus again. It was one of the most courageous and beautiful weekends of my life. What was most apparent to me and my co-leader is how needed this weekend was, so stay tuned because this is only the beginning. We’re bringing our boobs and ourselves – our whole selves -- back to the church. Because now we know that that is just how Jesus loves us.