I have a confession. What this girl really wanted growing up, was to be a boy. Not in an ‘unsure about gender identity’ kind of way, but in a ‘they seem to be having all the fun’ kind of way.
I was a girl who liked climbing trees, building dens and racing the boys down my street on my bike, and beating them. I managed to sneak into Cubs when I found Brownies boring, though I was never allowed to wear the uniform back then because that simply wasn’t done. My best mate was a boy called Sam and it annoyed me (and him) that everyone assumed there must be a romantic connection – there wasn’t – the thought horrified both of us.
Boys didn’t have to worry about hair, makeup and all that other stuff. As an adult, I wished I could sneak into the men’s groups again and have a pint and a curry rather than craft and make birthday cards, but it wasn’t really the done thing to let the rogue girl in.
But this year I was going to be allowed in, just for an hour or so, to the biggest gathering of men in the country. But, well, you know, I was scuppered by Coronavirus. I think my disappointment, matches if not surpasses yours.
But it’s bigger issue than Boy Scouts. The truth is, women have it tough sometimes. There are places it’s hard to get in or, when you do, you can’t get the full recognition. There are days when I still wish I’d been born a bloke.
We’ve been set up to think Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, that somehow, we’re a different species. But the truth is, we’re all from planet earth. Weirdly and wonderfully made in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but fundamentally by the same manufacturer; with the same hallmarks, designed to work together and to reflect the maker.
Assuming we’re fundamentally different ‘types’ isn’t just damaging to women, it damages men too. There are men all over the world who are tired of trying to prove themselves tough enough, clever enough and in control enough. There are men all over the world who end up on the receiving end of someone else feeling the need to exert their power and control to prove their masculinity. We live in a messed up, broken world, and it can be exhausting trying to be what the world tells us we should be and living with the reality that it’s not possible.
It’s what I love about a little letter that Paul wrote years ago to a church in Turkey. It’s called Galatians and you can find it towards the end of the Bible. Essentially, he wrote, you can stop trying to be enough, stop the fight. Accept it’s an impossible task: You can’t make yourself good enough, funny enough or tough enough – not for the world and not for God.
It sounds like bad news, but it came with the best news ever – Jesus died to be your enough. He was good enough, powerful enough, everything enough and He laid His life down to trade places with you, so you receive that power and goodness in your life without having to do anything other than ask.
That truth is liberating and Paul reminds his friends in Turkey to never forget that freedom, to resist the temptation to pick the old chains of trying to be enough back up again. Once you accept Jesus and all he has for you, the need to prove yourself has gone.
Yet so often, we fall into old habits and we see the result of that in our relationships. Men and women looking to control each other or dictate what it means to be born a particular gender, or race or ability. It’s not what God intended, Jesus died to change all that and bring a new world order. It’s why Paul also wrote “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
It means we need to rethink some of our relationships – with men and women and discover how we can all live in that glorious freedom that Paul talked about.