Sometimes God and I have trouble together. Sometimes the challenges, burdens, responsibilities God places on my shoulders are ones I would rather just dump under the table and leave alone. As much as I try to offload the responsibilities, they just keep hanging around the back of my brain. I can't escape them. I really want to but I just can't get away from them.
One of the roles I continually find myself in is what I will call "Woman capable of doing more than some men think she can". Think Rosie the Riveter. (Note, I said some men, not all men think this way.) In this role I am constantly pushing up against the boundaries of those who think that women can't _____________ you can fill in the blank.
In late March, I'll be joining up with 30 high school students and 15 adults, heading to Moore, Oklahoma to do tornado relief work. If you have been around this blog before, you will know I am not unfamiliar with disaster relief work. In fact, this will be my 16th work trip specifically for disaster relief. On these trips I have learned how to build ramps, dig post holes, cement posts, lay flooring, tear up flooring, sheet rock/tape/mud, use a nail gun (under duress), use a screw gun, use a skill saw, use a sawzall, build a fence, oh, and put up and tear down scaffolding and so much more. I happen to seriously love my steel toed boots, jeans and sweatshirts. I've been known to do my fair share of swearing at posts that somehow turn after they've been cemented in or when I measure for electric boxes, cut the sheet rock and am off just enough to cause a problem. So, when heading into trips, such as the one to Moore, and leaders on the trip say things like "Have you told them we have 18 girls on the trip?", the inference being the girls are unable to accomplish things the boys can, my blood boileth over.
I don't want to start a war. I don't desire to be labeled "that feminist". Yet, here I stand ready to take on the battle because I know the girls CAN. They can use the nail gun, the screw gun, the skill saw. They can dig post holes and put up sheet rock and build ramps. They can learn about how to frame a house or rough in electrical wires. They can roof, they can pour cement, THEY CAN! Sure, it might take longer. Yes, they aren't always capable of lifting super heavy items but please, just because they are girls, don't discount their abilities to succeed. In fact, most young women who are on work sites are there because they WANT to learn and they WANT to help people. By discounting their willingness to learn and what abilities they may have, sends a big message...a message I don't want to have anything to do with.
The other day Yo Momma asked one of the neighbors if they were building a deck, as they had piles of wood and what looked to be the beginnings of a deck by their house. Turns out our 12 year old neighbor girl and her dad are building a play house. We can just see the foundation of the playhouse going up now from our kitchen window. It's awesome. She is going to learn how to swing a hammer, how to measure, the importance of having a level foundation and so much more. What a gift to a young girl, to empower her to learn something new, go into territory that has been seen primarily as "men's work" and potentially tap into a talent she would never have found before. Plus, what a bonding experience between a daughter and her dad!
As I head into the trip to Moore, Oklahoma, as we gather for team training and gather as leaders, I hear God's voice so clearly, telling me to be an example, to keep urging others to empower, equip and encourage the young women in our midst, to help them dream new dreams, tap into strengthens they never knew they had and be willing to take on tasks others say they can't do. It's a voice some would and will argue with but I believe it is God's voice nonetheless.
We leaders are creating an opportunity for the young people on this trip to learn and grow, to serve and create, to find new strengths and gain knowledge. So let's give ALL of them the opportunity. There may be a young woman on this trip who suddenly realizes she likes to figure out angles and how pieces fit together. There may be a young woman who finds out she loves creating things with wood, there just may be a future carpenter in the group...but we never know until we give the young women on our team a chance.