Homing

 

“This is the fourth death I have had to process in the last week and a half.”

 

My sweet friend is standing in her kitchen, and the torrential rain is still drying off my boots propped in the corner.

This cold, wet day is different than my familiar Seattle rainy days.
My new community is just that, new.
And here we are, moving again to a new house.
Somehow her home has become most familiar to me in this new season.

Home is essential; it is an extension of the spirit that lives within the home.
I realize how vulnerable I feel without my Seattle home,
And with the work of infusing a new place with our family’s spirit.

“All these deaths make me realize we have no control over how much time we have.”

She is right.
And I think of my kids if I were to die.
I want them to have at least a home that feels like me.
Reminders of their mother.
Reminders of our life together.

It makes me nervous about moving into a new house.
Will we have enough time to make memories?
Will we be able to feel at home in this new place?
Moving is like a small death.
When we left Seattle, I didn’t think our family’s spirit would ever transfer fully.
We lost Brave in Seattle, and Brave’s remains are there.

The work of a new home is creating a place where we all feel held in one place.
It is a sacred ground where moments are gathered.
Moving reminds us that our earthly homes are just holding place,
And being at home feels unattainable.
Moving makes me long for heaven.
An eternal home.

I imagine the day I will see my boy again,
when these days on earth have ended for me,
and the one who first named me mother
will be once again in my arms,
This time we are both very much alive.
Brave will put his hands on my face,
And mark me with glory,
For I will finally know home.

 

Our film, A Brave Lament, is a tribute to the work it takes to grieve and honor our losses. You can watch our film at

abravelament.com


Still Sneaking Tampons: Christian Women & Womanist Theology


Still Sneaking Tampons

(excerpt from Theology of the Womb: Knowing God Through the Body of a Woman)

 

It is the last blazing hot weekend in the Pacific Northwest, and our annual church camping trip is nestled in a large campground between the beautiful mountain ranges just north of Seattle. My family of four is unloading our camping gear on our chosen campsite. The kids are playing around the campground while my husband and I are putting up the new tent, miraculously without a bickering word. Our pastor’s wife and decade-old friend Cherie walks over to me and whispers in my ear, “Do you have any tampons? I just started my period.” I walk to the car and rummage through the glove compartment. I am still breastfeeding, but my period came back about a month ago, so I am pretty sure I have something stashed away. Hidden by the covering palm of my hand, I carry and pass the tampons off like a drug exchange. She has no pockets in her running clothes, so she slides them into her sports bra. We smile knowingly and continue talking about other things. My husband comments from behind an almost assembled tent, “What are you both doing?” His inquiry is playful but forthright. I am well aware he is awaiting my return and needs my help. Cherie and I giggle, and he smirks with a ridiculous comment, “Oh, well the secret is out, I am telling all the guys that Cherie is on her period.” We all laugh and begin a conversation about how women have silenced and hidden their menstrual cycles for decades. The conversation becomes insatiable as we exchange countless stories back and forth about embarrassing moments around our bleeding that we have carried silently for years. As thirty-seven-year-old women, we have each birthed three babies, yet the conversation of our period is still so quiet. We tiptoe around the subject as if it will infringe upon others to know that we are on our periods. I consider this silence throughout the weekend, I wonder why I feel so embarrassed about something so natural and normal. Even at a church function, with my closest friends and women I have walked alongside through pregnancies, how is it there isn’t much of a theology tied to our bodies? In particular, our wombs actually invite us to know God as a creator in a way no other human is invited to know God. When I push past the embarrassment, I am in awe of how God is telling a story through the body of the woman and the womb which brings a soul into this world. How tragic that we have turned away from our bodies in embarrassment and hid this expression of the gospel. What we desperately need is to turn toward our bleeding and bearing bodies with kindness and curiosity and bless them. We need to study the theology that is being displayed in a woman’s womb. Thus, the birth of this book, Theology of the Womb.

Twenty-two years after my first period, I am only beginning to have open conversations about menstrual cycles. Although Cherie and I are no longer embarrassed about carrying tampons and scrounging for feminine products from each other, we are still careful to hide and keep our bleeding a secret from men and from the world. In the Bible, the stories of women mostly present imagery of the woman’s beauty as sexual, and their value is measured in terms of their reproductivity, specifically, as it applies to bearing males. I have yet to read a Bible passage on a lineage that has more than one woman’s name in it. Even though it is a woman’s body that births humans, their names don’t make it into the passages on bloodlines. The few women who are named in the Bible are categorized as either virgins, promiscuous, mothers, infertile, widowed, or temple prostitutes.

My 6-year-old son Wilder and 4-year-old daughter Selah have had many questions throughout their childhood, seeking to deepen their understanding of dominance between gender; who is where on the food chain sort of questioning. Whether in public or private, with friends or strangers, t.v. shows, or sporting events, they would root for the person who was their same gender. Often male competitors were more prominent in sports, and their wins would leave my daughter in tears, to her brother’s delight. Selah would often ask me, “Mom, where are all the girls?” I have often asked myself the same questions, usually when reading the Bible. Biblical women prided themselves on birthing males for their husbands, even though, physiologically, it is the man’s sperm that determines the sex of the child. The patriarchal era of men being better than women is slowly fading, allowing for some advocacy for equal worth amongst all humankind, regardless of gender or skin color. We can still see this mindset lingering globally, as China’s one-child policy has only recently changed to a two-child policy; civil rights laws are only decades old; refugee and gender laws are still controversial.

So, when my daughter asks “Where are all the women?”, and the Biblical text has no female Deity, I am left wondering. A Biblical woman’s reproductivity is often seen as their dominant career or calling, and their menstrual cycles as something to be avoided.

Scripture literally mandates that a menstruating woman must ‘go outside of the city and live in the ‘unclean tent’. That’s not exactly the type of body-positive message I had hoped to receive from my Creator, nor do I  know how to explain this to my daughter. The text of Leviticus 15, for example, reads with terminology such as, “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.”[1] Go ahead and try to feel good about yourself and your period after reading that verse. No wonder Cherie and I are still asking for tampons in secret at the age of thirty-seven; we have been conditioned to feel shame around the most common and normal activity of our uteruses…Menstruation.

While the Old Testament serves an important purpose in telling the story of God’s creation of and care for His people, I find many of the specific commands in books like Leviticus to be outdated and difficult to apply to my own life. When we as Christian women look to the Bible for understanding and insight around our bodies, we are met with limited and confusing ideas. We have not been encouraged as the body of Christ to foster creativity and imagination around our sexuality or re-productivity. In our exploration of our body theology, I like to begin with the uterus: Why did God give me a uterus? Furthermore, why did He create my clitoris, vulva, menstrual cycle, vagina, and breasts? Inevitably, when answering these questions, you come to face many more questions, but we will focus on this one, for now: why did God create women to bleed, and bleed monthly at that? The word "menstruation" translates in Greek to mene or moon and in Latin as mensis or month. The menstrual cycle quite closely approximates the month and the moon’s 29.5-day synodic cycle. There are 3.8 billion women in the world, the vast majority of which will experience menstrual bleeding throughout their lives.

Of those billions of women, we ALL remember the story of the very first time we started to bleed.

Do you know the story of your uterus and bleeding?

 

Dr. Christy Bauman, Ph.D., MDFT, & LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She has a podcast entitled Womaneering and she offers story-work consulting, womaneering weekends, and marriage intensives with her husband Andrew Bauman through their organization, Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma. Andrew and Christy host the Therapy Shorts podcast for couples. She is the author and producer of her works: Theology of the Womb, Womaneering Perpetual Calendar, A Brave Lament, and the award-winning Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, part-time professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy’s work can be found at christybauman.com, she works between her Asheville, NC, and Seattle, WA locations.


Fallen Warrior Is Not The Same As Defeated Warrior

“The fallen warrior is not the same as the defeated warrior.” 

Her voice is cheerful and unlike most of my yoga instructors in Seattle. Three months into our cross-country move, I have found myself exploring new yoga studios in the small, mountain town in Western North Carolina. The room is small and holds only six of us today, everyone is older than me and I feel hesitant to share my practice with a new demographic. 

The teacher is focusing most of the class on warrior poses which is a common entry yoga pose that builds balance and stability. The class feels pretty technical until the teacher asks us to do the fallen warrior pose. This is a new pose to me, one I have never heard of, and it requires your body to be face down with all four limbs pointing in the North, South, East, and West directions at one time. From an aerial view, the body takes the shape of a compass with arms and legs positioned in the cardinal directions. 

At this point in the class, I am struggling to finagle my way into the fallen warrior position, I keep peeking around at others in the class to see if my form looks similar. As I awkwardly set into my best attempt at a fallen warrior, I realize it feels vulnerable. My focus turns to breathe into the pose when she says the words, “fallen warrior is not the same as defeated warrior”, and the tears sting my eyes. 

In the global world, I have watched Ukraine’s infrastructure be bombed and destroyed, with refugees forced from their homes, and citizens remaining to defend. I think about the fallen warrior pose, to lay one’s body down as a compass directing the cardinal points. I think about the idea of fallen versus defeated. The verse, “Blessed are the ones who fight for justice”. 

As I lay there in fallen warrior, I whisper the lyrics from Common Hymnal, “Blessed are the ones who suffer violence and still have the strength to love their enemies, blessed is the faith of those who persevere, though they fall, they’ll never know defeat.” 

God, be with those in Ukraine. 


The Work of Celebration: Three Kings Day & King Cake Traditions

The Work of Celebration: Three Kings Day & King Cake Celebrations

 

Their thumbs and forefingers drop purple, green, and gold dyed sprinkles on top of the warm, liquid glaze. My kids have been waiting after hours of measuring, mixing, kneading, and baking to get to this moment, the decorating.

“What do the colors stand for again, mom?” She is trying to memorize all the information to present her king cake to her classroom tomorrow. “Purple stands for justice, green represents faith, and gold symbolizes power; legend says these were the colors of the jewels in the king’s crowns.”

I answer as she continues to spread sprinkles half-listening but also dreaming about eating this traditional delicacy.

“And what’s the story again?” Her questions continue and I turn my attention from baking to storytelling.

Long ago, before we celebrated Christmas with ornaments on trees, stockings, or presents from St. Nicholas, the tradition of king cakes marked the Magi who traveled to see Jesus. The Wise Men, or the Three Kings, who traveled to baptize baby Jesus' journeyed for years following the stars as their map, because they didn’t have GPS. The three Magi were named Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar and in many other cultures around the world, people celebrate the day the three kings finally made it to Jesus and baptized the newborn king. This day, normally celebrated on January 6th each year, is referred to as Reyes, The Twelfth Night, Three Kings Day, Epiphany, Timkat, Little Christmas, or Denha. These cultures celebrate by gathering as a family, exchanging small gifts, taking down your Christmas decorations, and baking sweet bread or king cakes.

My daughter interrupts my story, “Why do they make king cakes?”

The story goes that the three kings had traveled so long, they had to ration food because the journey took years longer than they intended. They were weary and almost hopeless when they finally found out they were one day’s walk from meeting Jesus. As a way to celebrate their journey’s completion, they took out all the food they had left and “feasted” because they no longer had to ration, they had found their King. The next day when they walked into the town Jesus was staying in, the children put out grass and cakes on the road to welcome their coming. The grass was laid to feed their weary and hungry donkeys, and the sweet cakes were celebrating the completion of the Magi’s long journey and the baptism ceremony for Jesus.

“Is that why we put a small, plastic baby in the king cakes?” Her question makes me smile.
“Yes, and the tradition has it whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake must bring the king cake at the next gathering.”

We are all quiet for a few minutes. I hand out the plastic babies and each child finds a secret place underneath their king cake to insert the small doll. I try to imagine Mexico’s traditional mile-long Rosca de Reyes bread that feeds over 200,00 people who gather to celebrate. I am overwhelmed by making a king cake for each of my children’s classrooms and worldwide there are king cakes created miles long filled with as many as 7,000 dolls inside the pastry.

There are some Guinness World Records held for king cakes, such as chefs from La Universidad Vizcaya de las Americas were awarded the Guinness record for the longest Rosca de Reyes bread in the world. Measuring at 2,065.43 meters, the lengthy traditional bread beat the previous world holder for the longest loaf, which was Switzerland. Carlos Tapia of Guinness World Records for Latin America verified the length of the bread and its new world record, noting that the previous record held by Switzerland measured in at 973.24 meters. Haydel’s Bakery created a king cake that completely circled the United States, Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, weighing 4,075.7 lbs | 1,847.68 kg with a circumference of 2,643 feet.

“And why is Mardi Gras the last day we can eat king cakes?”

Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday” is the day before Ash Wednesday, it is the last day we can celebrate before we go into fasting or penance. It is our last day of celebration before we get ourselves ready for Easter. My daughter doesn’t skip a beat when she responds to my answer with, “phew, it takes a lot of work to celebrate big.”

I smile. “Yes my darling, it takes a lot of work to celebrate well. Now, let’s go celebrate while there is still time.”


The Liberated Female - Christy Bauman, PhD

 

“So long as the feminine is unconscious,

dependent on the masculinity that is dependent on her,

the psychic constellation is incestuous -

mother bound to son and daughter bound to father.”

-Marion Woodman, Leaving My Father’s House

 

“I hope your session goes well and you feel liberated.”

 

My husband's words are intended to be kind. I have a therapy session with our beloved mentor and it is coming on the heels of my almost mental breakdown this past month. When we sold our house and moved as a family of five from the Pacific Northwest to Asheville, North Carolina it was possibly the best financial decision we will make in our lives. What we weren’t ready to encounter was that this decision was possibly the worst emotional decision for me personally. It would take me twelve nights of dry heaving and panic attacks to muster my way through as we drove cross country to my husband’s hometown where we had purchased a house in cash from the gains of our Seattle home sale.

One month in this new town, our kids settled into new schools, and our work life was much simpler. I was not as acutely manic but still thoroughly depressed. I couldn’t shake this exhaustion that overtook my body every time I thought about going into this new town and building a new life of friendships and community. Even now, as I type the words, disdain and heartache rush through my veins.

We began visiting churches and I was almost shocked to see pastors not even acknowledge me but speak solely to my husband. I had forgotten that the South holds deep in its soil the sin of misogyny. Misogyny is ingrained dislike or contempt for women. My husband was at the top of the caste system, and bar being a woman of color, being a woman was further down on the Totem Pole than it had been in the Pacific Northwest. 

My body struggled to articulate the feelings I was experiencing without letting my trauma hijack the conversation. It was this invisible energy that weighed on me when I walked in stores, engaged other women in town, and talked with Christian men who grew up dismissing women for their gender. This move for us was a very good move for my husband and a very bad move for me. My husband is a white, Christian male from this state. He could be a progressive liberator in the Northwest and could be assumed as a good ole boy in the South. Whether or not he chose to be, he knew a language that I had only learned a few phrases of.

In 2021, a census was conducted over the 50 states showing the top states to live in for women’s economic and social well-being and women’s health and safety. The top 30 states are in the North, and the top 10 are in the Northeast. While the most unhealthy, underpaid, and at-risk states for women to live in were all in the South, the lowest being Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama. These statistics showed women were paid less, endured higher accounts of being raped or murdered, and were undereducated in the South. Sadly, for me, I moved from #7 in Washington to #35 in North Carolina.

My husband is a good guy, and I believe he wants me to succeed but my past trauma from men triggers me to question all men’s intent. I knew it was my trauma that made me question my husband’s goodness but it still felt paralyzing. Even for the liberated female, she must still be in a relationship with a male-dominant world. I have a list of good men I keep tucked in my top dresser drawer who I know I can trust but I am also bound to those men to ameliorate me when my trauma sends me to a place of regression.

My husband and I agree, I should call Dan.

Days before the session, I realize that I want to ask Dan if my husband Andrew is a good man. Immediately after I conjure the thought, I know I can not give Dan that much power. Here I am a woman, looking for a man to tell me what I need to know within myself. “You must answer that question yourself.” It is almost as if God’s audible voice beckons me. Without hesitancy, I whisper aloud, “yes, my husband is a good man but he hasn’t been gentle with my wounded places”.

As quickly as I am aware of my trauma from misogyny and patriarchy, I feel a rush of sadness wash over me. I return to what I have come to know is most true, I don’t have control and I must grieve what I can not change. It isn’t but seconds when Dan’s beautiful, Jewish face fills the desktop screen that I relax. A man I trust. We smile and take each other in, I know he sees me.

“Dan, will I ever be free from men’s reign on this earth in my lifetime?”

Dan smiles tenderly and doesn’t waste time, “We both know the answer is no.” For some reason, tears don’t come like I imagined they would. It was all I needed to be seen and understood. He was right.

 

I, a woman, will never be free of a man’s world.

 

“Christy, you have moved to the South, slavery is in soil and even deeper, the ancient sin of misogyny. You have returned to your father’s house.” Finally, his words were making all my invisible angst visible. It wasn’t only my trauma that had me spinning, I had moved back to the South, the very birthplace of misogyny in the United States. If slavery is the reduction of humanity based on skin color, misogyny is a reduction of humanity based on gender.

All women engage in the rite of passage to leave their father’s house. My father’s house is the symbol of a girl’s journey into womanhood, she must leave her father’s reign and become her own. Yet, the patriarch is such a historical filter the woman can never truly become her own without being marked by male impact. Eve came from Adam, a woman came from a man. The very act of taking my father’s name and then changing it to take on my husband’s name is a symbol of that continued oppression.

Even if I could somehow free myself in surname, in financial inequities, or in sexual relationships, the male dominance is still pulsing through our media, our presidencies, an umbrella of power and control. In the United States, women have yet to break the glass ceiling in politics, we represent less than a quarter of the Senate and House of Representatives. Women have yet to take the title of Madame President. 

Looking at Dan, I feel hope. The answer is not to unleash my wrath on men, it also would not alleviate the issue if I run from men and refuse relationships with them. Sure, I can change my name, own my own land, get my own education, but all those decisions would not change the fact that I can not break the ingrained misogyny that prevails.

Ugh.

Only men can do that.

I am at the mercy of men recognizing their sin and changing their hearts to people under their regime.

Dan says quietly, “your only hope is to have a husband who sees your grief and grieves alongside you.” Even in my marriage, I need my husband to see me. In a sense, he holds the power that I wish could be eradicated from the female world. As we say goodbye, I resolve in my heart that I will live my life in a relationship with men using my liberated female voice - one which sounds like a tender revolution of honesty, strength, and love.


Her Blood As Power: A Viewpoint on Christian Menstruation

Her Blood As Power

 an excerpt from Theology of the Womb: Knowing God Through the Body of a Woman

 

Our bleeding is an act of God, one that offers us and the world an invitation to understand the power and importance of creating and loving. I have been desperate to connect this internal belief of God with Christianity, but my research began by exploring the history of a woman’s period outside of scripture. Within the church, the woman’s period had always been unaddressed or associated with cleansing rituals, not something to be engaged with by theologians or from the pulpit. Yet mythology, psychology, and secular history considered menstruating women to be powerful; so powerful, in fact, that while menstruating it is believed women hold a power strong enough to heal the sick or even possess increased psychic abilities. The positive beliefs of power and sacredness associated with a woman’s period are prevalent in other cultures. When I began to explore the history of a woman’s period outside of scripture, I was surprised by the positive beliefs of power and sacredness associated with it. Mythology, psychology, and secular history considered menstruating women to be strong enough to heal the sick or possess increased psychic abilities. In Cherokee culture, menstrual blood was a source of feminine strength and had the power to destroy enemies and stop catastrophic natural disasters. Interestingly, it was seen as especially dangerous to men’s power to purify and destroy.

 

One belief that brings me chills and intrigue is seeing the woman’s blood is a divine thing, when it runs out of our body, a belief that the blood itself is “the god is spilling over”.

 

I am filled with wonder and fascination when I imagine my bleeding to be a divine act ordained by God; that when it runs out of my body, the blood itself is “the god spilling over”. Wow, that sounds so much better than bleeding through my shorts. Yet I want to contextualize these multicultural beliefs of bleeding as a power within a Christian worldview. This concept of spilling over is connected to the research of Levitical law; Mesopotamian belief is that the womb is a wellspring. Many cultures commonly used human parts of the body and the natural world in homological correspondence. Homology, or an acknowledged resemblance, indicates that the womb geographically and anatomically acts as a wellspring. Geographically, the wellspring was fed by the ocean, and when the wellspring was full it spilled over to feed the rivers. The analogy here coincides with the woman’s womb as a body of water that continues to feed the earth with life-giving water. I imagine the ocean symbolizing God’s pouring out His life-giving water as Creator to his “wellspring” vessels, female wombs, which spill over and bring life to the earth.

There is a place in scripture for a woman’s bleeding to be seen as life-giving, a well-spring of life spilling over!

The overarching theme is that a woman’s blood holds power, which reminds me of Christ’s blood. Why is Christ’s bloodshed on the cross so powerful? Why are we healed by the blood of the lamb? We must look at the understanding of blood sacrifices. We are all familiar with the Old Testament understanding of covenant with God and people. Covenants are made only in a ceremony with both sacrifices and vows. When God made a covenant, He would sacrifice, or shed, the blood of animals on either side of an aisle; both parties were to walk through that aisle, and thus a vow was solidified in a covenant. This leads us to the linear progression of the next promise, that a Savior will be born of a woman. So, we find ourselves at the scene of the manger where there are animals but no bloodshed because this covenant involves human life. Where is the human bloodshed? Mary’s womb.

Birth becomes the ceremonial act for God’s promise to create and bring life to His people.

It brings to mind the infamous curse in Genesis, that a woman will have pain in childbearing. Although this was a curse, I believe it was an invitation from God to women to participate in the act of covenant-making, of creating. I’ve begun to see birth and the menstrual cycle of a woman as a way of knowing God again after the separation of the fall. Think about the connection of intimacy we as women are invited into when we must endure pain within our own bodies to create life. The God we serve knows all too well the pain it requires to create life; when He saved His children, it caused Him pain. We as women are invited into that process in such an intimate way.

 

Dr. Christy Bauman, Ph.D., MDFT, & LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She has a podcast entitled Womaneering and she offers story-work consulting, womaneering weekends, and marriage intensives with her husband Andrew Bauman through their organization, Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma. Andrew and Christy host the Therapy Shorts podcast for couples. She is the author and producer of her works: Theology of the Womb, Womaneering Perpetual Calendar, A Brave Lament, and the award-winning Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, part-time professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy’s work can be found at christybauman.com, she works between her Asheville, NC, and Seattle, WA locations.

Navigating Healthy Conflict with Parents and their Adult Kids

Adult Parenting

 

If 70% of conflict is unresolvable, our goal is no longer resolution, but rather an experience.

I am sitting in my favorite Seattle coffee shop, one where there are only three types of coffee offered because the snobby-ness is 'mucho' high here in the Seattle coffee world. I have decided that I will need to revisit my favorite alternative milk due to feeling bloated all the time. So I am on my third 8oz, decaf latte...the winner being oat milk over soy and almond. I am typing away frivolously when a father and son sit down next to me and their conversation takes over my workspace. The father is obviously broaching a hard conversation and I can’t help but continue to listen after I hear the nature of their conversation.

Dad: “Do you think mom and I shouldn’t come out anymore to visit you?” 

Son: “I think it is just easier for our family to visit you in L.A. because it is stressful to have you visit us.” 

Dad: “I think we could just stay somewhere else when we come to visit and it will be better, I mean, you didn’t clean your house at all, so obviously you weren’t able to prepare for us. Don’t you still have that house cleaner? Maybe they can come the week before we visit?” 

Son: “Dad, it is easier if I just come visit you and we can avoid conflict.” 

Dad: “Or we could talk through it and get past these conflicts so that we can visit more often.” 

Son: “The conflict hasn’t changed in 17 years, so we should just do what is easiest.” 

Dad: “We also wanted to talk about the weight you have been gaining. Your mom and I are worried and I just want to tell you what I did to lose weight.” 

At this point, as a therapist who has done more family therapy sessions than I care to talk about, I have stopped working and I am actively listening to this father as he broaches these hard conversations with his disinterested son. 

Being the parent of young children, I have a healthy fear for what the future holds when we have adult kids. Who will they marry? How will we get along with their new family dynamics? I just hold my breath listening to this father talking with his son. It is actually impressive to have a father so forthright and willing to be in awkward conversations even if they lean toward helicopter parenting. The father and son transition through the hard topics and laugh as they move into a more enjoyable conversation about societal popstars. I pack up my things and feel thankful for this interruption. It is really sweet to see that parents still care so much for their kids. They are willing to take on the hard topics even if they don’t tactfully know-how.

 

There are a few ways I have seen parents and adult children have good, hard, constructive conversations:

1. Schedule a specific time where both parties aren't going to be interrupted.

2. Begin the conversation slowly with each person taking a turn to say what they appreciate about the other.

3. Allow the person with the longest holding complaint or concern to go first. When the person sharing the complaint or concern is finished, have the other reflect back on what they heard and ask if they feel heard.

4. After the first to share feels heard, allow the other to take a similar turn.

5. End the time by looking into each other's eyes and thanking them for sharing in this hard conversation with them.

 

If 70% of conflict is unresolvable, our goal is no longer resolution, but rather an experience. The goal of the conversation is to experience intimacy and respect with each other rather than agreement.  We must stretch ourselves to hear the other and get to know them in what they are sharing rather than convincing them. The parent-child relationship must grow and mature just like any other relationship if it wants to stay healthy.

 

More information at christiancc.org

Dr. Christy Bauman, Ph.D., MDFT, & LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She has a podcast entitled Womaneering and she offers story-work consulting and marriage intensives with her husband Andrew Bauman through their organization, Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma. She is the author and producer of her works: Theology of the Womb, Womaneering Perpetual Calendar, A Brave Lament, and the award-winning Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, part-time professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy’s work can be found at christybauman.com


The Silenced Voice: The Godly Female Voice Has Been Under Attack

Reposted from Red Tent Living 

 

“I hate being a pastor’s wife. My experience from the church has been a re-enactment of my own past trauma,” she says with a trembling voice.

 

I remain quiet, holding the tension for a bit longer. 

“How will you take your power back from this re-enactment?” I ask with curiosity. 

 

This client is one of twelve pastor’s wives that I work with within my practice. Their stories are all different, but their experience in the church is hauntingly similar. This pastor’s wife has just completed her Master's of Psychology and two years of her own therapy. She is weeping that she may have to leave the church altogether. My heart hopes to help salvage her relationship with herself and God. I long to invite her to bring her voice to her role as a pastor’s wife. 

 

“Why don’t you ask your husband if you can teach a series on psychology and the church?” I ask.

 

My question is met with a heavy silence. She looks up at me, her eyes wide with bewilderment. She has never thought of teaching at her own church. I have to restrain my frustration at another brilliant and highly-educated woman who has remained silent in the Western church culture. Sadly, we both know the answer. Although her husband would welcome her voice and expertise, her gender would never be invited by their congregation to the pulpit.  

 

The most common complaint of middle-aged women in my practice is a lack of knowing their life’s calling and using their voice in this world. Research shows us that a woman who has not established a strong self-identity will struggle to feel self-worth and fulfillment. The number one indicator of a woman's well-being is her level of self-identity, and the second indicator is the community that bears witness to her life. In short, self-awareness and friendships are vital to wellness. 

 

Many women have been raised in an objectifying society, and most Christian women have been groomed to be subordinate by Western patriarchal culture. The female has been unconsciously named through a patriarchal reading of Scripture as the “weaker vessel”, “taken from the rib of a man”, or taught that she is to not speak, teach, or preach in church. This narrative, coupled with objectifying media that reduces women down to their body image as a measure of worth, has left many women without the most important tool for success-- self-identity. The godly female voice has been under attack as the pyramid of power often looks like God, male pastor, husband, wife, and children. Regardless of whether you hold complementarian or egalitarian beliefs, the psyche of the woman is not well in our Christian society. 

 

The Western Christian church has a history of male dominance. As Mike Cosper states in his podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, “The church seemingly is more comfortable to be led by misogynistic leaders.” Spiritual trauma shows up deeply ingrained in women who believe they must serve the male voice in their life rather than show up individuated and require from it. In the Creation story, the female has deemed the “helpmate” to men, which translates in Hebrew as “savior” to men. The objectifying lens on our Christian narrative implies to both males and females that women are subordinate to men. This ingrained belief keeps women from naturally seeking their own self-identity and ultimately keeps them from knowing their voice in the Christian world. 

 

My client is looking at me in silence, but her eyes have shifted from sadness to disbelief.

“Have I really been serving a church for 24 years that doesn’t believe in my voice?” she asks. 

 

Internalized sexism is one of the women’s greatest betrayals. Women find that they have come to participate in the misogyny that has spiritually traumatized them. While the lack of female voices in the church is tragic, it doesn’t break my heart as much as the disconnect that happens in women’s spiritual relationships with God. 

 

When we illuminate the spiritual abuse that has been perpetuated onto women in the Western church, we begin to see the Christian female name her own distance with a male-dominant God. I have found the plight of a woman is untangling and individuating herself from men. First, she must do the work to leave her father’s house, such as a daughter finding freedom from her father’s ownership of her. Second, she must engage Genesis 3:16 that “she will long for her husband and he will rule over her.” Spiritual trauma shows up deeply ingrained in women who believe they must serve the male voice in their life rather than show up differentiated and bring their whole self to the relationship. 

 

At the end of our session, my client thanks me for our time. As she opens the door to leave, she turns and looks at me,

“I know what I must do now. I must use my voice.”

 

Dr. Christy BaumanLMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She offers meaning-making and story work consulting. She is the author and producer of three works: Theology of the WombA Brave Lament, and Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, and adjunct professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy is co-director of the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma with her husband Andrew. They live in Seattle with their three kids: Wilder, Selah, and River.


Womaneering Podcast: the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

In this episode of Womaneering podcast, Tracy Johnson and Christy Bauman discuss the episode “What We Do To Women” from the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast. Trigger warning: there is a lot of open conversation about spiritual abuse and dominance on women by misogyny and violent men in power.

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/womaneering/id1556620322?i=1000533354745


The Mystery of Funerals

The thick, rope-like straps across my high-heel sandals broke just like my cry spilling out in anguish when I saw his body in the casket. I ignored my limping ankle and continued toward the front of the viewing room. I was glad to see all the flowers surrounding him and amidst my thumping steps, I placed the small, 1945 black-and-white photo of my grandmother in his lapel suit pocket.

I couldn’t look at his face, it didn’t look like him, rather a wax statute you might find in a Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I was thankful his body looked so fake, so different than how he had looked alive just days before.

Physician Duncan McDougall proved in 1907 that there is a physical weigh difference of 21.3 grams after someone dies. It is believed to be the weight of the soul. It was so clear that my grandfather was no longer in his body and his soul had departed to another realm.

When they wheeled his coffin into the cathedral, I was flooded with the memories in my home town’s Catholic church. My grandparents were married here at 8am on October 24th in 1946. My sister and I sang in this same cathedral for their 50th wedding anniversary, and for the funerals of our great-grandparents. Our family history is wall-papered in these majestic walls.

Not growing up Catholic, I only came for those special events. It felt overwhelming to be walking into this cathedral where my grandfather was married and now buried.

The funeral begins, I desperately try to make it upstairs to the choir loft without my broken, super-glued shoe making too much noise. My sister and I sang but this time our voices beautifully crack under emotion anointing the sacredness of sorrow.

As we fist bump coming down the windy stairs with tears in our eyes, my sister says, “Awpa would have loved that we sang at his funeral.” I nod and follow her back to the front of the cathedral with my clacking shoe exposing our hushed return. My sister pulls us into a small alcove to wait until the moment of silence for the Eucharist is finished.

Immediately, my body is flooded with memories of my grandfather teaching me about these hidden pockets in cathedrals to be discreet when taking wedding photos.

Jack’s Photos was my grandfather’s photography business. In middle school, he started taking me to weddings with him as his assistant. I would set up lights and charge the batteries for the cameras and flashes. After a few weddings, I moved to be his 2nd shooter.

We probably shot over 30 weddings together. He quickly taught me where to hide inconspicuously while still getting the best angles for photos. The only mandate he ever told me was, “in a Catholic wedding, you can never take a picture when transubstantiation of the Eucharist is happening. As a zealous, non-denominational Christian, I respected the mystery of communion whether or not I fully understood it.

Twenty-five years later, standing with my sister in a side alcove in the cathedral at his funeral would I remember his lesson…we must respect the moment of transformation. The body memory washed over me reminding me that in a way my grandfather and I spent years playing hide and seek with our theology of communion, the church, and love itself.

What I believe Awpa was teach me was that we must not try to photograph the moment where the passing between life and death are in play. He suggested that one would waste their time trying to capture the invisibility of holiness.

Awpa was teaching me that a mystery is to be experienced not captured.

I stand there looking at his casket at the front of the altar, my grandmother in her wheel chair next to his body. I hear him saying, “stop and witness the mystery of death to new life.” As we make our way to the front, I step in front of the casket, I put my trembling hands on the cloth that covers him. Uncertain if it is allowed and incense lingering in my nose, I lean down and kiss his casket. Tears streaming down my face I say goodbye to his body promising to carry his lessons inside of me.

Thank you Awpa, for teaching me to stop and experience the mysteries of God rather than pick them apart in hopes of understanding them.