Mike’s Curiosity about My Feminism
Mike and I spoke again on Sunday, April 19. I had been helping him learn how to use Zoom between our April 5 and April 19 calls. In the course of those conversations, he expressed interest in learning how I became a “women’s libber.”
“That conversation is too long for today. It will have to wait until Sunday.”
When we connected on Sunday, I asked where he wanted to begin. He was still curious about what I prefer to call my journey to becoming a “feminist.”
I shared with Mike about my awakening. During my first class in Seminary after viewing the documentary by Julia Reichert and Jim Klein, “Growing Up Female,” a hushed silence fell across the room for a long moment after the lights came back on. Then, a man in the class said, “Wow! The messages you get that you aren’t okay the way you are.”
With my classmate’s words, the lights in my soul turned on. There was a reason why I felt inadequate as a woman and mother … a reason beyond having endured years of my mother’s criticism … a reason beyond my marriage not faring well and my children’s confounding challenges.
I explained to Mike what being a feminist means to me … a meaning not shared by all women who call themselves feminists. For me, being a feminist does not mean trying to outdo men. It means being relational rather than competitive. It embraces values like:
- empowering everyone
- reverence for all living beings
- collaborating to meet the needs of all
- balancing freedom with responsibility
- finding strength through openness and vulnerability
- seeking to understand as well as be understood
I very much appreciated Mike’s seeking to understand me in this call as I sought to understand him in our first call. Sounds like mutuality to me … another of the values I embrace.
Mike’s Curiosity About My Conversion
Then Mike wanted me to describe my conversion experience. Mine was a much more gradual process than his powerful experience. In contrast to him, the church had been an important part of my life since I was six or seven years old … because of the people I found there who extended love to me. They valued me in a way my family did not.
I told him that the closest I had come to his conversion encounter was a mystical experience during the time of my granddaughter’s birth recounted on pages 250-251 of my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace. He was surprised it had taken so long.
When I shared what led up to that moment, he said softly and sweetly, “Linda, I love you.”
I replied, “Ever since I was 10 years old, I’ve longed to be part of a happy, loving family. You’re telling me that is the closest I’ve ever come.”
For the first time in my 77 years, I received love after being authentically myself with a member of my family. It brought tears to my eyes.
The Power of Authenticity
At that point, Mike shared with me about a time when he expected to receive judgment … the way he had been bullied by teachers and classmates for something he found difficult. He tried to get past his difficulty and when he couldn’t, he was honest with those looking to him for leadership. Once he was honest, he was able to proceed … and when his difficulty arose … they helped him instead of judging him.
We marveled at how amazing it is when we are honest about our limitations, we are often met with compassion instead of the judgment we expect.
In my January 21 post, I wrote about my process of discovering how childhood trauma was affecting me, how I seemed to be emerging as a healer of generations of family trauma on my mother’s side, and my awe at all the synchronicities that led to this awareness.
COVID 19 put a stop to the steps I planned to take to engage my healing process.
And then Mike stepped forward, wanting to talk with me about beliefs. I doubt he is yet aware that The Divine had something else planned for us. I doubt he can fathom the extent of his importance to my process of healing.
I have always known that Mike has a good heart. But he is on my father’s side of the family, so I never imagined him being a healer for the trauma on my mother’s side. I am just beginning to be aware of how much of a healer he is being for us. I am full of gratitude.
And once more, I am in AWE … my word for 2020. I never could have imagined this happening … like this … in the midst of a pandemic.