You are not junk…
One of the most dangerous myths in church is that women are utterly broken and unredeemable. Junk. Sure, grace covers all of our sins, but yet we are still women who are responsible for the fall of mankind. And therefore we still need authority over us to protect us from ourselves. Basically, the myth says we are savable, but not redeemable in God’s eyes. We never get to go back to that pre-fall intimacy with God. Unless we have a male authority figure guiding us there, of course.
First of all, that’s total heresy. The only thing we need to access God is Jesus. Second of all, it exists to allow men to take power that never belonged to them.
In many cultures around the world, women held tremendous power over storytelling and healing. And in some religious cultures as priestesses, shamanists. As Christianity (specifically patriarchal, European Christianity) sought to take over those cultures, the easiest way to gain power was to strip it away from women. So today we have an entire culture designed to keep women from stepping into their full power. A culture designed to strip away women’s power in order to maintain patriarchal systems that are really dangerous to everybody (men and women) who are inside them.
So let’s just say this super plain: no matter what toxic, patriarchal religion says, you are not junk. You do not need to be refined. God did not bring you into the world marked for sin that you’ll never be able to overcome.
But fighting hundreds of years of patriarchal religion to step into who God created us to be does not just happen on its own. It actually requires deep wrestling and deconstructing toxic religious beliefs. Patriarchy feeds us the idea that we are metals with impurities that must be forcefully removed. But that is simply not true.
This purge perspective is so hostile. It creates incredible pain and conflict within us when we forcibly try to remove things from our lives that are not actually impurities at all, but rather God-given seeds of power and authority. Women have historically always lightened others’ loads by carrying what they’re unable or unwilling to. Yet toxic, patriarchal systems would have us believe that we are fragile, incapable souls. These systems attempt to limit our power and convince us that our greatest strengths only lead to death, destruction, and hopelessness. They would have us believe we ARE the impurities that the world says need to be refined out of us.
But God says quite the opposite. God says, “Those are the pieces of me that I put within you.” So no matter what you’ve been taught about creation, know that you were never created to uphold patriarchal power structures.
You are not junk, and patriarchal systems of oppression do not come from God. If the very breath of God is within you from the very creation of man and woman, then your identity as a child of God is permanently established. And you don’t need anyone else’s authority or blessing to claim that. Your awareness of Him is something that needs to be cultivated by YOU. It’s something to explore: curious, hungry, and open. Your access to God is made possible because of Jesus. And you also don’t need anyone else (at all) to access God, because you are his. Because you are not junk!
If you’ve spent years and years immersed in toxic, patriarchal religious teachings, claiming those God-given, feminine, sacred gifts might feel awkward. It takes a lot of prayer, intentionality, and deconstruction to retrain our brains to see those things as gifts rather than liabilities.
But remember, the reason that they feel awkward is because the patriarchal religion has not recognized them as God-given gifts, not because they aren’t real.
These systems don’t see God within those gifts. But it’s not our job to try to convince them that they are. So as always, I would encourage you to go back to the feet of Jesus. Sit with Him and ask, “What would you have me do with these gifts? And what would you have me do with this passion, creativity, with feelings of injustice that arise when patriarchy challenges my gifts?” God answers those prayers in abundance! Allow Him to cultivate what is good. And then ignore what isn’t. He wants you claiming and cultivating your gifts. Because no matter what patriarchy says, you are not junk.
Angela J Herrington, MA, LSCC is a Faith Deconstruction Coach for Christian Women at AngelaJHerrington.com who empowers women to break free from toxic religious culture by deconstructing their faith and helps them recover from #churchhurt.
Angela is a spunky Gen Xer who creates sacred spaces for vulnerable exploration. Her specialty is helping Christian women untangle themselves from limiting beliefs, toxic religious culture, and all the ways the enemy tries to keep them small. She holds a BA from Indiana Wesleyan and a Masters in Leadership from Wesley Seminary. Her graduate research project focused on leadership development and opportunities for Gen X women in the US church.
Angela and her unique online ministry were featured in Lyz Lenz’s 2019 book God Land: Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America. She also has been published in Hope for Women and HOPE is Now magazines.
Angela is also a Lark’s Song Certified Life Coach who reaches hundreds of thousands of women in 40+ countries each month on Facebook, IG, Twitter, Pinterest, and two blogs. She is Director of Communications for Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy, a women-led organization dedicated to engaging, empowering, and equipping women to lead in the church.
Angela is also a wife, mom to 6, and proud resident of Marion, Indiana with her family when they’re not traveling the US in their RV.