In junior high, I tried out for the boys’ track team to protest the fact that we didn’t have a girls’ team. Although the coach made it clear that I couldn’t be a member of the team, I did manage to make some of the more chauvinistic boys eat crow (sprinkled liberally with my dust) that afternoon, which pretty much convinced me that I was the next best thing to Gloria Steinem.
Now … fast-forward 18 years:
If I’d been paying attention to the calendar, I never would have signed up for the marathon, because for many years, I’d suffered from pretty severe “female troubles,” and the race was scheduled for a day when the symptoms were likely to be at their most vicious.
As soon as I noticed the timing, I called a practitioner and told him I was tired of being sick, tired of being weak, and tired of being hampered by this stupid notion that because I was a woman, I had to put up with pain and illness every three or four weeks. The practitioner was very firm in his assurance that I didn’t have to fear this or any other claim that would attempt to stop me from expressing strength, grace, or joy — all of which come from God — but I was still pretty worried (and frustrated) by the time I headed over to OKC to pick up my race packet a couple of weeks later.
Alone in the car, offering up a whiny little prayer about how unfair it was that I had to suffer all the time, I suddenly remembered that the word “suffer” can have three meanings: enduring something unpleasant; allowing something (“suffer the little children to come unto me”); or tolerating something (“he does not suffer fools gladly”).
Well, duh, I thought. I wouldn’t suffer so much if I didn’t tolerate this imposition and allow it to be part of my life.
In junior high, I ran to defy the nonsensical suggestion that I could be limited by my gender. Eighteen years later, I ran once again to defy that suggestion … and, having briefly touched the hem of Christ’s garment, I crossed the finish line free of the false claim that woman is ever subject to material forces that would keep her from fully expressing her nature as a child of God.