Clashing Cultures

For me, being “one of the guys” used to be a treasured status symbol as a female teenager. There was something affirming about football players bringing me into the crowd, and wrestlers bringing me into practice just because it “made sense” to have me there. Somehow, my 4-foot-11-inch frame and spitfire personality afforded me rarely understandable respect and leadership among the “in-crowd.”

(The one time I laid aside my jeans and t-shirt to put on an evening gown, curl my hair and go to Prom, one of the guys memorably told me it was, “…weird to see [me] as a girl.”)

Fast forward a decade, and I find myself married to my best friend, learning what it means to be a wife, preparing for possible motherhood, and not being a “to-heck-with-estrogen” female. I’m still a strong-willed leader, but I’m learning to let myself be led.

It’s not a rare switch, but spiritually, it’s an awkward one.

This last year of marriage has shed light on so many soul-deep realities of why Christianity clashes with my American Culture. As a woman, I’ve dedicated my life to creating a persona of independence, leadership, responsibility… all of it. I’m good at what I do, and I know what I want. Though it goes against everything within me, somehow my audacious spirit makes people listen to what I say.

But as a Christian, I’m asked (commanded, actually, but that doesn’t sound as easy on the ears to we Americans) to lay all of that at the feet of Jesus and let Him designate where I lead and when I follow. To the culture around me, it seems debilitating because I seem to give up without a fight when I hear God whisper, “Let go of this one. You’re not in control; I am.”

I know how to be a strong, independent woman. Yet following Christ calls me to depend completely on Him and thrive within my weaknesses–not in spite of them.

I’ve given up power and status to sit at the feet of a Man who led by being a sacrifice for people who didn’t deserve it.

No wonder the world calls me a fool.

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Trek to the Cross

The big Native man next to me smirked and mumbled in accented English, “You wanna see sumtin’ cool? Adventure? You? Me? Come!” I was 13, and I’d found myself in a small, remote village down the Yukon in Alaska. I was quite out of my element, and the friendly giant probably perceived my hesitation as boredom.

With permission from my mother, the next thing I knew I was on the back of a rusty 4-wheeler driving up a mountain, attempting desperately not to fall off. With every bump we hit, my friend *RJ would grab my ankle to keep me on the Honda and yell over the wind, “You be okay. Worth the risk. Promise.”

The beauty that met us at the top of the mountain was breathtaking. The small village we’d ridden away from seemed even smaller, and somehow God felt bigger to my young mind. RJ pointed to the destination of our adventure: A cross, slightly out-of-place and relatively unimpressive.

“It’s just a cross, but people like you like this stuff,” he said cryptically. Shrugging, he mumbled, “Sorry if you don’t like. We can go back now if you want.” Instead of leaving immediately, we sat under the cross and talked about Jesus, second chances, and why the cross was such a big deal.

RJ could barely grasp the true beauty behind the cross, but he knew he needed to show it to me–a total stranger.

Thinking about RJ now reminds me that, at times, God simply wants me to bring people to Him, and do nothing more. And then, even more often, when I obey Him by doing so, I’m equally as impacted by the truth of Christ as the one I’ve brought to meet Christ.