We all want a seat at the table…
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lobbied for a seat. Tried to adjust, fix, maneuver a way to the “table.” Sometimes with success and other moments where I felt so insecure that I dismissed myself. I even said I wasn’t qualified enough. In my life the table has looked like many things: from jobs, friendships, relationships with other women in ministry, positions/status, and so much more. There always seems to never be enough room for everyone. But does it really have to be that way?
My husband would tell me I try too hard and I go out of my way too often. I would respond with how else are you going to find people who get you? Who knows better how to relate to juggling womanhood more than other women?
The hurdles that block our way
There’s many reasons why we’ve either built our own tables, fashioned new rules, or just sat under a tree alone no longer looking for a tribe. It doesn’t take much to recall that moment or times of rejection. I can still clearly describe the time in fifth grade where I went to sit with “friends” and they all got up and moved away from me. No reason, no explanation, they were just gone. I ended that school year confused, angry, and most of all hurt.
Whether from experiences like this, not being able to connect, or just not “fitting in,” over time I’ve found that there are just so many hurdles that can block you. Many times it feels like you never really get passed trying to find a “seat” at the table. The unspoken hierarchy of labels keep close reigns on where you can go and who will let you stay. But I’ve had such a strong conviction that I need to be someone who is always willing to make longer tables. Let me explain.
The myths we entertain
Some time ago I read Jesus Feminist, which I loved! And when speaking to seasoned woman in ministry, the concept that there is room at the table spoke volumes to me. More importantly that we need to make room for all women resonated in my heart and became somewhat of a mantra.
For many reasons…one mainly being that so many of us have been conditioned to believe that space is limited. That we need to have a certain status or know someone to make the cut. Things are either/or instead of and. So we teach that, because we’ve experienced it. I know I have, way too often. Not being able to join a group or engage, because the space is full.
Despite quotes that speak to empowering one another, fixing each other’s crowns, and building tribes – I can’t help but wonder if that’s only done on a minimal scale. Still hesitant to go beyond our circle to connect, because we all have our reasons why. Don’t get me wrong, there is wisdom in having small circles of close friends…but do we too often stay there?
My part in seeing the growth of strong communities of women.
A few years ago I was challenged to create an event which I called Woven. It’s intention was to connect the generations of women allowing for the tapestry of life to show how intertwined we really are. It transformed my heart as over 80 women young and seasoned came together and connected. From various backgrounds and stories, we all saw our common threads. I hope to see more of this one day.
So as we celebrate International Women’s Day and I see all that actually connects us rather than separates us… I can only hope we build onto a portion of the table we sit at to connect with someone else.
A woman much different than ourselves, yet just as worthy to sit next to. Because as women we are strong, dynamic, vulnerable, and relational. Our whole being is meant to share and nurture the best out of those around us. So that all aspects of womanhood are celebrated! From motherhood, to single lady status, to the seasoned widow who can share how to keep your marriage alive for 50+ years – they ALL matter.
Women are meant to be together especially with our differences. May we open more seats, extend ourselves to one another, and build longer tables.