I find myself wanting to explain what it’s like to grow up as a conservative Evangelical woman and how difficult the transition into leadership is from that place. . . . We were told to keep silent in church. . . . To go from “you must be silent” to finding your voice can be a long, arduous process. ––Carol Howard Merritt
With this post, my blog takes a leap forward. This weekend I enabled the setting that will share my posts on my Facebook wall.
It has taken me a long time to find the courage to take this seemingly small step.
When I started blogging, I disguised or omitted details that might help people figure out who “Nagoonberry” was. I felt compelled to write––like ministry, it’s an inescapable calling for me. But I didn’t want to publicly claim Nagoonberry‘s words as my own.
I worried about how my parents would react if they found my blog. They are Plymouth Brethren, and I am a Unitarian Univeralist. They believe in loving the sinner, but hating the sin, and I am the sinner. They worry that I’m going to hell; I don’t believe in hell (other than those we create). Our relationship is complicated and strained, fragile.
I wanted to protect Liesl’s privacy, too. She works in an industry that’s not known for being progressive and open-minded.
Then Kenneth Sutton asked me to freelance for UU World. I could have accepted his invitation while remaining anonymous here. In the end, it felt more straightforward to let UU World readers know that Nagoonberry was my personal blog.
Liesl has become increasingly comfortable with being part of Nagoonberry, and with being reasonably “out” at work. I think she believes some version of “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
This summer I resolved my fears about my family finding my blog. I’ve finally figured out that in relationships worth having, we share our true selves, not sanitized proxies.
The fears that remain are part of the arduous process Carol Howard Merritt describes. Most writers wrestle with an inner critic who says, “No one wants to hear what you have to say.” For those of us who grew up with the admonition, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” the struggle to trust our voices is exponentially more difficult. Pieces of that history linger, long after we’ve found ourselves in positions of leadership, even after becoming ordained ministers, preaching out loud, in public.
In the end, I decided that writing without intentionally trying to reach an audience is not all that different from sitting in a Plymouth Brethren meeting room, my head covered and my ideas silenced because I am a woman.
So hello, Facebook friends. I’m Heather Christensen, and I blog at Nagoonberry.