I have tried to post something here a few times in the last week… obviously it hasn’t happened.  My days have been filled with responsibilities as mommy, student, wife, preacher, neighbor, worship leader, friend, daughter, sister… I actually feel privileged that my life holds so much variety and refuses to let me get stuck in one or two roles alone. I’m blessed in all these things, and I hope that what I learn from each one, informs the others– that I don’t just get stuck with my head in books or my hands in dishwater or in conversations that are not informed by serious study and reflection.

I was talking with some of my seminary cohort friends about how much I will miss my Tuesday nights at class, once we graduate this spring. I said something like this: “But think about it, guys, this is the only night when my identity is not defined by my relationship to someone else… I’m not someone’s mom or someone’s wife here, I’m just me. I need that!”  To which one of them wisely replied, “That’s not a very Christian way to think about it, Kris Anne… what about your relationship to all of us?”  It’s always good to be reminded of our self-centeredness (Lord knows I need that from time to time… no snarky comments, please). He was absolutely correct to gently reprimand me! How could I forget that I am their sister and friend? I have responsibilities toward them, as well, not the least of which is love! I’m not there primarily to have my needs met.

However (and this is a big however)… I have seen too many young wives and mothers define themselves completely by their roles which center around the home and family, to the detriment of their full identity and calling in Christ. I have seen some of these women wither inside, suffocate, suffer depression, fail to thrive as gifted and called Christ-followers who are, in reality, set free in the Spirit to explore and play on the playground of life! Equally so, I have seen husbands and fathers trapped in their role as bread-winner, cut off from the playground of family and neighborhood and church, wrapped up completely in demanding careers, unable to have room to breathe and explore their whole identity as Christ-followers.

Please hear what I’m NOT saying, which is that it is wrong for a woman to CHOOSE her home as her only sphere of life. It is entirely possible that that is where some women find their playground of life. I wish more young Christian women would give themselves permission to explore their full personhood, though– to listen to their spirits and not “should” themselves into a quiet death (“but I SHOULD be fully committed to this, it SHOULD bring me life and fulfillment, I SHOULDN’T need more than my husband and children and church friends”). There is more than one right answer to the question, “What does the life of a godly woman look like?” Too often, evangelical Christianity is uncomfortable with multiple right answers to questions such as these.

So, yes, I’ll be very sad come graduation time in May. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had these past three years. Among my biggest cheerleaders and strongest supporters has been my loving husband.  He is dedicated to seeing me thrive as woman of God.  I hope I communicate just as loudly that I am dedicated to seeing him thrive, too. We’re here to serve each other!

I also hope I find ways to encourage other young women to explore opportunities and roles on the playground of life. So many people have made these years possible for me (from finances to child care!), and as my seminary brother reminded me, I am not an individual. I am always in relationship with others! If there is one should I want to live by, it is that I SHOULD pass on the blessings passed on to me!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MIke
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 13:43:36

    Amen, and amen.

    You are, indeed, a remarkable person (a word chosen conspicuously and carefully), my friend. As I read here, today, I was myself “driven to wonder” at the variety of roles you pass through on a daily basis, as the week goes by. Of course, I knew all of those things about you, but to see them here, in a list? Wow! (For sure.)

    It is awesome to me the way your heart clearly burns, as well, to urge exploration of “other ways,” “third paths,” by your Sisters (and your Brothers, as well). I’ve reiterated many times (perhaps to the point of annoyance), since you started in seminary 2+ years ago, that it was about time. And I continue to marvel at the way you have exactly not focused on that to the exclusion of all else: how you have continued to be a mother to your children, a wife to your husband, and a friend to your friends (and thanks for that last one by the way—not sure, on this end, what especially these past two years would have looked like without you!), while taking on the role of student and resuming, in greater depth, your role of leadership in the Church!

    And, as your seminary Brother reminded you, I would remind you further. You are more than cohortmate, friend, and—sometimes—foil to these men. In the time you have spent among them, you have gained their respect as well, and they have made you a leader among them, a leader among leaders. Perhaps that’s a product of your servant’s heart, always present, but strengthened and further shaped by the choices you’ve made in recent years, that they should trust and respect you.

    Or maybe it’s just you. As someone who’s trusted and respected you for a good long time now, it’s hard to say for sure. 🙂


  2. krisanneswartley
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 17:21:03

    Thanks, Mike. I’m not quite sure how to respond to that except to say “thank you.”


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