Dealing with the intangible barriers within society and the military was expected however; the barriers within the church and my family took me by surprise. Fighting and pushing to breakthrough to uncharted territory can be daunting and painful.
Women have been treated less than for years in the world and yet, many people do not want to discuss the topic much like avoiding talks of racism; if we pretend it does not exist then we can continue life without making any changes. The problem with this idea is not talking or fighting to change the stigma will keep us stuck in the cycle of labeling, marginalizing and holding women back from reaching their full potential.
Recently I heard someone describe breaking the glass ceiling in a broader sense of the phrase; breaking the glass ceiling is when you embark on pushing outside the box of what you were told was normal or acceptable in society or even your family of origin. This description really intrigued me and gave me words to describe how I had been feeling for years. Guilt, shame and striving for acceptance kept me from speaking out or even breaking out of the “box” I was told was good enough for me and my life.
It began in my last year of high school when my dad and brother sat down with a military recruiter and it was as if I did not exist. The whole conversation was about what the military could do for my brother and no mention of what it could provide me and my future. The stigma of women in the military has been fought for years before me however; it is still a fight to gain recognition and acceptance among your male counter parts. I have been “voted” out of offices, told I could not attend school and my own recruiter even told me I would do fine in the Navy because I was “decent looking”… I am sure you can imagine my surprise at these words.
The way we treat woman in the military keeps them stuck and often mouths shut to the wrong doing that accrues on ships and deployment. Much like when you leave home and realize the way you were raised was not exactly conducive for the reality of the outside world.
We all come to a point of fight or flight. In some ways I wish I could run from the glass ceiling and yet, I have been able to break through it enough times to know the pain is worth the reward. Fighting for a position or school in the military was much easier than fighting for a place at the table in the church. Being told you can attend classes with men at church however; you could only perform some of the duties because you were a woman infuriates me to no end. I tried to stay and be patient to change but, why do we do this to women?
Why do we tell them they aren’t equal to men or they are incapable of doing what a men can do in ministry?
Acceptance is easy. Fighting to break the mold can be depleting. While attending seminary I realized the truth was we allowed men to keep us stuck from being equal in order to make them feel okay with our presence. How crazy is that?
We are minimized because of their insecurities and inability to accept us as equals in work, home, life and ministry?
Seems a bit old school.
I have come to accept we have two choices. We can stay within whatever system minimize us to fight within or we can choose to do things differently. In the military I had no choice but to fight. In ministry and the church I decided not to fight and instead begin a new journey outside the Sunday morning meeting and the building we call church. Within my family of origin I too have decided to no longer follow the rules of acceptance in order to embark on a journey of healing and self discovery.
The choice is yours. You get to navigate this life with God and He will give you the power to make change in whatever situation you face in life. I believe the hardest part of breaking the glass ceiling is choosing to not whine and instead be apart of changing the way women are perceived in the world. Yes, there will be women who make choices we may not agree with however; standing together and fighting for equality is a must for the next generation.
I do not have a daughter but, I pray my nieces have less of a fight ahead of them because of the fights I decided to take in life. I pray they have opportunities because of other women who choose to fight and stand up to the stigma of our culture. Mostly I pray that we as women can begin to see our worth and value together and not in competition with one another.
Fight for the change you want to see in the world!
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Break every glass ceiling you face in life instead of running and hiding from the challenge of paving a new path.