grace for falling

does it seem strange to anyone else

that if you are a woman in this church,

you must break into a million pieces

just to be considered whole?

i grieve for them,

the girls beside me.

they stretch out their hands and let others lead

they give up their own wishes

they “stand up for what’s right”

and “count the cost.”

that girl on my left, with her cardigan and leggings,

her scarf made in Guatemala,

her free-trade coffee mug-

she breaks and breaks and breaks

and no one hears

least of all herself.

When will we learn that we are not who we were,

that grace is bigger and deeper

and fiercely independent of our every weakness?

Instead they have given her a list:

Smile when he’s talking,

nod at the right places,

whisper amen just loudly enough for the person next to you to hear it,

know where you’re going.

The girl beside me raises her hands in worship,

closes her eyes,

and i see only the puppet, dancing on the strings.

i see her eyes when she thinks no one sees,

when all the strong, purposeful Christian men have walked past,

when the pastor has a new favorite,

when the veteran Christian women have found a chink in the Proverbs 31 armor,

and i know:

i know this is not what grace means;

that we got lost somewhere,

in dress codes, theology so thick you can cut it with a knife,

rules that come to our lips faster than love.

and after all, i would say just this:

when you’re finally too tired to stand,

there will be grace in the falling.

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