Sexual harassment stories currently dominate our news. I am gratified to see so many men and women daring to come forth with their truth and standing up to be counted!
As a five- year-old little girl leaving church one Sunday morning, I asked my mother: “Mama, there is the father, the son, and the holy ghost, but where is the girl part?”
Indeed. Where are the role models for little girls who go to church every Sunday? At that age, I had never known a woman minister, much less a female priest. Growing up in the part of the country known as the Bible Belt, I was steeped in beautiful stories from the Bible but stories mostly about strong men using their faith to overcome life’s obstacles. I longed for stories about strong women that I could model my life after.
Christianity ranks as the most popular religion with 2.2 billion followers who base their beliefs in a source called the Bible. As a little girl growing up in a Christian family and searching for role models, I looked to this source. In the Bible’s opening book, there is Eve, who seemed to have been the one who got Adam in trouble, so I ruled her out as a possible woman to emulate. I concluded that virgins, like the mother of Jesus, were admired the most in this important book; however, virgins didn’t really appeal to me, nor did prostitutes like the scripture referred to Mary Magdalene. I did consider Martha; however, I didn’t want to wash up after the men folk, much less wash their feet.
At seven years old, I still held out hope. My mother set us kids down and shared a National Geographic article about how they had discovered “new” books to the Bible. “Aaah…” I thought to myself, “maybe there will be some girl stories of heroines and powerful women.” I just knew on the next Sunday morning at church that our minister would rejoice at this great discovery of these new books and would talk about them in his sermons; perhaps he would tell a story about a woman who was touched by God. I was disappointed when there was no mention of the discovery in the weeks, months and years which followed. I am still disappointed few people know there is a book of the Bible called The Gospel of Mary.
When I was thirteen, my hopes were dashed, and I walked over to the dark side. My best friend at the time shares with me that in seventh grade, I made an announcement to her about how to be popular and get a boyfriend. I told her that we should pretend to be dumb because boys don’t like smart girls.
When I was forty-two and going through a divorce, I sought out help from a “man of God,” my minister at the time. He “helped” me by offering to have sex with me to teach me some better ways to satisfy my husband. I ran from his office; however, it was two years later before I had found the courage to share that with anyone. Who was I to oppose a man of God? In the early nineties, six other women eventually joined me in filing a lawsuit against him. We were threatened in public with words of scorn and shamed by our church. In the end, I was told by the jury that since I had a Ph.D, I should have known better. Eventually I started a support group for the women who had been abused by him. More than 100 women wrote letters saying they too had endured sexual harassment from him; however, they were too afraid to go public.
In the last twenty-five years since the lawsuit in my work as a therapist, counselor and coach, I have witnessed one belief to be the major barrier to holding women back. From the thousands I have encouraged to believe in themselves, one core, limiting belief blinds us from seeing how to correct the problem with sexual harassment.
This one major roadblock stands squarely in our way, impeding any hope of eliminating this challenge. It is so deeply buried in our psyche that it is hard to uncover, much less rewire. For at least 2,000 years, we have been fed a belief that is keeping us slaves to men. The most limiting belief of all is:
God is a man…and not a woman.
God is a man, and he is a much more powerful man than any woman. Not only is he more powerful than us, this man holds our worth in his hands. The power differential this has created in our world has been earth-shattering. In this patriarchal world, men are more powerful than women. The sad thing is I don’t even need to prove this to you with examples or statistics. We all just know it is true.
In Christianity alone, 2.2 billion people on this planet believe this to be true and have accepted this belief either consciously or unconsciously.
Can we dare to change something so sacred as our view of God? Can we shake off 2,000 years of evolutionary wiring? Science now tells us that thoughts create. We have created a world where men wield more power than women. Until we address this core belief that God is a man, women will keep prostrating ourselves to men as powerless victims of our belief system.
Science also tells us our brains can change. Hope springs eternal in the human breast, or at least in mine. Let’s grab our shovels and dig deep down through all those neuropathways embedded in our brains and uproot the culprit to keeping women, as well as men, disempowered. Let’s rewire who and what God is to us all. Rather than making God a person, let’s make God a presence inside of us, an unlimited inner power within both sexes.
How would our daily newsfeeds change if we rewired our brains with this new belief about God? I would love to see a Twitterfeed roll out saying: God is the divine intelligence within us all.
My wish for this world is for my three-year-old granddaughters to never experience the dark side. I want them to grow up knowing, not just hoping, women are equal to men and that women are as worthy as any man. I want them to know they have the power within them to make their dreams comes true, and I want them to live their lives using this unlimited power to change our world.