As women we were raised on stories of a “Prince Charming” coming to our rescue. The old Disney movies created and reinforced this narrative. I’m thankful many of the new movies are switching that up and giving women a bit more agency than the one-dimensional characters of old. Growing up, these were our bedtime stories and what we were dreaming about at night.
This story is reinforced in our own faith, the story of God swooping in and taking care of everything for us. We are the passengers and not the drivers. “Jesus take the wheel”. We are unable to learn how to take ownership of the pieces of our own lives.
Our agency was rarely taught in our churches. Women “seeking and knocking” is inconvenient to a patriarchal culture trying to train us, like good soldiers, to obey authoritarian structures and to fall in line at the bottom of the chain of command. Thinking for yourself becomes a hindrance to whatever the mission or vision being passed down.
Even taking credit for studying, learning or passing a test is taught as pride that “robs the glory from God”. We were taught to say “it’s *ALL* Jesus”. And as our mouths speak these things we don’t realize how we are creating a God who wants us to distance ourselves from our own personhood.
How many Evangelical stories have you heard of God “coming to the rescue”?
While God taking control is a comfort when we are dealing with the loss of a loved one, or a medical situation doctors have found no solution to, it is more damaging outside the realm of where we have a responsibility to act.
God “coming through” often becomes a way to abdicate our own responsibility. Asking God for good health does not mean we can treat our bodies however we like and avoid medical interventions. God has given us agency and expects us to use it. The same applies with our friendships, our families, our finances, our relationships, our romantic lives.
Why do we expect God to just drop the perfect spouse in our laps if we won’t even go meet people? Do we really think God will simply giftwrap “Prince Charmings” and leave them in the mail? Because the stories we hear in our churches continue to drive this narrative home. Not just in our romantic lives, but seemingly everywhere you turn.
“Testimonies to God’s faithfulness” convince us to step aside, to “let go and let God.”
I remember being taught in churches that the problem we have with praying and leaving things with God is that we keep trying to take it back.
This encourages a real passivity in regards to our faith which is counter to an important statement by Jesus:
“Ask, seek and knock”.
Jesus used it to express the importance of using our agency. It’s not just about asking. It’s a reminder to take hold of and use our agency.
Being single is also perfectly fine, if that is what we want. This does lead to another very important point about our agency and responsibility of our own lives.
Owning responsibility for our lives means taking the time to figure out what we want and act accordingly instead of letting things just happen to us (whether we like it or not) and saying things like, “It’s God’s timing,” or “I am giving God the pen.”
In my story, I prayed and waited over and over for God to rescue my marriage and transform my now ex-husband. But after 20 years of marriage gave up on changing and walked away. After so much prayer, Christian counseling and “trusting God”…
And I can’t even begin to express the damage it did to my kids, who suffered through all of his emotional abuse as well. I sometimes wonder what life might’ve looked like had I left him sooner, instead of “trusting the Author.”
But now I think, If God is real and is truly a loving and healthy deity, and not an almighty, micromanaging control freak, what She would’ve wanted most for my story would be for me to grab hold of that pen.
I wish people better understood how de-emphasizing our agency and ability to write our own stories has severe consequences and repercussions.
Imagine for a moment if the story God is writing is through you, and that you are an active participant rather than the spectator. What if her spirit indwells you? What if her divinity courses through your veins making your picking up the pen the necessary action to God writing your story?
(Stay tuned for part 2 on this series about God wanting us to use our agency. The next one will focus on the belief of Calvinism and how that impacts this idea.)