A Poem For Equality and Women Like Junia


(Preface: Junia is the first and only woman apostle mentioned in the Bible. She is mentioned only in Romans 16:7, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles and they were in Christ before I was.”

However, back in the 13th or early 14th century Junia got a sex change in the translation of the Bible. Since it was thought by then that it is impossible for a woman to be an apostle they assumed that she must have been a man. So they changed her name to Junias.

Greet Andronicus and Junias, the two dude apostles.

Even though the first thousand years of the church considered her a woman, they still made the change. It wasn’t until the 20th century that she was finally resurrected when scholars went back to the original Greek texts.

Today the Church of England voted against the ordination of women bishops as a part of 10 years of debate. I saw so many people on twitter so excited for the possible win but as the final votes from laity came in, it was a sad thing to watch. So here’s a poem that expresses strive for equality I wish we can one day have.)

If women were silenced I would have half the knowledge I have now

If women were silenced I would drag myself through life without fully knowing how

I want to hear women teach words of wisdom louder than men

I want to hear woman shout prophecies as loud as they can

I don’t want to live in a world where we pretend that half of our population has nothing to say

I want to see equality in the church and stop living in the grey

It’s as if people think the Bible is a book about victorious men and that God is as masculine as they are

But God is not even a man, they are

God’s not even prejudice, they are

God’s not even limited to words in a book, we are

And I wish it wasn’t this way, I wish people wouldn’t use Paul’s letters for hate

I wish people would love the way Paul says instead of using him as a tool to discriminate

I wish we can celebrate women of the Bible instead of thinking their gender needs a fix-up

I wish we can get to a place where we stop saying “women bishops” and finally just call them bishops

I’m sick of seeing the world and the church held back so tight from evolving

I wish they could see that doctrinal issues are the not the problems we need to be solving

I want to see women stand up and break free so we can all make history together

With men and women listed side by side as apostles marked in the text forever

So keep speaking, shouting, and prophesying, no matter your gender; I don’t care

Junia was an apostle and she is definitely not the only one out there

My Crack at Proverbs 31 and Expectation-Oppression


Growing up in church meant growing up in youth group and for years the leaders of the youth group would sarcastically but consistently tell the boys before the service started to not be all over the girls and for the girls to stay away from the guys because we’ll just break their heart. The sarcastic comments were followed by laughter of course…by the ones who said them. It was funny at times but most of the time me and my friends would look at each other rolling our eyes with full knowledge of some of the scandalous heartbreaking girls a part of our youth group that we knew we should probably stay clear of ourselves.

Looking back on things, these little conversations that put girls on such a high pedestal before service caused me to dislike girls with imperfections; imperfections that I defined.  If a girl would act a way I didn’t like or say something I disagreed with I would be harsher with them than I would with a guy or a girl I enjoyed the company of.

I acted this way because I felt like I was in a community where the guys were viewed as perverts and the girls were viewed as angels. So this drove me to purposely find faults in the women in my life as a way of attempting to prove something to the authority I disagreed with (even if they didn’t view things they way I told myself they viewed them).

Eventually I grew out of that phase when I grew out of the phase of feeling controlled by the norm of what others do. When I realized I didn’t have to think exactly the same as the people around me (authority or not) I lost the desire to prove myself as much. It sounds kind of silly to talk about learning to be fully independent in thought at such a later age but I’ve constantly found myself reminding friends of mine the same thing one of my youth pastors reminded me of when I was 16: “It’s okay to be different.”

However, I still see situations where women are given high expectations based on their gender. And what I’ve seen in churches is when people are given high expectations and are tremendously frowned upon when not meeting those expectations it shames whoever fails to meet those expectations. Guilt and fear of failure can lead to a number of terrible things: repression, depression, insecurity, jealousy, self-hatred, etc. I’ve personally seen women suffer from this type of expectation-opression more than men.

Why wouldn’t they, when we live in a society where women are portrayed as the one who is supposed to look a certain way and serve the man a certain way that makes the women seem like more of servant girl than a wife; and a society where the men trot around quoting “submission” scriptures and joking about wanting a Proverbs 31 woman.

“Where are all the Proverbs 31 women at?” they would say.

If you haven’t read the famous Proverbs 31 poem stop and go read Proverbs 31:10-31 right now.


I used to view this poem as kind of silly. I knew it was to be taken seriously but in today’s society it is laughable, up to par with the book of Song of Songs. I remember reading it to a girl friend of mine and hearing her laugh in disbelief at every other verse. Going through verses like “She gets up while it is still night” and “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes” and of course, “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.”

Whenever I heard a woman talk about how much they love Proverbs 31 I wondered if they skipped those parts. I would think to myself, “If these women love this passage so much, then why aren’t they making their own clothes and bedspreads? Why don’t they keep their lamp on through the night and wake up before dawn? Why don’t they buy fields, plant vineyards and sell handmade clothes? The only thing I see you imitating of this woman is wearing purple.”

I began asking different women of different ages what they thought of the poem and whether they liked the poem or not, each of them was significantly moved by it. Some were negatively moved and overwhelmed, thinking of it as a ridiculous and unrealistic to-do list and others were positively moved, using the woman of this poem as a role model of the wife they want to be.

The characteristic that stands out in this woman is confidence. She has confidence in herself, her family, and the things she does even when the people around her may fall short. As verse 29 puts it “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

One of the odd things I heard from younger friends I asked was this perspective that this woman from the poem is a far off goal that becomes practical when it’s time to get married. I can understand that. After all, why learn to cook, when you’re not the one who cooks in the house right now? Or for the college kids, why learn to cook if you don’t even have a stove? Why waste time being trying to be someone who does all these things if you don’t have anyone to do these things for?

Another perspective I heard blew those views out of the water. A friend of mine told me that the Proverbs 31 woman does not become all these things when she gets married and simply because she is married. She becomes all these things so she can get married.


The woman who “brings food from afar” can be the woman who knows how to shop for groceries. The woman who sells and buys vineyards can be the woman who knows business and can handle her finances. The woman who makes her own clothes from wool and flax can be the woman who can put a hem in her jeans. (I admit I did not know what a hem was before working on this, which is why I probably need a Proverbs 31 woman.)

I noticed this poem begins with something not as oppressive as I originally thought. It begins by asking who can find a women like this, and stating that she is worth far more than rubies. Before it goes into all the things she is and does, it says that her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. Only then does it go into the things she does. The next verse says she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. I find it interesting that the writer of the poem doesn’t go into any of the characteristics of this woman without first stating that her husband has full confidence in her. The man is actually the only one given a command in the whole poem. The woman is praised for doing all the things she is already doing. Then in the last verse it reads “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Maybe marriage isn’t about the woman providing every need while the man orders her around quoting the “women should submit” verse. Maybe this woman isn’t the fundamentalist June Cleaver some of you may have imagined during first read.

In Orthodox Jewish culture the men are actually the ones who memorize the Proverbs 31 poem. And every week at the Shabbat table the man sings the poem to his wife. He praises her for all that she does for the family. Proverbs 31 is not a to-do list or set of commandments for women to follow. It is a poem of praise to the woman doing all she can to provide in her own way. And she doesn’t do these things for the sake of competition with other women or for the glory. She does it out of the kindness of her heart.

So all I want is for women to stop feeling oppressed by ridiculous expectations and know many of you can fulfill Proverbs 31 without it stuck to your fridge in list form.

And for the men,

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

–Proverbs 31:31

To All Favorable and Unfavorable Women

There’s a story in the interesting, disturbing, liberating, confusing, beautiful, challenging Bible about a girl who was told she would give birth to the Messiah. Some Christians like to hold her on a pedestal as this perfect mythical woman but believe it or not she was actually human. in reading about her she seems to be a woman who thought similar thoughts to some women I know today. In the gospel of Luke we’re introduced to Mary when an angel appears to her to tell her of what is to come.

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.”
Luke 1:28-29

And for the awkwardly aggressive New Living Translation haters, here it is in the English Standard Version:

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.”
There. Get off me, translation Nazis.

Anyway, when I read this a while back I paused and read it over and over. An angel telling her that she is a favored woman and that the Lord is with her confused and disturbed her? She also tried to discern what the angel could mean. Is it possible Mary was thinking to herself: “I know he just called me favored but I know I’m not really favored so he obviously must mean something else; but what is it?”

This is all sounded too familiar to me.

Who has heard this conversation or a variation of it?
“You are beautiful.”
“No I’m not.”

Of course some women use this trick to get the other person to really try to convince them that they are beautiful to see how serious the other person is but I don’t believe that is always the case. I’ve seen this happen too many times from too many women for this to be that superficially simple in every situation.

I believe many women have the ability to come to a place at times where they honestly stop believing they are beautiful. Where they stop believing they are lovely. Where they stop believing they are brilliant. Where they stop believing they are favored.

It breaks my heart when I hear about a fears of mirrors from women I know. Women who I know are amazing look in the mirror and can’t see what others see in them. As someone who obsesses over and depends on words this could be frustrating to see in my friends.

All my life my words have been my everything. I make things happen with my words. I change things with my words. I inspire things with my words and I destroy them just as easily. Many times I’ve tried to fix things with my words. And the harshest realities I’ve faced are times where my words cannot fix a thing. I wish I can show some of the women I know exactly what I see from my perspective so they can finally see how wonderful they truly are but I can’t.

I do understand that many women develop negative views of themselves from the men in their lives who have negatively influenced them but another person’s hurtful words do not define who we are. And I’m sorry for any man who was selfish and stupid enough to make you feel not good enough. People are ignorant and careless with their words nowadays and do not understand how deeply their words affect others. Trying to find someone who will compliment you in all the areas you were insulted in by someone in your past will not fix it all though. Finding confidence in your identity without dependence on another person will be what fixes it.

I want to come to a place where women believe they are beautiful. Where women believe they are lovely. Where women believe they are brilliant. Where women believe they are favored; and that the Lord is with them. I want to come to a place where women are free to stop feeling like they are broken, flawed, inadequate and gross.

In the next verse of Luke 1 the angel says “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!”

Mary was just a lowly servant girl. When she looked around at the way society perceived her it confused her to hear someone call her a favored woman, but the angel said she had found favor with God.

If women don’t believe they have found favor with God then maybe that is where it all starts. I know my words or beliefs may not matter but I want the best for the women I know and I know all of this has been stirring in my mind for a reason. So if the words I’m writing don’t mean a thing I want to at least try.

Consider that you are all favored by God and once you believe that then you can begin to believe that you are favored by others. I have personally found God to be an amazing and gracious God of love with his arms wide open waiting for you to simply recognize that He is there.

You are a favored woman and the Lord is with you. You are not broken. You are not flawed. You are not inadequate. You are not gross. You are beautiful, lovely and brilliant and you deserve better people in your life than those that encourage you to change. Changing for the sake of others is the last thing you should do and only leads to feeling worse.

Be confident in the way you were made because you were made that way for a reason. Embrace your identity and live in the freedom that you are a favored woman.

This might be pointless and I might even be wrong but I feel like my heart is a collection of hearts of the people in my life built together to form my own heart. And when the people I love are broken I am broken. And I will do all that I can to build us back together.

Imperfect Prayers

One of the most impacting moments of my Christian life happened when I was very young in a family praying circle. We were all holding hands with everyone’s heads bowed and eyes closed. My left hand was being held by my older brother who sometimes squeezed it to try to get me to make a noise during the seriousness of the prayer. This wasn’t one of those times. My brother was praying as well. My dad was praying the most as he usually did; he is still the longest prayer I know. As my dad was praying I decided to open my eyes and peek up at my family. My mom and dad had their heads bowed and eyes closed and were deep in prayer. Then I looked at my brother. He had his head bowed, also in prayer but his eyes were open.

As a very young Christian child this flipped my entire understanding of prayer completely on its head.

This was the day I discovered that you really can pray with your eyes open.

And I haven’t closed my eyes since; at least not for the entire prayer. Since then I felt free during prayer. I still bowed my head to avoid awkward eye contact with other open-eyed prayers but my prayers became more personal after that because prayer itself became more real to me. It was less of a ritual and more of an action.

However as I grew older and began experiencing life, prayer became more and more obsolete in my life. I lost faith in prayers when a lot of them stopped working. I convinced myself that if God wants something to happen then he will make it happen and that I don’t need to convince him to waste his time doing something that is not meant to be.

Back in March I helped start this group called The Hallway where we gathered weekly to discuss God, the Bible, our faith and our doubts. One of my favorite parts every week was when we would pray for each other at the end of each meeting.

This group of people reestablished my faith and love for prayer.

We were all around the same age and no church leader or parent was ever present so there was always more of a freedom in the way we interacted. We knew we could literally say anything we wanted without judgment or lowering of status from anyone in the group. So when prayer would start no one bothered using “cliché holy prayer” words. They simply just spoke to God. I heard the most sincere and genuine prayers in that group. The prayers felt real to me again.

People would ask for prayer for various things, big or small. People would ask for prayer for healing, boldness, reconciliation, patience, jobs, faith and other things. One of the things I noticed people would ask for most was for their relationships. People wanted patience with the people around them and they wanted to be closer with the people they desired a relationship with that had been broken. They even asked for prayer for other people who weren’t there to be reconciled. I think that was one of the most beautiful things about The Hallway. We were a community of broken and imperfect people who loved, comforted, affirmed and built each other up. It is this group of people that has made me feel like a mosaic of souls. These people have molded me.

The reason I refer to this group in past tense is because I moved to Orange County in August and went through a rupture of the community I held dear. I witnessed prayer here in this new community and couldn’t grasp it. I witnessed people praying for each other through all the suffering life had caused them and I began to feel compassion for them.

And it confused and frustrated me.

I stepped outside the situation and immersed myself into the thought, “God takes things away and we cling and comfort each other over the trauma that God is causing in this world.” I lost faith in the image of a faithful and loving God who comforts us when we pray and a God who answers us gracefully. I began viewing him as a God who leaves everything up to us as he does whatever he wants, similar to how I used to think.

A couple weeks ago that thought process was ruptured once again. In another small group a man asked for prayer. His reason involved how he was being treated by people he had to interact with daily. It brought him to tears. We stood around him and prayed and proclaimed better things in his life.

In that moment we were united as one.

In that moment I realized God is not the one who makes us feel broken and causes us trauma.

We are.

We hurt each other and we hurt ourselves.

Then we come together and welcome God’s presence into the situation.

Prayer is not a defense mechanism. As Jean Vanier says “[Prayer] is a passage. It’s a growth. And it’s a growth that brings us to the consciousness that we are broken people and that I am not better than the others.” Prayer isn’t about saying “They need help and I am fine. They’re bad and I’m good. They’re wrong and I’m right.” It’s about channeling into a consciousness that I am broken, I am flawed, I am imperfect, I can’t do this on my own and I need help. Your patience with others becomes healthier when you come to the realization that every one of us is imperfect.

Prayer becomes freeing when you realize it’s about stepping outside of the issue at hand and coming to the realization that I don’t have everything under control and celebrating in the revelation that I don’t have to. It’s about praying like Jesus before his death who prayed to God that he would spare the coming suffering if possible. He ultimately ended the prayer saying “Not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

And it’s exhilarating knowing that we have the ability to work as the hands of God through prayer. When you pray for boldness you will be put in a situation where it’s up to you to choose to be bold. When you pray for patience you will be put into a situation where it’s up to you to choose to be patient. When praying for the ability to overcome something you are given the opportunity to overcome it. And when I’ve seen another person who looks sad and lonely I’m tempted to pray that they will feel comforted, loved and welcomed but I’ve been convicted that there is a flaw in that unfinished process. If you notice someone secluded or in sorrow and you pray that they will feel comforted, loved and welcomed then it is your job to go to them and make them feel comforted, loved and welcomed. I believe God works through people. We see in the creation poem at the beginning of Genesis that whenever God creates something it’s created with the ability to create. He creates trees with the ability to create fruit, animals with the ability to make other animals, humans with the ability to create other humans and the ability to do so much more.

Even though my views of prayer fluctuate drastically and constantly, I mature through it constantly. I am an imperfect man and my imperfect prayers sustain my soul.