“Anyone who is reasonably good at organizing, step right up!”
I didn’t step up. For those of you who don’t know me, my ability to organize anything is…extremely limited. That’s a magnificent bit of understatement, right there.
Two weeks ago, the youth group I help out with was assigned the task of taking mounds of random, unsorted donations and coming out with tables of neatly folded and categorized items for a church garage no-sale (where we donated items to people who needed them).
I was given the task of folding baby girls’ clothes that were pre-sorted by the organizing types. I didn’t give orders. I didn’t create systems. I just haphazardly tucked pink dresses into some semblance of neatness and set them on a table. (I figured any mom with a kid that young wouldn’t be particular about my folding job. They’d be too focused on staying sane.)
As I folded, I thought about a theology of gender.
(For those of you who are super impressed with what I think about as I sort clothes for a garage sale, I spent most of the time thinking about how glitter is the most evil substance created by mankind and why any mom would ever pay hundreds of dollars to outfit her toddler in designer jackets. This was just a small side-note.)
It was sparked based on the fact that we were creating different tables with boys’ and girls’ clothing, which reminded me of the recent controversial Target decision to remove gendered signs from their toys.
So I thought about why most of the baby clothes I was folding were pink, and why girls’ Halloween costumes are “sassy” and “sexy” unlike the male version of the same costumes, and why there was something fun about wearing a tutu skirt the whole time I sorted clothes (it was a dare; don’t ask), and why the first comment the jr. high boys made when we played games on a break in the service project was “Let’s run around! And tackle each other!” and the jr. high girls gave me looks of extreme skepticism about this course of action. And what the Bible has to say about all of that.
Then my mind wandered back to whether a three-year-old would find fur-lined boots ticklish and how sweatpants with words on the rear should not be a thing.
As I faithfully went about my task of (badly) folding clothes, there were some people who actually did have the ability to organize: several of the adult volunteers, mostly moms used to commanding order out of chaos, and one of the teen girls in particular. She was telling people where to put stuff and coming up with more efficient ways of doing things and organizing like a real pro.
Although she wasn’t being pushy or obnoxious at all, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to tease. I joked about how her oldest child tendencies were coming out and picked up a shirt that said, “I’m not bossy, I have leadership skills,” saying we should get one in her size, and so on.
It was all 100% in good fun.
It was also 100% a really bad idea. And really bad theology.
Because what I was really doing with those jokes was telling this young woman that it’s not really okay for her to use her gift to glorify God. In a way, I was contributing to doubts she probably has, that I think many of us do—Am I coming on too strong? Are there certain lines I can’t cross? What will people think of me? (more…)