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herstory picWhen I was in Kindergarten, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up.  My teacher had us draw what we dreamed of being when we were older.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see past the 1978 stereotypes and requirements of what careers women should enter.   So I made a teacher-nurse – a career as a person who taught nursing.

As I got older, my plans changed just a little.  For a few years, I thought I should go into dietetics.  Was I passionate about the career?  No.  But again, it was a career in which many women were called.  It was steady and safe.

Teaching and nursing and becoming a dietitian are all beautiful callings for both men and women, but they weren’t my calling.  I couldn’t see past gender limitations for a career.

In fact, during my senior year of high school, I gave a speech why women shouldn’t become clergy.  While I backed the speech with various scripture verses, the primary reason I believed this was because I had never seen a woman in the role of clergy.   This wasn’t a valid reason for my disagreement with women in the pulpit.  (I’m extremely positive God continues to laugh at this story…)

As I entered college, something in my gut told me that I should enter a career that wasn’t dominated by women.  After majoring in English and working in non-profit marketing, I eventually entered seminary and began my path to becoming an ordained member of the clergy.

Now I can’t imagine a world where women aren’t in the pulpit.

Today, we shattered another barrier that limits women from certain roles or careers.  This moment in history isn’t just about one particular person.  I know many of you don’t like or care for our one female presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, and that is extremely valid.

Yet, I want us to pause for one minute.  In this very moment, something has shifted.  It was like the shift I experienced when I saw more and more women in the pulpit.  When we see women or minorities finally attaining leadership roles rarely held by them in the past, we change the framework of who is or isn’t allowed to have a particular position.  We break stereotypes and preconceived notions.

When more women and people of color attain positions that exclusively went to white males ten, twenty, forty, seventy years ago, then more women and people of color are able to dream bigger than ever.  Our daughters and sons who never thought they could achieve their goals now believe that they can.  We can all walk a little taller because we have been reminded that all people are created equally in God’s image.

I teared up while watching the presumptive Democratic nominee speaking tonight.  I write this not to endorse or criticize her.  But this is to affirm her role in expanding the hopes and dreams of women and girls.  When we see women in top leadership roles, our daughters and nieces and sisters and mothers will continue to believe anything is possible.  

Our job isn’t to stop here however.  We must continue to encourage all women in top leadership roles – including women of color, women with disabilities, and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.  When a young African American girl can see a woman like her as president of the United States someday, her dreams will expand.  When a young girl with a physical disability sees a woman like her as president of the United States someday, her dreams will expand.  We can’t just stop with able-bodied straight white women or the women who look like us.  All women deserve to dream.

*****

All opinions here are my own and not connected with any organization or person with whom I am associated.  

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