“So, what you’re saying is you gotta decide if you want to wear boots, get shot, or carry a Rebel flag.”
The guy from choir really didn’t get it. I’d lived in Chicago before – I knew the murder rate per capita was higher in Tallahassee anyway. And wearing boots? What did that have to do with Nashville? I don’t wear boots now. My location wasn’t going to change that. And I sure as hell wasn’t ever going to carry a Rebel flag.
If I had sworn back then, I would have cussed him out in my mind. But I didn’t do that and I kept my thoughts to myself. None of that was the point he was trying to make anyway.
But it was another image of the misogynistic culture in which I grew up. I was a woman, ready to leave the place of my torment, yet here I was being judged for being ready to move on. I wasn’t married, I didn’t have the job everyone thought I should have, and I was about to move at least a thousand miles away. I knew they’d miss my voice on the worship team, but I knew the comments ran deeper than that.
The guy from choir wasn’t so much against me leaving – but others were. That had been made clear by more than a dozen conversations and imploring from many.
But I was done with the abuse culture. I finally saw it for what it was – and I was done. My narcissistic brother wanted me to stay – for what reason? Who knows? Control, probably.
My pastors – who’d reamed me out for being independent and called me a bad Christian but then asked me to stay and “serve” as I had been doing – wanted me to stay. I have a powerful singing voice – I’ve recorded albums. I’ve directed theatre my entire adult life. They wanted my skills to remain with them.
But after that summer of abuse, following what feels like a lifetime of it – being told I was a bad Christian, being told by men who I should and should not share the love of Christ with, being told by other men that I should have “asked” them about who to date, I was done.
I left practice that night and came home, knowing what I would do. My gut told me Chicago. My best friends told me, Chicago.
I had confirmation. They knew me – clearly better than the folks at church – and I was ready to stand up for myself, to walk away. To make my own way, following God where He led, not stay where some old, white men who later blamed me for the sexual assault I experienced and called me a fascist for not voting their way, wanted me to.
It took a long time – 31 years – but I was ready. And I left. Up to Chicago where I’ve lived ever since. Amen, amen.