Feminists, Vulnerability, Prayer, and The Trinity

Haley Blauch writes a thoughtful and enlightening explanation of the relationship between the Triune Godhead and prayer that demands a level of vulnerability many in the feminist movement have difficulty understanding and implementing in relation to God.  As one who came of age in the decade of the 60’s, I was under the feminists’ mystique in the 60’s and 70’s…  I had my time in the feminist parades and spouting its worldview, but gradually abandoned most of its beliefs by my 40’s. I am egalitarian but still reverence the Trinity and can enjoy aspects of tradition, even patriarchal language for God, choosing to engage in pursuit of education of those with patriarchal blinders that have constrained their vision of Christ’s illumination of God’s intended will for men and women, even when contact of iron on iron results in noise and heat with those of a different view.

It was experiences in prayer, to a large degree that molded my changed worldview and opened communion in prayer to me.

My first awareness of this reality occurred as I, having been called, but feeling more like it was commanded, to intercession for a family member whose illness was increasingly seeming to be her journey toward death. It wasn’t for healing on the body to which God ordered me…. it was prayer and pleading for her salvation, as there was some hardened unforgiveness to which she was clinging. One day as I prayed with her by phone I felt an overwhelming presence draw near, then enfold around me. I had the physical sensation of shrinking, literally being diminished in size and being, as this presence enfolded me. It distracted me from prayer which I rather hastily concluded and rose to shake that sensation from me. I pondered long and hard what had happened to me. Was it demonic, attempting to keep me from fervent, effectual prayer? Was it God present to minister to her with and through me?  It so rattled me that I was reluctant to throw myself into such depth of prayer for a long time. I would have to say that the feeling was one of vulnerability, loss of my sense of myself, being beyond control of my own self, and it was disconcerting. Several years later I confessed this deep-prayer aversion to a trained contemplative prayer instructor. I took some classes from her and joined a group that met weekly to practice centering contemplative prayer. It seemed a safe environment to reapproach such surrendering of self to the discipline of prayer. I was instructed to ask God for a word upon which to focus while entering into this silent, contemplative time with God , the point of which was to keep my mind focused on active listening, not giving myself over to my own thoughts. The word I felt firmly and repeatedly pressed into my spirit in the days before our first session was “Give.” I was heavily invested in ministry to marginalized women in emotional emergencies of various kinds and working with them to help achieve spiritual emergence and recovered life functionality. I was resistant to God’s word “give”, even angry. I said,”what else can I give? I am all-in in ministry and service and generosity with resources and my very life with these to whom you have called me! I have nothing else to give!” But in obedience, I used that word for the first session. I remained focused but I didn’t experience anything but stillness of spirit for that 20 minute session as 6 of us sat in a circle together. Afterward we watched a video by a noted practitioner of contemplative prayer. In it he said that the purpose of this practice is not to give ourselves to it, but to simply still our minds and spirits so that God may give Himself, His Presence, to us! I felt so humbled by this realization that God was not calling me to give anything but that God desired to give Himself to me, if I could be still and vulnerable enough to receive His Presence. I left the session lightened, renewed, and ready for all of God’s self that He desired to give going forward. It revolutionized my awareness of God’s Presence and gave me complete ease to abandon myself to Him. It’s been quite the ride! I can relate to the Presence of the Father drawing near to be present with the Son alongside me, present to me as I set myself in a cooperative and receptive posture in acts of prayer and service by the work of the Holy Spirit within me. It is a sensation of transcendence and entering into Holy Communion with God that is indescribable. Though initially the surrender requires one to confront the feeling of vulnerability, it leads to a feeling of ease in abandonment to the flow of the Divine in a way that is profoundly desirable, it cannot be achieved by one’s own effort, however, but only in surrendering one’s whole self, making oneself available to receive such moments of the periodic fullness of God, as He had given the fullness of Himself in His entirety to Jesus, the Christ. from conception, then confirmed in Christ’s baptism and as it remained upon Christ through the rest of his earthly life and continues upon the resurrected and ascended Christ Jesus as the “right hand”, the Implementer, of the will of God, even present in us followers as His representatives and co-heirs as the “right hand” of God, in the world but no longer of it, through the Holy Spirit in us. This is the beauty and mystery of the Divine Triune Godhead as I experience Him.

Blauch wrote at the end of her article:

“Again, there is something in God’s answer to prayer that changes our order of thinking about the Trinity because it makes us rethink where Christ is. We are standing alongside and in the presence of the Son when we are in prayer.”

In reading the article’s ending paragraph again I realized it would be useful to tell “the rest of the story” of the family member for whose salvation God compelled me to pray… just a few days before her death, I visited one final time. She was deeply under the fog of morphine. I sat a while, visiting with her mother and husband, during which time she did not speak. As I rose to leave I stood at her feet, looking at her and praying in my spirit. As I looked at her she appeared to glow with a soft, translucent light and the Lord spoke in my heart, “This is Christ.” I knew in that moment she had completed the work of forgiveness and reconciliation with God, within herself, and toward others that I had been urging her to and fervently praying for. I knew God had answered the intercession he had called me to and that all along, His reason for doing so was to show me the answer in that moment. It was a healing moment for me, as well. As I walked by her side to leave, she reached out her hand, taking mine, and with a strong voice said, “I’ll see you later..” I knew it would not be in this life, but in the next. It showed me how close and present and at work among us Christ truly is.  it led me to experiencing the Trinity in this way:  I was called and compelled by the Father to the task of intercession.  I could accomplish that hard task, that included no small amount of tears and lamenting not just for her to extend forgiveness and receive salvation, but also for myself to be released from the burden, only through the strengthening, urging and consolation of the Holy Spirit with me as I sought the words to pray for and with her. And in the end, in answer to obedience and perseverance, I saw Christ’s Presence and Peace resting upon and abiding within her.  It changed my view of prayer, of where Christ is, of how the Spirit works, of the goodness of our Father, and of God’s desire that we should be a part of communion with all of His Triune Being in prayer to bring about His will and Kingdom in the world.

Feminism: Incompatible with Trinitarian Thought?