On Women’s Soccer – Something Worth Fighting For

I enjoy getting riled up sometimes. I’ll admit it. I believe deep down that it’s a good gift of God that we are people who can get worked up, when it’s about something that matters.

I now think women’s soccer matters. I’m not a soccer player. Goodness, I’m not really an athlete either. I have been known to occasionally run a 5K (once every 5 years) and I enjoy yoga. But I had to laugh when my 8 year old asked me, from the back seat of the minivan, what sport I played in high school.

“Mommy didn’t really ‘do’ sports, sweetie. That was daddy’s thing.” 

“What did you ‘do’ then, mom?” (She was a bit mystified and incredulous.)

“I did plays and music. I studied Spanish. I traveled a lot. Student council. All kinds of stuff. I think I might have done track for about half a season? Maybe.”

Her response – “Oh Mom! You’re so funny.”

Needless to say, I’m not a sports oriented person in my own right. I enjoy some good hockey from the stands and I’ll cheer on my kids with the best of them. 

So, I was shocked by my own strong reaction to the announcement of the lawsuit filed by the US Women’s Soccer team. At first, I watched the news report and thought, “Well, that’s junky. Of course they should be paid fairly.”

Then it came across my newsfeed on twitter. “Yes, I do think women should be paid the same as men. Go them! You fight for it ladies.”

And then I heard a news report that rocked me to the core. That incensed me deeply, and I woke up the next morning realizing that this was my battle too. This wasn’t just theirs. This was not a time to stay silent. 

Do we care about our daughters? Do we want to give them the very best? Do we teach them to dream big and reach high and give it everything they’ve got?

Yes we do. Of course we do. It’s not that I need them to be on the US women’s soccer team, or take on a high level competitive anything. I could care less about that. It’s not even that I need them to go and do and be better and more and exist as living bundles of ambition. 

It is that I want them to know that they don’t need to be perfect.

And that is exactly what this US Women’s Soccer team battle is about. Perfection. 

The news report that was a game changer for me was the one that shared exactly how much the men’s and women’s teams make. It wasn’t the pay differential that got to me, although it should be embarrassing and offensive to all of us. What made be cry actual tears of injustice over my morning coffee was this…

The men’s soccer team gets paid if they win or if they tie or if they lose. Albeit slightly less if they tie or lose, but they get paid none the less. Paid. A check in the mail. Validation for showing up and giving it their all, or half their all, or whatever they gave.

The women – they only get paid if they win.

What message does this send?
Winning must mean everything. Everything.

What message does this send to my daughter sitting in the backseat of my minivan?

“You must be perfect. You must win. You are only valuable if you bring home the goods. So hop to it, little missy. Wrap up everything that you believe about yourself in the win. Outside of the win, it’s all crap, and so are you.”

Raising the next generation of perfectionists is not an option.  

In her Ted Talk, Reshma Saujani gives startling research statistics on girls and perfection. The most memorable for me being that men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the qualifications. Women will only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications.

This statistic stuck out to me because I had just done exactly that. I read a job posting online. I scrolled down the list. I made sure I could check every box. Every box. Why would anyone want me if I couldn’t?

Ack. What am I passing on to my daughter?

Meet Jyeva. She loves soccer. She got some ridiculously athletic gene that I did not pass down. She plays hockey like a girl, and by that, I mean she doesn’t just get the puck. I mean she kills the puck.
Her first season of soccer, her team lost every game but 2. 

jyeva soccer
Do I want Jyeva to love what she loves any less because she couldn’t win? Baloney. Bull. No way. (Feel free to insert your own minor expletive here.) 

Jyeva and all the precious girls around her will not grow up under the same cultural pressure of perfectionism if I have anything to say about it. It ends today. 

And so I will write this blog and I will fight alongside the women’s soccer team and I will not be quiet about things that matter. And I’m asking the same of you, as you read this.

This matters.

Our girls matter. Whether they win or lose. 

They are valuable and beautiful and talented and incredible creatures when they bring home the trophy and when they bring home a loss. Shame, you are not invited to this party. “Am I enough?” you may not come in.
Let’s end this now. Let’s throw off a culture that says good is never quite good enough and squashes little girl dreams in a pile of perfectionism rubbish. 

This is about more than women’s soccer. This is about our daughters. It’s worth fighting for.
soccer 2
To find the actual pay disparity and related statistics go here

Reshma Saujani – Teach Girls Bravery Not Perfection 

Being gentle-bold in a not so gentle world…

Taking a risk 😉 *photo created with the vrsly app

Session 3 – 
Being gentle-bold in a not so gentle world…Excellent.
Sometimes there are stories, true stories in Scripture, that are just wild. They remind us of a powerful God and His majestic handprint. They signify and remind us that His thoughts are not ours, and that’s ok. He is God and I am not.
Today’s Bible reading is one like that. Let’s open to Daniel 5. If you have your Bible out, please read all of chapter 5. I am going to highlight chunks here for the sake of an easier read on mobile devices.
Daniel 5:5-12 (ESV) –
“Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared[b] to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed.
The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change.  There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers,  because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”
Daniel 5:30-31, 6:1-3 –
“That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.”
In this section of scripture Daniel is asked to interpret the hand and the writing on the wall. It’s interesting that they always seemed to call Daniel when no one else could interpret it.
There’s something different about him, they said. He knows stuff, they said. He has good insight, they said. Let’s ask Daniel, they said.
All Daniel did was make himself available to be asked. He was willing to say the hard stuff, when hard stuff needed to be said. He was honest and bold, but gentle-bold, not intentionally hurtful to make a point bold. 
Daniel was not given cheerful things to interpret. The writing on the wall wasn’t touchy feely goodness. This is a prophecy that would bring the king’s death and hand a kingdom over. But Daniel proclaimed it, truthfully. He didn’t add a commentary. He made himself available when Truth was asked for. And that’s one thing we can do also.
We look different. The peace that passes understanding and Hope that anchors the soul are inside of us, leaking out. We have something different about us. We have insight into the things of the world and the struggles of this world that others may not have.
May we also be available. Let’s not avoid the hard conversations. Daniel’s “excellent spirit” was the Spirit of the Living God inside of Him. We have that Spirit too! It may not be that we are called to interpret the writing on the wall of the king, but perhaps a friend is asking you to interpret “the writing on the wall” of their current struggle or to point out the glory of God in their current joy.
Trust Him to give you the words, at just the proper time, in the proper way. This is one reason it is so helpful to be in the Word daily. The words really do knit themselves in our heart and roll off our tongue when we need them.
Onward we go. Sharing His Light. Gentle-bold, girls! Gentle-bold.

Discussion questions –  Share an opportunity you had to be gentle bold with God’s Word. How can we apply gentle-boldness while using social media? What is the most difficult topic for you to be gentle-bold about?