We all have a story and we’re all on a journey. It was during my own life’s journey, somewhere between twelve and thirteen, when I first met Love incarnate. Though I grew up Catholic and was familiar with the Christian tenets of the faith, I had never heard before that Jesus could be my intimate friend (not only could be but actually wanted to be).
The summer between my seventh and eighth-grade year, I found myself at a Baptist camp, seated round the campfire, listening intently to a young couple speak. They said their marriage was on the brink of divorce until their hearts were turned upside right by an encounter with the Lord. Their glowing-in-love faces reflected the fire’s light and I was convinced that Jesus and his love could fix anything (including my own parents divorce a year and a half earlier).
Unconditional love opened wide His arms and drew me in that evening. Unconditional love holds me each and every day and the same love rolls with me into the future.
By the way, my parents never did get back together but the spiritual transformation I experienced that summer was here to stay. Jesus became my friend, my confidant, my counselor, my all-in-all. As I grew and matured in life and in the fullness of His love, I found myself seeing, thinking and acting in a whole new way.
Somewhere in my early to mid-thirties I underwent a paradigm shift in my Christian ideology. As I came to a deeper understanding of my paramount role as a woman, mother, provider, and protector of my children I began to research and explore the topic of Christians and biblical equality. I came across a website, www.cbeinternational.org and found erudite theologians and scholars who had constructed an egalitarian statement of belief. I found their findings contrasted sharply with traditional (or what most know as complementarian) beliefs but the egalitarian paradigm and biblical interpretation regarding men and women resonated with me.
For example, egalitarians believe that man and woman were co-participants in the Fall: Adam was no less culpable than Eve. That the rulership (or hierarchical/complementarian model) of Adam over Eve resulted from the Fall and was therefore not a part of the original created order. Genesis 3:16 is a prediction of the effects of the Fall rather than a prescription of God’s ideal order. And, they believe that the same Spirit indwells women and men, and sovereignly distributes gifts without preference as to gender. Both men and women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister and can exercise the prophetic, priestly, and royal functions within the community and Church. According to the egalitarian interpretation of scripture, though the world is fractured by discrimination and segregation, there is no conveyance in the Bible whatsoever of female subordination or inferiority. The egalitarian interpretation stands against patterns of domination, inequality, sexism, discrimination, and segregation. It honors and values all human beings as equal and marriages as full and equal partnerships. It empowers and encourages women to function in positions of responsibility and authority within the community, the Church, and the world.
I believe the Church universal capitulated to the Roman social-political-cultural climate in its day and missed the revolutionary teachings of the God-Man Jesus. Jesus honored and equalized women again and again throughout his ministry. And while here on Earth, he conveyed quite clearly that he was the exact representation of the heart, mind, and will of God for all people; for all time. Paul too stated the redemptive work of Christ and God’s original intent for his creation quite succinctly in a letter to the Church at Galatia:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all ONE in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28
For the past 4 years I have had the privilege to work as one of the volunteer chaplains at Yavapai Regional Medical Center with a team of wonderful people who serve our community. In those same years, I also significantly reduced my Counseling/Coach role to focus more on writing and speaking engagements.
I just want to say thank you for taking the time to enter my story. I hope you will let me enter yours! Connect with me on any of the links that are of interest to you. I leave you with a benediction:
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You, and Cause His Face to Smile Upon you, and Give you Peace…
P.S. Read about a Wedding my sister Chaplain and I pulled off in under 24 hours after a doctor’s deadly prognosis.
What Others are Saying...
"Nannette Oatley is a woman of remarkable courage and unusual spirit. She embraces life in a wheelchair with fierce determination, glorious humor, and unwavering faith. Nannette¹s heart flows over with honesty, compassion, and good news. It is difficult to leave her presentations without being genuinely renewed and grateful for the gift of life."
- Dr. Peggy Natiello, Ph.D. Human Development, International Consultant in the Person-Centered Approach
"Nannette is one of the most dynamic speakers I know. Her life¹s journey is one of inspiration and courage. Her story is of determination and character. Her ability to tell her experiences instills faith in the triumph of the soul. There is no way you can leave her presentation without renewed confidence in facing all life has to bring. Nannette is, in a word, awesome."
-Hazel Bowman, Women In Networking, Director
"Nannette was a keynote speaker at our Annual Civitan Convention. Her topic, resilience, was both interesting and a 'hit' with our audience. She is an energetic and compelling public speaker, and I would urge your organization to contact her for your next gathering."
- Ward Topping, President Frontier Civitan Club
"Nannette Oatley's presentation at our recent convention was both inspirational and entertaining. I would happily recommend her to any audience, anywhere, anytime."
- CEO, Jay Martin, NSA