–Lilian Calles Barger in Chasing Sophia
When I first read these words in the beginning of Lilian Calles Barger’s terrific book, I have to admit, I giggled a bit. God in Mary Janes, I thought. As if! Everybody knows God wears Keens. Crocs maybe. Tevas, for sure. But Mary Janes? No way.
Over the past few days I’ve continued to imagine what shoes God would wear. And wondering why it was so hard to picture God in Mary Janes—which could arguably be the “King” of women’s shoes. And, of course, that’s the answer: They’re women’s shoes. It seems ridiculous to imagine him in girly, shiny, strappy shoes because we’re just not accustomed to imagining that side of ourselves reflected in God (or in his patent leather shoes as it were!).
This struck me again as I reread the article I posted today at Gifted For Leadership by Sarah Sumner. She told the story of asking a group of pastors which women in the Bible they most identified with. They all laughed—naturally. Ridiculous for a man to imagining identifying with a woman, right?
And yet women are instructed and expected to identify with men of the Bible—and to find our identity in the Son of Man—all the time. That’s why God in Mary Janes seems so silly.
So my inner Christian feminist has been stewing. But then a new image popped into my mind: God in wing-tips. Then, God in football cleats. Both seemed just as silly as Mary Janes. Well, maybe not as silly, but close. To be fair, maybe I see God in Keens or Crocs because of their androgynous-ness (is that a word?), which is okay. I don’t think God is a man or a woman as we understand those to be. But if we believe we are image-bearers (and this can be difficult for women to really believe), then we need to be able to imagine those masculine and feminine sides of God fully and clearly. Right down to the shoes.