The theme for the 2022 International Women’s Day campaign begins with: “Imagine a gender equal world.”

I love this first sentence, because it is a reminder that our imagination is a necessary ingredient in creating the reality we want to see. Imagination is tricky though, because, for many of us, it is both very much in reach and difficult to access.

I’m curious: Can you remember those moments as a child where, with a particular awareness, you could sense your own imagination fading? The games of make believe became a lot less fun the more in touch we were with reality.

Our path was to grow up, and we believed this included leaving parts of our God-given nature (like creativity, wonder and awe) behind. Even now, the nitty-gritty of the real world continues to get in the way of my God-given imagination.

I want to imagine a gender equal world, but then I am reminded of how many times it was assumed I was married to one of my colleagues. The lack of imagination for a woman pastor who stands on her own has been a reality in my work too often.

I want to imagine a gender equal world, but I’d be rich if I had a penny for every time someone assumed I must be a children’s minister after asking me what I did for a living. “Nope, just a regular old pastor,” I say in reply.

I want to imagine a gender equal world, but the trauma from some of my pastoral experiences continues to act as a barrier, blocking access to my supply of hope.

On top of all of this, in my experience as a brown woman pastor, most people would rather imagine than actually embody.

So, when it comes to a commitment to #BreakTheBias, I get stuck in the discouraging reality that many are not truly willing to put in the work required to shift our individual and collective paradigms.

So, I will admit it. My energy is low, and my imagination is struggling on this International Women’s Day.

But then, (and I said this in a recent sermon) I think about the incredible advice from Jesus, when he told us to simply be like children. And I remember what children have that we adults often lack: energy and imagination!

My friends, this just might be it. Our imagination and the energy to use it is the medicine we need in these times.

What’s more, our ability to heal, to hope and to dream up a better world is not possible without it. Imagination can sustain our vision for justice, and it will breathe new life (resurrection!) into our liberation work.

And so, I think about my six-year-old daughter, who very recently announced: “I’m going to write a poem, and you and Fran (my sister-in-law, who is also a pastor) are going to read it, because you are the preachers, and the poem is about God!”

Her imagination is fueled by the realities we have given her.

And when I look back, I see a cloud of witnesses – no, a cloud of women who went before me. Trailblazing, advocating, using their wild and beautiful imaginations to fuel what I once couldn’t believe was possible.

Suddenly, I am energized to continue doing the same for my daughter.

When we lack the hope to envision a better world, let’s look back at the ones who paved the way before us with gratitude. And let’s look ahead to our children, who so naturally take the Christ-posture to heart.

May we not give up on the work of embodying realities that may not exist but could – with the help of a little imagination.

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series for International Women’s Day (March 8). The other articles published to date are:

Admitting Implicit Biases Is the First Step to ‘Break the Bias’ | Maddie Grimes

Why We Must Become Aware of Internalized Sexism | Sara G. Tariq

Why Do Human Views of Women Differ from the Divine? | Sahar Alsahlani

Adding Women’s Voices Today to a Timeless Story | Rachel Ain

Say Her Name – Remembering Women Outside the History Books | Chris Smith

Why I Didn’t Celebrate International Women’s Day Growing Up | Lina Toth

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