Michele Davis: [00:00]
You are listening to the Created For Podcast. We believe that everyone was created to make a unique impact in the world. Created For is a podcast to explore ideas around purpose, calling and discovering how God is inviting you to influence the world in your own way right now. I’m your host, Michele Davis. Hey! So, today, Julie Chang is back, and she and I had a delightful conversation about difficult things with the inimitable Tiffany Bluhm. Tiffany is a writer, a speaker and a podcast host with just the right mix of punchy passion and patient perception. Just trust me. Okay? Here we go!
Ladies, I am so excited for our conversation today. Tiffany, how’s it going? How’s it going for you today?
Tiffany Bluhm: [2:44] It’s going good! I’m up here in the Seattle area, enjoying my gray day.
Michele: [2:50] Mm, yeah. You get a lot of those, I think, in Seattle.
Tiffany: [2:52] You know what? Only six months of the year. It’s fine, it’s fine.
Julie Chang: [2:55] Only half the time.
Tiffany: [2:57] Yeah, I grew up the majority of my life here, so it’s supes normal, and then I moved abroad to London where it was also very similar weather. So I was doing okay, weather-wise. It wasn’t too hard. But yeah, if you’re not from here, it is a shock to the system. This is why we have great coffee shops and Nirvana and indie films. Because we’re grunge rock.
Michele: [3:18] I mean, grunge rock! Yeah, grunge rock coming from the damp weather. And I am very thankful to the Lord that you lovely people in Seattle invented Starbucks.
Tiffany: [3:35] You know what, you’re welcome. I take personal responsibility for that. Also, we gave you Sir Mix-a-Lot, thank you very much. What else do you want from us? What else do you want from us?
Michele: [3:44] Yeah, you are definitely pulling your weight for all of America, so … this is good.
Tiffany: [3:49] And we gave you Amazon. A curse maybe, not a blessing. We gave you planes, Boeing. We’ve given you, obviously, coffee that is somewhat consistent unless you’re in an airport, Starbucks. Airport coffee, you’re like, “Really? Why? Why, though? No, I don’t want this. But, you know … And you know what? People dog on Starbucks. You know, people are like, “I only do the indie coffeeshop thing.” I’m like, “Listen up, fools. Starbucks pays for their employees to go to college. We are lifting people up to the next level, and for that, you can have my $4 for that pistachio latte, which, if you haven’t tried it, highly recommend, gift from God.”
Michele: [4:17] Oh yeah, pistachio latte is a dream.
Julie: [4:21] I’ve never heard of it.
Tiffany: [4:21] You are the first person! It’s very new. You are the first person, Michele, that I’ve talked to that’s tried it.
Michele: [4:29] Oh, it is so good.
Tiffany: [4:29] And I’m like, drop the $5! It’s heaven. It’s so good.
Michele: [4:33] Yeah, someday we should do a food episode instead. But maybe for a minute, Tiffany, we should talk about some of your work, because you are quickly becoming one of my favorite thinkers and writers and podcasters, and I’ve been getting caught up in the world of Tiffany Bluhm and the work that you’ve been able to do in the past several years. And in particular, I’m holding here your book She Dreams. For those who are listening, you can find it on all the places, like the Amazon and stuff that Seattle gave us. And I wanted to talk about this poem you write in the beginning. A couple lines from it are just, I think, really beautiful. It starts like this:
“She dreams of life abundant, so free and wild. She dreams of the Father’s call to her, ‘Beloved child.’ She dreams of teaching, leading and serving. She dreams of a journey of which she is deserving. She dreams of grace, mercy and hope. She dreams of thriving, not just learning to cope.”
A, I need that printed on something pretty and hanging at my daughter’s room. B, I love this theme of dreaming and how you capitalize that in the book, and I’m wondering, why do you think it is important for us, as followers of Jesus, to dream?
Tiffany: [6:09] Yeah. As followers of Jesus, we are co-heirs. We are contributors to human flourishing and human renewal. That can look like our example of working at Starbucks. That can look like serving as a volunteer. It is not attached to this perceived success that capitalism or consumerism defines. It is defined by a holy God who loves us and purposed us. And I think so easily we are comparing our right-now dreams to those who, quote/unquote, “made it,” and in reality we’re all on a journey, and it’s to be respected and honored and savored, even when it’s small beginnings.
So as a minority woman growing up in a rural community, not having a lot of examples of representation of women of color killing it or doing what they’re doing out loud and loving it, I kind of wondered, “Where do I fit into this narrative?” And for me, those feelings were satiated when I found Jesus. Because I didn’t feel like an Indian in America, especially growing up in the shadow of 9/11 and, with my appearance, being treated differently overnight as I was coming of age. And then when I went to India, I didn’t feel like an Indian in India, and so I was like, “Where do I fit?”
But at the table of God, I found my place, and I can tell you right now, it was like a water hose was turned on. Everything became clear. I understood why I was here. It was a really beautiful moment, and to add to that layer, I was abandoned at birth and grew up — I was adopted by a white family. And so having this third culture experience, wondering, “Where do I fit?” And then to discover, “I’ve fit all along in the kingdom.”
I think so many of us, we define ourselves by our inadequacies and not by our advantages, and not by our belovedness and our worth, because that’s the currency of the world. But when we dream with the dreamgiver, when we’re willing to live openhanded to what He might have, sky’s the limit. Sky’s the limit. And if we need the social proof, we can just go back to the Old Testament and New Testament. And especially in She Dreams, I really feature Moses; he’s just such a political, cultural, ethnic underdog in every way, shape and form. And sometimes I think we romanticize his story in such a fashion that we do not identify with his weaknesses, and we don’t identify with his fears as he dreamed of great things. So here we are, wondering, “How do I move forward? How do I dream?” And I think especially, Michele and Julie, amid this pandemic, we’re like, “Where do — What am I supposed to do? I feel like I can’t get started. Time has gone forward but it’s stood still at the same time.” So I think it’s the perfect time to step back and dream new dreams, and it’s okay if there has to be some necessary endings to dreams we’ve had, especially if they were defined by other people.
Michele: [9:01] Mm. My gosh.
Julie: [9:02] Yes, I love that. I especially love — in the poem, you talk about, “She dreams of teaching, leading and serving.” And it just seems like that’s such a — not only is it, “She dreams of having a full life,” but she dreams of being an influencer, of teaching and influencing others and of leading, having power and serving.
Tiffany: [9:29] Agency.
Julie: [9:30] Yes! Agency. So, tell me, when did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer and a speaker and a teacher?
Tiffany: [9:40] I first just have to tell you one silly thing because it’s too good not to share.
Julie: [9:42] Okay!
Tiffany: [9:42] I finished my manuscript, I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut, and then I was so excited that I finished my 55,000 words that I was like, “I’m gonna eat pizza and write a poem,” and that was the poem. As I finished the book, it was just all the juice and energy and excitement squeezed out into those 10 to 12 lines of that poem. So that’s where that came from, I just wanted to quickly share that.
Michele: [10:04] The Pizza Hut poet.
Tiffany: [10:08] Girl, you know it!
Julie: [10:10] That totally rhymed, you guys.
Tiffany: [10:13] I’m not a poet very often, so I couldn’t even make that rhyme if I was trying.
Michele: [10:24] No, it’s great.
Tiffany: [10:24] My desire to speak and write and be a voice that can help shape culture, especially Christian culture, roots really birthed out of, again, my awkward adolescence of kind of not fitting and wondering, “Where is my space?” I grew up in the height of the Evangelical church movement in the 90s, and I gained a lot of good out of that. I felt taken in and dusted off. And home life wasn’t easy, so that was really — I found a lot of good and a lot of grace and a lot of hope and a lot of vision for my life.
And then growing up a little more, especially late teens, I had opportunity to speak. I knew I had the gift of communication pretty young, and I enjoyed it. It was a pleasure. It’s a pleasure to communicate. For me, written, spoken, broadcast, podcast, all of these things — because words change worlds, and I believe that and I know that to be true. And so many of us are a product of what we’ve read. Because if we didn’t have access to healthy and whole voices in our lives, many of us found that through books. And so as a recipient of that, the opportunity to be able to have something good that can outlive and outlast me was pretty humbling and exciting.
And a mentor once said to me — and this changed my life — I was so nervous about writing, it felt so — forgive, now that I’ve been writing for this long — it felt self-indulgent at the time. I’m like, “Oh, who wants to read my work? Or who’d even want to pay for my work?” And she looked at me and said, “The Proverbs 31 woman knew what she had was good. Now, you don’t have silk curtains, but you have words, and they’re good, Tiffany. You have to see them as valuable as others would see them, and see them as something worth putting out there, and the energy and the effort and believing that it will be a blessing to other people.” So it really changed my understanding of, “This feels like it’s all for me to — ” No. I’m doing this because I want to be a blessing. I want to expand the horizons of others and shortcut the distance to where they may want to go.
Julie: [12:25] Mm, I love that. You know, dreaming fits so well with our theme for Created For, and it’s all about people finding their place in God’s story and trying to figure out, “What is my gifting? What is my contribution to the world and to God and his glory?” So we want to help followers of Jesus find their place in God’s story, and when we think about calling and purpose, we know — at least for me, I know that part of it is understanding of — which connects the ethnic identity — our heritage. And I know that you said that you’re Indian-American. Can you share, how does your heritage or your ethnic identity and your background influence that part of you?
Tiffany: [13:01] I would say I woke up to my ethnic identity very slowly through my 20s and 30s. And it was something that was slow to come to the forefront because, as previously stated, I grew up in a very rural, white community where I spent most of my time contorting myself to be accepted by the dominant culture. And I look back and I see how much I diminished who I am or the interests or even just my skin, my hair, even just my physical appearance in order to fit in — which is a common refrain among minorities in dominant culture.
However, as I now look back, I see how almost bilingual I was. To be a person of color and be very comfortable and excited to be with other minorities and being able to share those experiences, how we’re treated and operate through the world differently. But then also to be able to sit and influence dominant culture, I think that’s valuable as well. So now, looking back — and Dr. Michelle Reyes, who is an incredible Indian-American woman who is an expert on this topic — her books and her influence and her work has really helped me see, “Actually, you’re bilingual. This is a really useful way to invite people into the kingdom, and it’s a really useful way to connect with becoming all things.”
And so, it’s been a really healthy way for me to process how I operated through the world. But at the same time I’m not allowing myself to diminish who I am and my ethnic identity in dominant spaces. And so, in my 20s and 30s, when I really came into seeing the fullness of how my ethnic identity is at the intersection of my identity in Christ is understanding, A, I don’t have to apologize for it, and B, it’s helpful and it gives a vibrant picture of the kingdom in a way that somebody else can’t and just like I can’t for them, and really understanding that my identity in Christ is not at odds or against my ethnic identity, it is all one and the same. And I know that sounds so silly now, but that was rocket science to me, y’all. Because when you spend your whole life trying to fit into dominant culture, the subconscious shame that will slowly creep into every thought, action, move is really hard. You so badly don’t want to be stereotyped or treated poorly that you’re willing to sacrifice a part of who you are to be accepted.
Julie: [15:32] Yes. I totally understand and feel that. I’ve felt that, yeah, that is a similar journey as an Asian American, yeah.
Tiffany: [15:41] Yeah. And I think especially in the church. Because, sad to say, sometimes mainstream spaces are a little further ahead on this than faith spaces, and so there’s so much room to grow and to connect. I mean, I love what Richard Ayoade said. He’s like, “We’re not going after diversity. Diversity is a New York subway car. We’re going after multi-ethnic connection.” And that is such a beautiful picture of what could be.
Michele: [16:10] I really like that. Multi-ethnic connection. And… so, I’m the blonde in the room right now here, but I have multi-ethnic kids, because my husband’s half-Asian, and so my daughters look more like you than they look like me. And I hold that reality with so much love and so much trembling, honestly, as a mom, knowing how difficult it is in this world for women of color, how much I as their white mom make that contrast even more obvious in their life. And I’m writing down all your words because I long for a better world for my daughters, and your advice is something I’m taking to heart. And I’m curious, as you think about your experience growing up, and then even in your parenthood today — I saw in another interview, you talked about, your family looks like the United Nations a little bit, which made me smile a lot. In your family today, how have your experiences in growing into your ethnic identity shaped your parenting?
Tiffany: [17:31] Oh, wow, what a great question, Michele. It has been such an influence in how I parent. My oldest is Ugandan. My youngest is mixed. And again, I’m Indian, my husband’s white. So, really, when we walk out in the street, people think differently and have stereotypes about each one of us. And my youngest could be white-passing for some, and some others who around minorities more would assume he’s Middle Eastern, because he’s so light-skinned but he has Indian features.
And so, it’s very interesting even just the way — I can get choked up just thinking about it — the way that my sons will be treated differently in this world. They’re brothers, same upbringing, same home, and their perception of the world is going to be drastically different based on the color of their skin and the appearance of their facial features, their height and their presence. And so, I think for me — I mean, race is such a normal conversation in our home and ethnic identity and who we are and how we’re perceived and how we can perceive others. That is such a normal conversation at our dinner table that it’s not like, “Oh, during AAPI month or during Black History Month we should talk about this.” It’s, “We don’t have a choice not to talk about this,” you know?
I remember telling them a story — and I’ll share it because it affects my parenting — when I was in high school, during 9/11, I was working at a retirement facility, and I was the server for all of these World War II vets, who all of a sudden decided they couldn’t have someone who looked like me serving their food, and so I was relegated to the dishwashing station and lower pay. And you know, you’re so young that you’re just like, “Wait a second.” But we see that amplified on a grand scale because of people’s discomfort and stereotypes. So trying to explain to them every day, “What does it look like to humanize another? What does it look like to be in proximity?” Because you don’t hurt people you love and know. You don’t speak ill of people you love and know. So for me it’s all about proximity. And my kids go to an outrageously diverse school. My son’s best buddy is Ecuadorian Jewish and his mom’s an immigrant from Ecuador and moved here in her late 20s. My youngest, his best buddy is Chinese, and they’re an immigrant family as well and speak perfect Chinese, and now my son is begging me for Mandarin lessons.
Michele: [19:48] How fun!
Tiffany: [19:48] But just exposing them to the beauty, the beauty of other ethnicities, and understanding that no ethnicity is a monolith. Like, we are all different. Not all Indians have the same experience. And so, even teaching them now, “This group of people, just because it’s been my experience or someone you know, that doesn’t count for all of China or Korea or this experience in America or the diaspora.” So being able to not only value other ethnicities but also to not narrow down to, “This is what this ethnicity is based on my knowledge, understanding, and the books my mom reads to me.” So constantly having the opportunity to explore — and on the budget we have, we really make it a priority to travel and witness other cultures, even if that’s just to the international district, which we happen to be 11 minutes away from, and eating there and engaging there. So opportunity and proximity, I think, are key in my parenting, because I did not meet another person of color until I was 13 years old.
Julie: [20:47] Wow.
Tiffany: [20:48] And I was like, “Wait, there’s more of us?”
Julie: [20:51] Wow.
Tiffany: [20:51] Also, this is before the Internet, y’all! This is before the Internet. It’s not like I saw people. It’s not like I was able to find my affinity group online or anything like that, you know?
Michele: [21:01] Yeah, growing up in the 90s in rural America, that is just unfortunately the reality, you know? Like, I grew up in rural America, and there were two students of color at my school who were adopted into white families, so I didn’t meet an adult —
Tiffany: [21:17] You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Michele: [21:19] Yeah, I did not meet an adult person of color until I was practically an adult. And that is mind boggling, and especially to my life now it’s so different, because I do live in the most diverse zip code in Ohio. And a lot of what you’re talking about with proximity and opportunity, I try to prioritize that in parenting too, but I’m all the more encouraged to do that because it’s really good for all of our kids, not just our kids who might be ethnically ambiguous to interact with other cultures and to grow in their own ethnic identity and understanding, but for all of our kids we need to give them more proximity and opportunity to learn about different ethnicities.
Tiffany: [22:10] Yeah, and wisdom and knowledge on how to approach the subject if they’re interested, because kids are curious. They want to know, “Where are you from?” And so giving them the language and knowledge of how to broach that. “Oh, what does your family value?” or, “What do you celebrate?” You know, giving them those starting points. I mean, I don’t remember ever growing up celebrating Chinese New Year’s, and both my kids had Chinese New Year parties in their schools. You know, it’s just like, “This is so exciting!” They were like, “This is awesome! Can we do this again?” You know, they’re like, “Well, what other holidays can we celebrate from other ethnic groups?” So it was just a beautiful moment for them to be like, “This is beautiful. This is exciting. The world is glorious and varied, and each person is to be seen for who they are and where they’ve come from and celebrate their culture.”
Michele: [23:03] Mm, I love that. And to me, that’s the redeemed kingdom that we’re headed towards. You know, that picture in Revelation of every tribe, tongue, and nation —
Tiffany: [23:14] Tribe and tongue! Yeah.
Michele: [23:15] Yeah! That is goals, right there.
Tiffany: [23:19] Come on, amen. Amen.
Michele: [23:21] So I do want to talk a little bit more about your experience from the past few years as an author. So, She Dreams released in 2019. And then … you know, I don’t know, craziness in the world, a pandemic, all this stuff happened not too long after that, and even while you were writing your next book, and I’m curious, in light of the past few years, if you were able to go back to where you were when you wrote this book, She Dreams, is there something you wish you would add, almost like a — I don’t know, it’s a lot of pressure to be like, “Do you have an afterword that you would like to add to this?” But I guess like —
Tiffany: [24:05] Well, I also wrote it four years ago, so I’m like, “Wait a second, let me — ”
Michele: [24:08] Oh my gosh, you’re right, so that’s true, with a book it’s not like — Yes, you wrote it, but then it released —
Tiffany: [24:12] Yeah, it’s not fresh to me. I did just review the manuscript in preparation for our time, and so I’m like, “Actually, it is nearer top of mind than usual.” If there was anything I could add … You know what? I think I left it all on the floor for that particular subject. Everything I had in the tank, I think I left it all out on the floor.
I think dreams — and I say this in the beginning, so it’s not new — but I think dreams can feel indulgent, and they can feel self-serving, as if only people who are selfish would make time for their dreams. There’s too many things pulling me in different directions. I think especially if you’re a woman, you’re like, “Oh, I have so many commitments. How dare I dream for myself or think that I can make time for myself?” You know, even just the idea of the self-care movement can feel so like, “Oh that’s only if you have time and money,” and it’s like, “Actually, do you want to feel like you have breath in your lungs and love your life? You’re gonna need to make time for yourself.” You know, we all struggle to take time for you or spend money on ourselves. And so I would probably weave that even more through, of thinking, “This isn’t just for resourced women, this is for all of us. We can all start somewhere. We can all begin with the end in mind and work our way backward.”
Michele: [25:28] Mm. That’s good.
Julie: [25:31] So good.
Michele: [25:32] Yeah, oh my gosh. Okay, so you were writing a new book during the lockdown, and that’s also sitting here on my desk, and we’ll talk about that in a sec. But I’m curious what it was like to write a book in the middle of this pandemic. How did what was going on — both the pandemic and the racial reckoning in America, let’s be honest, and in the church — in light of that, the world around you, how did that shape your writing and maybe even your platform in general?
Tiffany: [26:08] Yeah, let’s start there. The majority of my work, the book I wrote before She Dreams is called Never Alone, and it has been Christian women’s spiritual growth, spiritual formation, and then I took a hard, hard right turn when I wrote my latest title Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up. Because it was a product of being a woman in these faith spaces, mainstream spaces, and saying, “I believe I’m a woman of valor, I see myself as a child of God and as a co-heir and co-creator.” But that’s not our treatment.
And so it really explores abuse of power at a woman’s expense, that’s really what we zero in on in that. And it was a little on the nose during the pandemic to witness all of that in the news. Ravi Zacharias was exposed while I was writing that and as my book released. Obviously the racial reckoning, and I include that: the intersection of race, gender and class, and how that really plays into a woman’s experience, because our experiences — again, all women don’t have the same experiences! So being able to understand how we’re treated and how we operate through the world, and we deserve better. Why? Because we’re co-heirs with Christ.
And so really, the racial reckoning. The abuse of power on display where women were brave to speak up, the Me Too movement, the Church Too movement. And the world shuts down, my kids are homeschooling, it was not great. Hashtag #NotGreat, that’s all I’ve got to say. I had to fight for it. I had to fight to see that come to pass, and believing it was for this cultural moment, and that it was needed and necessary and gave common language and vernacular for all of us to use to describe our experiences.
Because so many of us, especially who grew up in faith spaces, we are more groomed to accept abuse of power than if we hadn’t grown up in faith spaces. And that is a problem. That’s a problem. So being able to expose that and see how we can architect safe spaces for both men and women — no matter where you fall on egalitarian, complimentarian, the fact of the matter is abuse of power is a problem, it’s toxic, it’s harming. And this abuse of power at women’s expense, it’s the number one reason that women move jobs. It’s the leading reason that women move jobs. And it’s the number one reason that women ages 20 to 40 are leaving the church. Abuse of power at a woman’s expense. So if we know this, we have work to do.
Michele: [28:39] Yeah.
Tiffany: [28:39] And so I explore how and why it happens, and just the conditioning that so many of us live in, even when we mean well, so it’s a deep dive.
Julie: [28:48] So I’m just curious, for you personally, when you witnessed this or experienced this, what type of questions did you have to ask yourself and, even, of God? And how did that keep you going with faith? Because I can only imagine what kind of disillusionment you may have felt, so would you be willing to expand on that?
Tiffany: [29:06] Absolutely. Yeah, and I also just want to tie that in with Created For and dreams because A, I was in my dream job. I was doing what I believed I was created for. I had a senior role at an organization, and I discovered abuse of power at the highest level. And the questions I asked myself were A, if this is true, what is that going to mean for me? Because that’s what we do, we want to self-preserve. Because 90 percent of us, this isn’t going to happen to us, but we’re going to witness it. And we have always put the onus on the person being abused to take action, and the reality is it actually belongs to the 90 percent of us.
So for me it was, how does this affect me? How can this person destroy me if I blow the whistle? Who knows? And, obviously, why, God? Why, Lord? And I just want to also say, professionally, relationally, this was in a faith context; my whole world was tied up in this organization, this system that I was in. And I was the breadwinner for my home. And I had a new baby. I mean, just couldn’t have been worse timing to discover this impropriety.
And then, the major question that really took up the bulk of my mind is, what did I do to contribute to this? What in this system and in this culture did I contribute? Because clearly, this person thinks they can get away with it. When someone thinks they can get away with something, everyone else has contributed to make them believe that that’s true. Yes, they’ve abused the power, and the responsibility lies with them, but monsters aren’t created in a vacuum. They’re created in poor cultures.
And so for me, it was examining, what is my role in this? Lord, what do you want me to do? Because I am an enneagram 3, diplomatic, I don’t raise a fuss; I value connection and everyone getting along above everything else, while I do value achievement. And so, again, in valuing achievement, I knew what I would lose. I had a senior role, I had a staff, you know, it was just terrifying. And then, knowing, professionally, what this person could do to me and smear my name if they thought that they were under attack, if you will, rather than just being held responsible for their actions. And then also, caring, again, for the relationships of the people who’d been harmed. I had to really ask myself, and my encouragement is to ask all of ourselves, what are we willing to let fly so we can have our place in the machine? Because it might not be worth it. And it might be worth it to raise the banner and the collective agency of women — I talk about this a lot in She Dreams and it really does carry over in Pray Tell, it’s very much the 2.0. It just gets real, real, real quick at what women actually face when we do want to pursue our dreams. And we’re more likely to lose our professional credibility, our financial standing, our connections at somebody else’s doing than our own actions. A woman in her 20s, 30s, 40s is more likely to lose everything, not because of her action, but because of a man abusing his power. So I’m done being a sitting duck, and I’ve very much endured the worst of anything I could imagine happening. All the worst things did happen, and I’m still here. And when we look at history, we look at the first women’s movement over a hundred years ago up until this modern day, when things change, it’s because women realize they were stronger together. And so my call is that, not only would women grab arms and demand better, but that we would look men in the eyes and say “We are partners for human flourishing. We are partners, and we are co-creators, and we have to work together if we want to see everyone’s sons and daughters live in a better state.”
Michele: [33:03] Oh my gosh, yeah. I think I’m hearing this more recently. I don’t think I’d ever really — the idea that abuse or sexual misconduct, you know, all these things we’ve talked about, Me Too, etcetera, are more about power than about sexual tempation.
Tiffany: [33:27] It’s all about power. I don’t think sexual temptation has anything to do with it. Research shows the more — specifically for men — the more access to power a man has, he will shed the virtues that got him to a place of power in the first place, and he will take on narcissistic tendencies that we often value as leadership qualities. And, again, research shows that they see themselves as more desirable, invincible, and sexually attractive, and they can have what they want, and then they act on that. So we have a clear path of how this happens, which means we can prevent it.
Michele: [34:02] I think it’s really important to underscore, this is not just an issue for women. This is an issue for all of us because we are all suffering. We are all suffering because of this misbalance of power, abuse of power, hiding of sin. And, yeah, I’m over it too.
Tiffany: [34:20] Yeah, we can do better. We can do better. When we know better, we do better.
Michele: [34:24] Yeah, and I can’t help thinking, too, how we started our conversation talking about dreams, and now we’re talking about the worst nightmares. Right? These horrible things that happen. The thing that I — I have lost sleep over thinking about my daughters and what would I do if this thing that I know has happened in the church or to a friend happened to my daughter — I would lose my actual mind. Right? And so, bringing us back to how in the actual world can we have hope and dream and move forward together in light of these horrible realities that we are still sitting in today?
Tiffany: [35:15] Yeah, well, forgive the simplicity of my answer: I think we first need to listen. We are so quick to judge and stereotype, and we will assume somebody is lying or it’s not the whole truth, because if it’s true it could happen to us. It’s that Just-World Hypothesis in action, being like “Nope! The world is just, and if it isn’t, it should be; you must have done something to deserve that.” And that narrative, we’ve seen since the first century when mainstream culture influenced the church rather than the church being the one to influence culture. And so that idea that it’s a woman’s fault has gone through — and we saw it in the purity culture movement, but we know that that was just a repeat of what had gone before. And then now we find ourselves here in this modern day. Listening is so powerful. When we listen to someone’s story, it builds empathy in us. It builds connection and vulnerability and safety in them. Not saying, “Are you sure?” Not saying, “Well, it couldn’t have gone down like that,” or, “But he’s such a kind man — ” you know, all of the things that we do. And we do this to girls as young as 10, 11. It’s hard to find a middle school girl who hasn’t been harassed in school. They say only 9% of girls haven’t been harassed by the time they finish middle school. 9%. That’s not okay.
So when we think of what it takes to listen, I think we first are able to see the full grasp and see our role in it, and then we lament, “What have we done to create cultures and societies where this is okay?” We have to lament. We have to admit when we’ve got it wrong and have true sorrow for this, whether it’s a faith space, mainstream, like … lament is for all of us at this time. And then we have to love, and love looks like justice. Love looks like pursuing safe spaces, even when we’re seen as, “Oh, you’re being combative,” or, “Oh, you’re just charging a hill — ” Actually, no, this is for all of us. This is for our sons and daughters to grow up in a safer space. And, you know, we want to send off our daughters and sons to university knowing that it’s safe, and thinking that that is the ripe ground for abuse of power and sexual harrassment and misconduct? No no no no no. We’ve got to move this back. We’ve got to listen. We have got to lament. And we have got to love, and love looks like justice in universities, in churches, in business and education and politics.
Julie: [37:24] Tiffany, I wish we could talk forever because you have so many great words to say and so many great thoughts, but I have one question that we ask all of our guests and I’d love for you to just think through and answer, which is about people finding their place in God’s story and discovering who — what kind of impact they can offer us as how God created them to be. And so I guess the question is, for anyone listening who might want to take their next best step in that, what might you have as an invitation for them?
Tiffany: [38:04] Ooh, what a great question, and it is an answer that I feel like I’ve been mulling on for about six months, and it’s this: when we think of our trajectory, our calling, our dreams, what we are created for, often we’ll get an image or a vision or an idea of what that might be. And as time goes on, 10, 15 years later, when that hasn’t come to fruition or when we are ready to dream new dreams, we can feel like we’re outside the call of God, and we have put this idea of calling in such a small box that we’re paralyzed with fear that we are somehow divorced from the calling if we go do something else or pursue something different. And the reality is, liberation is ours. You don’t have to be what you thought you’d be 10, 15 years ago; it’s okay to see your skills, gifts and abilities translate to a myriad of ways, and it doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure just because you’re dreaming new dreams.
Michele: [39:03] Having the faith to dream God-sized dreams in the midst of living in a world that is broken and continually serves up nightmares … I just can’t stop thinking about what kind of faith Tiffany has put on display and how good God is for empowering her life, for helping her use her voice to encourage and shape so many people. And I’m just so thankful to that person who encouraged her to use her words and to bring them to the world because they are a blessing to us all.
You can find Tiffany’s books wherever books are sold. They are all out there, ready for you to buy. And also, her podcast with Ash Abercrombie called Why Tho is a delight. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite listens, so … also you can find that where all the podcasts live.
Created For is hosted and produced by Cru. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe, rate or review it wherever you listen. For more resources to continue your journey to living out your impact, check out the show notes on our website, https://www.cru.org/createdfor, and follow us on Instagram @_createdfor. Thanks for listening!