While I was still a student at The Seattle School, I remember hearing one of my professors lecture on the categories of Prophet, Priest, and King. He said that a prophet “dreams of that which will one day be. He exposes and invites. And he is not liked. We try to silence prophets with shame by telling them that they are too emotional and/or that they just see too much.” In another class, when covering similar material he said, “The prophet is the guardian of hope. He envisions glory as it will one day be.”
Let’s change all those pronouns, shall we?
I think these statements sound exactly like the soul of a woman.
Most of the women I know see well. They can name what they see – even if at great personal cost. And when they speak what they see and reveal what is true, many attempts are made to silence them – culturally, institutionally, and interpersonally.
So what would it be like for women to intentionally embrace this persona as prophet as theirs?
For me? I would know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the potential for misunderstanding, dislike, and harm would be high. And I would still speak. I would name what I see, reveal what is, and repeatedly invite hope – functioning in ways that feel profoundly more true and consistent with who I most truly am.
The bind here, of course, especially when we look at examples of prophets – particularly in Scripture. is that a) none of them are women; and b) none of them lived lives we’re remotely interested in! They did crazy things and had crazy things done to them. They weren’t heard. Or if they were, they were seen as practically diagnosable. Their own self-doubt was mammoth and their questions of the God who had purportedly “called” them were laden with conflict and angst. All because they spoke the truth. They called the people back to the God they’d forgotten. They spoke with kings and confronted corruption. They brought about change. And usually at great cost to themselves.
Yes, that’s the bind. But it’s also the beauty.
Choosing to see myself as a prophetess changes the way in which I choose to engage. It alters my readiness and expectation of potential harm. It increases my stamina, courage, and capacity to persevere. And I consistently hold on to hope and continue telling the truth. Beautiful, to be sure.
Rise up, prophetesses. We have much to say, much to offer, and redemption to bring about!