Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Dr. Chris Kiesling joins me on the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast today. Dr. Kiesling is the Professor of Discipleship and Human Development at Asbury Seminary and a Seminary alum. He studied identity formation for his dissertation and one of the classes that he teaches at the Seminary is “Women, Development and the Journey of Faith.” In today’s conversation, we talk about identity, the formative milestones in a woman’s life, theories and biblical passages that attempt to map a woman’s development and the beauty that is found when we share our stories with others.

Let’s listen!

Dr. Chris Kiesling, Professor of Discipleship and Human Development at Asbury Seminary

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey everyone, welcome to this week’s episode of The Thrive with Asbury Seminary podcast. I’m your host, Heidi E. Wilcox, bringing you conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people just like you who are looking to connect where your passion meets the world’s deep need.

Heidi Wilcox:
Throughout the month of March, we have been focusing on women leaders and pastors and talking about what they’re doing, what God has called them to do and ways that we can empower them. So today, on the podcast, we have Dr. Chris Kiesling, professor of Discipleship and Human Development at Asbury Seminary. Dr. Kiesling did his dissertation on identity formation, and teaches a class here at the seminary on Women Development and the Journey of Faith.

Heidi Wilcox:
So today, we talk about identity, the milestones that are important to a woman’s life and how we can think about those theologically. We talk about theories and biblical passages that attempt to map a woman’s development. And we also talk about the beauty that is found when we share our stories with others. So let’s listen.

Heidi Wilcox:
So Dr. Kiesling, I’m very grateful to get to talk to you today about your class on Women Development and the Journey of Faith. And so we’re not just going to talk about your class, of course, but a variety of topics related to that, too. So I’m just very grateful for your time today.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
My pleasure, Heidi. Thank you.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So what piqued your interest in this topic in the very beginning?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I think like a lot of vocational callings, there’s probably early influences that then get reinforced throughout my academic life. So I’d have to say that having a very influential mother was probably the origins of being interested in women and their developmental kind of journeys. But I think there was some real significant kind of events that happened along the way.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I grew up in a Lutheran Church and so it was very conservative church and questions there were not whether women could preach. We were asking questions about whether women could light candles and be acolytes in the service and whether they could wear pants to worship. So I think those early upbringings maybe have created some questions for me later on when I especially encountered Wesleyan theology and support for women in ministry.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
But when I was in graduate school, I was at Texas Tech doing a degree in human development and family studies. And the mentor for my dissertation was also the head of the Women’s Studies Department. And so there were places at which her particular academic interest also fueled some of the, not only the classes that I was to take, but also created a methodology that allowed me to look deeper into the study of women.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So as a student of human development, almost any kind academic study that we came across was always asking questions about, are there gender differences that show up? And so simply my inquisitiveness about half of the population became significant in that regard. And then, I think, missionally as I’ve tried to become a more global Christian, just trying to think about the critical role of women across the world. And so the plight of women, whether it’s the girl child or the significant issues that women encounter with sexual abuse, with human trafficking, with the feminization of poverty, even female genital mutilation, some of the kinds of issues that show up, I think, have a missional imperative force as Christians.

Heidi Wilcox:
What’s it like to be a man and study women’s issues? Because you mentioned in your church when you grew up, it was Lutheran and they were discussing whether women can wear pants and things like that. I think it’s really… Is astute the right word? I think it’s really astute of you to, I’m not sure that’s the right word. Anyway, I think it’s really interesting that you would think about that as a guy because it was something that totally didn’t affect you at all. And I feel like, I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like it’s easy if it doesn’t affect you to not think about it. So what is it like to be a man and study this?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, so it’s awkward. Sometimes it’s silly. Occasionally, it feels brave and redemptive. And I think it’s increasingly strategic for me. And I think it’s because just, in some ways, it was just a kind of initial exploration and I wasn’t sure where it would take me and so I even started class the first time that I taught it saying, “I’m not sure I’m the person to be doing this and I have no idea where this will take us.” But in the midst of teaching the class and hearing responses from students, I think that there is something significant in a historically male dominated profession to have someone of influence and perhaps of status giving support, trying to understand, giving attention, calling attention to the journey of women, I think, seems to me to be increasingly strategic to exemplify that in my own life, but also to kind of model it for the community.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So if you take most of the attributes of what’s privileged in our society, white, male, tall, educated, I fit most of those kind of attributes and so there were seasons in my life, I think, where I carried that with almost a sense of shame. But I think the importance is that when you occupy those positions of influence, can you use those for the sake of helping to elevate the status of those who oftentimes don’t share those kind of positions. So I hope that there’s a strategic influence connected with it as well.

Heidi Wilcox:
What are some ways that, because you were talking about the strategic influence that men can have, what are some ways because all men can’t be professors and teach? What are some ways that men can use their influence to support women or other people who may not have the privilege that they do?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I think, again, in some ways, it’s the comportment of who we are. So again, how in our daily lives, what happens in marriages to support the dreams and the hopes of women? I think in some ways, it’s giving a listening ear and what you pay attention to and what’s given significance. I think there are places too that not restricting… Well, on a kind of more systematic kind of place. The questions of, across the world, do women have access to education? Do they have access to health care? Are there places at which they are given the opportunity to dream, to think about what they can engage in life? I think all of those become significant kind of questions.

Heidi Wilcox:
You said something else that I want to touch on briefly too. You said you carried your privilege with shame, which isn’t for the best for any of us to carry shame. How did you, and we can’t be who we’re made to be if we’re carrying shame, I think. How did you overcome that sense of shame? Because it’s nothing to be ashamed of, you can’t help if you’re privileged.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I think in some ways it was realizing that, so it was kind of an ideological place. I think it was sometimes hearing myself preach and realizing that what I was creating was a sense of shame in other people simply because I was working on that in my own kind of journey. And I think it’s to try to hold the positions of power or influence, not in a way that you hold those with dominance over someone, but instead try to use those as opportunities for advocacy or elevating those who don’t have the same kind of privileges. So I think that’s helped. And I think sometimes speaking about the sense of self that you carry, and having other people speak truth into those kind of places as well.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So some of it was I may not have been aware of, but I do recognize it. I’ve been in places in theological circles where I internalized this sense that what everybody in the room was trying to overcome was me, whether it was feminists that were speaking into against patriarchy, or whether it was white privilege that was there in terms of racial reconciliation, or even LGBT concerns that as a heterosexual male, what does that mean?

Heidi Wilcox:
So you did your dissertation on identity formation, is that right?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Right.

Heidi Wilcox:
Tell me about your dissertation and what you discovered as part of that?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Sure. So again, my dissertation used a methodology that was coming out of the Women’s Studies Department. And so the Women’s Studies Department was keen on studying the lives of women and so they had adopted a methodology they called the role related identity interview. And so it began with simply a circle on a sheet of paper, and we would hand it to subjects and say, “If this represented the most important areas of your life, divide this pie diagram up into what those would look like.”

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
As part of the interview, we would also have demographics. And so we would ask on an initial survey if you could identify the four primary roles that you play in life. And so for a lot of women, this would be a daughter, a wife, an aunt, a lot of significant roles. The interview then itself would begin by asking about those particular roles. What’s most important to you about this particular role? Have you made changes in those roles? And if so, were those a result of developmental changes? Or were they intentional kinds of places that you engaged?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
We would ask them, if you had to give up one of those roles, which one would you give up first, and which would you hang on to?

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s a hard question.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
It was a really interesting question, yeah. And then, of course, when we connected to it also a sense of spirituality, it really opened up some very unique kinds of insights, I think, into a woman’s journey. So oftentimes when we explore spirituality, we do so thinking about what kind of spiritual experiences have you had? Or what kind of disciplines do you practice? Or perhaps even what kinds of engagements, what are the locations that you practice your spirituality?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
But to think about it in terms of roles opened up a whole different kind of perspective. So to give a couple of illustrations, I interviewed one young woman who gave a lot of emphasis to her baptism. And we initially, if you just hear someone say that baptism was really important to me, you tend to think about it in terms of the theological kinds of implications that it has. Well, if you put it in the context of her whole interview, it was pretty apparent that she lived most of her life to win the favor of her parents and baptism was connected to a camp that her parents had been deeply involved with through the years. And so it was really more of her owning this kind of sense of I want to be favored in my family and this is what’s typical and expected, and had really relatively little kind of theological understanding behind it.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Another place where we interviewed a woman who was a Wiccan. We were curious, I was curious, about how does she come into a commitment to being a Wiccan. As she unfolded her story, it was evident that from the very earliest day, she said that her kind of historical recounting of being born was that she came out of the womb and her father looked at her and when she was a female rather than a male, he let go of an expletive. And so she said that most of the time, there was a double standard in her family, that her brothers could win the favor of her father with coarse humor. But if she ever went down that track she was just disciplined for it or even just ignored.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So it was kind of natural for her. She said that she in college looked for, she explored different kind of world religions and found that very few of them had any sense of the feminine in the godhead, whether it was Islam or Christianity or Judaism. So she’s in a college class and studying Greek mythology and found that there were goddesses in Greek mythology that she could identify with. And so she became attracted to these Greek goddesses. So there was just this real interesting kind of place of trying to overcome an early woundedness in her femininity that took her almost to this kind of grandiosity of saying how do I feminize the divine and find it in Greek mythology.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So some of those stories just in terms of a woman’s sense of self, and how does it connect for them what do they do with that, that sense of self, I think became very intriguing to me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, yeah. Yeah. How did you then went to go on and be an advocate for women?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, great question. So as a Christian, I think, theologically, when I think about worshiping the Triune God, I think that all aspects of the Triune God advocate for women. So whether it’s understanding the creation story in such a way that, at least the way I read the creation story, it leans toward mutuality between a man and a woman. That all of the creation mandates are given to both men and women. That they are imaged in the creation story as being kind of co-caretakers of the garden.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So you get, first of all, the God the Father in creation, creating man and woman with equality and with mutuality. Then Jesus, I think, oftentimes is pictured as elevating the role of women when he encounters them, whether it’s driving out voices of accusation and lifting them in society or giving them a prominent place in his own kind of followership and discipleship. All the gifts of salvation are available to women as well as to men. And then I think the Spirit has poured out upon our men servants and our maid servants so the distribution of gifts, spiritual gifts, are given, I think, to men and to women. So in some ways, I think being an advocate for women is very consistent with what you find in the scriptures in all aspects of the Godhead.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
One story that just sticks out really significant to me, I was preaching once on, I think it was John chapter four. And I had a woman in the congregation who came to me afterwards and she… This may have been the best compliment I ever got to preaching. She said, “Blankety-blank, blank, Jesus was a feminist.”

Heidi Wilcox:
I love that.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And she started to unpack her story and she had been deeply involved in the feminist movement, but it had taken her to a lesbian relationship, to a place at which she said at one point she woke up and she was in a drunken stupor. Not that that’s always where following feminist literature or the journey takes people, but she had wound up in a very deep, dark place and said she woke up, she had been in a drunken stupor. She found herself covered with her own urine and so now was finding a way back to redemption. And so this piqued her interest. We met and she gave me access to her life and we started that journey together.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
A few years later, I had the opportunity of baptizing her and seeing her into marrying her male high school sweetheart.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And so it was just a journey, I think, that encouraged me to say, what’s here in terms of Jesus’s capacity for redeeming and elevating the lives of women?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit more about that. Because when we talked off the podcast, like talk about doing this interview, you mentioned some theories that you had used in your study, in your dissertation study, and then also some biblical passages that maybe what you already mentioned, but maybe a few different ones. So I wonder if we could talk about those theories and how they help inform us but also, maybe a little bit where they lacked some completeness.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Sure. Yeah. So being a student of human development theories, I was particularly interested again, in terms of how theories are both descriptive, but then they’d become prescriptive. So theories attempt to try to say, “Can we look at the lifespan and find out what they tell us about the way somebody lives their lives, but then they also become kind of maps for how we journey through life.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So when we want to say, am I on time, am I doing what I’m supposed to do, we oftentimes look for some kind of place of saying, how do we gauge that? So when a baby’s born, a doctor will oftentimes hold up a child and say, “Is their speech developing at the right places? Are they physically at the right locations?” In the same way, I think we do that even in our adult lives and say, “What’s the developmental task that I’m supposed to be about? Am I following the map?”

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So these theories become significant force in terms of both guiding us but creating this kind of gauge force. So what I became aware of is that some of the theories that I was most embedded in had developed out of a study of primarily men. So Piaget or Kohlberg did most of their studies on young boys, followed them through the lifespan and then developed theories that normalized human development.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So there were those who came behind them. So Kohlberg became particular, developed six stages of moral development. One of his students was Carol Gilligan. And Gilligan found that women historically didn’t fare as highly as men did on his assessment of moral reasoning. And so she brought a critique to Kohlberg and said it’s not that women are less morally developed, it’s that they have a preference for reasoning differently than the men do. And so developed a kind of corrective to his theory.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Similarly, Erikson was one of the primary theoreticians that I used for my dissertation. And Erikson’s theory is built a lot of theories on growing autonomy, on individuality, on development. So in Erikson’s theory, you get a progression from identity formation. The next stage above identity formation or identity resolution is intimacy. And so the theory predicts that one needs to get through a process of identity resolution in order to enter into healthy relationships. So Erikson was critiqued oftentimes by feminist theoreticians that said, for women, is it always that achievement or identity resolution happens before intimacy? Or is there a place at which women are always engaged in the process of being anchored in real relationships? And so this process of identity and intimacy happen kind of simultaneously.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So there have been those now who have provided theories that focus on different concepts of women’s issues and brought us a more complete picture. Or perhaps simply changed the lens of the camera to focus on other things. So Baxter Magolda is one who’s talking a lot about self-authorship, how do women author their own lives. Belenky and a group that is now a little bit dated, but talked about, what’s a woman’s orientation to knowledge, does she see herself as being a contributor to knowledge or simply a receiver of knowledge? So some of those scripts then that are provided by theoreticians are, I think, really valuable and really interesting in terms of where they point the camera, and what they kind of help us to see.

Heidi Wilcox:
What is the relationship, if there is one, between these theories and biblical passages that support women’s issues or at least discuss women’s issues?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, I love that question. And it’s one that I continue to explore and not sure I have a lot of answers on. So what I think studying those theories and becoming sensitive to the fact that a lot of early developmental theories were written by men, that they were studies that examine the lives of men, and then kind of normalize those for man, just raises the question of, is there something in terms of a corollary when we look at theology and spirituality?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I think in some ways, you have a similar kind of phenomenon when you think that most of the biblical writers are men. When we study church history oftentimes, we’re studying prominent men who occupied the roles of theology. And so is there a bias? Are there some places at which men’s journeys get told in such a way they get imposed upon women? So maybe one of the earliest or interesting kind of places would be if the journey of spirituality for a lot of men is this place in which they ascend with a particular ego and at some point coming to Christ and hearing the call of self-denial or self-sacrifice, that living close to Christ is giving up of the self for the sake of the others. It almost kind of slays the ego and calls for this place of surrender.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Well, if you start with women’s stories around the world, oftentimes they begin in an inferior status. That most of their journey has been one of limitation and restriction. And so oftentimes the issue for women is not so much kind of slaying their pride as it might be a sense of self-worth that is not highly developed. And so when you ask the question of, what does a call to self-denial or self-sacrifice sound like to a woman, it can be almost a self-abnegation. So there are some writers who are beginning to say is how we nuance these notions of pride, of worth, of self-denial, not that we would ever want to dismiss the words of Jesus and the command that he calls us to…

Heidi Wilcox:
Right, for sure.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
… but to try to understand the story and how are those words internalized and what do they mean I think has some pretty interesting kind of applications when we think about the theological implications.

Heidi Wilcox:
I remember too in the story we talked about with The Giving Tree. And so I wonder if we can talk about that for a little bit because I think it fits with the… because the tree in the story is a female, and the tree gives and gives and gives. But then, I guess what I want to ask is, we can talk about that, but then how can women find themselves if that’s the right word, and you can correct that language too because I’m totally open to that. How can women find themselves on their journey? Because giving is important, like service is important, but how can we find that balance too?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, love the question. Thanks for bringing it up. Yeah. So one of the interesting exercises we do in class is to take The Giving Tree. And the background, as I understand it, behind The Giving Tree is that the author Shel Silverstein was Jewish, but grew up with a Christian friend. A Christian friend asked Shel at one point, “What do you understand about Jesus? What do you think about Jesus?” And Silverstein took a couple of weeks and said, “Let me get back to you on that to that question,” and in his response wrote The Giving Tree.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So The Giving Tree has been a beloved story.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh yes, it’s sweet. Love it.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And so I always want to be careful not to knock on somebody’s-

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a sweet book.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
… appreciation of it, but the reality is for some feminist writers is the interesting kind of place, that as you mentioned, the tree is gendered. So the tree is a female and the little boy who comes to him of course is a male. So, just taking it from if you offer a critique of it, the boy is always a taker. He never arrives at a place of mutuality in terms of giving. The tree is a female. The boy is given the freedom to go off and to explore in the other world. The tree is grounded and stays in one place. The tree constantly gives of its self to the boy and so the limbs are taken off, the top of the tree is cut off.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So in some ways, the metaphor of being decapitated, having one’s arms taken off, giving to the point at which, in the end, the tree is stumped. It’s essentially ruined. Its life is taken away from it. And so this would raise some real concerns in terms of what’s the script that’s being told through this particular message.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Now, there have been some that I think even students object to it and say, if this was an image of a marriage, it of course raises concerns. But is it a story about a parent-child relationship in which we wouldn’t expect necessarily mutuality, but some kind of unilateral giving then maybe there is something redemptive about the story. But at least it evokes some really good conversation about how do we think about the scripting that we give to women to always be the caregivers in society.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So, one particular theorist that I mentioned earlier, Carol Gilligan, you asked a question about too, how do we kind of help women think about their own development in that regard?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes, yes.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So Gilligan suggested that women oftentimes start their journey with a sense of not wanting to be hurt. And so you think about young girls, especially in middle childhood or early adolescence, and how much of their energy is spent making sure that they don’t violate the social codes that lead them to feel excluded or hurt.

Heidi Wilcox:
Absolutely.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Or something else.

Heidi Wilcox:
Absolutely.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
And displease people. At least that was my story.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, yeah. Okay. That’s a good word, yeah. So not wanting to displease someone. And then Gilligan predicted that there would be this moment or this kind of season, in which the script in which they’re living into is is what she called a maternal morality. This place in which what it means to be a woman is to take care of other people. And so this place of coming to this kind of disequilibration or this place at which there’s dissonance between that I don’t want to be hurt, but my role is to care for other people would create this kind of developmental crucible that would move her to say my role is to become a mother, a caregiver, to look after the feelings of other people, to show this kind of care.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And so, this would take her to a place at which she would own that caregiving kind of role. But Gilligan in particular found that there was another kind of place in which a woman would sometimes feel this kind of cognitive dissonance. And for her, it was particularly significant to ask questions like, “Is it appropriate, is it right to pay attention to a person’s feelings? Is it right for them to have dreams? Is it right for them to give expression to what’s important to them? And inevitably if you would find women saying, “Well, of course it is. It’s significant.”

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And then she would turn the question, say, “Is it right for you to feel that?” And oftentimes she found, especially 20 or 30 years ago when she was doing her research, that women would say, “Oh no, that feels very selfish to me.” And so this next kind of developmental stage was kind of saying, “Can you bring yourself into that place of care?” And so this balance of caring for one’s self and caring for someone else, or what she called caring for truth, became this next developmental stage.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So we can talk about that using a lot of different language of healthy boundaries or differentiation is some of the language that we use in counseling kind of places. So where does a woman kind of hold on to herself at the same time that she’s practicing this care for other people, I think become a real significant place in the journey.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I want to ask, how can we do that? How can we hold on to the care for others and also the care for ourselves?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Maybe in some ways, again, like a lot of development, it starts with an awareness. So are there places at which neglecting my own kind of self-care and simply again having different maps, different language for thinking about that may be an early start? I think, again, that what I understand of women’s journeys is oftentimes anchoring in relationships. You said some place of that so is there a holding environment, is there a holding relationship of someone that says it’s okay to feel that or to make that kind of move. Or when you do start suggesting that and it gets ignored by other people, is there somebody that still gives some affirmation, some place to that?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And spiritually, I think it may also be this place at which exercising particular spiritual disciplines where you become more mindful of the kinds of anxieties that you carry, the place in which, can I… psychological authors will call it self-soothing, that might be an important kind of dimension. I think what oftentimes happens is that in those caregiving roles, there’s also a lot of societal scripts that say, especially at midlife, you’ve got to be the perfect mother and you need to have the perfect career.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And so oftentimes women find that their own evaluations of their lives don’t measure up. And so there’s oftentimes this sense in which I’m not the perfect mother, I don’t have the glitzy kind of career and so you internalize a lot of shame, a lot of guilt because of it. And so I think having conversations or having places or people that bless and affirm the journey that you’re on and then also give permission to try to say it’s okay the way you’re living in that but how do you also appropriate a sense of God’s blessing and favor and goodness in the midst of that can become a real important kind of thing. I’m not sure I’ve gotten to answer your question, Heidi, but does it get close to it?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Okay.

Heidi Wilcox:
No, I think that’s really good because I think I’m not at my midlife, but just thinking about just the scripts that I live. I couldn’t write them out necessarily, but just thinking about I’m not at midlife, but there is that pressure to be like the perfect wife and do all these things, too. And so I think that was just really helpful for me too.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Good.

Heidi Wilcox:
So what are some of the differences between the ways that men and women are socialized? We’re just jumping right in.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, that’s such a fascinating kind of question. So I mean, right, we come into the world and there’s one chromosomal difference and yet we go through the life course. And there’s so many different places that that happens. So I think what I’ve learned from human development is about the age of two or three, when language starts, that there’s some recognition that a child has of gender categories…

Heidi Wilcox:
Really? That early.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
… and how they begin to fit into that. So, even at that young age, we start to say, “You’re such a good girl” or, “You’re being a bad boy.” And so there may be particular kinds of socialization processes that are already happening in the language that we use to talk to young children. What we do know also is that even the way that we handle children are different. So women will oftentimes cradle a baby, of course for breastfeeding or holding them closer to face. Men will toss the child in the air. So the toys that children play with, the kinds of messages that we give to them at a very early age, I think begins to create this kind of sense of gender differentiation.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Interesting in our society today is the question of gender constancy. So, literature historically has told us at about the age of five or six, I think it is, that children oftentimes develop a sense of that I fit in this gender category and that my behavior should align with that particular sense of what the stereotype is for that. Of course, now we’re finding a lot more fluid categories in terms of gender. And so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that sense of gender constancy.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
When we come to adolescence, of course there are different messages and different scripts that are playing. So we, from a sociological analysis, it’s oftentimes we start one class by asking, “If you’re looking at a middle school playground, what do you observe?” So you oftentimes find boys are engaged in competitive kind of games. And oftentimes, they’re about establishing dominance over one another, some more aggressive kind of play and oftentimes in large groups, whereas the girls are huddled in groups of two or three and probably doing more face-to-face talking, then engaging in particular activities together. So we find some differences in terms of the gender socializations happening at that age.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Adolescence and early young adulthood, the kind of messages that we give to men and women about their sexuality become vastly different. So women are given messages about being the caretakers of their own sexuality. Boys oftentimes, young men oftentimes are rewarded for sexual exploits or something else. So very different messages that we give at that particular stage. And then perhaps we could follow that on through the life course and say, what are the social scripts that happened? What are the results of it? So even the place at which I think oftentimes the messages to women have been submissiveness. So men are socialized, I think, to expect that they influence conversation, whereas sometimes women, the message is that they’re to be more passive or submissive in kind of conversations. And then there are all sorts of double standards that show up in the workplace.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So we have one handout that I give to students that simply suggests that different kinds of expressions. So if a man expresses anger, how’s it read in the workplace? If a woman expresses anger, what’s she regarded as?

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s totally different.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah. If you go out to lunch with your boss if you’re a man, it may be that you’re having a meaningful kind of conversation about work. Are you held suspect if you’re a woman and go out with your boss and so all sorts of kind of double standards, I think, that show up in terms of the socialization process.

Heidi Wilcox:
Are there components that are specific to a woman’s identity? Or are those components the same male or female to identity?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So now I may start mansplaining. I should probably turn that question around and ask you. So components of identity, yeah. I certainly think there are places at which we could say there’s a lot that’s similar between men and women in terms of their identity components. But the contents of those or the shaping of the sense of self may be pretty significantly different.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So again, to go back to the identity interviews that we created. We would oftentimes ask questions that I mentioned, first of all, about the roles that one plays within the family. But then we would also ask questions about about work role, about friendship, about sexuality, about spirituality. So I think you can make the argument in some ways that the different facets of the identity diamonds are similar between men and women in terms of that we all have those particular facets. But I think there are some real differences then in terms of the components of those.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So, and maybe one way of looking at identity that I’ve heard is that you kind of think about it as a little game where you had a lot of the different tiles almost like a mosaic. And so in some ways, I think we may have similar tiles, but the color of those tiles or the significance of it may be vastly different. So if we ask the question of what is a man’s greatest emotional need and how does he go about meeting that particular need, I think oftentimes that turns as to saying that men oftentimes have a great need for achievement, for prominence, for respect, and will oftentimes find that in their work roles. If we ask that of a woman oftentimes, we might say that a woman’s greatest emotional need is to be cherished, to be loved, and finds that more in relationship.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So there are some pretty significant kind of nuances that perhaps men start with a sense of independence and reach for relationship and women start for a sense of relationship and reach for independence. So, the components may be similar, but the way that they play out in terms of a person’s identity may be pretty significantly different.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. How do the various life events that women go through, like whether they’re single, married, have children, no children, and then kin keeping. I think that’s a really interesting word, how do all of them, and there were more that were mentioned, but I only listed a few, how did those affect a woman’s narrative?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So, again, I can lean easily into mansplaining and get myself in trouble in terms of assuming that I understand this.

Heidi Wilcox:
We’re trusting in your expertise as a researcher and to share this information with us, too.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So what I sometimes do in class, this may bleed into a further question is to ask students to use 3M notes and to put on the board what are the milestones in a woman’s life, and so it looks like one of these insurance commercials when we get down and we get a sense in terms of where did the prominent kind of events show up in a woman’s life. So there again, if there are men in the class, so we occasionally usually have one or two brave men who take the class along with it. So they also… I give them a different color and we put their 3M notes up on the board as well. So oftentimes there is clustering around particular life events that are similar, but some of the things that you mentioned in particular, so menstruation, so pregnancy, so menopause are, I think we could say, unique kind of experiences in a woman’s life.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And so, let me catch the question again, the way that you’re asking, Heidi.

Heidi Wilcox:
I was just saying, how do the various life events that women go through, and I mentioned those, how do those things affect their narrative?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Sure. So in some ways, we could ask, are there normative kind of life events? There are patterns, I think, in which some of the developmental stages of life tend to be pretty similar between men and women. And yet there are other events that either are unique to a woman’s developmental journey or there are also places at which a tragic or difficult life experience disrupts the normative kind of life course and creates some real changes.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I think, for instance, pregnancy I think is a huge one if you engage the mother role. So oftentimes, men when they’re going through the life course, oftentimes the more successful they are, the more likely they are to have family.

Heidi Wilcox:
Interesting.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And so there’s almost this kind of assumption that a woman comes alongside to support a man’s occupational journey. So women oftentimes give up more than men do when they get married. And women will very seldomly engage in a career decision without first giving consideration to how will it affect the primary people that surround me, whether it’s my husband or my children. And so, oftentimes there are real significant choices when a woman is deciding between marriage and career or especially raising kids. And then of course, the transition when if she has been a mother for the last 18 years or perhaps longer, and launches children and then tries to decide what happens with this particular regard.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I think we are arriving at what we oftentimes call greater plasticity. So there’s more opportunities for women to say, “Can I have both a career and children?” but historically, that’s been a difficult kind of place. So what we found for Daniel Levinson and his wife did a book on the… They first wrote a book on the seasons of a man’s life, but then came back and looked at the seasons of a woman’s life. And one of the things, again this was 20 or 30 years ago, but one of the things that we’re uncovering is that women who in their 20s decided to raise a family oftentimes wanted to leave their mark on the world after they launch their children. Of course, I think we could argue that launching children is leaving a huge mark on the world, right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes, it is leaving a huge mark.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
But nonetheless this kind of balance of do I engage in a career of some kind. And so women who chose family oftentimes wanted to have a career afterwards. And women who chose a career first oftentimes came to their 30s and 40s then wanting to have families. Now, I think it’s the case that a lot of women want to do both. And if they have the funding of good financial resources and perhaps also psychological resources, that seems to be a door that’s continuing to open for them. But it oftentimes is also a journey that engages a lot of role strain. And men, I think, are becoming more engaged in family and nurturing kids.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, definitely.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
But there’s also some reality that, especially when kids come, we tend to go back to pretty traditional kind of roles. And women are oftentimes working the second shift at home, where men oftentimes don’t engage as much in nurturing and childcare and those kinds of things.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, I don’t have children, but one of my friends was saying that they have two and when their first son was born, she said, “It’s great and I love my child but my world stopped for…” I think it was two years. And she said, “My husband’s just went right on.” And she was still working and everything. But she said, because of my commitment to my child and everything, and not like he wasn’t helping. I’m not throwing him under the bus, even though I’m not using names. But she said, “Because of things with my child that I had to leave at a certain time to go pick him up or things like that, that I’m getting passed over for promotions.” And she said, “It’s great and I like being a mother, but it has affected me and my husband completely differently and what it means for our life outside of the family.”

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Good. I might just mention too, Heidi, for the men who may be tuning in that although we are seeing in some ways more involvement in family, there are some different dimensions of the way that that engagement is happening. So I think we’re finding that men are spending more time with their families. And yet, the earliest place that we tried to engage that was saying, is that a sense of presence? And so that’s an important kind of element. Are you present in your children’s life?

Heidi Wilcox:
What does it mean to be present?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Good. Yeah, exactly. Right. So presence is one thing but you can be present and be totally preoccupied with what you’re doing, right. So occasionally, I’m walking through the park and I see men who are present with their kids, but they’re still answering emails or text messages.

Heidi Wilcox:
And women too, to be fair. Like it’s not just guys.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Sure. Yeah. So, another way, a deeper level is engagement. Are you not only present but are you engaged? That is, are you emotionally available and present in your kids’ lives? But then there’s even a third level of I don’t know exactly what we’d call it. But kind of the sense of looking ahead and making sure that kids have what they need for the day. So oftentimes what we find is when it comes to who’s thinking about, do the kids have the clothes that they need, who’s taking the kids to their doctor’s appointments, who’s preparing the lunches for the next day, and almost inevitably, we find that that’s still a woman’s domain and a place that men might not be engaged.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I think even when we talk about what is the investment in the life of children, there’s some pretty significant gender differences. And oftentimes, again, it’s the women who are carrying the deeper and more involved kind of place with their children.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Do you think because again, I’m only married, I have no children. But do you think it’s because sometimes women don’t want the man’s help? Because I know I’ve experienced that like in sometimes the thinking ahead that I do just for our own day, lunches and things like that, sometimes my husband may want to help, but I have my own plan for how this should work. Do you think that affects it at all? Or is that something completely different like that the woman thinks, “Oh, it is my job to take care of these children and I might say I want help, but I’m not sure exactly I want your help because it’s releasing control”?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Sure. Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think there are places at which even theologically, we would say, what’s the role of a man, what’s the role of a woman? So especially I think in evangelical circles within the last 30 or 40 years, we’ve kind of elevated a particular version of the nuclear family and even grounded it in kind of biblical context. So there are some that would say that a man’s role is fundamentally to be the breadwinner. And the woman’s role is fundamentally to be the homemaker. I think we need some broader categories of what it means to be a provider and what it means to be a caregiver giver. That, for me, I think creates some more fluid categories in that regard.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I think there’s freedom to say, what if we let the relationship determine the roles rather than the roles determining the relationships, I think can be a helpful formula. That came from my predecessor, Don Joy, that would oftentimes teach that in classes. But I’ve also become really aware through… I teach someone fatherhood and so especially with teaching men who are imprisoned and incarcerated, that I think there’s this real reality that sometimes the access that they have to their kids is very much determined by the mother of their children being the gatekeeper. And so whether it’s a control issue or whether it’s a sense in which if I don’t sense that you’re highly competent as a man to give the care that I think my kids deserve, that I think there are places at which women especially carefully protect, and in some cases, rightfully so, the access to their children.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
But we’re oftentimes coaching men who are locked up to say, you’ve got to be working on your relationship with the mother of the children, in the same way that you’re working on your relationship with the kids. And so sometimes that’s the simple kinds of things of or even with businessman. When you’ve been gone on a business trip, ask your wife, “What have the kids been doing? What do I need to ask them about?” That can give you an avenue for getting access back into your kids’ lives?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Because it will be hard to reintegrate either way. Yeah. So tell me about your work with those who are incarcerated.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
This came out of a conviction of thinking about the important role of fatherhood and what’s happened to fatherhood in our culture. And then also recognizing I think that, especially in Wesleyan theology, we oftentimes one of the distinctives of Wesleyan theology maybe regarding God is father, rather than in some other theological streams in which God is primarily sovereign. So Jesus’s favorite name for God is Father. That all of the early New Testament writers begin their writings with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so I became very intrigued with this role of Father, both theologically in terms of our calling God father but also the significant role that fatherhood played kind of in redemptive history.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So we oftentimes talk about the patriarchal narratives in these early stories in Genesis all tend to focus upon the patriarchs. The matriarchs are there but we oftentimes don’t elevate those as well. So that’s also part of this women’s development classes to give some thought to that. But it struck me as really interesting that after the creation story, you have the story of men particularly who are living pretty perilous or have pretty perilous outcomes in their lives, whether it’s Cain and Abel or this character named Lamech, who pledges to avenge himself 77 fold. Or the story of Noah. You have almost these subsequent kind of stories where men East of Eden are trying to make a name for themselves, ultimately ends with the story of Babel.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Then this follows with the call of Abraham, and part of the call of Abraham is to become a father and to bless the other nations. And so it occurred to me that if it’s significant that in our Christian tradition that we call God father, how is father being represented in culture today? And I think we could make the argument that fathers are becoming increasingly kind of superfluous that some of the historical roles that they played have been chipped away. And so men perhaps, one author’s characterization that men are kind of fleeing from their commitments. And so what we know is that a lot of children are, about half of children may be raised in homes that by the time they’re 18, they’re in a single parent kind of family. So I also became concerned with how are men engaging the fatherhood role.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
One author that I came across 25 years ago, David Blankenhorn, wrote a book that he called Fatherless America. And he claimed that the fatherlessness was the greatest social ill of American society. And so you do find that most of societal problems can have some rootage in what happens in the father relationship. So there’s enormous amount of father woundedness in our culture and this absence of fatherhood. So combining those I think becomes an interesting kind of place to spend some energy.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Blankenhorn would argue that if you look historically that very seldom do women abandon their role as mothers. But there are places that men historically and perhaps in particular, in our culture, seem to be abandoning their children. Why is that? The argument can be made that women are biologically connected to their children through gestation, through nursing. But what compels a man to stay connected to his family, what compels him to be connected to his wife and kids? So there may be also some biological kind of connections there, but Blankenhorn argued that it’s really whether or not there’s a social script that compels men to own their role as fathers and as husbands.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So my sense was we’ve got a theologically authoritative message that can offer that to men. But we haven’t created it very well or we don’t always communicate really well. And so I’ve been working in this sense in that regard and trying to say, “Theologically, what does the biblical message call men to? And what’s the importance of fatherhood in redemptive history, and therefore what it might be significant in terms of our own kind of journey?” So I think it’s just real interesting, again, that God calls us and when he wants to redeem the world, that he calls this man and in a sense, takes him through this journey of shaping and forming him to become a father of all nations. And so I’ve been working with that some.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So it’s interesting to hold on to a sense in terms of trying to say what’s significant about fatherhood and patriarchy at the same time that I’m working on women’s development and journey to faith and to try to hold those in tandem, I think, becomes a delicate but important kind of place to work.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. But they’re both very important at the same time.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
I want to back up just a little bit because you talked about the milestones that women go through. And we talked about motherhood being one of them, because it is an important milestone. But what about those women who can’t have children or don’t or choose not to have children? And, yeah, let’s talk about that for a little bit.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, that’s a difficult one to unpack. But of course, it plays so significantly in the biblical narrative.

Heidi Wilcox:
Right, because I think what I want to get at is that I do not want to minimize motherhood in any way. But in the reading I did that you gave me to prepare for this that talked about motherhood being one of the noblest professions or the noblest profession. And so that was what sparked my question, and I totally appreciate my mother and all the mothers out there, but there are women who can’t have or choose not to have children. And so what does that say to them?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah, I think we’ve got to be very especially sensitive in that regard. So when you open the issue of infertility in a congregational setting, I’ve oftentimes been surprised at how widespread the struggle is to have children or even the kind of decision making that’s happening there. And it comes across in several places. Of course, it’s in couples who are struggling with infertility. It happens I was a singles pastor and so was surprised to find that single women at about age 30, it seemed, would oftentimes kind of be wrestling with, “How do I bargain with God and I’ll give God a few more years to bring a man into my life and if not, my biological clock is ticking and I feel this strong maternal instinct. So how do I go about this?” And so the consideration of, “Do I go to a sperm bank, do I adopt children, do I enter into foster care of some kind?”

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So again, how women live out that journey and trying to say what are the theological messages we give, I think is really significant. And, of course, there are some real interesting biblical stories. So infertility that gets answered by the, initially, the birth of Isaac. So laughter becomes this kind of place of the surprise of God in the midst of that. Other places I think at which any kind of disability that somebody has may be a vocational calling and so I think there are places at which I think we have to handle it very delicately in terms of being very empathetic to women who are on that particular journey or men as well. But to also say that there are places at which when something has been disabled, that there is the place for the glory of God to be manifest. And so are there places at which engaging that journey in a way that actually calls attention to goodness, and it’s almost maybe a redemptive kind of suffering. But I think there are places at which it can lead to glory.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So that probably needs some more unpacking, Heidi. But that’s at least some initial thoughts in that regard.

Heidi Wilcox:
No, that’s good.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And what I’ve had to do in that regard is almost say that I’m not the person that can speak into it. But to find narratives of women in particular who had been on that journey and allow what they’ve written about it and tell their own story to be what informs it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I’m glad you mentioned narratives, because you recently taught a class called Women Development and the Journey of Faith, but it’s on a two-year cycle. So everyone listening who probably now wants to go take this class can’t do it for two years. But what are some ways that you have found helpful for women to find beauty in the expression of their stories?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Oh, what a nice way of asking the question, Heidi.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So what I’ve done with the class is to create a lot of opportunities for women to tell their own stories, so a couple of the exercises we do in there-

Heidi Wilcox:
Why do you think it’s important for women to tell their stories before you talk about giving space for them?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I think it’s because women stories oftentimes get ignored. So simply to create a space in which those stories are valued becomes significant. I also think what a lot of the literature tells us is that the women’s journey of finding voice of self-authorship, of owning their own story and kind of becoming a place where they can author that, again, I think we have to balance that with this kind of overarching umbrella of saying that all of us engaged in the Christian journey are finding our story or becoming a part of God’s story. But still, there’s a place, I think, even in finding our place in God’s story in which what’s the unique way that God has gifted me to contribute to that story still becomes a part of that.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So what we oftentimes find is that when we simply create space for someone to give a lot of thought to their own story, to lay hold of how has God been active and present in my life and in my journey to ask the question that Parker Palmer asked of what’s my life trying to speak? I think all of that can be its own kind of developmental kind of place of recognizing that. And simply because when we start remembering and when we see the faithfulness of God through our histories, we lay hold of those places where there’s something that feels unfinished in this regard, it increases that kind of awareness.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So what we’ve done is a couple of different exercises. I asked the women in the class or the men too, but to go through kind of each epoch in your life. So think about childhood, think about adolescence, think about your young adulthood, and draw a picture that represents who you are, and also who were the significant relationships around you at that particular place. If possible, find symbolic kinds of ways of representing that. And then we asked them to unpack their stories. And afterwards then we invite the class to not to put any kind of criticism on it, but just to make observations. And so sometimes that journey can be very interesting.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So example I found, one sequence of stories where in childhood, this particular student drew herself in the middle of a field with this joyful, carefree kind of expression. And at adolescence, she drew a picture that outlined herself and had things written inside of her body. So there was much more of this interiority, this place of being self-aware, but also this place perhaps in which some things were censored. And so what happens in that journey becomes interesting just to pay attention to.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Another student who used circles to represent the significant people in their life and to see who moved in and who moved out of the circle that represented herself and what was external of that circle and what was internal to the circle. She used tears in each of her pictures. And there were eight tears in the early picture and then four and then two. And so we could see this cutting in half of the tears that were there as she came to this deeper ownership of herself. So that’s become part of that journey.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
The other places that we’ve invited artistic kind of expressions in the telling of the story. And I was just absolutely amazed at what some students have done. So one student that was particularly interested in painting and in windows. At the time of our class, her grandmother’s house was being torn down so she found a way of preserving the window from her grandmother’s house.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s beautiful.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
And then painted on the different window panes different seasons of her life. Another that was a seamstress created what she called a discipleship dress for her daughter. And so all of the different kinds of fabrics, all had symbolic significance on what she was communicating about the importance of discipleship. Another student who took a sandbox and buried things in the sand and as she told her story, she unearthed these different kinds of symbols that represented important parts of her life. Telling one story through the four movements of a symphony oftentimes was a very interesting kind of illustration.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So again, just some remarkable kinds of ways so when you ask a question about beautifying a woman’s journey, I think especially engaging in some kind of artistic expression, makes this kind of place in which as weaving together perhaps my own life story, can it be done in a way that’s almost artistic in a craftsman kind of craftsmanship. And then even as the master weavers oftentimes take the imperfections and turn them into something of beauty I think is just fascinating to see again how women kind of compose their life stories. And they write them in ways that convey some sense of beauty to them.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, that’s lovely. For those of us who want to learn more, what are the top two resources that you would recommend?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
I think there are places which I found really valuable. The narration of women’s stories in the Bible. They have been fascinating. So we use Ellsworth Kalas’s book, Strong Was Her Faith, and I think that’s been a valuable resource. But women have also taken different biblical narratives and just done some marvelous things with them.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
We open the class with a book from Carolyn Custis James who wrote a book called When Life and Belief Collide, and I want to mention this in particular, because I think it’s an interesting frame to the class. So Carolyn Custis James is in a different faith tradition, but she’s one of the first women who enrolls in seminary in her particular context. And she says in the early days, one of the professor says to her, “Carolyn, you know there have never been any great women theologians.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh my.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
She’s both challenged by this and in some ways kind of affronted by it. So she goes on this journey of tending to say, “So why is that the case? Is it that thinking has historically been more of a man’s kind of journey and women haven’t?” But she takes a story of Mary and Mary, we find three times in the Scriptures, and all three times she’s at the feet of Jesus. So Carolyn Custis James says, “What’s the significance of theology for Mary?”

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So the three distinct kind of places are very interesting because in two of those, she’s criticized. Once by her sister and another time where she breaks the vial of oil, and so she’s criticized. She’s at the place of disapproval of other people. The other time though is where her brother dies and Jesus pauses before showing up and coming to the… So now she’s angry at Jesus. So her disappointment now is not other people being disappointed with her. She’s disappointed in Jesus.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So Carolyn Custis James says, “What’s the significance of theology, of being at the feet of Jesus for Mary in the midst of that?” And so she says that theology becomes vastly significant as Mary lives her own journey, especially at this point at which how does she handle the disapproval of other people, but also how does she handle this place at which she’s waiting upon God, in which her own narrative of her life is unfolding and Jesus doesn’t show up and doesn’t behave the way that she thinks he should.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So is there significance to a woman’s theology and how she goes about navigating her own challenges in her own life. So I think that’s a fascinating kind of place. And students have taken different stories. So student that took Rahab to think about her own journey. Another that took the story of Hagar and notices that Hagar, the first time she’s addressed not as a servant but as her own name is when she’s in the wilderness with her son and it’s God who shows up and calls her by name.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So one source is doing a character study of different women in the scriptures and finding who’s written about those and how do those illuminate life. And then maybe the other would be to pay attention to especially news feeds today because I think we’re in this interesting historical moment where women’s stories are coming to the forefront and women are ascending into different places of power and influence and prestige. So whether it’s the World Health Organization calling attention to the needs of women or whether it’s the significance of women in community development across the world, oftentimes what we’re finding is that the key in some ways to development depends upon empowering women in those particular journeys or recognizing the health issues that are now becoming a little bit more acceptable to talk about.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I came across an NPR story recently that said the mental health issues for women during menstruation, during pregnancy, postpartum and during menopause are very significant and about one in seven women struggle with depression in some of those transitions. And yet even a lot of our mental health care worker or I’m sorry, our OB/GYNs are not trained in mental health issues. And so we’re trying to develop this broader kind of sense of understanding of what women’s mental and emotional kinds of responses are when they’re passing through those transitions.

Heidi Wilcox:
Absolutely. And we need to pay attention to those things, of course, too.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
I have one more question. Before I ask that, is there anything that you want to talk about that I didn’t know to ask?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
We’ve probably been more comprehensive than you wanted me to be, Heidi, so I don’t think so, but thank you.

Heidi Wilcox:
No, this has been great.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Good.

Heidi Wilcox:
I loved it. So because this podcast is called The Thrive with Asbury Seminary podcast, what is one practice, it can be spiritual or otherwise, that is helping you thrive in your life right now?

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Good. If I can mention two.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh sure, please.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I taught a doctor ministry course with Dr. Michael Matlock, and Michael is Anglican. And so I was just intrigued is that he brought up in class several times his practices as an Anglican, especially with the Book of Common Prayer. So I’ve been exploring for the first time the Book of Common Prayer, and especially praying in corporate kind of settings. So I don’t get to engage in it all the time, but have just kind of committed at least weekly to be a part of praying through the Book of Common Prayer corporately.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So that’s been very interesting, first of all, because the Book of Common Prayer has such beautiful biblical and narrates kind of the whole of the biblical story in prayer. And to do that, again, in corporate kinds of responsive readings have been interesting. And then I’ve also found the Asbury hymnal just to be a treasure trove. So I’m musically challenged.

Heidi Wilcox:
Same.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
So I oftentimes have to go on YouTube and find the tune setting or find some rendition, but especially seasonally to try to say, how is the Christian year celebrated, experienced. And so because so much of my activity tends to be cognitive to engage the affective side of what the hymnal offers me has been really meaningful.

Heidi Wilcox:
Those are great. Thank you so much, Dr. Kiesling for taking the time.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
Appreciate this opportunity so much, Heidi, and again, just the opportunity to call attention to the journeys of women I hope is really valuable.

Heidi Wilcox:
I’m so excited to learn more and I know our listeners will be too, so thank you.

Dr. Chris Kiesling:
All right. Thank you.

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to today’s conversation with Dr. Kiesling. I really enjoyed getting to learn more and appreciate the expertise that he brings. And I’m grateful for the gift that his work is to the world. So I hope you guys enjoyed it as well. As always, you can follow us in all the places, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @asburyseminary. Have a great day you all and go do something that helps you thrive.