When church teaches you to be meek and mild.

Now that I’ve left our old church, I’m better able to see its impact on me from a distance.  Of course, I can’t blame everything on it, but the teachings did influence me greatly.  As I’ve branched out to selling more soaps, creams, and detergents, I’ve opened my own Etsy shop separate from my husband’s and reached out to a couple of stores to see if they’re interested in my products.  I’ve made sales here and there and every time, I’ve heard the same thing: I’m not charging enough.  I spent a while this week changing labels to my store’s email address and updating listings, and I tried to consider what people have told me.  I factored shipping into my prices (if you’re interested in town, please make a custom order so I can adjust and remove shipping costs) and clicked “publish”.  I couldn’t shake the guilt for charging for my labor and not just supplies and postage.  One of the boys’ teachers found out that I pet sit and dog walk and wanted to know my prices, and I couldn’t bring myself to give her a number.  Why is it so hard for me to market myself?  I think it has a lot to do with meek and mild being seen as noble and desirable traits in a woman growing up.  As a kid and as a teen, I watched and I learned.  There were basically three kinds of women in church.  Some were career women, not meek and mild in their professional lives, but always second to their husbands and within their family as well as within church.  Some were not career women, but dedicated homemakers.  They also understood their place in the power dynamic of the church, including required attendance at women’s bible study.  If you weren’t working, obviously you had time for such things.  The third were women who either challenged the status quo by not automatically doing gendered things willingly, like cooking for potlucks or teaching the toddler bible class, or who spoke up or against men in church as if they believed they were equal and had a right to do so.  Their career or lack thereof made no difference in public perception of them.  The first was the most respected because they were viewed as contributing to society and maintaining proper church structure.  The last was actively causing dissension and stirring the pot.  Though it isn’t necessarily my former church’s fault for me having trouble advocating for myself, it sure didn’t teach me to how to do it or that knowing how was a valuable skill to learn and maintain.  Instead, subservience was praised.  Learning to sell a product you believe in doesn’t entirely go well with sitting quietly and learning through observation.  I’ve always felt that people should be paid well for their work.  If I can’t afford a product another maker has designed, I don’t judge them for overcharging, because they aren’t.  My ability to pay for something has nothing to do with whether they deserve to be paid for their time and effort.  I just need to learn to apply this same belief to myself, but that’s easier said than done, especially when you weren’t taught to be valued for yourself but for how good you made the others around you feel and look.

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