The Heroine’s Journey, Part Ten: Heroine Integrates the Masculine and Feminine

Post Author: Pastor Courtney R. Young

Note: This post contains a brief mention of infertility. 

This devotional is the final installment in a series exploring the kinship between the Heroine’s Journey as established by Maureen Murdock, my lived experience of ministry as a female clergy person, and a few familiar fictional characters. Each devotional ends with a blessing for the Heroine at that stage of the journey. In the previous post, we examined the ninth step when the Heroine learns how to assert their authority and expertise on their own terms.

In the tenth and final step of the journey, the Heroine recognizes and embodies the paradoxes of life with grace and humility: self and other, brokenness and wholeness, wildness and consistency, individuality and community, vulnerability and power. They appreciate the wondrous complexity of the world and move through it with confidence. Having been made, unmade, and remade, they understand the demands of transformation and how to guide others through the process toward healing and wholeness. 

Personal Story

I have most definitely not yet reached the fullness of my journey. I expect that it will take years until I might become a sure and transformative presence in the world. I’ll refrain from guesswork here because I have been known to surprise myself. Instead of talking about myself, I want to leave you with an example of a biblical heroine at her apex: Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, mother of John the Baptist, and cousin of Mary, Jesus’ mother.

The detail that communicates to me that Elizabeth has been made, unmade, and remade into a transformative agent (likely by her struggles with infertility) is that she remains in seclusion for five months upon learning she is miraculously pregnant (Luke 1:24) . It was not a cultural practice for a newly pregnant woman to enter seclusion, so this is a decision that Elizabeth makes for herself, regardless of other people’s expectations or opinions. When she finally becomes pregnant, she does not rush to rejoin her culture’s script for her. She did not hurry out to meet with the other women in her community to share the news of pregnancy so that she could prove that she was in fact a good and valuable wife. Her years of grief have transformed her into a different kind of wife and mother than she would have been otherwise. We’ll never know what Elizabeth was hoping for out of those five months of solitude, but we see from her decision to seclude that she had learned how to be different, someone who defies categories. I don’t think it is any coincidence that her son, John the Baptist, grows up to be a man comfortable living outside the status quo, both literally and figuratively.

We see that she is able to perceive abstruse aspects of the people around her and come to her own conclusions. When Mary shows up at her home pregnant and scared, Elizabeth does not greet her with animosity; she joyfully welcomes her and celebrates Mary’s pregnancy and unborn baby. I have no doubt that for the weeks or months that Mary spent with Elizabeth, she was being taught how to be different, how to defy categories or neat stories. Mary needed to learn this wisdom so that she could mother a child that would remake categories and embody paradoxes.

I give thanks for Elizabeth.

Narrative Example

Returning to the movies of Frozen 2, Captain Marvel, and Kung Fu Panda 3 for our final time together, let’s explore how the Heroines integrate the feminine and the masculine, the self and the other. There will be spoilers.

With the destruction of the dam built by her deceitful grandfather, Elsa thaws, revives, and races from Ahtohallan to Arendelle to save her kingdom from the devastating force of the unleashed water. Having used her power and role as the Fifth Spirit to uncover the injustice that lay between her mother’s people and her father’s, she broke the curse that the spirits placed on the forest and gave everyone a fresh start. Once she reunites with Anna, Elsa abdicates the throne of Arendelle in favor of her sister and claims Ahtohallan as her home. She knows that with the strong love that she shares with Anna, she is meant to form a bridge between the Northuldra and Arendelle and all of her people and the spirits.  

Having been captured, Carol Danvers meets with the Supreme Intelligence for the final time. Over the course of their conversation she removes her inhibitor and asks, “What happens when I’m finally set free?” She learns that she has immense power. She can shatter bombs and battle droids and spaceships. She has the ability to fly incredibly fast and far, even in the vacuum of space. She realizes that she has the power to change the status quo, to turn tides. She sends her Kree commander, wounded and defeated, back to the Supreme Intelligence with the message that she is going to end the war and the lies. She also dedicates herself to reuniting the Skrull and finding them a new home. 

Po faces a fierce enemy, General Kai, who was taught by pandas himself, but now misuses their teachings. Po understands that he must sacrifice himself to protect his community. So in an act of trickery, he gets himself banished to the spiritual realm and traps Kai there along with him. Once there, Po is empowered by his community who share their chi with him, and he becomes a fully realized dragon warrior, a master of both kung fu and chi. He is able to defeat Kai once and for all. In the end, Po becomes a great teacher who spreads the knowledge of kung fu and chi to all kinds of people. 

A decorative photo of a statue depicting a bare foot pushing off of a wave.

Crest of the Wave by Harriet W. Frishmuth

Blessing for Heroine

Matriarch, may you crouch over the detritus of death like a vulture, like a mother over a cradle
May you eat until you’ve had your fill
May the world celebrate your appetites because it is through your mouth and gut and sphincter that decay is transformed into humus
May you rise to heights of the sky that are a mystery to all but you

May you be tended as sweetly as a sourdough
May you be greeted each morning with gratitude that you still breath and burp
May you feel gratitude that you have yourself to give back

May you bear fruit with the majesty of a mushroom
May people go looking for you as if they are looking for honey
May your appearance make people look at you closely, carefully, to determine whether you are victual or medicinal or lethal

May you burn like a hearth fire
May you be the place where little ones learn that they should be mindful of what they touch
May you be a place of welcome for old friends and distant family
May you hold back the cold so that those under your roof can rest well 

May you stand like a tower
May you be an edifice that unites form and function
May travelers navigate their way by your faces
May your heights conduct song and cool winds
May the world turn around you like a wheel turns with its axle


Author’s Note: I feel so grateful for the opportunity to have created these devotionals for my fellow clergy women. Thank you to everyone who has been reading them. Thank you to Fidelia for supporting this project. This project demanded more of my emotional and intuitive resources than I anticipated. Writing each new installment, I was surprised by the words that sprang out of me. I hope that they give voice to experiences from all corners of the Church, not just mine, and that people will be able to gain insight from them for years to come.


Courtney Young is a bi-vocational Lutheran pastor/stay-at-home mom from Minnesota. She was honored to spend the first part of her career in campus ministry. Currently, she is serving as an interim pastor and writing a book. Connect with her at

Image by: Courtney Young
Used with permission
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