I fingered the insert in the church bulletin with disdain. Seriously? A teddy bear tea party? I was 20 years old!
Why was women’s ministry so antiquated?
The men’s ministry was off to shoot clay pigeons for their gathering and we had to scrounge up teddy bears and doilies and nibble on soggy triangles of cucumber and miracle whip smooshed into crustless Wonderbread?
I envisioned the small church drenched in floral tablecloths and copious amounts of pink. I pictured a woman with coiffed hair, a below the knee-length skirt and lipstick in a bright berry hue who would give a cursory overview of Proverbs 31, the Book of Ruth or Esther, and women’s role as homemakers and baby ovens.
Needless to say, I never went. In fact, community with women had been conspicuously absent in my life for years.
I had mountains of hurt that stemmed from gatherings of girls and eventually women.
Now a teddy bear tea party still isn’t my cup of tea, no pun intended, but I have come to realize that in my judgments of other women, I’ve done a great disservice to the fabric of community.
After 14 years, I’ve realized that there are so many ways God made women and we are always stronger together than alone.
There is something to be said for a woman who can knit doilies or crochet or make cowls which fasten loosely around your neck and feel like a hug from a friend.
There is something magnificent in a woman who goes out to run when it’s 7 degrees outside and the air chills her lungs and short puffs of cottony white trail her as her legs pump.
There is something glorious about a bleary-eyed woman who tucks her nursing baby into her and gives her life away in the wee hours of morning.
There is something brilliant in a woman whose brows knit together in concentration when she tackles problems at work, considers how to best fix the hack job her three-year old did to her hair when no one was looking, and as she’s writing down her grocery list.
There is something majestic about the older woman who has served until her weathered hands grip the pages of her battle worn Bible, spidery veins snaking across parchments skin.
There is something pristine about the fresh-faced college girl who reaches out for wisdom and finds it not only in the peers who walk with her, but from the grandmother who walked before her.
There is something to be said for women in all their unique glory and splendor and there is something so very beautiful about the gift and sisterhood of friends.
We are the world changers, ladies. We carry communities and speak into each others lives. We raise babies into men and women. We teach souls and feed minds. We nourish each other with words of encouragement. We mourn and rejoice and give our lives away in casseroles, and hugs, coffee dates, and carpools.
We are the laborers birthing new life as we speak gospel into emptiness and heal each other.
We do the work of God’s heart as we tend to each other and love one another and lean hard into Christ’s side.
And if you have experienced that then you know what a great opportunity (in)RL will be this year.It’s a chance for women to gather, share each others lives, some chocolate, a lot of laughs and maybe even some tears. Not only is it free, but those who sign up today (Monday, January 14th) will get the (in)courage 365 Daybrightener, while supplies last. And everyone who signs up with get their ebook “Best of the Beach House 2012.”
But what happens when you don’t feel glorious? What happens when you don’t feel loved or included? What happens when you feel alone? What happens when the women you go to for community have hurt you? What happens when it seems no one gets you or even wants to?
I know this isn’t the answer you want to hear but here it is: you love with all the glorious vulnerability of Jesus.
You press in. You risk it again. You trust God. You become what you wish others would be to you. You forgive.You obey. You commit. You embrace the mess and trust in the redeemer.
Community costs something. Last year, it cost me sleep, stress, and even a bit of disappointment when it was all said and done. I even cleaned and vacuumed y’all!
Would I do it again? Yes, and I am. Because I gained grace. I gained insight into what God wants from me. I gained friendships and maybe even a few pounds as I prepared all the yummy food for our gathering. I gained confidence that God will do great things when we pursue Him.
When we love the things He loves, we see Him in it. I know that He wants our hearts knit together in fellowship with each other and this is one way we can share in His grace and truth as women. Won’t you risk it? Won’t you join in?