I love women, I really do. I haven’t always felt that way, though. Most of my life I’ve felt that I get along better with guys, because they are so much easier. They don’t have that whole insecure-two-faced-backstabbing-gossipy thing going on.
Seriously, ladies. We can be a hard group to love. Amen?
Like many of you, I’ve been burned, hurt, lied about, and put down by girls my whole life. And most of the time by Christian women. The kind that paste a happy smile on their face and greet people at church on Sundays, but barely wait until they’re out the door before talking crap and spreading fires. But I’ve also been hurt by the Christian women who are genuinely trying to live like Christ and just gave into their flesh for a bit. It sucks either way. And, yes, let me confess. I’ve done my fair share of hurting, too.
The first time I realized I really needed other women was when I was part of a small Bible study and prayer group with women who were mostly older than me. I treasured the evenings we spent together, discussing our lives and how God was working. I was so happy at that time in my life to find other women that were seeking God and not just complaining about their husbands! These women were sweet, but real. They doled out their wisdom and encouraged generously. They loved the Lord. I was in heaven.
And then it happened. One of the women sent me a letter, out of the blue, listing all the reasons she disliked me. It was about seven pages long. No joke. Sure, she ended the letter by saying that she had come to terms with the fact that she had to love me and was going to try, but the damage was done. The worst and weirdest part was that I had never done anything to her, and she didn’t even accuse me of doing anything. It was just me she couldn’t stand.
And don’t you know that just confirmed what I’d always thought. Everyone hates me! No big surprise, I faded away from that group. I hate to think that I let the enemy win a little with that one. I could tell you so many more tales like that. And I’m guessing you all have a few, too.
For this reason, I’ve always shied away from women’s ministry type of stuff. I’m not big on retreats or brunches or luncheons. Big groups of perfectly-coiffed women scare the crap out of me. I’ve been an active member of the church over the years, mostly working with kids and with plenty of men and women in different areas. I’ve been in leadership and on planning teams, and headed dozens of ministries. But women’s ministry? So not my thing.
Except, I’m starting to think maybe it is.
Of course, for me it doesn’t look anything like the images that come to mind when I hear women’s ministry. Big groups, Big talkers. Big hair. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that my hair couldn’t be big if I wanted it to and I’ve never quite fit in with those perfect-types. I’ve got worn jeans and a worn soul. I can’t do fake smiles, I’m too honest for my own good. And my mouth? Oh, it’s way too big.
I know that not all women’s ministry groups are full of stepford wives. I know, okay? In fact, some of the women I admire most live and breathe women’s ministry stuff.
I also know that I’m better suited for small groups. The smaller, the better.
Throughout the years, I’ve met regularly with women and girls of different ages, backgrounds, and life situations. I am introverted and socially awkward, yet God has used me to start several Bible studies and groups, and to counsel different women.
I’ve met with a new bride one-on-one at my kitchen table, sharing tea and poring over A Woman After God’s Own Heart.*
There was the group of four ladies trying to become better wives, and the only time we could all meet was at 5 am. Once a week, we all showed up, some of us groggy and puffy-eyed, and some bright eyed and ready for work. We sat at my dining room table, quietly discussing proverbs 31 and how we could be more like that lady.
There was the little girl that broke my heart. I took to dinner a couple times a month and we chatted about her life at home how God was there for her.
There was a group of my daughter’s friends that we met weekly with and did Bible studies and found ways to reach out to others. We worshipped together, prayed together, learned together, and partied together.
There was the woman I’d have lunch with once a week and we would work on scripture memorization and finding what the bible had to say about her life circumstances.
There was the woman in a tumultuous marriage that just needed someone to listen.
There was a group of three of us that started out as a weight loss group, but ended up over a couple years, as being a let’s survive life together group.
There’s the young mom who sits in my office with me once a week and we open up to each other, learning about the Holy Spirit,*as her little boy toddles in and out of the room, entertaining us with his adorableness.
There’s 3 of us that sit in my office every week and learn about Bad Girls of the Bible*and how not to make their mistakes. We’re still getting comfortable with each other, so we quietly share our struggles, gently testing the waters. We share, we confess, we laugh and we pray for each other.
All but the last 2 of these groups have ended. People move. Churches split. Kids grow up and get too busy. Women start working outside the home and don’t have time for weekly studies anymore. Sometimes, sin and flesh and hurt feelings win out.
Then there’s my daughters. The ongoing, everlasting conversations that perpetuate our lives. We talk like nobody’s business. And we share what God is teaching us. Who He has burdened us to pray for. They tell me about things in their life and I give them advice based in God’s word. Sometimes, this happens intentionally. Over tea, during a Bible lesson when we’re doing school, or on a mommy-daughter date. But more often, it happens spontaneously. In the car. When I’m tucking them in at night. At the breakfast table.
That is the best kind of women’s ministry. Raising good women of God. May they grow up to be good to their women friends.
I guess I’ve actually been into women’s ministry all along.
I’ve learned something about myself through all this. Even though I’ve been hurt again and again, I keep trying. Like I heard someone say once, I might be in the wall-building business, but God is in the wall busting business. Every time I say I’m done with women, he brings a new one into my life. Or he reminds me of a relationship I’ve been taking for granted. And slowly, the walls I’ve built come tumbling down. And yeah, there’s lingering effects. I’m super sensitive. I take my time to warm up and trust people.
But somehow, by the grace of God, I haven’t turned into a cold little hermit like I’m tempted to. That’s life with Jesus, people.
My point is this: Women’s ministry doesn’t always look like we think it does. And that no matter how many times you are hurt, keep loving and risking. It’s worth it. I guess I have a couple of points here. The writer in me wants to go back and edit this and make it all smoother and better-focused. But the friend in me just wants to let it all hang out. Too many words, all over the place. Messy.
Kind of like me.
Wanna be friends?
Do you have a cold-hermit shell or is making friends easy for you? Please share!