Confession: I don't want to talk about this.
This being how we connect with other women, in community, even when we have been hurt. How does a woman alone, who was a girl alone, find community? She has a small seed of hope planted in her heart by a loving God.
Do I tell you about my most recent community of women friends, or the first one, or perhaps going back further why I thought I never would have one? Maybe we'll share those all another day. Today my heart is somewhere else.
My heart is on those still looking for a safe place. A place where they can be safe from gossip, judgement, fear and more importantly they are safe to seek prayer.
So often in my attempts at being a part of a community of women have failed. In part due to who I am. In part due to their expectations of their sisters. In part due to the expectations we have of women's groups in general.
I seem to fit in until I open my mouth. Or I share. Or I am not going to their church, my child is not at their school or my husband doesn't work in jobs like their husbands. We seek common ground outside of the two things we should be using: our status as women and our status as women of faith.
I am a woman. I have worked in a man's world. I have earned respect and shown worth. It is easier to work with men in some ways - their world is achievement and respect oriented. That is how you manage as a farmer or fire fighter or a cowboy or horseman. It is how you do what you do that shows your character.
Women being more relational are significantly more complex. Okay freakishly complex to someone who was raised without models of healthy women's circles. To someone who was working and living in a man's world. To someone who failed to fit in every time she tried.
I used to thing there was something wrong with me. That I was not woman enough. That I messed up what God made. Don't you just loathe how the master of lies works in us from childhood? I do! I took every negative message straight to heart, and missed every positive one. Out of hurt. Out of pride. Out of anger.
When I started finding my voice again I started to listen. To what was being said. By whom. And how. And when. I started to advocate for women to speak up and seek community. I started to speak up about how we treat out sisters who are coming in from the cold. As one who had come in a number of times, so often it felt like I had a patent on door hinges!
I am honoured to have some amazing women friends. We have connected in person. We have connected on line. We stay connected. We have relationships. We have community. We have each other.
Jo Ann in #WhenAWomanFindsHerVoice tells us about healthy community and relationships. And she speaks very candidly about how hard that can be. For us to trust. For our sisters in Christ to be open to someone not from their comfort zone.
We need to be willing to not only drop our stones and our walls, but we need to be willing to reach out our hands and hearts. And most importantly for us who are seeking community - we need to reach out as well! And do not despair of online connections, while they cannot replace the warmth of face time, they are still incredibly valuable! Where else can we find someone to pray with us almost anytime, day or night? Or someone to celebrate with us? Or to mourn with us? Or to be there when we feel alone in the middle of the night?
This post reminds me of my WWRWW group that I connected with back in the '90s. It also reminds me of my TRD sisters, my Army of Women sisters and all the others I can reach out to whether it is us two on a 'mom break date' or many of us praying on line together. I celebrate you, I thank you and I am thankful for you!