Saturday, August 9, 2014

As Awful as Women Can Be to Each Other...

I've had those kinds of girlfriends, if you can call them that. The kind who compete and degrade out of the wells of insecurity. The kind who hug you only to find the soft spot in your back for their knife. The kind who laugh at you behind your back because mercy is harder than gossip. The kind who reach for you with greedy hands instead of giving ones.

God has asked me to love those kind of friends. I may or may not have failed. Several times.

And He has also given me in extravagance a different kind of woman. The kind of friend who covers my multitudes of faults with grace. The kind who looks into my heart and really listens to it. The kind who talks to my face and to my soul rather than behind my back. The kind who seeks to be generous with wisdom, compassion, and laughter.




Even in the Church, where we assume people will be nice to one another (after all, Jesus was nice, right?), kindness seems to be endangered among women. Water cooler office gossip has become altar-talk and "prayer requests," and what was it Jesus said about being set apart?

I suppose I'm here today in the nest to give a few hurting girls some hope. Because I know you've been stabbed too. Thrown for a loop and left shaking your head. You had someone cut you down with her words and insults, and sweep you under the rug like yesterday's dirt and you were left wondering if there were just a few good women among our gender at all. I suppose I'm here to say, "Yes, there are. So pick yourself up, dust off that shame, and try again." Because as awful as women can be to each other ... we can also be delightful. I should know - some of my life's best gifts have been in the form of girlfriends.

Like *Shelly, who stood by me in honesty, loyalty, and truth when lies were slung like mud and I couldn't even find my own face. She calls and texts just to find out how I'm holding up and she cares. I mean she really cares about me and the condition of my fragile heart. She's been with me in hellholes and on foreign soil and she shines sunbeams of His glory from a stage. When I moved away she came to say good-bye with tears, even though her words were few.

And like *Liz, who has walked through hard lessons of insecurity with me, who has known me before I was this me, and who protects me with a fierceness I haven't known elsewhere. She listens to my heart and makes eye contact and soul contact and is trustworthy. She also offers her own flaws with trust, and honors me with honesty. We never hide doubt or shame from one another, and when we meet - it's safe there.

And like *Judy who poured out her stories like coffee at her table - warm and energizing and hopeful. I call her a mentor, but she really just loves me well, as an abundant verb and with generous time. If I need a rebuke she'll offer it gently, and her wisdom is a treasure beyond what any bank holds. Her encouragement is always spot-on and the pick-me-up I need when I can barely get out of bed.

And like *Michelle, who prays for me - and I'm talking real intercession. She bound her heart to mine in prayer the first day she met me, and when we prayed together every morning she taught me what it means to pour out tears as offerings. She approached me with honor and humility, though she owns more years of experience and wisdom than I. She let me lead her, though she was quite capable of leading us both. She let me give her pedicures and loved my children like they were her own. Together we learned more about God than we would have alone, and isn't that what God's daughters were destined to do?

And like *Victoria, who is the twin sister I dreamed of when I was in second grade, but didn't meet until my late twenties. A day older than me, we hold more in common than sense would lend. And yet we never put one another in any kind of conformity box. She knows me well enough to read my face or my voice, and speaks comfort when I'm a broken heap. A cheerleader in Christ, she never gives up on me and has been the definition of faithfulness if ever faithfulness had skin. She wears her heart on her sleeve and occasionally puts a foot in her mouth, and that is what I love most. Her words and drawings delight my heart like treasure, and I could never thank God enough for the privilege of calling her my sister.

I could go on and on - my high school friend who cries with me across an ocean, the treasure of a woman whom I mentored and loved fiercely, the newly rekindled friendship over coffee this week who offered validation, vulnerability, and wisdom. 

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense." - Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)

Of course, I've made mistakes in foolish insecurity too, and I've hid my heart behind walls from women because I was afraid or proud. And I've paid the price. Women have issues and hormones and anxieties and we can be downright evil. We use our swords to fight each other when we ought to defend against our common enemies. We all build walls and fire arrows and pass judgement at times. I've been awful too. 

When that happens, Dear Heart - know this: We can also be wonderful. As wounded as you have been, you can be just as much healed. As shocked as you have been, you can also be delightfully surprised. As awful as those girls have been, God has wonderful sisters for you in store. 

Let's not block off our tender places, jaded and shy and bitter. Let's be confident enough in who we are in Christ to offer friendship and receive it. Because we're worth it, and we need it, and our souls cry out for it. He made us to be wonderful, though we have experienced the awful.

That's just what the Redeemer does. 


*names changed for privacy. you know who you are to me.
Photo Credit: Jacob Splinks via flickr creative commons

4 comments:

  1. Dear Precious Sister in Christ,
    I was steered to your blog by a friend who is also a pastor's wife, like the two of us. She asked me to read this specific post and let her know what I thought. However, after reading, praying, and praying more, I feel the Holy Spirit pushing me to share my thoughts with you as well. I hope you will pray and meditate on my input, as the promptings are clearly not my own.

    I read this post, and I felt obliged to read the few previous in order to put my feelings into some perspective. Dear one, you must know that the chaos and lack of peace you are journaling about (and I call it this because these are clearly private journal entries, NOT blog posts) ARE NOT FROM OUR GREAT GOD. In my experience, which has been many years in excess of yours, Christian women who you love and trust do not "hug you only to find the soft spot in your back for their knife." Alas, this is the enemy whispering to you what you want to hear, in order that you do not have to see or accept responsibility for your part in the situation. My guess is that those women were as hurt as you were.

    I'm not certain what your goal is in putting this all in writing. Again, I suspect that you feel vindicated in your feelings if even one person agrees with you. But as a fellow-pastor's wife, I can tell you that it is most unbecoming and un-Biblical to be handling your feelings in this way. Go to God with your feelings; Go to God with your lack of peace; Go to God and ask if you had a part in it; Go to God to find out what you can do to regain your peace and your joy. Go to God!

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  2. Pam,

    Thank you for reading, and thank you for your feedback. I will pray about your comments and take them to God for sure.

    I respectfully disagree about a couple of things. The beauty of blog posts is that bloggers have freedom to share what is relevant to them, and their readers. Here in these posts I am not claiming anything but "musings from my nest." Sometimes I'm journaling, sometimes I'm posting Bible verses and songs, other times I'm just sharing a devotional or a thought or some awareness about human trafficking. I believe they all "count" as blog posts. This last weekend my pastor encouraged us to SHARE OUR STORIES. This is simply what I do here. What is your definition of a proper blog post, I'm wondering. And what is the source of your definition?

    I also respectfully disagree about the question of whether or not it was from God. I pray over every post, share from my heart, and ask the Holy Spirit how to share honestly and carefully. I share real things, even if they are hard or ugly. But did you read to the end? Did you see the encouragement to women to try again, even when friendships do turn out to be disappointing?

    The whole knife in the back quote? Well, I took that directly from what a SEASONED missionary (70+) and pastor of a large organization said to me and my husband as he was mentoring us. He was giving honest, careful, wise advice about what it's like to be hurt, and how to press on. How to finish the race, fight the fight, and keep the faith regardless. We're humans and we'll hurt each other. "Christians" do so just as much if not more than anyone. Should that be the case? No, but unfortunately it is. I want women - pastor's wives or not (we're all women, all people, all human) - to understand that the only person who will not let us down 100% of the time is God. He is the only one we can fully trust never to betray us. If and when we are betrayed by people we trusted, well, perhaps we need not be so blindsided and paralyzed. Perhaps we'll let God stand us back up and help us try again. Be it reconciliation or letting go.

    I will admit the enemy whispers to me (doesn't he whisper to everyone?), but I did NOT want to hear that! Quite the opposite - what I want to hear is that people are faithful all of the time and they never make mistakes or let us down. I'm sorry - but THAT's the lie. I agree - those women were as hurt as I was, or even more so. Hurt people hurt people. Which is why we need to go to the Father so that He can turn our wounds into scars by the healing He alone offers.

    Again, my goal is to tell real and relevant stories to encourage people. I told some good stories too. Stories of trying again. And that's my goal. I want to encourage people to try again, even when it hurts, even when it's hard, even when we want to turn away because we're bitter and disappointed. I don't wear the PW label very well. Maybe because I just consider myself a person, God's kid, before I ever think of myself with some fancy, haughty label. I want people to know Jesus in me before they know my "title." Do I believe PW's are called to a high calling? Of course - but I never want that to get to my head. I always want my writing to be about His redemptive power, regardless of my disappointments with others or their disappointments with me.

    Thank you for reading, Pam. You are a precious Sister in Christ, and we will spend forever together. I'm so glad I'll be perfected by then. Because I sure am a mess now!

    But aren't we all?

    In His Hand,

    R

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    Replies
    1. Even Christ wouldn't entrust himself to all people because, "he knew what was in the hearts of men." Also, in the great wisdom of God, he tells us through Solomon to "guard your heart, for all of life flows from there" (Proverbs 4:23) Trust is gained through faithfulness. People are unfaithful; God is not. I didn't not see a reaching out for vindication of any sort, nor a slandering of person(s). I do see a plea to trust God for greater things than hurt alone. Great post, Bird!

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