Sunday, December 8, 2013

Maybe We're Not So Different After All

Have you ever wondered how two people sitting in the same pew could have such totally different lives? Two women, both married, both have children and both attend the same church. What could be the difference? 

One walks in church with a smile. She greets everyone with a bright hello. The other remains silent. She is holding her Bible tight to her chest. As the woman with a smile greets all she is praying silently that no one asks her how she is doing, while the woman being silent is hoping someone will notice.

Two women facing each day with fear and doubt. While one tries to hide it all, the other tries so hard to just get someone to notice her pain. But no one does. If they do, they say nothing. They just pass by.

We all have those silent fears that scatter our thoughts and jumble our emotions. There are days we wake and all is grand. Yet we too are touched by life shattering days. We can feel the weight of the world on our  shoulders. We feel pain that rips at our heart. Anger that clouds our vision is lies ready to blow just below the surface. And those regrets that keeps us from seeing the possibilities of tomorrow are at every turn.

Some women have a cheering section. They have a prayer circle. Friends who encourage and inspire. Bringing out the best of one another. Others are lonely.  They feel left out as they just don't fit in at all. For some women it's easy to make friends and find that circle that surrounds you. For other women, it's not so easy. It's hard to open up after you have been hurt. Will you be judged? Will others laugh at you? You might just be shunned right out of that pew and never want to enter in again.

When we have a cheering section around us life is easier. We embrace life with confidence. When you have women surround you in prayer it makes you feel valued. But for many women that just isn't so. If you don't fit the mold you are often shunned. Some women even feel forgotten. They are already so hard on themselves. But when they don't get the love they need from others they go into complete hiding. They build a wall around themselves. They try to keep out the possibility of being hurt again. 

Pain is very real for women. Each of us have our own separate issues. We hate ourselves. We hate how we look. We hate the mistakes we have made. We feel as though we just can't get it right. We try our best to work hard and keep up, but there is just so much to do, how will we ever get it all done?

As we sit in our pew we look around and we see the circle of women and how close they are. They help one another. They call and are always in contact. They have lunch and plan gatherings together. Here are two women who don't have that. As one is trying to reach out, most just say hello and keep walking. The other woman is quiet so they just tend to leave her alone thinking she doesn't want to be bothered, all the while she is screaming inside for someone to just notice her.

I think many times we do see. We see these women very clearly. We just don't want to get involved. I mean after all, don't we have enough problems on our own without inviting more into our lives? We too, think that someone else will help them. Is it really our job to reach out?

We get so self absorbed with ourselves that we don't have time for others. We can often say to another, "Well, I didn't know that was going on with you". Goodness, when was the last time you really asked someone how they were doing and meant it? Oh sure, we do it all the time in passing. We can be in the store and say, "Hi Marsha, how are you doing?", and before they even begin to answer we say, "Well, I'm late, maybe we can chat soon when things slow down. Have a great day".

Have you seen these women? Maybe you are one of these women. It's so hard, isn't it? Here is a beautiful quote I love from Emily P. Freeman. 

"I long for someone to be willing to ask me questions, not for the sake of knowing the answer, but for the delight of knowing me." 
Emily P. Freeman

These words are so true. I don't want someone asking me questions just to know the answers. I want someone to speak to me because they sincerely care. Because they want to get to know me as a person. I want to be valued and treasured. Isn't this really what we all want? Deserve? We are called to love our neighbor as our self. 

"The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31

We need to be connected with women in our communities. To live Jesus means to be His hands and feet. No more just asking in passing, "Hey, how are you doing?" We need to actually stop and make time. Yes, make time. Give ourselves to others. Be a listener for a friend. Lift one another in prayer. 

I know we usually are drawn to others that we find similar to ourselves. Women who have things in common with us. But, just what if we got out of our circle and thought out of the box and approached women unlike us at all? Don't you think the impact would be great? Reaching beyond barriers and touching hearts of women should be a priority for all of us. 

We never want women to feel like they don't belong. We need to embrace women around us with love and tenderness. We may just realize we have more in common than ever imagined. We each have a story. We can impact the lives around us by reaching out. We can learn lessons of value from not only older women, but younger women alike. When we open our heart God does something powerful. He loves through us. 

We were created to love. We long for relationships. As women we need to empower one another. Never allowing another women to feel as though she is less or has nothing of value to offer. You may be that women who is confident and ready to reach out at all times. You may be that women who finds herself insecure and holding back. Reach beyond what your able to give and trust the Lord to move through you. However small of contribution you think you can make, God sees something far greater. In the smallest gesture miracles happen. 

"The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman."
Elisabeth Elliot


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