Archive for the ‘Sisters in Christ’ Category

Our Judging Has to Stop

October 29, 2018
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My awesome daughters can be very insightful — and also don’t judge me.

 

I’m very blessed to have two smart adult daughters. They sometimes make suggestions (or lovingly enlighten me about myself), and I figure that if I ever expect them to listen to my advice it’s only fair that I respect their wisdom too. When my older daughter Jessi recommended that I read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, I got right on it.

Jessi was right that I would like this book. Each chapter is about a lie we tell ourselves, and when I got to the chapter called “I’m better than you,” one paragraph struck a particularly familiar chord:

“…We all judge each other, but even though we all do it, that’s not an excuse. Judging is still one of the most hurtful, spiteful impulses we own, and our judgments keep us from building a stronger tribe . . . or from having a tribe in the first place. Our judgment prohibits us from beautiful, life-affirming friendships. Our judgment keeps us from connecting in deeper, richer ways because we’re too stuck on the surface-level assumptions we’ve made.”

I wrote on the topic of judgment a few years back in a series of posts about relationships among Christian women. At my speaking events I would do anonymous mini-surveys asking women to complete this statement, “I would have more close relationships with the women in my church if only…” The frequency of statements like the following confirmed that we have a real problem: (Read More)

Domestic Violence: A Christian Issue

October 29, 2015
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two womenI’m heading over to Charlottesville’s Shelter for Help in Emergency this Friday night for my monthly volunteer shift, so the topic of domestic violence is on my mind. Plus, I wanted to share some thoughts on this issue before October ends.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how important it is.

I did some web surfing about how churches and Christians often deal with domestic violence, so since I’m not the expert, I’m going to share with you some of the powerful words of writers who are. Links are included to each full article.

From Domestic Violence within the Church: The Ugly Truth:

“Spouse abuse shocks us,” [Denise] George writes. “We just cannot believe that a church deacon or member goes home after worship . . . and beats his wife.” Tragically, however, George notes, some of these men justify their violence “by citing biblical passages.”

George sites a survey in which nearly 6,000 pastors were asked how they would counsel women who came to them for help with domestic violence. Twenty-six percent would counsel them … to continue to “submit” to her husband, no matter what. Twenty-five percent told wives the abuse was their own fault—for failing to submit in the first place. Astonishingly, 50 percent said women should be willing to “tolerate some level of violence” because it is better than divorce. Advice like this, George warns, often puts women “in grave danger”—and in some cases, can be a death warrant. (Read More)

5 Scriptures I Finally Stopped Cowering Behind

February 28, 2015
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4399065281_0b54b35fff_nAs a student and follower of Jesus for most of my life, I have wanted my behavior to reflect his teachings. Sometimes in my efforts to obey Jesus, however, I have used his teachings in ways he did not intend.

I confess that I have misused scripture as a cover for my discomfort with initiating difficult emotional situations. Instead of letting the beautiful teachings and examples of scripture transform me, I used them as righteous make-up to disguise my fear and emotional ineptness—I think I even fooled myself.

Here are some of the concepts that I have misapplied in my life for way too long.

1. Love

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13) (Read More)

A Toe Back in the Water

January 20, 2014
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OK.

Deep breath.

I think I can do this.

I haven’t written a post for this blog since last April. Some things in my life got too overwhelming, and once I quit, I couldn’t find my way back here again.

Because other people are involved, I am still not at liberty to provide details, but exactly one year ago today things fell apart in my life. Years of constantly niggling but unaddressed issues came to a head, and life changed drastically for me.

Psalm 28:7I kept writing through last winter and keeping my speaking engagements, but by spring I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was too sad, too angry, too disappointed, too broken. I felt like I had no answers to anything and no spiritual credibility.

Over the past year God has gotten me through. That’s one thing I never doubted. I’ve learned some hard things about myself, though. I’ve learned that Christianity’s forgiveness and forbearance can also be dangerous covers for conflict avoidance issues. I’ve learned to face some fears. I’ve been incredibly humbled. I’ve been amazingly supported by wonderful friends—most of them Christian, but not all.

Maybe the biggest surprise of all is the way God got me back here today. A woman named Carol moved into a spare bedroom last October. I thought she was just going to be a reliable roommate. I didn’t realize what a gift was coming into my life. Carol is a mature and wise Christian woman with a ministry of her own, and she has been a constant encouragement to me.

She has the women at her church starting their first women’s Bible study, and she chose my book, The Gentle Savior, for their first study. Also, she invited me to speak at their opening session next Saturday morning.

I’m really excited about it. I think God has me ready for this. And I think I’m ready to start writing again on a somewhat regular basis.

I’m probably a little bit different person this time around. I have some new life experiences, and I’m still not on the other side of everything that happened a year ago today.

I praise God, though, for being my refuge and strength, and for sending a new friend to live for a while downstairs. Without them both, I probably would have abandoned this blog for good.

Once again, I think I have something to say, and you can blame it on them.

There. I did it!

*Psalm 28:7

Sisters in Christ – Part 6

April 10, 2013
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From Fear to Trust

In my previous post I suggested that our tendency to judge each other is one barrier against close relationships with our Christian sisters.

We also, sometimes, inadvertently come off as disapproving or condemning, even though it’s the furthest thing from our minds. Communicating love and acceptance to other women, especially women who are wounded and hurting, takes conscientious effort.

In that post I shared some statements from Christian women about what it would take to have closer relationships with the women in their church. Here are some examples:

If I wasn’t fearful of their judgment—not measuring up. 

If they were real and able to be trusted….If I weren’t afraid for them to see the real me. 

If I felt like I could trust them. … I don’t want to be judged, nor do I want to be felt sorry for….just to share and [to receive] genuine compassion.  (Read More)

Sisters in Christ – Part 5

March 28, 2013
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Relationship Barriers

'Gavel' photo (c) 2008, walknboston - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Are you a judgmental person? Of course not! No Christian woman wants to think of herself that way. 

Yet, ask your average non-Christian young adult and you won’t like the answer. Eight in 10 of them believe judgmental is an apt label for Christians (according to studies in both 2007 and 2012), and over half of Christian young adults agree. 

“Yes, but today’s youth are naïve and overly tolerant,” you say.

That may be, but I keep running across Christian women who also use the j-word to describe the other women in their church. I bet you know a few women you would describe that way, as well. (Read More)

Sisters in Christ – Part 4

March 6, 2013
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So Much More than Friends

Fifth grade will always live in infamy in my memory as a year of friendship failure. The teacher had handpicked seven of us from his fourth-grade class to return as fifth graders in an experimental split-grade classroom: four boys and three girls off in a circle in one corner of the room. 

When he selected us, he obviously didn’t consider whether the three of us girls even liked each other. But there we were, three 10-year-old females stuck with each other every school day for an entire year. We each independently decided that the only way to make this situation palatable was to have an exclusive relationship with one of the other two. Naturally, our alliances changed semi-weekly, and the whole school year was an endless cycle of two-against-one clashes. One day our teacher became so frustrated with our bickering that he threatened to paddle us all.  (Read More)

Sisters in Christ – Part 3

February 2, 2013
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WWJD and Our Sister Relationships

WWJDFor the past decade or so I have worked with a professor who greatly admires Jim, a former dean of our school. When this professor finds himself in a complex professional situation, he tells me he asks himself, “What would Jim do?” There’s an ornery little place inside me that always wants to buy him one of those little WWJD bracelets whenever he says that, but he probably wouldn’t get the joke.

I know the whole WWJD fad is so 90s, but it’s still a valid question to consider—What would Jesus do, that is. It seems weird, I know, to seek out guidance on female relationships from a guy. Really, though, the most important thing we can do is look at what Jesus did, at how he treated women, and then follow his example. (Read More)

Sisters in Christ – Part 2

January 21, 2013
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Jesus and Sisters

Ladies, when is the last time you turned to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for guidance on building stronger connections with Madelyn, Maia, Lakeesha, and Joan?

In the past, I would never have expected to glean anything from the Gospels that would help strengthen my relationships with other women. Then I began a more in-depth study of Jesus. I discovered all the love, compassion, respect, and empowerment he offered to the women he encountered.

My first reaction was to apply it all to myself and just bask in the utter assurance that Jesus (and, by inference, God) valued me, too—even though I’m not a man! That’s awesome!

Right in the middle of feeling all warm and fuzzy and confident, though, a second truth hit me. Just as Jesus was the face of God, putting a human face on the Almighty, I’m supposed to be the face Jesus. (Read More)

Sisters in Christ – Part 1

January 12, 2013
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'Fortune Most Powerful Women 2012' photo (c) 2012, Fortune Live Media - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/For the first time in my life, I have multiple Christian women in my life whom I can talk to and listen to, who are supportive partners in ministry, allies I can lean on, learn from, and trust to have my back. Some women challenge me to grow, and some allow me to challenge them.

 The best thing is that my life has opened up to a whole variety of sisters—most in my local church—each of whom fills different needs in my heart to serve and be served, to laugh with and cry with, to work with and play with. No one woman could possibly fill all these needs, and I appreciate each of these women for the uniquely beautiful person she is.

It took me 50 years to get to this point, so I know what a rare blessing it is. For decades I lived out my faith as the Lone Rangerette, not trusting other women or respecting them nearly enough.

Relationships among Christian women in local churches can be surprisingly difficult to develop and maintain. And if the world didn’t do enough to conspire against us, evangelical Christianity has unwittingly sabotaged our chances with each well-intended teaching-emphasis-of-the-month that we took to its ungodly extreme. For example, (Read More)