For whatever reason, I get the opportunity to do life with some amazing women. I'm not sure how I happened upon this hand, but I am increasingly aware of the unmerited gift that it is to glean from the wisdom of women of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. Their unique stories continually make me better, while their joy gives me great hope, and their silliness encourages my own -- which I'm convinced is always a good thing.
On Tuesday nights, I meet with an assortment of gals for a couple of hours each week. While girls have come and gone from the group over the years, each leaving their special imprint of the Christ in them on all of us, for the past several months, we have come to a place of consistency among those that are attending. There are probably around ten of us that are faithful to come and although we are all around the same age range, give or take five years or so, we are vastly different. Married, single, pregnant, new moms, single moms, heartbroken, frustrated, peaceful, content, satisfied and dissatisfied in current jobs -- we run the spectrum.
The purpose of our Tuesday night time together has always been to open the Bible together, and allow the words to settle on us and hopefully spark some reflection and transformation. Sometimes this happens just though reading a specific passage aloud, but often it's through each other's perspectives and experiences that we are challenged to become more like the women God perhaps originally intended.
A few weeks ago we found ourselves at the beginning of 1 Peter, and I had the responsibility of facilitating that week as we waded through Peter's words in chapter one. My beautifully vibrant friend, Brandy, had challenged us to read 1 Peter by asking ourselves "how do the verses give us direction in our role as Christ following women?" So as I sat down that Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the evening with that question running through my mind, God very kindly met me and directed my thoughts.
A couple of the verses that would not quit were verses 3 and 4 excerpted below:
"...He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade..."
Replaying these verses in my mind as I sat at the table with pen in hand and thinking through what those words meant for me as a woman and also for the amazing girls in my group, my thoughts interestingly began considering fears. Some are fears that are mine personally, while others are more specific to girls in my group. Regardless of who they belong to, if you are a woman especially, perhaps what came out of me through the nudging of God's spirit will resound with you too. What follows is what I scrawled out as fast as my fine point, purple Sharpie would write:
If I believe 1 Peter 1:3-4 is truth, then, as a woman, I have everything I need in Christ and I have GREAT hope -- no matter what.
No matter if...
- my heart is broken
- I never marry
- I marry a deceptive man
- I feel alone
- someone close to me dies
- I never have my own children
- my children suffer
- my husband is unkind
- I feel labeled and branded
- I remain where I am
- I go to the ends of the earth
- I struggle financially
- my family remains in bondage
- I lose my health
- I gain weight
- my beauty is assaulted
- I'm considered ordinary by strangers
- I'm considered ordinary by those close
- I remain a slave to the opinions of others
- no one notices my intelligence
- no one notices my humor
- no one notices my hard work
- I struggle hard the entire time I walk this earth
- Christ bids me come and die...
No matter what it is we are fearful of occurring on this side of eternity, as Christ followers, we have GREAT hope. We just do. An inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade unlike most of the things we cling to so tightly.
Let us be women with open hands causing fear to lose its sneaky grip and walking boldly and securely towards Christ's gracious right hand and his eternal pleasures. And perhaps our new, confident strut will cause some of the women in our lives to take notice, cast off their own fear, and come with us. I really cannot think of a better, more exciting girl road trip...
Cling to the great hope, it will not disappoint. It just won't.
As I read this over my girl posse that Tuesday night, I knew I could not claim any of the above revelation as my own wit or reason. God gave it to me, but the cool thing was, he granted it to me through my relationships with other girls just trying to figure out how to live Christ well and with authenticity. So thank you to Kristin, Brandy, Lauren, Ashley, Andrea, Lindsay, Liz, Kristen, Jessica, and the countless other women who have chosen to walk towards Christ with us on Tuesday nights over the years. Each of you sharpen me in ways that make me laugh, that sometimes mercifully wound, but that make me little by little more like Christ. Your presence in my life reminds me that a beautiful exchange occurs when I take the risk to come and die -- I get to truly live.
Clinging to the GREAT hope that refuses to disappoint and praying for your grip as well...
I mean, what if?