In just a few weeks, right here in Denver, at the Pepsi Center, I believe, the annual Women of Faith Conference will take place. As usual, they are sold out and women's ministry leaders from various churches are frantically making phone calls hoping for a few extra tickets from some one who had the foresight to purchase extra.
I would love to hear Beth Moore on Friday night of the WOF conference, because she is, besides being a trendy Christian icon (not of her own choosing, I am certain), a true lover of the Word of God and He has given her great insight into His heart. She communicates it well.
But I am not going. I am not against it at all, even if I am afraid of what might happen to a person squished in to an arena with thousands of church ladies. There are probably nice women there, too, but I'll guarantee you there will be church ladies. Somewhat frightening!
No, I won't be there, but the impending event has been making me think. Here is something I've been chewing on for a few days ~
My friend Amanda Ottaway posted a blog last week of a list of good advice to live by. "Wear sunscreen" was the first piece of advice. "Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your living room," another read. I love lists. I actually own books of lists. So, this post was fun for me.
But right at the end, the list said this: "Be careful whose advice you buy…Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth."
I started thinking of myself years ago as a young minister's wife, 3 really small children and another on the way (there was always another on the way in those days). I remember attending a "ladies retreat" our church sponsored and we had the neatest speaker. I was amazed by her because she could expound on any number of scripture passages and was a personal friend and Bible study leader to the wives of a professional football team. She talked about how to really know God, you had to spend time with Him early. She painted the picture of getting up before her family and sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of hot coffee just having some "quiet time" with Jesus.
I was awestruck. I wanted to be her. My life was chaotic and consisted of spilled milk and cereal all over the floor and nursing and diapers and OB/gyn and pedriatric appointments. I couldn't get up before my family because with babies in the house – you were already up at 1…and 2:30…and 4:47…and… When I got the kids down for a nap in the afternoon, I'd say, "This is Your time, Lord," but could not keep my eyes open. I just wanted what that speaker had. I wanted to just have this perfectly beautiful life of faith.
Funny – now I actually do get up early and get to have coffee at my kitchen table, but I nearly killed myself to get here. I didn't come by choice. I lost a lot. I lost almost everything. There are still things I am losing. "Pride comes before a fall'? It's true. I can tell you this from personal experience. Nothing about me actually turned out like the speaker – at least what she presented to us.
Who knows? Maybe her road was tough, but what she told us wasn't. It was sweet and very lady-like and Christian and serene and gentle. I could tell her house was spotless, her husband adored her and her kids were on the honor roll. It was once my great goal. Life doesn't always turn out just like that.
I have mulled over the quote from Amanda's blog, "Dispensing (advice) is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth." And I have started thinking how much I don't want to do that. I have daughters who are the age I was when I heard that speaker – who was the age I am now and the things I tell my daughters and the MOPS mommies I speak to and any of the women God puts in my path – they should be real and true and the truth is I have not always been a "woman of faith." In fact, sometimes it seems I rarely have.
I feel more like a woman of fury – a woman who wrestles with her faith and her God and whose life hasn't been wrapped in a tidy package. To be honest, to be true – I need to pull the the rotting junk from my garbage disposal (because of course, a woman of fury's disposal is not working correctly) plop it on the counter and allow you to see, really see.
Did that speaker go through times of hell to have the time of plenty she was in? Probably. Did she keep vital information from us, though? Did she forget to mention how tough marriage can be and almost losing a child to drugs? Did she ever contemplate suicide, have a bad body image or deal with depression and self-hatred? Did she struggle with sin she could not get past- lying or pride and arrogance? Is it fair for us to tout blessing without telling you the price we paid?
So here I sit – thinking about an upcoming conference where women will gather and the chance to bring hope through truth will be huge; pondering the garbage disposal quote and thinking about the Christian women I know.
And I am thinking perhaps I will start a new movement: Women of Fury, real women who wrestle with their faith and if you want their advice – it's coming straight out of the garbage. I already know a bunch of these women – they have pain, they go through hell and being misunderstood and diappointment and rejection and work hard through family problems and hang in there through church problems and defy the images of the day to dictate who they are. They are fighting the good fight. They are Women of Fury and I want to be just like them when I grow up.
My dear friends who are Women of Fury, you know who you are, you amaze and inspire me! Blessings…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: I promise to tell the truth, the real truth and nothing but the ugly, disgusting, embarrassing truth, if You help me, Lord. The truth hurts my pride, but it will set me free…and others, too, I hope!