Over the last eighteen months, the Lord has been taking me on an intense journey, and has been impressing me to share it with others in ministry to women. In the midst of life – graduate school, motherhood, wifedom and laundry, I have spent more time pondering than writing, wrestling than resting, and complaining than being obedient.
As I’ve finally taken time to consult with God about this blog, He has shown me direction. I started the blog on a whim, feeling the draw from the Lord to create a place where women can come and be real, yet I jumped before asking Him what He wanted this space to be.
While it’is still a place for women to come to be real, God’s instructing me it’s a place for transparency in the journey (Transparency at www.brendayoder.blogspot.com), for the purpose of me trusting Him (ha, thank you, Lord), and for encouragement of any woman who may be struggling alone. I believe whole heartedly that God does not bring things into our lives for us to suffer in silence, but for our trials and thorns to be used to lift up others.
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up…..if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A strand of three is not quickly broken. ” Ecclesiastes 5:10-12
For most of my journey, I have traveled the deep places alone, me and God. While that has caused me to depend on Him instead of people, there have been times, as a woman, I have needed “Jesus with skin on” – you know, the tangible presence of someone who understands and will walk with me where I am at – good, bad, or ugly. I know I’m not alone it this, as I’ve seen most women close to me also experience difficult things in their lives, with their marriages, kids, selves, and yet we walk around going to church, ballgames, and bible studies with our “put together” faces on while dying inside. I have found women to be hungry – for a safe place to be real, where God isn’t in a box, where His truth gives hope and meaning for where they are at. I’m sorry to offend, but many Christian women’s mantras in churches give “to do” lists on womanhood…or they don’t address today’s womanhood at all. …and fail to give honest truth when “life happens” and, as women, we find ourselves in places we never imagined. Rare are the Christian circles where women feel safe to say, “I’m hurting and feel alone.”
This need was magnified this weekend as I came home from a wonderful women’s retreat by Life Action ministries (lifeactioncamp.com). This ministry has blessed our family’s life, and after the retreat, I heard several women say “I never thought my life would be where it is right now.” Thanks to Dana Lee and Carrie Gaul, the speakers, for being transparent enough to share, because it gave permission for other women to say “me, too.”
The Lord has been impressing upon me the last year to share my journey for the sake of other women who may identify with aloneness experienced at various places in life. He has given me the burden for fellow women who, during the week, whisper “I’m hurting,” over coffee but put on their “Everything’s Good” face on Sunday mornings. He’s given me a passion for God’s word to be the source for womanhood today – not God’s word wrapped in Christianese or culturally accepted terms, or another “how to” book. He’s given me a passion for women hungering for God’s word and Him alone, because, He is the only source that ultimately heals, bring truth, and clarifies our identity as women.
Outside of Him and His word, our identity easily becomes confused and wrapped up in other’s perceptions of us. I’m finding among Christian women of my “whatever we are” generation, (not Boomers or Millenials) is that many have done the “right things” we thought Christian women should do, and are finding the formula doesn’t always work. What is a woman supposed to conclude when the formula she prescribed, to doesn’t equal the reality she finds herself in?
Conclusion: there must be something wrong with me.
Church, for many women, has become an unsafe sanctuary (gossip, judgment, competition, jealousy, etc.) and we find ourselves spent, tired, alone and afraid to say “I’m a mess, and I never thought I’d be here.” Unfortunately, women in church are not the ones we run to. We put on our VBS coordinator face and remain isolated. Alone.
As a counselor in training, I should say, ”That’s where good psychotherapy comes in!” But as a Christian woman who loves the Church, I rebel against that, saying, “No! That is where the body of Christ should comes, first! Women are dying and we, the church, enable them to live on their deathbeds, piling on the guilt of their self-inflicted cancer!”
No more “65 Ways to Meet Your Husband’s Needs” or “How to Be A Godly Mother in 30 Days.” (There is a place for good books, but have a generation of women replaced God’s word for them?)
I know I’m on a soapbox. Please hang with me. I should have titled this blog, “I’m a mess, You’re A Mess, and Lord, will You Straighten Us Up?
Soapbox aside, the promising truth is that He will. He will show you, He will show me, and as we learn together, we will lift our eyes to Him who defines our beauty, our identity, and in that, we will stand together, as His women.
Because what we struggle with, It’s really a woman thang, that only He can understand.
And the more I give up wrestling and resting in Him, He shows me I’m not alone.
“Because she loves me, I will rescue her. I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. She will call upon me, and I will answer her. I will be with her in trouble. I will deliver her and honor her with long life will I satisfy her and show her my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16