Can we be real?

I’ve just got to share something with you today… My friend Lee wrote a great post on being a ‘real’ Christian woman and I think it’ll really hit many of us in a tender spot… But first some back story:

In preparation for an upcoming message, speaker Lynn Bell gathered statements from some of her friends in response to this statement:  “I would have more close relationships with the women at my church if only…”

Lynn and I were in the same speaker peer evaluation group at this year’s She Speaks training conference. I had the pleasure of hearing Lynn speak twice for peer evaluation. I was impressed by her gentle delivery as a speaker, and I was not now surprised that Lynn was putting such thoughtful preparation into her upcoming message.

Lynn’s question resounded strongly in my heart, and my fingers typed and sent a message in reply to her inquiry almost before I could process my thoughts. “If only we could be real with each other, instead of being a ‘Sunday best’ version of ourselves”, I added to the exchange. And as I sat there processing my own words, and the flood of similar responses from other women across the country, I became very sad.

I’m sad that we do this, and that it makes other women feel alienated and never quite good enough. I’m sad that we feel a burden to display a facade of perfection. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way about women in the church. Our friend Lee Merrill (another She Speaks alum) felt the same grief. She posted her transparent thoughts about it on her Prayer Gifts blog and I as I read it I was  moved by her words.

“Help me to believe I can be a godly woman and flawed at the same time…
I must be real because hidden wounds miss the hands of the Healer.”

Here’s a link to Lee’s post, a great read for women in the church today. I’m grateful she shared her heart with us. And if you’d like to get to know Lynn Bell better, she’s over at The Gentle Savior.

If this strikes a chord with you as well, feel free to add to this discussion in the comments.


Helping a Hurting Friend

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
When your close friend or loved one is going through a difficult time in her life it can be difficult for you, too, as someone who loves her. Your heart breaks and you may question God about the whys and whens. You would bring the stars down from the sky if it would make her feel better, or even make her smile. But many times you can do nothing “productive” as your friend battles cancer, her marriage falls apart, she miscarries a pregnancy, or her spouse dies unexpectedly.You just feel…helpless.

I’d like to encourage you if you’re in that place right now. Your loved one is so lucky to have you in her life to care so much! There are things you can do to support her through her pain. If you find yourself thinking of her often, let her know that she’s been on your mind, in your heart and prayers. If you are reminded of a Bible verse that you think would uplift her, send it! Make her a nice card or if, like me, you are not crafty, email or text her a message of encouragement including the verse.

Fasting and prayer cannot be over suggested in times like these. If you feel led to fast and pray for her situation, tell her about it and she may decide to fast also. If you have any questions on approaching something like this, seek out a Pastor for guidance.

If you’re trying to spend time and be there for her in person, she may not be very responsive or may have difficulty seeing people. Don’t take this personally; just remind her that you are available if she ever needs you. And keep praying! She will feel those prayers and the love from you and from the Lord when she needs to.

I remember once I was in excruciating emotional pain. I didn’t want to see people, I had a hard time just doing day-to-day life. One day during that time I was contacted separately by numerous girlfriends, telling me how much they love me, how I had been on their mind that day and even though they didn’t know what was wrong, they were on their knees in prayer for me. That was an incredible day! The Lord used those beloved friends in my life and I knew was loved, strengthened and encouraged. My faith and resolve increased that day, thanks to God and to my friends that had faith for me when I was running low.

If she does want to talk things out with you, don’t be overwhelmed with the idea that you have to “fix” anything. If your removed perspective offers her insight, great—make suggestions to her carefully and lovingly.  Don’t feel like you have to save the day. Just listen and be supportive.

Also, she may want to spend time with you and not talk about her problems. Try to be useful. See if you can help her clean the house, babysit her kids while she takes some time to de-stress, make meals, do her grocery shopping—anything to ease her burdens. Her ability to focus on the little things in life can be decreased by the effort she’s putting into keeping it together, or surviving. She just may be worn out by pain. Refresh her spirit however the Lord leads you. You may be able to save her day just by doing her dishes or painting her nails!

Above all, remember that the Lord is good all the time. He blesses us even in our afflictions. He will take care of her when you cannot, and He is the only One that can bring healing. Remember, He loves her even more than you do.

Originally published in the Spring 2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter