Of all the burdens we carry as women, I would say one of the greatest of these would be the
affliction habit of comparison.
We do it to ourselves, and at times it’s like we don’t even know we are doing it.
We snark at social media posts by other women working direct sales, “ignoring” their event invites and not responding to their messages. We sneer at the woman who is not ashamed to put herself out there with her talents or hobbies. We judge the mother who works and spends long hours away from her children, but we say we don’t understand the mother who still co-sleeps with her five year old. We hate the pulled-together mom waiting at school drop off, and yet we turn and wonder why the mother who is always late and disorganized can’t get herself together.
Worse than that. We discount ourselves before we have even reached the starting line. We say we could never be like the woman to the left or right of us. That God’s promise of redemption is not for us, it couldn’t possibly cover OUR sin. We say that we are too anxious, too weak-minded, too useless for His mighty kingdom.
We think we are failing in every facet of our lives.
I have always thought the command to not compare our lot to another’s plays out in two ways.
First, do not compare what you seemingly don’t have to the person who does possess it.
Second, try not to stack the things you actually DO posses against the person who doesn’t in an effort to diminish or discount them.
Both actions plant seeds of dissension, envy, greed and self-doubt in our hearts toward others. And boy, we can SO do both of those things at the same time, and not even bat an eye.
One of the most worthwhile tasks I have ever had to work toward was how to genuinely be supportive of the women around me. And to realize that the woman to the left or right of me was not my competition, but instead my comrade.
These women have ended up being the people who most inspire me as they serve their God, love their children, create and build and encourage, and confound expectations of what women of God – and in general – are supposed to be.
We are evolving in this post “Me- too” culture.
The last year has been both a reckoning and an eruption for women and men. And it was only when women stood shoulder to shoulder together and behind one another in solidarity that the tidal wave of truth finally swelled past the point of containment.
Women, do we not see how powerful we are when we are together? And how we are even more powerful when we give a leg up to the women around us??
When we lay down our arms and instead link arms and share burdens with each other and help one other to stand even when our knees quake.
The truth is that the enemy of this world, who prowls like a lion but whispers lies as smooth as butter, is seeking to devour us all, knows that when we are together, we are unstoppable.
Which is why he would rather see us fighting one another for scraps than standing arm in arm in the battle for our lives.
I stand here today, guilty as any other of discounting, forgetting and stacking myself against sisters in Christ instead of welcoming them with open arms.
And I commit myself to these things from here on out:
1.) To go forth and make disciples
Women were paramount to Christ’s ministry, both before His death and after. He cherished the women around Him. And He did not bestow on them a calling different than their male counterparts.
He called us all into a life of evangelism and service to others. He beseeched us to love others as ourselves. As we have been loved.
I commit myself to making disciples of all women I meet. I will pray with you. I will cry with you. I will love you as a spiritual sister. I will wipe clean the mascara running down your cheeks as you spill tears of brokenness and frustration. I will welcome you into my messy home, and will listen to what ails your heart over a cup of hot coffee.
I will affirm you. I will admonish you. And I will cherish you in the great work that we are striving toward.
2.) I will love you
My heart sometimes as full as my head is empty. But I will make room for you.
My old, rugged heart will beat with yours as we try to figure this broken world out together. Sometimes, that means stopping over with a casserole for dinner because I know you just can’t worry about one more thing. Sometimes, that means praying for you in the early hours of the morning.
I will make myself a safe place for you where you are held in confidence. I will remember that there are women who are hurting and broken, and will treat them gently and with respect.
I will love you in the most Godly way I know.
Sometimes, that will mean affirming you even when you don’t feel worthwhile, and sometimes that will mean honest words from a friend as I remind you that you are a daughter of the most high king. Because sometimes, love is saying or doing the difficult or uncomfortable thing because it is the right thing.
3.) I will live gospel-consciously.
I will not forget the marginalized and overlooked women around me. Women who are walking a different path and through a different set of circumstances and trials than me.
I will remember that sometimes, the most jaded and cynical around me are often the ones who hurt the most.
I promise to not assume that every person’s life looks exactly like mine. I promise to never presume that things that may have been easy for me have been easy for you.
I promise to remember all of my sisters of color, social standing and familial status, and to seek justice and acceptance for them.
I will do my best to love you as Christ has loved me, with a love that covers a multitude of sin and blemishes, and keeps on churning against the odds.
I promise to remind you that you are seen, wanted and adored by the same Almighty God who churns the oceans and sets the stars in the heavens. And that we are heavenly patriots and sisters first, and above all else. I will remember that though we may be different, we are tied together by the scarlet thread of Christ which pierces through all flesh and manmade divides.
4.) I will have words of affirmation and support
I will be excited for you when you succeed. And I will encourage you even when you might not.
I will believe you when you share your hurts with me. I will not make excuses for a miscarriage of justice, and the poor words or harmful actions of another.
I will nudge you toward Godly forgiveness when applicable, and accept you when you are grieving or angry.
I will remind you that it is God who counts and guides our steps. I will remind you that failure can be used to guide you. To edify you. That sometimes, failing is where we can gain knowledge of the truth more than the success. I promise, though, to still believe that the promises of God are for you even when things don’t work out the way we wanted them to.
5.) I will learn from you
I know so very little, and I will remind myself of that fact constantly.
I will learn from your struggles, and accept your wisdom and wise counsel. I will understand that you will see my sins and struggles in ways that I cannot, and will trust you when you offer correction and reproof.
I will treat your kernels of wisdom and exhortation as nuggets of gold. I will always strive to remember that faithful are the words of a friend, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy.