Dear Women of the Church,
I owe you an apology. I have sinned against you and I am sorry.
Ladies, I have been called to love you and I have failed. Instead, I have idolized you. I have typecast you. I have oversimplified you. Mostly, I have feared you.
For the entirety of my fourteen year walk with the Lord, my connections with other women have been rare and tenuous things. Those that have formed were born from your repeated efforts to break through my distrust.
For a decade my defense system against the women of the church was my mask- brash, shocking, bitter, hard, aloof. Bit by bit, God broke that barrier down until the underlying cause was exposed. Fear. And that fear became a paralyzing thing. For the next four years, all I could do in a social situation was cry.
The tears have since ceased, but the insecurity has persisted. I’ve been in my new church now for a year and a half and I’ve yet to make a connection with another woman. At the church before this, it took three years.
There’s a simple reason for that. I’ve been waiting for you to approach me.
For this isolation, I have excused myself. After all, I have social anxiety. I was bullied as a child. I don’t feel comfortable introducing myself. I, I, I, I…
I have even blamed you. As women of the church, you are supposed to love me. You should reach out to me. You need to love people like Jesus loved people. You, you, you, you….
Not my fault- your fault.
Friday morning, I felt the old steel come crawling back over my face and I prepared myself physically and mentally to enter a sea of 740 other Christian women at a conference in Houston. With each swipe of my mascara wand, I set my jaw tighter. As I screwed in the labret piercing I still insist on wearing at 37, I let my lips fall flat into an indifferent line. My shoulders squared as I packed my armor: makeup, accessories, and flattering clothes. I zipped on my boots, which raise my already imposing 5′ 10″, 250 pound frame another notch, and suddenly a wave of conviction rolled over me.
I was doing it again- donning that old attitude the Lord had done such a thorough job of stripping me of in the desert.
So I decided to tattle-tale on myself.
I hit Facebook, and confided to you, the women of God that I was about to meet:
Instantly, you lovely ladies of God rallied around me and reassured me. You told me you’d be looking for me to hug me. You confessed that you were also petrified. You revealed that you had similar defense systems. You instantly reassured me and loved me, no questions asked, despite the fact that we had never met.
You did not yet know me and you loved me. How Christ like, how captivating, how gracious.
I had just over a day with you. Thirty-six hours. In that time, I was able to meet a few dozen of you, some of whom I will never forget : Liz, Erin, Martha, Keri, Alicia, Jessica, Hope, Kelly, Krishana…
In that 36 hours, you humbled me as you modeled what the love of Christ looks like: kind words, welcoming smiles, an open invitation, and vulnerability.
So today I confess and I repent.
Women of the church, I have never loved you as I ought. The fault lies in me, not in you. It is past time for me to put away my self-protective mechanisms and to stop being ruled by my fears. It is time for me to love my sisters.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Proverbs 3:27