Today was the last day of my bible study. It started last fall in September. Truthfully, the only reason that I went was because it gave me the first opportunity I have had in three years to leave the house during the week and sit at a table without kids. I am not kidding. The first day they asked why we were here and what we wanted to learn and I said "I am here because my kids are not and I am not even sure what the study is about. It doesn't really matter because I am coming no matter what". As the year ended, my group which had started with about 8 of us, ended with three originals and two ladies that joined us second semester. The final group was a great group, filled with women who were transparent and a leader that was able to make parenting, even at it's worst, humorous. It was a weekly treat for me to be part of it, and it gave me an excuse to sit next to one of my very best friends every Wednesday. I will miss it.
Today as we brought the year to a close, we took a moment to go around the room and say what the group or the study meant to us and what I heard made me smile and broke my heart at the same time. You see ladies, and yes I am talking to YOU so listen up: this a group of women ages ranging from 24 to 60. Most of us have small children and the majority of us are in our thirties and forties. THIRTIES AND FORTIES!!! Pay attention here. I was in a room of women that have lived quite a bit of life. Many of which would tell you that this bible study wasn't their first rodeo. And today, at the end, these women got up and in tears talked about how this was the ONLY place they had ever felt welcomed, honesty, transparency, comfortable, grace, mercy, understanding (I could go on and on) in a room full of women.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME LADIES!!?? What the hell is wrong with us?? How is it possible that these women, at their ages, have never joined a group of women that made them feel these things? Good grief. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. And I knew exactly what they were talking about. I had even watched, in this very room early on in the year, as one lady who was struggling in a huge way was made to feel like her life was more of a soap opera than a reality. She quit coming. Quit coming to a women's bible study because she was made to feel uncomfortable about sharing her life with us.....this is the world that we live in. We live in a world where women, who claim to love Jesus, make other women feel like less.
Ladies, we aren't doing anyone any favors by acting like we have it all together. This world if full of enough guilt and shame and condemnation without us offering it up as a side to our chicken salad on a small group gathering picnic table!!! And here is the cold hard truth. We are ALL guilty. Me, you, her. Every one of us. If you lie, you are guilty. If you only share the positive, you are guilty. If you sit quietly and don't share at all, guilty. If you gossip, guilty. If you acted like you have never been there, guilty. If you aren't listening to these women, you are guilty. GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. All of us. This world, the media, the enemy, together they have stacked the deck against us ladies and we are letting them kick our asses every hand. That is just the plain ole truth. I'd like to ask you when was the last time you went to a bible study and had someone stand up and admit to using the F word when talking to their three year old? Or when you sat at a table and listened to a woman say "I can't control my kid". These are the women I just spent a year with and their honesty is the most light I have seen shone in this dark world in a loooong time.
So I am challenging you ladies, all of you and myself. How many friends do you have that know the real you? When is the last time you sat in bible study and told that story that you were ashamed to tell? How many people really know the status of your marriage? Our testimonies, they are gifts. Every. Single. Piece of Them. Gifts are to be given away. SHARE ladies. Use your story and help another mom, another wife, another teenager. Tell the truth. Be embarrassed. Ask for help. Don't leave out the hard parts because those are the pieces that speak to someone in their very darkest times. Don't you wish someone would do that for you? Don't you wish someone would stand up and say "My kids are terrible. My husband isn't home enough. My parents didn't notice me. We never have sex. My daughter hates me. I can't talk to my mom. My family is falling apart. My son can't read and he's 7. My 5 year old isn't potty trained. My husband ignores me. I am losing my mind. I can't get pregnant." Say it ladies. Love yourselves enough to say it and love your friends enough to say it. The world is broken. Be a light. Be a light like the women that I just spent nine months with were to me. You won't regret it.