The blood ran from the gash in my leg nearly as quickly as the tears carved tracks down my cheeks.
A group of eleven-year-old girls crowded around me, staring as I sat on the ground, holding my bleeding knee.
One of them spoke. The rest of them laughed.
“Sssshhhh!!” she’d hissed at me. “They won’t let us play if you don’t stop crying! GET UP AND SHUT UP!”
She was one of the popular girls, so she set the tone for the group. In a moment, all the others were chanting venomously, “get up, shut up, get up, shut up!” in a hushed whisper, as to not draw the attention of the recess monitor.
I’d been the “tail” of the hand holding line of 5th grade girls playing “whip” at recess. Stupid game, “Whip.” The object was to link hands in a line, then run in zig-zags around the playground, trying to throw off the girl on the end. If you broke the chain, you ended up as the tail. Your personal goal was to get to the front of the chain and then you got to lead which direction the chain ran.
I’d been flung off three times already. This last time, I managed to slice my leg open (this was back before playgrounds were made of recycled tires – we played on concrete, asphalt, and gravel) and it was bleeding pretty bad. My pride wounded at my lack of apparent skill and absence of compassion from my schoolmates, I simply got up and walked away from the group and walked over to the swings.
Myriads of moments as memorable as this one peppered my childhood. I was one of those chosen for negative attention, catching the eyes of the bullies and stronger kids. The girls were difficult to connect with, cliquey, and for whatever reason, I didn’t find a small peer group to survive in until high school. I steered clear of girls as friends for many years, lacking in the ability to connect, deeply wounded by years of bullying and painful interactions that left me feeling inept. I literally married my best friend (a man) and had my second best friend stand up with me – also a man. No girls in pretty dresses at my wedding, no college room-mates (never had them – I chose living alone to living with another woman), no childhood friends… there just weren’t any.
And I didn’t know Him at the time, but even way back in elementary school, He knew me. And after I met Him, I allowed Him to make me new.
It’s a thing He does.
In all the hurting places, He makes us new if we let Him.
One of the best ways He’s made me new is changing my heart towards women. Just like God gave gave Mary the blessing of female companionship in Elizabeth when the angel Gabriel announced her upcoming pregnancy and the birth of the Messiah, He also gave me that blessing. I can now say that I love women. I absolutely love my female friends – and a part of me shrivels up and doesn’t work properly when I don’t get my girl time. I’m super thankful it started with a fabulous group of women that I worked with for years – we did life and manufacturing together. Tough and wonderful all at the same time. We had monthly department meetings at my house where we wore sweats and accommodated those with nursing babies. I somehow acquired a team of mostly women…perhaps God’s hand.
Yesterday was absolutely fantastic and briefly reminded me of those days and His care over my life. I have the privilege of doing ministry with a team of beautiful women from around the country, some of whom are local. Those of us here got together yesterday for brunch. We sat together over a meal, speaking of what we endured, celebrated, suffered, met with enthusiasm, dreaded, finished and left undone over the course of the last year. We focused on what went well, what “testimony was still being worked out,” where we had hope, and what encouragement we needed. We talked about our families.
Our eyes welled together, we laughed together, we prayed together. And in the spring, we’re doing this with our larger team from around the country, and can’t wait to get everyone together in the same room at the same time.
But yesterday? It was a rich time.
It was a gift.
The generations at the table included women who were grandmothers, women who had married children, women who had teenagers, women with tweens, and women with toddlers. And I realized we had a few things in common – we all suffered, we all persevered, and we didn’t know what we were doing, but we trusted God with the instructions and marching orders for “the next thing.” And there were some women who were absent, some across the country. Some I do life with daily via phone and text message and Facebook… but I was thankful for them as well, yesterday, thought of them fondly, and marveled at the great work God has done in my life.
We link arms together, and hold each other up, without passing judgment, helping us move forward, sometimes two steps forward, one step back-style. It’s beautiful.
And it is immensely HELPFUL. We can’t do this life well alone – we weren’t meant to. Linking arms with other women who follow Christ makes a huge difference in our ability to do marriage and family life well.
And we all wanted one thing: more time together in 2014.
How about you? Are you isolated or connected with other women? I dare you to open your heart and your possibilities to what God is capable of doing if you’ll just let Him. He has a gift for you. Will you receive it? Dare you to comment at the bottom of this page about what He’s doing, where you are, where you’ve come from…and where He’s trying to take you…Double dog dare you to go… (Mary-style, even saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be as you have said...”) 🙂
It could change your life like it has mine.
Love to you,