ReCAST Church

Women’s Network Blog I

By Becky Gilson

“So, what do we actually do?”  I asked the other women, circled up in a quiet, vaguely teenage smelling room in the back corner of ReCAST Church.  We were meeting to plan for the future of women’s ministry at ReCAST.  Let me tell you what I actually asking, in the raw recesses of my soul: “Will we be putting on events with pink table cloths and women complimenting each others’ scarves that will be fun and even temporarily spiritually encouraging but won’t actually change anything in our lives?  Or…are we somehow going to create a safe micro-world where we can actually see each other and love each other?  Are we going to find a way to ego-lessly connect with each other?  Are women who know more than me going to share their hard earned knowledge?  Are we going to draw connective lines between each other until our hearts are all knit and conjoined and powerful together?”  I wanted to know if it was going to get deep and rich and real.  I wanted to know, selfishly, if I was going to get some sisters.

Of course, I had asked a practical question, so I got a practical answer.  We would be doing a book study- Women of the Word (join us!), we had plans for some casual social events and panel discussions, and someone needed to write the women’s ministry blog.  There were lots of ideas and excitement and details, all designed to mix and grow us.  When we prayed though, I had the answer to my real, unsaid question, the question thrumming its drumbeat under the layers of practicality.  As we talked to our God, on equal and united footing, the ribbon of His Spirit running through the circle of us, I understood that He is a God of connectedness.  A group of women, yearning toward Him, asking Him to make us into something that pleases Him and to both widen and deepen our circle really could only lead to just the right ingredients to build friendship+.

The plus is not a typo. I meant to put it there.  I hope that what this women’s ministry looks like is friendship with rocket boosters.  There should be no better place to troll for friends than church.  I have heard many people declare church to be the best place to find artificiality and judgment.  I have found the opposite to be true.  It’s been the place where I have found the people that I can be least varnished around and who have loved me in and with and through the most pathetic and ugly parts of myself.  That’s the plus I hope for- the plus where Jesus gives us the ability to see with His own softness and to love with His lack of discrimination.

So, with all that in mind, here is the verse that strikes me foundational to this kind of friendship.  It is quite personal because it became essential to me in a time of my life that still feels bruised if I go back and mentally relive it.  I can tell you though, that you stand a much better chance of being a decent friend if you can manage it.  It is a sentence mixed into a whole list of Paul’s instructions on how to live together.

Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

It is so clean and lovely.  And so, so difficult.  It’s an antidote to jealousy and a call to be the opposite of indifferent.  If practiced, it is irresistibly attractive.  Paul is saying that he expects us to be genuine enough in our relationships that we can feel authentic joy when someone else receives or achieves something- even something that we deeply long for ourselves.  He also expects us to get inside each others pain— to bear it together so it can lighten.

I wish that Paul’s supreme empathy were our natural reaction.  It’s not.  I could blame our lack of co-rejoicing and co-mourning on our culture which tells us to value ourselves above others or on an unhealthy sense of competition between womankind.  Maybe those factors play a part, but I think my hesitance to obey was more basic: it seemed emotionally unsafe and exhausting.  It’s so much easier to feel relieved it wasn’t your turn for a tragedy than to walk through one with a friend.  It feels emotionally unsafe to try to celebrate your friend’s third pregnancy while still waiting for your own womb to put out the no vacancy sign.

Paul is asking for another level, where you love people beyond how they relate to yourself.  When we do this, we abandon all the worst parts of our female psyche.  When I am concerned about loving and caring for the women I am meeting with, then I can release the ritual of considering where I fall in the lineup of attractiveness or intelligence or even spirituality in that group.  Can we give ourselves permission not to project our favorite image of ourselves but rather just to be our real selves?  Can we accept each other as whole people and grow from there?  I am so ready for women’s ministry to be delightfully different.  I am so ready for my heart to bump against yours.  I am so ready for God to tumble us all together to we can gently polish each other, not so that we can all become cookie cutter Christians, but so that the unique deposit of Him in each of us can become our most distinguishing feature.

John 13:35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

 

Who is the author of this blog?

Becky is a ReCAST woman who loves God and has a knack for creating warm welcoming spaces complete with yummy foods and drinks. She speaks fluent Spanish, loves to try exotic weird foods, and gives good thoughtful gifts to her friends.  
She lives with her feisty four year old drama queen, serious sportsy son who loves video games, and her tall handsome husband who loves the Chicago Bears but hates all her decorative throw pillows.

2 Responses

  1. Sharron Sternbergh says:

    I’m so excited to get to know, really know, the women at ReCast. And for them to see and know the real me. Thank you Becky for writing this blog. You clearly have the gift to write!

  2. Krista Walkley says:

    Thank you Becky, this is so honest and beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes and that ache down in my heart. This is exactly what I yearn for and have looking for. I admit, I have been envious of you ladies when I read posts on ReCast Woman’s Network, the Love of Jesus is richly displayed there thru you all. It is a desire of my heart to be there, to be connected, to love honestly and to be loved honestly. I confess, MY plans have been that when my disability finally goes thru that I was going to pack up and move to Mattawan because I know TRUTH is preached but more than that God’s Truth is lived in the lives of the body of Christ at ReCast. Right now, I am repenting of my envy and I am submitting MY will to God’s Will for my life. I am thankful I am connected thru the ReCast Woman’s Network with all of you. Love has no distance. My prayer is now that God will give me the desire of my heart to physically be there and be connected but only if it be His Will for me. I pray for contentment and connection where He has me today. May God be glorified in all things at all times. I love you all and I am truly blessed being a part of the ReCast family even from afar. Blessings to all. Let’s all be today what God is calling us to be with His help. Amen!

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