The purpose of the Women's Ministry is to
step alongside women on their walk with the Lord;
welcoming, encouraging, ministering, and providing opportunities
for spiritual growth and disicipleship.
Women's Ministry Director
Go ahead, have a good cry.
I didn’t realize how tired I was. Tired of COVID and it’s intrusion into my life, tired of things falling apart - things around the house, the car, distance from friends and family - even tired of the work involved in the good things that bring me joy and in the waiting for dreams that always seem to be “right around the corner”. LIfe is stressful. Life can seem to be too much at times. What do we do in those times?
Not long ago, twice in a couple weeks, it appeared that something I was working on may not have been correct. When it happened the second time, I wondered if I was losing my game. I’ve never been inept on the job or a volunteer position. Compounded with everything else in my life - I know it is the same for many of you - I began to doubt myself. Who hasn’t been there?
I was brought up to be capable and independent, not as a feminist, but to be practical. Growing up a latchkey kid was pretty normal in the ‘50’s and 60’s. We had the run of the neighborhood, made our own lunches (usually PB&J), and had fun all day. We learned independence early. My older sisters woke me up and left for school. I was trusted not to go back to sleep and to get ready and go to elementary and middle school. I was the only one of three daughters to look for my first job while still attending high school without insisting my mom come along. I performed in high school musicals. I auditioned and toured with a Christian choir after high school. I joined the Army Reserve. I started my own business at 20. I competed multiple times in an employer’s annual equipment rodeo (winning first place my third year in the women’s single-axle truck course after two second-place finishes). As a solo, I have purchased cars, bought a house, and traveled globally. I ended up a single mom raising my son, while persevering through a series of extended life-draining experiences for which no one ever plans or wants.
I realize I’m average. I’m not too different from many women and I certainly haven’t had to face any major life altering or threatening challenges, as many have. But sometimes, life has a way of backing up on us and reminding us we are human, and wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to lean on at those times.
Regarding the work I was doing, it turned out that in neither case did I do anything incorrectly. I felt vindicated, however, my emotional response surprised me. I cried. Just for a minute or so, but long enough to realize that was over-the-top for the situation. I thought about going on a full-blown crying jag, because you know, sometimes that feels really good (if I’m being honest).
So, what did I do? I interrupted my spontaneous eruption and asked myself what it was about. That’s when I realized I was a little stressed. Not overwhelmed, but having enough balls in the air, one can lose track of one or two. I suppose that’s why I leapt to feeling inept. Happy my work wasn’t in question, I thanked God. My confidence intact, I was able to analyze what was going on. Just the release of some tears highlighted the need for some perspective at that moment; a necessary release valve did exactly what God designed it to do. It stopped me in my tracks, which allowed me to relieve some stress and obtain some clarity.
I know that sometimes whatever the reason, most of us have found ourselves in the midst of full-blown panic and fear. Such is the case when we are walking through a life-impacting experience. I pray this never happens to you. However, being realistic, if you haven’t faced a life interrupting event yet, you would be wise to prepare yourself. If you don’t know in Who’s hands your life rests, the emotional arc can be abrupt and steep. It’s much like the biggest drop on a roller coaster ride, except seldom do we have the anticipatory ride up the track to help prepare us for what’s next.
We all know women (and men) who have walked through fire, and have handled it with dignity and wisdom. We revere them, almost timid to draw near. Unknowingly, they wear their inner strength like a mantle. They seem to drip wisdom because of their experiences. I lived many years not understanding that it was their experiences through life, allowed by God, that forged and shaped them into the people they became. They weren’t born with an innate insight and understanding. But in the crucible of life, whether immediately or after grueling years of denial and struggle, they allowed God to have His perfect work in them (James 1:2-4). They learned to lean in and not away. Much like iron being shaped (heated and hammered), it becomes stronger and more dependable, reliable. Internal voids and flaws are worked out as it is forged. These women (and men) have learned it is better to walk through life holding God’s hand than to curse Him, or be the victim, or do nothing, or look for their own solution.
Isaiah 61:2-4 comes to mind. We can stand on this and other scriptures as our solid foundation in fearful and desperate times. He’s good at taking the shambles and chaos in our lives and transforming us and our worlds into works of art, refined silver and gold, splendor. He is so good at it, there is no mistaking the metamorphosis as something we accomplished on our own. No, the author and architect may not be recognised by some, but observers know enough to realize we didn’t get to where we are today without help.
This is Isaiah 61:2-4 from the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition:
“To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
In the eastern culture, mourners tear their clothes and throw dust and ashes on their heads. But given the opportunity, God takes the ashes and dust, expressions of our grief and sorrow, and gives us a garland or a crown of beauty to wear and anoints us with the oil of joy, life-giving, comforting oil to replace salty tears which stain our faces. The anointing oil used to consecrate the high priest for God’s service, dripped from Aaron’s head, down his beard, shoulders, and robe to the hem, and to his feet, indicating he was fully set apart for God. El Shaddai, our All Sufficient One, crowns and anoints us, identifying us as His children and priests. Like the prodigal son and priests commissioned for service, we are given new clothes. In this case,garments which express praise to replace our torn rags which express lack, depression, and a failing spirit. A garment that speaks, exemplifies, demonstrates, and exudes God’s glory. Think of the jewel-encrusted jackets, dresses, and robes of nobility in by-gone eras or the description of Aaron’s priestly garments.
Is there any wonder why we marvel at the women (and men) of God we see as strong in the Lord, exhibiting peace, righteousness, justice, and wisdom, who tread lightly and contemplatively on this earth? They truly are a display of God's splendor in approachable, faulty human form, somehow exhibiting that much more glory of God. However, they walk humbly before God with hands open and ready to follow His Holy Spirit’s leading.
We stand alongside and rejoice with them and hope to be a mighty oak one day, planted by the Lord where He sees fit to use us. He is never finished developing us, bestowing wisdom, insight, and grace. However, by taking His hand before and squeezing more tightly during overwhelming situations, I can lean in and draw life from His Spirit, His Word, and His presence.
Perspective . . . remember the mighty oak was once a sapling and all it did was live it’s life and weather each passing storm and drought. This encourages me. The planting of the Lord for His splendor . . . . As I continue to lean in for God’s leading and wisdom, I am being forged and refined. God can work unhindered to the latitude that I allow. We can expect difficult situations and circumstances. Jesus said the world would hate us (John 15:18, 19). We can look forward to times which stretch our faith and understanding, but in our leaning and submitting to Him He promises to make the way clear before us (Proverbs 3:5, 6). All faith building experiences resulting in lifelong and eternal practical and spiritual blessings - wisdom, health, prosperity, guidance, peace, protection, provision.
So, in your weeping and overwhelming events and trials, remember to stay the course. God is still on the throne. You are His beloved child. He loves YOU. He LOVES you. HE loves you. We can know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Whatever it is, one day we will see how God used these unwanted events, life-altering challenges, and seasons of waiting and withholding for our benefit. Remember, He uses a different measure, but He is always faithful and good.
Blessings on you, women of God! “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight . . . “ Philippians 1:9
Check us out on Facebook: “Women’s Ministry @TFH”