I have asked a few of my favourite writers/bloggers to respond to the Jesus Feminist discussion questions. The discussion questions are meant for small group discussions or journalling but I wanted to make a bit of room on the blog for each of us to respond to them, too.
What does authentic community among women look like to you? Have you ever seen it done right in the church?
Weigh in with your response to the day’s question in the comments! One response will win a free signed copy of the little yellow book.
Today, Jerusalem Jackson Greer is responding to our question.
“Spiritual experiences aren’t meant to be homogeneous, only harmonious – not in unison, but in unity.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits
To all the women reading, who are followers of Christ, I have a favor to ask.
Please, my sisters-in-Christ, do not join the church ladies in your community for the following reasons:
- For the programs
- To be with like-minded women
- To fit in
- For the T-shirt
If you do, I can promise that at some point you will be disappointed, disillusioned, and feel disjointed.
I beg of you instead to join the Church Ladies in your community if:
- You want to follow Jesus
- You want to be known by your love
- You want to love your neighbor
- You want to be last
Here is what I am asking:
Can we suspend our well-oiled cynicism about Women’s Ministry?
Can we push aside our need for slick, or relevant, or programs?
Can we let go – at least for a season – our assumptions about which women can speak into our lives based on the size of their hair, the style of their shoes, the choice of their bumper stickers, or their music preferences?
Can we learn to live out those lovely movie lines “I like you… Just as you are.” towards one another?
I hate to hike. I absolutely hate it. But my friend Alison loves it and now she has gone off and moved to Scotland. And I really wish that I had gone on a hike with her somewhere when she lived nearby. I wish I had let her teach me all about hiking. About why she loves it so. About what it has taught her.
I don’t think it would make me like hiking, but it would have helped me understand Alison. And it would have been a way to love her.
I, on the other hand, really like to craft. And every time someone makes a joke about crafting at women’s church events, I cringe because I actually enjoy it.
But some of my very best friends really don’t like it all. Yet every now and then they will step out of their comfort zone and craft with me. Because they know it is part of who I am, that it is important to me, and that it means a lot to me when they take the time to enter into that part of my heart with me.
Sometimes I need to be with people in the exact stage of life as me because we can commiserate and I feel less alone in my questions and hurdles. It feels good to laugh and cry with someone who knows exactly what I am going through because they are right there in the mud and the muck with me.
But sometimes what I need is to be with someone who has traveled further down the road than me.
I need to sit in the presence of blue-haired ladies who have made it well past the twenty-year mark in their marriages. I need to listen to the wisdom of women who have looked in the mirror at the age of 39 and wondered if the good stuff was over or just beginning.
And sometimes what someone else needs – someone newly married, someone with toddlers as opposed to teenagers – what she needs is someone like me. Someone who is a little further ahead, but still within shouting distance.
Dear sisters, I know there are culture wars raging something fierce right now. Many of you are lost at sea amidst storms within your denominations or expression of faith. Many of you are homeless; you have been wandering the desert of church home options for years. But if you can find a little group of Church Ladies somewhere in your community – at your church or your neighbor’s church or your mother’s church or that church on the corner – if you can find a group of sisters to join, please do.
And as you walk through the doors, please be curious, not judgmental. Please enter with eyes, ears, and hearts wide open. Please check any tendencies to mock, to lead with cynicism, to quarantine yourself in the corner, at the door. Enter not just to receive, but to give. Not just to speak, but to listen.
You and I need to try things that are outside our comfort zone without feeling threatened.
Because being together should not be about us.
It should be about the other.
I need to go on a hike and you need to craft.
I need to fill in some blanks on a worksheet and you need to take a yoga class.
I need to take each and every opportunity to see what life looks like from another’s vantage point, instead of shrugging things off as “not me.”
And we all need to love out Christ’s commandment:
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13: 34-35 The MSG)
And maybe a good place to start is with the Church Ladies.
Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, occastional preacher-lady, nest-fluffer, urban farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons in a 1940s cottage in Arkansas at the crossroads of beauty and mess with an ever-changing rotation of pets, including a hen house full of chickens. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life. She blogs about all of this and more at http://jerusalemgreer.com