Women's Experience in the Church on the Emerging Women blog...
It broke my heart because I know some of the truth behind it...and I can feel the hurt that it causes...Let me explain myself.
This article started with a survey that states the majority of women believe they are living to their fullest potential within the church. To which I say, "Really?!?" If that's the case, then why have I not visited that church. What church are they a part of where they are encouraged to take leadership roles and are strongly supported by the leadership within the church. I mean, time and time again, my husband and I visit churches where the "women's ministry" consists of providing childcare, stitch and bitch, and making food for large church gatherings...maybe if we're lucky a few of them visit sick people or shut ins...but by and large, that's it. It's hard because it's not that any of those activities is bad or lesser or unimportant. I actually love children, sewing, cooking, and visiting. It's just that...I think to myself, is that it? Is that all that I'm allowed to do here? Is that the box in which I am to fit my passion? So, we don't have a church home, yet. I blamed myself for a time. I blamed my judgement of others. I accused myself of hating God and hating worship. It makes sense to me because I have always found it hard to find a church community that I can call home...one in which I feel a part of a community. I have always blamed myself for this. I have always thought about how my troubles with anorexia still linger in my soul. How I refuse to connect or cut myself off from God and His help, believing I don't need it.
So, of course, when I read "Then this report made me sad. The kind of sad that aches in my bones. Because when I look at it I see poverty. The church in North America (like the US) may have a lot of money. It may have a lot of stuff. We may also have a lot of people for all I know. But we are starving to death. Emaciated and dying for lack of food, water and oxygen. Worse, we are doing it to ourselves. With a huge smile on our faces. We are a people with anorexia or bulimia. When we look in the mirror we see fat and happy, but the reality is we are starving. Dying."
I think there's a lot of truth in that. I've been thinking about poverty a lot. I am sometimes torn between wanting to serve those who experience financial poverty and don't even know how to dream about living out their passions...and those experiencing spiritual poverty who think they are living a full life but don't even know how to dream about living a connected life. I can relate my experiences during church visits to my experience with anorexia. I remember trying to cover up my anorexia. I would eat ice cream for lunch...happily. Because happy healthy people eat ice cream. No one knew that that would be all I would eat that day. Heck, it even helped me to convince myself that I was fine...super...doing just what I needed to do, unlike those showy cows around me...I ate ice cream...one ice cream cone, which told me that I wasn't sick like some girl that only ate carrot sticks and water...I just wasn't gorging myself like the people I was around everyday, which isn't a bad thing...I was living in moderation...so I told myself.
And that's what I see in the church. It's like an attempt to distract and fool self and others, just as I did with the ice cream. Look at what we have -- book discussions, Bible study, Sunday school, confirmation. We go to church Sunday morning and Wednesday night. That is what I do. That is a reasonable, balanced spiritual life...not like those crazy people worshiping at home, talking about God with random people, giving up what they have to live with next to nothing. We're living with spiritual moderation here, people. It's not like we're sick like those who only show up on Christmas if that.
How sad is that?
My husband and I were discussing this regarding our search for a church... Perhaps that's why we've had such a hard time finding a church home... because we feel a calling for more than a pew to sit in on Sunday morning. We want a community, a family... so we can learn and grow together, discuss what God is doing and how we might be a part of it...encourage and support each other in our callings...on Sundays or whatever days work for worship and discussion. Oh man, just typing that made me yearn for that kind of life-giving and sustaining connection. Gee! We want a church home, somewhere to return to...to recharge and prepare for what's next... A full, fulfilling, live-giving, sustaining, connected relationship with our Lord and others who are similarly passionately involved. That's the dream...so we can have the support and encouragement we need to continue to follow God's call and adventure with Him. And so our search will continue...for community and connection...we will not be discouraged by closed doors and seeming lack of life in the churches we visit...we will not let that deaden us or hold us back...we will adventure on. I thank God that He gave me John...so that we have each other through all of this...so that we can connect and grow together...so that we can discuss and grow and encourage and adventure...as a team...as a family...
God will continue to grow and sustain us. I know He will fulfill His promises as we adventure together. What a blessing! And I know God will use us to show His people how valuable they are and the life He has for them! So, God, call us! Send us! Take us to the next step, the next place... take our life and use it! I think I'm starving for that!