Thursday, June 12, 2014

on women empowering women

If there is one thing I am passionate about in the Church, it is definitely the gathering of women to read His word and to encourage one another. While in Uganda, I had the privilege to speak to a group of women who call themselves the Daughters of Destiny. While in Uganda, I loved visiting the village churches and seeing the young children at school. It was a privilege and an honor to be welcomed into people's homes as we walked through the villages. But I also knew that there was a specific reason why I had come to Uganda-there was an experience or a lesson to be learned that the Lord intentionally prepared for me. And until Saturday, when I was able to sit with an amazing group of women and just talk about the Lord, I had not seen that thing yet.

As someone who has attended church since I was in the womb, the Lord has given me myriad opportunities to be mentored and discipled by various women outside of my family. My own mother is an incredible woman. She is strong and faithful to those she loves. She works tirelessly to meet the needs of so many others, yet she is quick to recognize and understand when she needs rest. She taught me not to be ashamed of taking naps. :) I admire her so very much, and love her beyond words. But there is value in the variation of experiences offered when women of different backgrounds come together and find each other within genuine community.

Through the years, the Lord has been more than generous to me by providing women in the church who have been mentors and friends to me in each stage. From middle school to college and post-grad life, I have been blessed to know some incredible women. Walking through life with other women does not have to be anything fancy or difficult. It does not have to be something complicated or intrusive. But it does need to be authentic. And I can say, gratefully, that in addition to my own mother, there have been so many women in my life who have been authentic with me-showing me what it means to be a woman after God's heart in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. For that I am forever grateful.

With my mentor from middle school to college, Lindsay Sebesta. She used to be my babysitter!

Beautiful women of Capilla Calvario Chihuahua Church in Mexico at the women's retreat. So many women in this picture were so pivotal during my time there.

Titus 2:1-5 states

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women are likewise to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God not be reviled. 

Oh, there is so much to unpack in these verses. For right now, let's pay attention to the general plea that Paul makes in his letter to Titus- the importance of generations impacting generations. No matter how old you are, people look to you, and you look to others. As a twenty-something, I look to women in their thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties to understand my self. And girls who are in high school and college look to me, knowing that it was not long ago that I stood in their shoes. The responsibility of a woman after God's heart is to recognize her impact on not only those who are in her immediate care (if she is a mother) but also to understand that her spiritual sisters are watching her, too. And they are taking note of each move she makes, watching to see how they should walk.

With lifelong friends from growing up at Piedmont Church who I know will be around for quite some time.

The fab four- precious college friends from UGA.
Let's go back to Uganda, shall we? As I sat with these women and looked into their eyes, listening to their questions as they sought to know and understand the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman, the Lord made it clear to me why He had brought me there. We (Americans) have so many resources available to us- Christian books, music, Bible studies, conferences, retreats, podcasts, apps, etc. These women are hungry for the Word and ready to grow deeper, but they do not have those resources. So Lord willing, next year we will return with a group of women who are ready to pour into these ladies through a women's conference. God can do anything in and through His people. And so we sit at His feet, waiting to see what He does with our willing hearts.

With a sweet Ugandan sister, Happy Betty on our last night in Uganda.

I just finished reading an amazing book that I was just certain I would hate: Jesus Feminist. It challenged me in the best ways, calling out deeply held beliefs and putting them against the Word as the true and final authority. The author, Sarah Bessey, writes

Women are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, real community- not churchified life tips and tricks from lady magazines. These can be fun, even relationship building, but surely it's not the whole picture...We are seeking Jesus- we want to smell him on the skin of others, and we want to hear tell of his activity. We are seeking fellow travelers for this journey. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell stories and listen, to love well, to learn how to have eyes to see and ears to hear. We want to be part of something amazing and real and lasting, something bigger than ourselves.

We seem to think as women that we are not powerful-that because of our genetic makeup, there are certain things we just can't do. But God has equipped us to be kingdom movers and shakers. And it's about time we do just that as we pour into the next generation while learning from the one before.

This post is a part of She Shares Truth, a weekly writing challenge for women who are a part of the She Reads Truth community. Take a look at this post to read more about spiritual motherhood.

4 comments:

  1. Jessica, this is beautifully written. I love how you wove together wisdom and stories! And that quote from the book? Rich with truth.

    This line especially hit home - "the importance of generations impacting generations". How true! We have so much to teach those who are younger than us, and so much to learn from those who are older than us. I think that's one of the main reasons God designed community the way that He did...!

    Thank you for sharing!!

    www.ouryellowdoor.wordpress.com

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  2. Thank you so much, Rachel! I loved your post as well.

    And what is so neat about the "generations impacting generations" is that it was something my pastor mentioned this Sunday-so it seems to be a theme that the Lord wants to impress upon me in this season!

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  3. Oh my heavens this was lovely! Thank you for sharing, Miss Jessica. I scribbled the part about the "...responsibilities of a woman after God's heart..." into the margins of my Bible- I love the way you phrased that!

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    1. Jessica, I'm so glad it encouraged you! That means the world to me!

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