I went from seeing women through my own judgmental eyes to seeing women through eyes of love. It wasn’t a gradual change really, it was the kind of moment that impacts you and you never forget it … EVER.
I was on my way to a women’s ministry retreat. I had loaded up everything on the bus and I was totally nervous and out of my comfort zone. I had one friend that was on the trip with me but we had assigned seating and so she was on the far end of the bus, so I was surrounded by women that I had no clue who they were. I’m actually a people-person and pretty good about making small-talk with people I don’t know, but because of all of the “unknown’s” on the trip, I kind of clammed up and went into my shell.
We took off and were on our way. Women started speaking into the microphone in the bus, sharing their story. We went through several women and I was amazed hearing how much people went through. My stomach was starting to growl so I tapped on the ladies’ shoulder in front of me. She was a young, beautiful blonde girl and she had cute work-out clothes on. She looked around my age and looks like someone I would hang out with. I said, “Excuse me, do you know when we are stopping for lunch?” She turned her head around quick towards me and snapped, “Well, maybe if I could hear then I would know!”
I thought, Daaaaang. Why does she have to be so rude? It was the first thing I said the whole trip? It’s not like I’ve been back here talking the whole time? Wow, is everyone as rude as this girl on this trip? This trip is going to stink, wow.
As I sat back in my seat, stewing in my annoyance at being snapped at so rudely and it just kept festering as I sat there getting bigger and bigger. Women were still speaking but I couldn’t hear anything because all I could think about was me. Finally it was the girl’s turn in front of me to go, the girl that was rude. I snapped back to attention because I thought, I want to hear about this lady. Maybe something will make sense of why she is in a bad mood – did she not have her coffee this morning? Or maybe she had to skip her work-out that she obviously was so into? Did she get in a fight with her husband? I wanted to know.
She took the microphone and started speaking. She still had that sarcasm tone going on even when telling her story. I heard about her childhood and then she started telling a story that would change my life. She said a few years before, she was married to her newlywed and they had a 4 month baby. And she told the story of how he died unexpectedly right in front of her while she was holding her baby.
As she was sharing this story, my tears could not be contained. My heart just grieved for this girl as I wept in my seat. She still had the anger going but it was like God ripped the blinders off my eyes and I saw her in a completely different way. She had been through so much. I could not even imagine going through what she had been through. So that’s why she was angry. That’s why she was snapping at me and everyone else around her. Her heart was completely broken in 2.
I heard many more stories on that trip and God did a radical healing in me and I know that I came home from that trip completely changed. Me and that girl actually became friends. We ended up finding out that we had a lot in common and really connected. When I stopped taking personal the tough exterior that she had, and quit making it about myself, I could see past that into her heart. And speak to who she really was, and because of that, I saw her walls coming down. She started getting softer and we started to really open up to each other.
Another time, I remember hanging out a lot with an Embrace Grace girl and she seemed really judgmental about girls that choose adoption. She didn’t understand it and we would have discussions about it and she would almost get a little harsh and rude about it. I knew there had to be more to what her thinking was because she seemed really bitter and I knew the way she spoke about the girls that did adoption, had to come from something more than just what she was saying. As I got to know her more and more and she started to open up and tell me her story, the puzzle pieces started to make sense.
Her and her little sister had to grow up very quickly. With a mother addicted to drugs and living from house to house in an environment unfit for children, CPS finally came and ripped her and her sister away from her mother because her mom was deemed unfit to parent children due to poor decisions. She was placed with a family that seemed ok in the beginning, but unfortunately shortly after they were adopted, went through a traumatic event themselves that left the adoptive father and main provider, paralyzed and in a wheelchair when he fell off the roof one day on a job. The family went through so much transition and doing everything different, that it ended up not being a great experience for this Embrace Grace girl. She looked at her mom through eyes of hurt and rejection. So therefore all adoptions to her, seemed that way too. It all started to make sense. Once we found some core hurts, we began praying and working through healing in those areas that she pushed down for so long.
Now if a women acts rude, non-social, harsh or anything else, instead of automatically thinking, “what did I do to her?” I now think, “what has happened in her life for her to act this way? jesus heal all those hurt places and help me see the real girl in there that’s fighting to be free.”
I just had the pleasure of reading Jan Greenwood’s book, Women at War. It is SO good. She talks about how we need to view the women around us through eyes of love. When we take those blinders off and see the world the way God sees them, it changes everything. You finally just get it … hurt people hurt people.
What if all of us women gathered around and loved every women that God placed in our lives, the way God loves each of us. Loving relentlessly. We could change the world! Jan said in her book,
“We need to stop fighting among ourselves. The time has come to call a cease-fire between our sisters and us. Why not dare to go a step further and actually declare peace? I realise it’s a bit naive to think we could all just hold hands and make up. And I don’t want a false kind of peace – the kind that requires many rules and giant consequences. The peace I’m thinking of comes from within and it’ happens one person at a time. I’m looking toward a culture shift that will allow us to lay down our weapons of war and embrace a lifestyle of love. To accomplish this, you and I will need to come to the negotiation table and begin again. Each of us must do the work of repentance and forgiveness. We need to make a conscious choice to change the way we think and the way we act. We have to decide to invest in the same women around us. I know I’m talking about something radically counterculture. But it is possible.”
Seriously ladies, Jan is right. We can do this!! You really need to purchase this book because she goes into detail on how to think differently about the women you know, and the women you don’t. It’s so worth the read and even buy your friends. If we all partnered together for one cause, we can do BIG things in the Kingdom! Go to Jan Greenwood’s website for purchasing options! You’re welcome! She is a walking and talking picture of grace and everything lovely. She has made a huge impact on my life and she probably has no idea. SO proud to call her friend.
I’ll end this note with one of my favorite quotes in her book:
“God is calling us to rise above our personal agendas, fears, and wounds and draw near to one another in a way that synergizes our individual callings. Those of us who have been walking longer should lead the way. If we pull together, sow together and reap together, we will set in motion a movement of love, acceptance and peace that will change the generations that follow us. Our daughters and granddaughters will walk strong and whole, free of our past, empowered to bring hope and healing to others.”
Written by Amy Ford