Today, I had lunch with six other women’s ministry directors from the Austin area. This little group gets together about once every two or three months to share ideas, compare calendars, and offer advice. As usual, we shared a plate of cookies, laughed alot, and vented a little about the frustrations of full-time ministry. As I looked around the table, I realized that I’m no longer the “new girl” in the group. While I may be the youngster by age, I’ve actually been in the ministry – with my two whole years – longer than a couple of my colleagues. And with that came the realization that it feels good to be a part of the group instead of a newbie. It’s good to be among colleagues and friends instead of in charge or catching up to everyone else. It’s good to know and be known.
So much of who we are as human beings cries out to be known and accepted. Not all that surprising, when you consider that we are made in God’s image. He is relationship by His very nature – in perfect fellowship as Three in One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we were designed for relationship with Him from the very beginning. So the drive to find others like ourselves, someone to connect with and accept us as we are, is as fundamental as breathing. That’s why it’s so important to me that we are REAL with each other. REAL, both in the sense of what it stands for (Reaching out, Encouraging each other, Adoring God and Learning together), but also authentic and transparent and safe. To know each other and REAL-ly be known.
I guess I’m feeling a little introspective at the end of my second full year as the Director of the REAL Women’s Ministry. (Yes, it’s only been two years so far, though I’ve been at FEFC much longer than that) We’ve just come out of an incredible ministry season. More women than ever attended the REAL Women’s Bible studies. The Brave Women’s Conference drew just under 500 women to the campus for an amazing weekend of laughter, worship, and learning. We made some new friends from the apartments on Monterey Oaks through the ESL classes and participating in the “Walk for Jack” this spring. The Precept study tackled the book of Revelation – something they are continuing this summer – with devotion and intense personal study. The MOPS ministry doubled this year, reaching out to moms who desperately need to know that they’re not the only ones who struggle with their infants and preschoolers. A few women have been catching glimpses of Christ in one another through the REAL Life Ministry designed to encourage us to share our lives and experiences with one another – after all, if we have Christ, we have something to share! I could go on and on.
With a 10,000 foot view of all of these things, I see more clearly than ever how badly we need one another. How much healthier we are when we are connected. How important it is to gather as women in the Body of Christ. How desperate the church is (both FEFC and the church universal) for what we, as women, have to give in reflecting God’s image. How important it is to each one of us that we know each other and are truly known. I’m grateful for all that God has given each of you that you have been willing to share with others through the REAL Women’s ministry this year. I am more convinced than ever that we are a bunch of beautiful, brilliant and blessed women, even as we work through our seasons of brokenness. And yes, many of us are badly broken, but our Heavenly Father is at work putting the pieces back together to be stronger than ever before. And the more we know each other and allow ourselves to be known, the more beautiful we become as part of His Body.
I realize that many of you can’t see what I see – you’re down in the trees while I’m looking at the whole forest. So I plan to share my thoughts and observations more often in the upcoming months. I so want you to see what I see from here! It’s truly amazing stuff! And I’d love to know what you see from your perspective. In what areas of your life do you need to be known? To be accepted? To know you’re not alone?
Thank you for being on this journey with me. Let’s continue finding out what it means to be REAL together…