“You fail in so many ways… “ “You don’t know what you’re doing.” “Today will be painful. Talking about other people’s joys will tell me what I’m missing.” “You don’t measure up [anyway], you’re so ugly.” “You don’t fit in.” “Why don’t you just give it up?”
The voices spin together in a whirlpool of negativity that threatens to drag us all in. It is the morning of Saturday, January 15, and the Among Women panel has again gathered in the Swartz living room. Although this is a day for exploring the joys in our spheres, it begins with a look at some of the darkness that might threaten that process. In a time of silence, Lynette asks the women to speak some of the lies that they hear in their minds. With heads bowed and eyes closed, they speak voices of failure, discouragement, pain, and loneliness. But it doesn’t end there. Our strength is not our own, and with each lie spoken comes a rejection.
“God, I give… [the feeling of not fitting in]…[these feelings of inadequacy]…[these lies about beauty]…Father, help us to be open. Satan, you’re not allowed to tell us lies.”
More powerful than the Father of lies is the author of Truth, who speaks in a still, small voice. This voice is heard in silence and solitude. Unlike the strident clamor of the lies, it takes effort to hear this voice. And this voice says, “You are my beloved.” Lynette asks the women to reflect on the ways that they know the truth of this voice. How do they sense that they are His Beloved?
“There’s nothing better,” says Carla, “than waking up to a small face in your face saying ‘I love you.’” She has a small daughter who sometimes crawls into bed with her in the middle of the night, and then greets Carla in the morning as her alarm goes off with those words.
For Mim, it’s “going to your quiet time and finding just the right verse, or something that jumps off the page to reassure you that ‘I know what you’re going through, and I have this for you today.’”
“I’ll second that,” says Naomi.
“I felt loved when I found Phyllis’ little gifts on our beds,” puts in Elnora. There is general agreement. Martha adds, “I think God often loves us through people. I felt loved this morning when I walked in this morning and smelled the coffee brewing and saw the cups sitting out there.”
Lynette speaks for feeling loved when she feels understood, and Naomy, Sabrina, and Dot all refer to God’s work in the past giving them confidence for the future.
Sabrina says, “When I pray and God answers so quickly, or in a way that I know he was orchestrating it before I even asked, [it says] ‘I’m here. I love you, and I’m taking care of you.’”
“For I am sure,” reads Lynette, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)”
The women listen with their eyes closed, some mouthing the words, a few with silent tears tracing down their faces. In silence, they reflect on this truth and the things in their lives that feel as though they threaten to separate them from the love of God. Faces around the circle reflect pain and struggle, with more silent tears and silent prayers mouthed to God. There is nodded assent to internal messages. And ultimately there is peace. The silence flows into a time of prayer and sharing, with voices raised alternately in thanksgiving and song. Someone starts to sing,
“I am loved, I am loved, I can risk loving you…”
Other voices join the song, as women join hands around the circle. The friendship here has found a more solid footing. Not just grounded now in solidarity as women, and a realization of the similarities in their struggles, they can risk loving each other because they are completely loved by Someone else.
- What are the lies that have threatened to overwhelm God’s voice in your life?
- What reminds you that you are, indeed, perfectly known and perfectly loved?