Tonight I went to a neighborhood church thing to support a friend who pastors there. I couldn't help but notice the women. All stripes. All so special and unique. I never really noticed them all like that before. My eyes were wide open.
Luminous 50 somethings, radiating a comfort in their own skin that they've earned over years of working out this life thing. A few 40 somethings, stylish and blissfully baby-less, but pinching thighs and cooing over the plenty of new offspring around them. Here and there a really old character with fascinating quirks... maybe a little lonely. Mothers smiling at adopted children. Wow. Beleaguered baby jugglers managing far too many arms and legs and voices and travel snacks. Loads of single ladies being all cool and free together. Newish-ly married gals observing the shenanigans with wondering eyes.
We are a beautiful moving picture. Ladies, when we live in community together, we create a three dimensional vision of what it means to be a woman. I can look ahead and see my future... the trials, the victories, the light at the end of the tunnel. I can look back and recall with thankfulness the seasons that I've lived and loved and left behind. Neither the good times nor the difficulties will be with us forever. That makes them both a little sweeter in a way, huh?
Can I say to you, younger women of the world, that we have gone before you not to show you how it is done but to make the way messy for you?
Oh boy, have we made all the messes and mistakes! All of them. Done. Not so we can figure out how to avoid them, or preach the proper way it should be done to you, but so you can have all the grace when you run right into them too.
We have mucked it up real good, so, sister, you have permission. All the permission from all of us to try and fall flat and to be loved limping. There are a million ways. To do marriage, children, work, passions, health, community, church, religion. Even if it looks almost the same, there are always subtle differences... (let's insert something corny here about snowflakes, for pity sake!) But the point is, we're all unique bumblers, so bumble to your own beat, girl. And we'll clap along. It'll be a ruckus, but we'll be having fun.
We have lived not to acquire "how to" knowledge to preach at you, but I hope we have gained "Who to" knowledge that we can shine as a light on your path. Knowledge that teaches us what matters and where to look for hope when we straight up bust it in front of everyone.
Whose voice matters? Whose approval matters? Whose promise is better than all the rest?
If you see someone living in a way that you love, ask them, "Who do you live for?" It won't be for themselves, or their children, or their spouse, or their work, or their community, or their social justice mission, or their politics. It will be something that holds it all that together. It will be Someone who promises that all these things will be restored to perfection in the fullness of time.
This messy life! How weird. How beautiful.
Go, Messy Misses! Live it all bravely without fear of foibles and failing. Live it mercifully, letting others muck up around you and keep right on trucking. Let this be our stunning uniqueness in the world, that we love one another.
"A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another, even as I have loved you... By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another." - John 13:35