Recently in the news, we’ve seen a lot about women gathering together. Whatever their cause, we’ve seen women uniting to let their voices to be heard and their actions speak for their beliefs. Often, though, for us women, we find ourselves stuck in the thick of comparison and competition. We don’t always feel united or connected, and we can so easily feel isolated or pushed aside when our lives and choices look different from the women around us.
I’m on a women’s ministry team at my church, and the group of women that gather around the table to plan events for our congregation have taught me a lot about how women of all ages and stages of life can truly be for each other and not against each other. When we gather, we all represent a different kind of woman: the single girl in her mid-twenties with a growing career, the retired grandmother, the mother of elementary school kids, the mom of high school students about to leave for college, the newlywed wife and new mom, the mom who also works full-time… the list goes on.
The beautiful thing about this group of women is that we’ve learned to connect and build community despite our differences. There isn’t any competition there.
Bethany Jenkins recently wrote a piece for The Gospel Coalition called “Women, We’re Co-Workers, Not Competitors” and she shares some great thoughts about this.
One of the struggles Jenkins writes about is the temptation for women to justify their decisions, whether it comes to their relationship status or career or family life. “Whenever people start talking about where women work—whether at home or at an office—judgment and comparison are close at hand,” Jenkins says. “The so-called Mommy Wars pit women against women—stay-at-home moms against working moms, conservatives against liberals, women with means and choices against women with neither. Many feel judged for their decisions and exhausted from trying to justify them—even to themselves.”
There were times when this group of women I lead with began meeting that I was tempted to explain myself -- to give the backstory of why I was single, to talk about my career and make it seem like an impressive and worthy endeavor to be dedicating my time to, and on and on. I quickly learned that these women weren’t out to judge me, though, and it softened my heart incredibly.
I learned that they loved and accepted me simply because of who I was, not because of what I did with my time or what my life looked like in this season. It was because of that love and support that I knew I could trust these women with the messy things I was struggling with, that I could share my prayer requests, and that I could be open and honest with them as we led and grew together.
“The Mommy Wars should find no stronghold in the hearts of Christian women, since we know that our righteousness comes from Christ, not us,” says Jenkins. “When we face judgment about our decisions, the grace of God enables us to listen without fearing condemnation. Knowing we’re far more sinful than others think and far more loved than we can imagine, our defensive walls come down, and our character armor comes off. For we know that Christ alone is our hero. The more we embrace our most fundamental identity as Christians, the more we’re able to see one another as co-workers, not competitors.”
There are wonderful things about every stage and season of our lives as women. It’s a stunning picture of the Kingdom when we can see each woman as an essential piece of the puzzle in our Gospel-sharing work. When we can appreciate the single woman’s flexible schedule as a gift, when we can appreciate the career-woman’s influence in the business space, when we can value the stay-at-home mom’s service to her kids and neighbors, we can all begin to see each other as valuable and necessary despite our differences.
“When we see that Jesus is our identity, we have new eyes to appreciate others’ contributions rather than fearfully guarding our own choices,” writes Jenkins. “When our goal is to advance his kingdom, not our own, we can rejoice in all sorts of work being done since we’re on a shared mission. Women making different choices are co-laborers, not competitors. It’s a team effort, so it’s a team sense of joy.”
Women, let’s continue to band together despite our differences for the sake of unity and community-building to the glory of God. Let us see each other with all of our gifts and abilities and unique resources as essential players in the game, and let us love one another well as we all seek to serve our Lord and share his Gospel in the world around us.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
Publication date: February 2, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com