How I overcame prejudices to love unconditionally
Years ago when I was ‘perfect’, I would listen to women’s struggles and prayer requests, tilt my head and judge them to hell and back. Abortions, sexual sins, wayward children . . . Clearly they were not walking a true Christian walk.
I grew up in church and was rather smug in my status – a virgin bride, two obedient children, and now actively serving the Lord. Yep, I had the whole Christianity thing nailed down. Anyone whose life was messy was to be pitied, prayed for, and most importantly, kept at arm’s length. After all, I couldn’t have their dirt fall onto my clean life. Ah, the superiority of a female Pharisee!
Years later, I found myself separated with a divorce looming. Many church ladies reached out . . . to condemn and doom me to hell. I was reeling. Weeks and months later most apologized, but the damage was done. Lacing up my running shoes, I left the fellowship of believers as fast as I could. In my race to get away, I also left God behind. I wanted nothing to do with anything or anyone that would give an already deeply wounded woman more afflictions.
He pursued me and wooed me. I started to fall in love again with the One who loved me first and most. In awe of His holiness . . . I became keenly aware of how unholy I was . . . and had always been.
But, what about church? Could I dare walk into one? When I finally ventured out in all my ‘imperfection’, I found a fellowship where no one knew me . . . or anything about me. My opening comment to the first woman I met was, ‘Hi. My name is Lori. My mother is dying, my daughter is suicidal, I’m about to get divorced and I’m still quite mad at God.’
Nice huh? I figured if I was going to be judged, I might as well save her some time and put it all out there. She never missed a beat. A painful smile etched across her face and she accepted the walking wounded woman before her. She loved me.
Watching this sweet sister’s love in action made me realize that I was never a perfect Christian after all.
Neither was she.
None of us are.
Nor are we expected to be.
My journey of healing, renewal and understanding Christ’s grace has been an interesting trip. Confession, repentance and getting real before God and my fellow sisters is a crazy, beautiful deal. The Word has become not a place to pull out scripture to fling at others as weapons of mass destruction, but to apply to my own soul. I confess I spent decades walking various church foyers full of arrogance. My aloofness and haughty spirit must have wounded many. I’m so sorry.
After a few months of gentle restoration, I sought His will and new direction. I believed my hypocritical life, and especially the damage I incurred during my ‘running years’, would deem me unusable. Nevertheless, I laid out my life before Him to see what He would choose.
To my surprise, He chose me . . . not in spite of my sinful past . . . but because of it.
My eyes and heart were opened to women around me. I was released to love and embrace without judgement. The first group God led me to had been sexually exploited and prostituted. Women like the one at the well. Women like me.
From there, He led me to dozens of ladies who had left Christian fellowship. Women who laced up and ran away after being wounded by people who were not ‘perfect’ – as they may think – but just as damaged as those they drove away. Women with a common message of rejection, hurt and isolation.
Thinking this was just a coincidence, I spoke with Directors of women’s ministries from different denominations. They concurred that a large percentage of women were damaged, hadn’t found healing and were therefore damaging others. Many were leaving and those who stayed were hiding behind masks – not receiving or giving the way the church was designed to function.
We’re all broken. We’re all wounded. We all inflict wounds. That’s the reality of living in a fallen world. But, God showed me restoration and reconnection starts with the church lady in the mirror.
We need to step down from our haughty places and take a good look at ourselves. Regardless of our testimony, we all need a Savior. There is no hierarchy of sin or of sanctification. When we measure ourselves against His Holiness, we find the truth. His sacred throne is a leveling field. Oh how we need Him! How we need each other!
Church itself is not the answer. God is. He alone can heal. However, walking without fellowship can also mess us up a bit . . . if we are left alone for too long.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Chances are, if we are teetering up on our holiness ladders, faking it, living as female Pharisees, we’re eventually going to fall. We best climb down and get real with ourselves and Him. Only then can we make authentic connections with women of every situation.
Much better to stand secure together, side-by-side than alone aloft!
The Word says they will know we are His disciples by our love. Do they know?
By Lori Dixon | Writer/Speaker/Servant of Christ
This article is an excerpt from Lori’s book coming out this fall, ‘Soles Defining Souls: Walking in the Shoes of Different Church Ladies . . . and Those Who Left’. You may also follow her ramblings which vary from humorous to hard hitting at www.LovingKindnessMinistries.ca or email her at Lori@LovingKindnessMinistries.ca to say hello.