Women gathered: Thoughts on knowing and being known

We are made for relationship.  That should be no surprise.  We are made in God's image. When I see God throughout Scripture, I see Him relating to His people.  And what did Jesus do?  He came among us.  He spent much of his time *in relationship* with others.

I think this desire for relationship is especially true for women, because we are such communicators.   We need one another.  We need to know one another; to listen; to hear each others' stories and hearts shared.  Not only that, but we each have a desire to be known. 

This is one of the reasons I have such a hard time with Facebook.  I can view a photo or a comment and need not respond at all.  I don't have to invest anything.  If I choose to, I can simply click "like", but that really requires very little from me.  Even if I do leave a comment, it is not the same- at all- as actually entering in to conversation with that person.  So much is missing from that interaction!  There is no opportunity for eye contact, facial expressions, the sound of their voice, for a change in intonation.  You cannot touch their arm or reach out to embrace them, or see that their eyes are filled with tears.  Real interaction is irreplaceable

Too much time on Facebook* makes me feel like a distant observer of people's lives.  And that is so empty.  I want to engage.  I want to know.  I want to invest. 

It honestly concerns me about our culture.  I think one of our main challenges as a church is to truly be present; to be engaged.  To be willing to take time *with* other people, to know them and to hear their stories, to care for them.  Not just to be observers from a distance, but to enter in to peoples' lives and stories.  

Recently I started meeting with a small group of women, every other week.  I had been longing and even praying for something like this, but I'm not the one who initiated it.  Another woman did.  She just gathered a short list of women, asked us all individually if we'd be interested in meeting regularly, and we all heartily said yes.  And just like that, we came up with a date, a time and a place.  We gathered, the six of us.  Of those five other women, I barely even knew two of them. We went around the circle, sharing what our "vision" would be for this group.  And do you know what?  We all had the same desires, sitting there in that first meeting:  We want to be real with one another; we want to be transparent; to share with one another and pray for one another and KNOW one another.  And once we got those logistics out of the way, we did just that: we shared.  Some of us cried.  We prayed.  And I walked away with a greater knowledge of each of them:  I knew how to pray; what to pray for.  I knew their current struggles.  Now when I see them, I know who they are and what they're facing. I care.  I'm invested.

Since then, more of the same.  I've told Mark that I'm actually quite (happily) surprised at how transparent everyone is.  And every single one of us needed this.  In a short span of time with these women, I feel so refreshed, blessed and enriched.  And the smiling one who decided to pull down the facade and tell us that she actually struggles with severe depression?  Well, she now has five people who know, and who are praying for her.  And she discovered that one member of our group has struggled with the same thing and can come along side of her with compassion and understanding.  The soft-spoken woman whose family just relocated here, who was grieving the loss of the friends and family she left behind?  She now knows the five of us.  And we're investing in knowing her.  The parenting struggles, the marriage struggles, the heartaches, the sin in us we are not proud of: we are sharing those things, and amidst the tears and laughter and encouragement, God is growing us in relationship and in love for one another.  It's a beautiful thing.

I hope you have a group of women like this.  And if not, I encourage you to make it happen.  I think it's very likely that the woman sitting across the aisle from you at church is lonely, and would love a friend.  Why not be like my friend who just put herself out there, and asked?  I think we all fear rejection.  I know I do.  So here, let's just get this thought out of the way:  The worst case scenario is that you ask, and they say no or act disinterested.  Fine.  That person was just not ready for it.  Someone else will be.  Try again.  You will be blessed.
 
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*ps: I'm tackling my too-much-time-on-Facebook problem by resolving to check it only 2 days a week.  Tuesdays and Fridays.  (I did this for a season but then got sloppy.... back at it again!)  Recently I went three.whole.days without checking it once.  And I loved it.  :)  Then today I popped in and read a few things and was done. 

Here's another post about Facebook- (about that time I deleted my FB account for 8 months).
Related: On paying attention (although some things have changed in the three years since I wrote that.  Ahem: Pinterest and a "fancy" phone.)

8 comments:

  1. I like these thoughts. I've been off Facebook for a year now and I personally don't miss it. It's so nice to catch up with friends personally and hear straight from them what's been going on in their lives, as opposed to already knowing everything they've been up to even though we haven't actually interacted. Just my preference. :) But we're raising the first generation of kids who will grow up with social media... We're navigating uncharted territory which is why I think it's so good to always be thinking things through like this. Thanks for sharing Stacy!

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    1. Yes. I know when I was off for those 8 months there was such a *freedom* in not being tied to it at all anymore. I seriously loved it. But I also found I kept missing baby announcements and church announcements or gatherings and I felt out of the loop, too. Regardless of the way I'd like to communicate (face to face, ideally)....most everyone else communicates there. So.... trying to navigate it while keeping a sense of freedom from it, too. It's a tough one. As for our kids, aaaghhh. I know. We're not there yet but will tread verrrrry carefully when we are. Love to you, friend.

      ~Stacy

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  2. yes, we have small groups at church on Sunday evening divided by gender. :)
    I am enjoying being with other women the same as you described.

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    1. Oh! That's so wonderful, Heather. :)

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  3. I'm feeling quite lonely as I try to adjust to living apart from home. I keep praying that God will open up the doors and I'm trying to exercise waiting without murmuring the aches of my heart.

    Beautifully written and I will be praying over the "fear" I have of reaching out.

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    1. (((hugs))) to you. I am so sorry for all you are going through. May our Father meet you so tenderly in this low time, and may His saints reach out to YOU, and be His expression of love and kindness to you.

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  4. Somehow I missed this post. This has been on my heart so much. You know we in the last year left a church after over 11 years. Even while I was there there wasn't a real place to be transparent. I love that you have this group! I have thought of starting one but feel burnt out from what we have been through and just need wisdom about what to do. But I really feel that lack of connection and encouragement. I agree about FB but sometimes I just want to know from a distance because getting close can get tricky......well we are being honest right? Thanks for sharing this. I truly am SO happy for you. I also read your comment at Aimee's and will be praying for you. I know this struggle, my friend. (((hugs)))

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    1. Love you, sweet friend. I will pray for you about how to navigate this-- the yearning in your heart and yet the feeling of being burnt out, too. (((hugs)))

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