“If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together, purely and simply, for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.”
– Matthew Arnold, 19th century British poet and philosopher
The power and prowess women possess is so magnificent, that when used towards good, miraculous wonders come alive. Women are life-givers, this we know, but that very same influence has the power to sever and scar. When used as a weapon of mass destruction, our extremely sharpened capabilities are able to inflict a pain far greater than even a physical attack.
I have had the pleasure of experiencing a vast array of this force: beautiful and authentic friendships; sincere, uplifting words of encouragement; stabilizing, supportive collaboration; honorable expressions of respect and unity; supernatural healing, from a nurture and care that far surpasses any medical treatment. I could describe my experience of 14 years inside the beauty industry a living testament to the love and warmth women bear. As mysterious as a far off land – where mere pictures depicting its glorious, hidden delicacy only reveal a small glimpse to the well of riches we contain.
It is easy to write about the “Rah-Rah-Sis-Boom-Bah” of women supporting women in all of our glittering cohesiveness. But what about when that same glory is used to apply pressure and pain. Wounds not seen with the eyes, upon physical form, but an inflicting of unspoken behaviors that leave brokenness, anguish and isolation. Manipulations we have cunningly crafted through troubled years, mastering their precise aim and strategic impact upon our gauged release.
Jealousy fuels competition. Instead of co-laboring together with different pieces to a larger puzzle, we see each other as competitors, even rivals. We identify a strength in another as our deepest weakness, and instead of walking alongside her for greater personal development within us, we raise our arms to belittle and stifle the very trait we only wish we had the courage to possess. Instead of celebrating differences and seeing our opposite personality as an essential counterpart to the whole picture, we see a clashing of perspective that will only hinder our journey towards our striving ambitions.
Unintentional offense is countered with intentional crime, and silence becomes our greatest weapon of choice.
The identified “cold shoulder” has been used as a manipulation tool for generations. It knows no boundaries of race, age, upbringing or religious affiliation. A deliberate show of indifference, tailored to suit our own desire, while an army of allies slowly builds, cushioning our convictions and shielding the guilt of our quiet behavior. It is the ultimate expression of rejection used most commonly by women of faith.
Silence has become a hateful action, hurled at one another: men, women, even our own children experience the iced backlash of a woman scorned. It is the grown-up “pout”, or “holding ones breath” until the weaker between you – or so you think – surrenders. Ah yes, the surrender. When you change your perspective to see things my way.
My career in leadership within the beauty industry also exposed me to much of this corrupt conduct, though it was to be expected, as there was no common moral ground binding our relationships together. It was my experience in leadership within the Christian community that grew a distasteful nausea and untamed intolerance of this dangerous dagger. I was aghast by titled leaders displaying dishonorable talk, coupled with an equally dishonorable silence if ever opposed; in the very heart of a community committed to living Christ-like was an absence of Christ.
Jesus never shunned anyone or wrote them off, to be discarded. He embraced people. All people. Even the least of these. Especially the least of them. Love leans in, while spite pushes away.
“Communication with the hope of reconciliation must be the goal for believers.” ~ Ken Savage
A healthy church grows with healthy leadership in place. Health is not perfection, it is a lifestyle. Open arms replace closed communication; encouraged biblical development replaces personal advice and judgmental interpretations; honesty with a sincere heart for unity, replaces denial and division.
The health of a church is expressed through members who are: thriving in their faith; supported and empowered by the leadership that stewards well the responsibility to lead others towards Christ, and Christ-like living; nurtured and cared for when faith is tested or doctrines are questioned. Providing an environment of answer-ability is important and should never be criticized.
Asking questions of those in leadership, when appropriate, is not only morally right, but the very essence of Christian integrity. – Joel Taylor
Intimidation, the silent treatment or other forms of passive aggressive behavior from church leadership, or any form of leadership for that matter, is violence. Interestingly enough, it is acceptable and common to bring issues of questionable, violent behavior to the Human Resources department of a business organization, yet to follow the same suit in a church organization is treated as distasteful. We choose to wait for permission and qualifications to minister to others and stop the violence.
If we are called to be a light in this world, we must not assume that “this world” does not mean your local church community. Ezekiel was a watchman called to sound the alarm when he even so much as smelled the enemy over the horizon. Once he finished what he was called to do, he was released from the accountability of his fellowmen. If they chose to not act upon the sound of alarm and were killed, Ezekiel did not carry the weight of their blood. We are not responsible for how others respond to what God puts on our hearts to do. If we are called to shine a light, we must do so in faith, regardless of the reaction.
I choose to be a woman of integrity, one who will never turn a “cold shoulder” to even the least of them that come knocking at my door with tough questions or painfully honest confrontation. I admire women who, when I have done something to offend them (not “if”, but when), bring it to me, getting it out into the open. That is love; true, deep, sincere, honest love. I want to love like that. I choose to welcome correction, for I have not arrived.
What about your community? Is it thriving? If so, what are the qualities that make it so? If not, what is it that may be inside you, that could be a vital element to restoring health and balance? Are you bold enough to end violence? The mission field may be right within your community. The age-old question remains, who will go?
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