It was a Sunday morning after church was over when I saw her toddle past. Decked out in her Sunday best, complete with matching red shoes and a red Hello Kitty purse, my friend’s 2 year old child made a break for it and headed across the sanctuary.
At first, I thought she was looking for her Mom or Dad because she was headed in the direction where they were sitting during the service.
I was wrong.
Instead of looking for her parents, this little one had spotted another little girl from a distance and was headed in her direction. Even though she was a bit younger, the second little girl seemed anxious and excited to see the first child coming toward her. In those few moments before their perspective parents came chasing after their little escapees, I sat mesmerized watching the two little females communicate in a language that really only they understood.
Watching them made me start thinking, “Even at that age, females are drawn toward relationships---it’s part of our makeup.”
Then my thoughts turned in a sadder direction as I thought, “I wonder what changes us? At what age or point in life, do we stop welcoming other females into our lives with joy and start building walls to separate us into categories and protect ourselves from each other?”
Think about it—when my friend’s daughter spotted another little girl across the room, she didn’t see the differences in age as a barrier. She just saw another little female and thought, “Friend—must talk and play.”
Even though the younger girl was still developing her vocabulary skills, like a magnet, she headed in the first child’s direction.
They didn’t see the barriers---just the similarities.
When does that start to change?
How do we go from being these two little ones who only see potential friends, and grow into women who seemingly see only barriers?
When do we start drawing the lines and building the walls?
When do we start assigning roles, giving everyone a label and squeezing them into their own respective boxes?
Where along the way did we start dividing up into teams and only associating with those who fit into our box?
How did we divide ourselves into:
Married versus single?
Women with children verses women without children.
Full time Moms verses career women.
Financially well off versus financially struggling.
Lifetime church goers versus new Christians.
When did these become the way we define ourselves and other women?
Perhaps more importantly, we need to start asking ourselves “Why?”
Are we reacting out of fear?
Are we petrified that accepting a woman from a different demographic might challenge the choices and circumstances in our own lives?
As Christian women, I believe it’s time we searched our hearts and started finding answers to these questions.
Even more, it’s time to start overcoming the issues inside of our hearts that allow these walls to exist, and begin the process of letting ourselves and the other women in our lives out of the boxes we’ve created. Today is the day to set each other free to be the women God has called us to be and to fulfill the individual purposes He’s designed for our lives.
It’s time we start realizing that even if God’s plan for my life doesn’t look like the plan He has for your life, it doesn’t necessarily make either of us wrong. My success does not diminish you; just as your achievement doesn’t diminish me.
As sister’s in Christ, we’re all on the same team, we’re all following the same Leader, and we’re all working toward the same goal. Without every different part, the Body of Christ is incomplete.
As it says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?
If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’
And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
This isn’t just God’s will for His Church on the earth---it’s His will for YOUR church, YOUR women’s group, and YOUR life.
It isn’t just a lofty idea that we read about in our time of devotions. This Scripture is meant to be taken to heart, to become a way of life, and to be practically applied.
Following God’s heart, it’s time for each of us to understand that as women, we really do have more in common than the differences that seem to divide us. Until we start tearing down our demographic walls, and welcoming, supporting, encouraging, and relying on ALL of the women in the body of Christ, we will continue functioning at a handicapped state rather than a place of health and wholeness.
The truth is that each of us has something to contribute.
All of us have something we can learn or gain from a perspective that is different than ours.
Because God created His church to function like a body using all of the various parts, we’re not complete without each other. We’re literally disabling ourselves and the church as a whole when we allow our differences to divide us rather than allowing them to create a beautiful tapestry that shines like a light in the world around us.
You need me and I need you. Even if our circumstances aren’t exactly the same we are one in Christ.
We’re sisters. We’re fellow soldiers in God’s army. Although we may be able to survive without each other; we cannot thrive until we choose to tear down the walls that are dividing us and work as a team.
How do we practically do this?
A great way to start would be to follow the example of the toddlers at my church, escape from your preconceived ideas, and notice the woman on the other side of the sanctuary that is completely outside of your demographic.
When you see her, don’t start comparing your life to hers or making judgment on her choices. Instead, remember the two little darlings and think, “Friend.”
If you’ve never met, dare to cross the imaginary line, walk up to her and introduce yourself. You don’t have to be BFF’s right off the bat, just be friendly and open the door to conversation.
When you go home, make a commitment to pray for her every day for the next month. You’ll be surprised how quickly the walls of differences come down and bridges are built when you’re actively praying for another person.
While you’re praying, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what issues in your own heart are causing you to hide behind demographic barriers. Is it fear? Insecurity? Shyness? Lack of satisfaction with your own choices?
Do you have preconceived ideas that need to be adjusted to fit God’s view of other people?
What causes you to surround yourself only with women that are exactly like you?
Then be open to the Holy Spirit’s answers. Trust me, He’ll be more than willing to show you the areas that need to be healed and remodeled inside of your heart because He wants YOU to be a healthy, whole, productive member of the body of Christ. That can only happen when you’re working with His will instead of against it.
Finally, as the Holy Spirit leads you in overcoming your own issues, ask Him to show you practical steps that you can take to start tearing down walls and building bridges in your life and your church.
It may be something as simple as inviting someone to attend a function where they’d ordinarily feel awkward or left out or even unwelcome.
Perhaps He’ll have you invite a new friend out for coffee or ice cream.
Maybe you could send an encouraging note to someone going through a tough time.
Sometimes He’ll lead us to reach a felt need by taking someone a meal, offering to babysit so a tired Mom could have a break, or inviting a single woman or an elderly widow over for dinner to help alleviate a time of loneliness.
The possibilities of what the Holy Spirit may lead you to do are endless. The question is “Are you open to hear His voice and obey?”
Do you want to follow the example of a little girl carrying a Hello Kitty purse and begin the tearing down the walls of female division within the body of Christ?
Are you ready to make your own escape from preconceived ideas and prejudices and start following Christ’s command to work together in unity?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, "People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other."
Communication begins when we step out of our comfort zone, take our own walk across the church, release another woman from her “label” and welcome her as a “friend”. Are you ready to get the conversation started?