The other day in church, my attention turned to the pews, a Divine tap on the shoulder. I looked around, noting the faithful bobbing heads of our congregation, worshipping to the song, “I’m a Lover of Your Presence.” My heart stirred as my imagination drew a line above the heads of all the women, connecting them like a graph. I understood, resting for a moment, knowing, I, too, am a dot on this chart. Church Ladies
Then I laughed. Church Ladies
“Oh dear God, I’m one of those “church ladies!”
My past connotations of church ladies are both sweet and bitter. A picture of wide brim hats bursting with silk flowers, gathered like a bouquet, under which tongues wag gossip and white gloves point fingers. A gaggle of pinched nosed ladies, pecking rumors, slipping smooth smiles as innocent victims pass by their coup. Still dear, the image of gloves and big hats, it’s the gossip and finger pointing that tastes like vinegar. No better is the stereotypical “church mouse,” staring at the floor, incapable of squeaking one word without an apology. Neither of these portrayals are women I want to model. Church Ladies
Shaking my head at past judgments and profiling, I thank God for the women of our church, much unlike my old ideas and pictures. Certainly our church ladies are diverse in age, education, experience and wealth, yet the connection is strong, made from many strands of love. They are not defined by difference, but by sameness. Church Ladies
Surely, if seated in cliques, the center pews would be the hub of soon to be empty-nesters, fanning away hot flashes while dabbing tears of loss. To one side would be the young moms, discussing an array of “firsts,” like steps, words and potty chair poops. Other groupings would represent the grandmas, the unmarried, the professionals, and so on. Although these groups exist, organically grown in common ground, they are not bodies of exclusion. No, the groups intertwine like a multi-strand rope. Church Ladies
These are the ladies who “church,” church being a verb, an action of love. The dots connect the lines between those who’ve been there and those who ARE there. Whether it be celebrations of love, life and success, or endurance of loss, disappointments and brokenness, the ladies who “church” will extend a hand, offer a hug, say a prayer. Church Ladies
“Oh, yes, I’ve been through that too, my dear.”
Speaking personally, the church ladies have walked along side me through seasons of great pain. My mom’s death, followed by my little brother and soon after, my dad. The first real losses of my life. Experiences I had no reference to survive. Whether they knew the pain or not, they were by my side. Together we wept, reminisced, prayed. No matter what the obstacle, there’s a woman ready to pass a paradigm torch, lit with experience.
I realize church ladies don’t carry the monopoly on empathy, compassion or love. Women in general usually carry the “helpful” gene. Note: I’m not talking about the women portrayed on reality shows… think past television reality to the clerk at the store, the teacher, the mother next door… the hopeful, encouraging, real life drama that fantasy, reality TV, seems to have forgotten.
They listen… understand… encourage… love… protect… honor…
They’re kind, gentle, patient…
There’s really only one difference that the ladies of the church practice…
Placing a tender finger under the chin, they tip faces upwards, towards where the help comes from. He’s the connection, the line on the graph, the Love. Jesus is the common thread, the difference.
I love my church ladies, and more so, Who binds us.
Check out our book in progress: http://debpalmerauthor.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/