Monthly Archives: February 2017

Authentes: A Recap

It’s amazing to me who walks through the doors of Collide and what they are carrying. Our last women’s event centered around the collision with Jesus and the four men who carried their friend and unroofed a roof to get to where He was. This man, who couldn’t get where he wanted to go, allowed some men in his life to carry his burdens.

We had a lovely night being challenged by the law of Christ set out in Galatians, which is this: Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. We shared a meal, worship, the experience of six artists painting this collision from Mark 2 from a different perspective of each character in the story, a counselor panel, speakers and women sharing stories. It was a night full of rich spiritual insight.

We also shared our burdens. Every woman that walked into Collide received a “burden bag” full of rocks to wear on their backs. (Yes, we hand collected 2,100 rocks from a rock quarry.) We paused at one point in the evening and asked each woman to think of a burden they carry for someone else and to write that on one of their rocks. Then we challenged them to go a bit deeper and write burdens they also carry for themselves. And all throughout the night women- old friends, new friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, strangers and acquaintances- all carried each other’s burdens, passing these rocks around and carrying other’s burdens.

I myself carried the burdens of others that had words like “depression”, “suicidal thoughts”, “addiction”, “loneliness” and “divorced” written on them. By the end of the evening, each of us had seen so many burdens and were by then carrying people’s burdens we didn’t even know in our bag. We invited women to bring these burdens to the cross. And what we saw was incredibly powerful.

We as women are so weighed down at times, and it is often hard to allow other people into what burdens us. We frequently feel like people can’t handle this weight, nor can God. God can not only handle our burdens, He chooses to take them on!

The Bible says in Isaiah 53, God took on our pain and bore our suffering. If there ever was a co-sufferer, it is Jesus. He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. God took upon himself the punishment that brought us peace. He was wounded so we could be healed. God not only takes upon Himself the burdens that burdened us, but He says bring me all your “I’m not fines.” Matthew says, Come unto me. All you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Psalm 55 says Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you. And in Isaiah 46:4 the Bible says, Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Over and over again, God reminds us that we are a CARRIED people. God will carry us when we are carrying our own burdens and those of others. God will give us the strength when we feel weak. God will sustain us when we can’t go any further. God will handle what we can’t. We can hand our burdens to the One who promises to carry us all and hand them to Him we did. About 700 women…. women with wrinkles and women without, extroverts and introverts, stay at home moms and working moms, students and grandmas, Baptists, Presbyterians and irreligious women…women of all ages, stages, experiences and faith backgrounds carried those darn heavy rocks with all their back stories to the foot of the cross. We handed them over recognizing we can’t do much about them, but God sure can.

Again, I continue to be amazed at the stories that walk through the doors of Collide and the immense bravery these women have to not only share their pain but their victories too. God is meeting women in the midst of their burdens and bringing about healing just as He did for the man who was lowered through the roof by his friends. God is also using women in amazing, amazing ways to carry the pain and stress and darkness of others to the only One who can bring about healing, peace and light.

We are a CARRIED people.

Can’t wait for our next women’s event?!….register here….

The Bathroom Stall by Willow Weston

 

Maybe we are convinced other people can’t handle that we aren’t fine, because so often, that seems to be the truth.

I was speaking at a church recently and I have a real bladder problem. So I find myself in bathrooms, a lot. And especially before I have to speak. Maybe it’s anxiety. Maybe it’s a fear of peeing my pants for all to see. All I know is that my bladder hurts and duty calls! So I walked into this church’s bathroom and there stood two women slightly older than me and a teenage girl. They stared at me as if it was weird to be in the bathroom, so I asked if they were in line. They said no, so I squeezed past and made my home in a stall.

I heard this conversation play out. One of the women said “Do yoooou know what weeeeee calllllled you in here to tell yooooou?”

Silence.

The other woman said in a condemning voice “How farrrrrr along?”

The teenager answered sheepishly “I, I… I’m two months along.

More silence.

I was done peeing at this point and was awkwardly trying to hide so I did’t interrupt this conversation that I think they forgot I was present for. The mom with utter disdain and disgust for her own daughter said to her friend “Your face tellllls me how yoooou feel and that’s how Iiiii feel about it too.” Then they walked out and sat down waiting to hear the preacher preach. I pulled up my dreadful stockings, flushed, washed my hands, prayed and then went out and preached a message about a God who did the impossible through Mary, a pregnant teenager.

This maybe 15 year old girl in the bathroom stall, her entire life, is now upside down. I am sure these weren’t her plans. I am sure she was scared, maybe ashamed, maybe full of regret and definitely in her own head, carrying a two month burden. Notice in this conversation no one asked “How are you doing?” Notice there were no questions about how the girl felt. Notice no one was expressing their willingness to walk alongside her on the journey ahead. She opened up and told her story and guess what happened? She got slapped aside the head with the look of a silent “You should be ashamed of yourself. ”

Look, I am a mom and I hope I never end up in a bathroom stall having this conversation with my daughter. And if I do, my first response will not be “Let’s throw a party and get a cake and balloons and go shopping at baby Gap!” But God help me if I corner her in a bathroom with one of my Christian friends and shame her.

I don’t think we have to abandon truth and advice but I do think if we want our 15 year old pregnant teens to invite us in to where they really are so we can walk alongside them to their best life, we better rethink who we want to be when our teenagers AND our husbands AND our friends AND our neighbors are brave enough to say, “I’m not fine.” Because I am pretty sure the next time that 15 year old girl finds herself in a bathroom with someone asking “How are you?” she is sure to say “Fine. I am fine.” Maybe what happened in this bathroom is exactly why we all keep pretending we are fine! Because we keep telling each other we can’t handle it when we aren’t.

Well, God can. God can handle any circumstance that finds us ashamed in a bathroom. God can handle any burden on our back. God says cast your “I’m not fines” upon me. God meets us right where we are at. And God calls us to be just like Him when others are not fine. Instead of running from burdens, gossiping about them, avoiding them or wiping shame all over them, we are called to be like Jesus and carry them. Think about that next time you walk into the bathroom or a conversation where you are invited into another’s “I’m not fine.”