I spent the weekend with a group of younger women, some of them half my age. I have to admit it has been while since I was doing anything at 2 a.m. other than possibly making a sleepy trek to the bathroom. It was so much fun!
It was a “Key Women” retreat, a time to renew and refresh commitments to be and be surrounded by women who, as Ann Voskamp puts it, “free you to be your best you, your unbound you, your beautiful you”. There was a lot of laughter and a few tears.
As I looked around the room I was overwhelmed by the power of what I witnessed. These were diverse women: an attorney, state at home moms, an administrator, and teachers…some are fashionistas and others are most comfortable in yoga pants and t-shirts.
Some struggle with perfectionism and others are comfortable with a sink full of dishes and piles of waiting laundry. Introverts and extroverts, melancholy and sanguine and more.
How can a group of women, so diverse, so different from one another in many ways, love each other at this level?
It began with a choice to stop “holding one another to a standard of perfection instead of letting us all be held by His arms of grace.”[i] (Ann says it so well…take a few minutes to read her post, referenced below)
They’ve decided to release and free one another to be the best and most real version of who God has designed them to be.
It doesn’t matter if they stand at a sink or sit at a screen, spend their days with children or in a courtroom; whether they occupy a cubicle, the corner office or the driver’s seat of a minivan; each one has a unique calling and giftedness.
They won’t judge one another for their housekeeping, design choices, parenting skills, size of their waist or the style of their hair.
I wasn’t there to speak or lead. I was just their mentor, at a very different place in my life. I am amazed by what I see God doing in them, individually and collectively.
My generation was expected to perform with perfection. Perfect walk, perfect home, perfect marriage. The mentors in my life encouraged striving toward clean homes, clean children, clean cars and clean living. It was exhausting and impossible. I felt the sting of criticism rather than open arms of grace.
These women are encouraging one another to become rather than do. They are liberating one another from self-doubt, self-pity and self-loathing. They are encouraging one another to let Christ be real in them.
They are women who have chosen to clothe themselves with love and do the hard work of cultivating relationships that go deep and require looking at women with eyes of love and compassion rather than through lenses of criticism and judgment.
Do you have key women in your life? How are you encouraging them? What have they brought to your life that has helped release you from the bondage of perfectionism and performance?
Praying you’ll find your keys.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. – Colossians 3:12-17