The Impact of an Imperfect Christian Woman

January 8, 2013

 

I love hot tea.  And hot tea always reminds me of Betty.

About sixteen years ago, I think it was on Tuesday evenings, five of us young women would sit around Betty's oval shaped kitchen table for Bible study.   Warm tea was always waiting for us, in a lovely porcelain teapot, sometimes adorned by a knitted tea cozy.  Our small teacups sat before us ready for tea.     

Betty's house was quiet except for us in the kitchen.  Her husband was usually either still out at the office or someplace else in the house.  Their two adult children had long left home.   

I was fortunate to find Betty's Bible study.  My church was big, and at the time Bible Studies and Small Groups were organized based on your lifestyle.  Whatever group you fit into based on your age, marital status and such, pretty much determined much of what you were involved in at the church.  If you were single, you went to the Singles Bible study, if you were married with young kids, you attended the Married with Kids Bible study and so on.

Feeling limited in the Singles group, I eventually ventured outside that group to find something more compatible with what God was doing in me and my life at the time.   I discovered a Sunday morning Bible Study at the church, with adults of varying ages and marital statuses.  Someone there told me about Betty's Bible study. 

One of the things I most cherished about Betty was her authenticity.  She and I met for breakfast a few times outside of the study.  I remember her sharing with me that when she no longer had the energy to keep up with her husband, she made the decision to no longer accompany him when he traveled on short term mission trips with the church.   For her to say, "Honey, I can't" was a courageous thing. 

Christian women think they must do and be everything, especially when it comes to church ministry and even more when it's something their husband is a part of.       

Not only was it courageous but when she shared it, I remember thinking how unusual it was for her, a seasoned Christian mentor and leader,  to share a personal side of herself that way.  I admired her for doing so.  

Betty also shared that growing up in the church had not been easy for her, and that the church could be downright cruel at times.   As an adult she had to work through her relationship with God and learn to see him as a loving God, not the punisher she'd learned to believe He was. 

Betty was the first "open" Imperfect Christian Woman that I had met.  Imperfect in the sense that she was not afraid to be real and reveal her flaws.   All the other women leaders I'd seen or met had never done that.  I got the impression that they were nearly perfect.  Betty had no idea how her authenticity made an impact on me. 

Like Betty, I also grew up seeing God as a punisher rather than a loving Father.  Because of Betty I realized I needed to begin to understand God in the right way.  And much later as a wife, I remembered Betty when I had to tell my husband, "Honey, I can't" when he wanted us to be in a ministry together that God had not called me to.    

Betty was in her 60's at the time.  She grew up in an era where women did not share their flaws or even admit having them.   It wasn't the proper (or pretty) thing to do.  

It was an honor to be in Betty's company.  Through her, God was implanting in me the need to be my real, Imperfect self I had spent practically my entire life in a tug of war between my Imperfect self and the Perfect outward facade that started when I was a young girl.  I continued to spend many more years in that tug-of-war, but Betty watered the  Imperfect seed that I am now attempting to live out.    

I knew that Betty was quietly unique and outside the box.  Her husband had a prominent career and was one of the church founders.   I'd never seen her on the church stage.  But I know she made an impact on all of the women who came across her path and sat at her kitchen table.

The wonderful thing about the Bible study was that even though Betty was our mentor, she valued our voices and what we had to say.  It wasn't a robotic study where we simply went around the table answering question #1, #2, #3 and #4.  Nor was it a one-woman monologue while we sat as passive listeners.   

Sometimes we got off the study a bit and would ask Betty about other Christian related matters.  We once had questions about women's roles in the church, and Scriptures that we didn't understand.  One of those Scriptures being "a woman must be silent in the church."

"But I don't want to be quiet,"  one woman blurted.   

As we all laughed there was comfort in knowing we were in a safe place where we could share, be open with one another and learn from someone who had gone before us. 

I share this story to say that when we are transparent and share our Imperfect selves, we let others know that it's okay for them to be real too.  We let them know that a relationship with Christ is not about perfection.  When we are openly Imperfect, God can do His best work in us.  We need more leaders like Betty in the church...Unafraid of being Imperfect...Passing on the stamp of approval to be real.

 

 


The effects of not being prepared

September 19, 2012

My son, D,  started preschool last week.  He goes three days a week, for three hours.  My plan is take him to school, drive to the closest Starbucks four minutes away, get a green tea, settle in and write for the next 2 ½ hours. 

Sounds great right? 

The only problem is thus far I’ve only done that once and this is his second week of preschool.

In the morning, I’m barely out of the door to get him to school on time.  As a result my writing time is eliminated because I have no time left to gather my computer and other accessories and get out of the door on time. 

I’ve no one to blame but myself.

D’s preschool is a 20 minute drive one way.  And coming back home is nearly forty minutes of writing time lost.   But that’s what’s been happening with the exception of the one day.

The resolution is obvious:  Prepare the night before.

If I did this I would be fine.  But often after D goes to bed, I’m tired and feel I deserve to plop down on the sofa and veg out a bit.  By this time The Husband is usually working on his blog or preparing his lesson plan (he’s a teacher) for the following work day (I know, I should take notes).

I have good intentions and I’m preparing things in my mind for the next morning, until I fall asleep on the sofa and wake up at 11pm.  Now it’s too late and it’s time for bed.  The Husband is already asleep.  I think I remember him coming out to wake me up but I’m not sure.

The morning comes, and I’m rushing around. 

This morning all was going well until I couldn’t find D’s sandals.  They were in The Husband’s car who was now at work.  They went to the park yesterday evening and somehow the sandals never made it  inside.   Well, if I already assumed that the sandals were in The Husband’s car why did I stop and call him to ask if the sandals were in his car?  Why didn’t I just move right into plan B, the sneakers?   

I’ll tell you why.  I needed someone to blame for my rushing around getting everything together at the last minute.   Of course I knew it was my fault, but somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I could get away with pointing the finger at The Husband because he’d left D’s sandals in the car. 


“I can’t find D’s sandals.  Are they in your car?”  Of course he wasn’t too thrilled that I’m calling in the middle of his class about D’s sandals. 

“Yes, they are in my car, Lisa.  Move on to plan B…his sneakers.” 

When we hang up I realize how foolish it was for me to have called him about something so trivial.  And realize how patient of a husband I have.  That’s one of the reasons I married him.  I knew how complex I could be and needed someone ultra patient and understanding.

Ok, so plan B:  Sneakers.  ( It’s still hot out so sandals are nicer, plus no socks means less time for D to get ready.)

By this time it was 8:30am.  Time to go.    No time to gather my computer and writing information so I abandoned my plan to write at Starbucks.  I’ll have to come back home.

The last things I do is put D’s back pack on him and give him his lunch box with his snack and we’re out the door.  It would take me another 10 minutes to get my writing stuff ready (my computer, notebook with my notes, my bag, etc). 

By not being prepared I’ve  frustrated my husband,  frustrated my son because he had to see me rushing around like a mad woman and I’ve frustrated myself.  Not to mention, I’ve lost writing time.

Lessons Learned:   1)  Time is a blessing.  I want to be a good manager of the time God gives me. 2)   I never saw myself as impulsive but calling my husband like that is acting on impulse, a knee jerk reaction.   3)  I play the blame game with my husband way too much.   Yes, I always realize it later and apologize (unless I forget to), but I need to realize it prior to doing the blaming.  4)  I don’t want to interfere with the enjoyment of my son’s day by rushing around at the last minute.    5)  Gas is expensive and if I were prepared I’d save not only time but money by cutting down on my drive time.    

throwing out The Mask

May 23, 2012

What do I mean by Imperfect Christian Woman?

Simply put, an Imperfect Christian Woman has thrown away her mask and is allowing herself to be real--flaws and all.  She has let go of the need to appear perfect and is no longer one way at church and another at home.  And she continues to grow, becoming all God wants her to be, not what others want or expect her to be.

I've made the decision to toss out The Mask.  Care to join me?

Welcome to ImperfectChristianWoman.com!