When I think about the efforts female Christian leaders are making to move women forward, I picture a shallow, muddy river. There are women on each side of the river, and there are also women standing in the river.
One side of the river is more traditional in their efforts, and the other side is more progressive. Then, there are those who are smack dab in the middle. There is no doubt that the women standing in the middle will be the most misunderstood.
These women are “bridge builders” and building bridges is hard and messy work.
If we are called to stand in the middle of the river, in order to move women into their unique callings, we will have to be strong, brave, and mature. When I began writing at the end of 2014, I deeply struggled with the concept of building bridges.
My nature is black and white, and “bridges” are sort of grey; but as I have matured, I have realized how deeply necessary bridges are in moving women forward.
The truth is that each woman is standing in a different place, and if we are going to be leaders in the home, Church, and in society, we must respect this reality. God has all of His daughters on a journey towards wholeness and freedom in Jesus Christ, but each woman’s road will look different.
There is no doubt that it can be difficult to stay connected to our sisters that think differently than we do, but we are stronger together.
As Christine Caine tweeted, “Unity may be, I genuinely love you, privately and publicly. I can learn as much from you as you can from me, even if we don’t agree.” God desires to bring all His daughters together, as parents long for their adult children to get along. Loving one another is our highest calling, and it is only through love that we learn how to be unified despite our differences.
I can’t help but think of my sister and me. We are polar opposites in every way. Growing up we clashed majorly and every once in a while, world war three would break out in our home. Over and over, my mom would say, “You don’t have to agree with your sister, but you do have to accept your sister, because she is your sister.”
This was a major challenge, as my sister and I could not think more differently, but what my mom was teaching us was true godly love. Now that my sister and I are adults, we have learned to accept one another, despite our differences. We have even learned to celebrate each other, as we have matured over the years.
The world knows how to love, but Jesus has called us to a higher form of love. This sort of love accepts those with whom we disagree with. It is difficult and sometimes painful, but it is how women help one another move forward, discover our individual callings, and have the courage to leap into unknown territories.
As women, we make each other brave, when we lift one another up.
This does not mean that we avoid expressing our true hearts and thoughts; but rather, it means that we learn to listen to one another without judgement. Further, it means that we apologize to one another when we mess up and forgive one another without reservation.
If we are going to genuinely embrace one another, there will be conflict, and that is OK. But, when we have conflict, we must avoid the temptation to walk away from each other forever (unless relationships are abusive). As women, we should partner with one another, in hopes of the feminine voice being heard and valued.
I understand the struggle; it is difficult to truly love and accept those who differ from us on a fundamental level.
Human love is conditional; it says, “If you agree with me on my theology, politics, and leadership style, I will accept you, but if you disagree with me, I will not accept you.” But, godly love is given without any strings attached. This sort of unconditional love says, “I may fundamentally disagree with you, but I will stay and love you as a sister in Christ, no matter what.”
Here is what I have discovered; we are all called to be “bridge builders.”
I don’t like that too much, because I am not good at it. I personally want to see women develop wings to fly over bridges, but that is not how God works. God is interested in each of His daughters building character, which always includes time, patience, endurance, struggle and acceptance of the process.
No matter where we are at in our journey, we can be a bridge for our sisters or we can burn down bridges with our words and actions. When we are hurt or confused concerning an issue, it can be easy to walk away, “unfollow,” or “unfriend” other Christian women, but God desires that we learn to not only tolerate our sisters, but openly celebrate our sisters.
We are meant to help one another grow, and that means sticking with each other even when we don’t want to. As women in Christ, we are called to accept one another; not because we agree on issues, but simply because we are sisters.
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