So, despite the fact that I was raised in a Christian household and have been in church all of my life, I have to admit that I just don't know what I'm doing 90% of the time. I know what the Bible says. I know that I should be able to apply it to my life in very practical ways. And yet somehow, I tend to make a mess with things. But I have so many reasons to be thankful.
God, knowing that I am who I am, did what He does best. He looked upon me and surely said, "What this daughter needs are a few good examples." And I have those examples in spades. I have those examples in women I have never even met. Like the ones you'll find here and here and here and here. These women are as real as the ones I know, and so wonderfully honest about what it means to be a Christian woman in this world. These women routinely say things that touch my heart, and I have no doubt that God placed them in my life.
But the real focus of today's post are the awesome Christian women God has placed around me every single day. These are women in my family, in my church, and even where I work. These are women who face this life with the dignity, grace, and compassion that can only come from the hands of God. The women in my Bible study are some of the most amazing women that I know. When we get together, we laugh and cry, but I never walk away from a session without feeling like I have just been schooled on how to really walk the walk. The best thing about these women is that they are so open and honest about the times that were hard, about the times they failed, about times when they felt like giving up. It's easy to admit the times that God blessed you in abundance. It's a much more difficult thing to talk about the times when you had to step out on faith and believe God would bless you, even when everything around and within you said that might not be the case this time.
A couple of these women I have known for a long time. They have been examples of real Christian women to me for years. Some of those years were formative ones in my adult walk, and they certainly shaped the way I have dealt with the world. Sometimes, just knowing you are not alone makes all the difference. In other times, it was their willingness to call me out if I needed correction or offer encouragement when I couldn't find hope. I have nothing but love in my heart for my second mom and my favorite extra "aunt."
I have had women where I work, one in particular comes to mind, whose faith just blows me away. In my darkest hour, she was one of the people who held me up and said, "This will be okay. YOU will be okay." She has championed me, and I know that part of the reason I made it through were her prayers. She's going through a dark hour now, but from those depths she is praising God, not necessarily because of how she feels but because of what she knows to be true. She is setting an example for me once again, even though I wish with all my heart that wasn't the case.
I'm lucky enough to have a mama who fits in to all of the above categories. She is in that Bible study group, and we work together, and that's pretty awesome most of the time. She raised me right, and when I needed the freedom to go my own way on the path God had for me, she not only allowed it to happen but gave me her blessing to do so. She continues to attempt to form this loud, outspoken girl into something that can be used of God. And you have to be thankful for someone with that kind of patience.
There are a couple of women who deserve their own little shout out here. Without these two, my path would have been entirely different. That God saw fit to take three girls who were a little too much the same and have them sing together for almost 10 years seems insane. I know it hasn't always been easy, but I think we all know that at the heart of things, we love each other, even when we'd rather not. There are no two women I have more love and respect for. There are no women who I have laughed harder with when life struck us funny (usually at inappropriate times, like from our front row pew in church) or cried harder beside when life just wasn't fair. We have been in the trenches together, trying to figure out how to survive this thing called life in a world that doesn't play by our rules. Even if a day comes when we are no longer singing together, I know that you will be there when needed. I hope you think the same of me.
There are many other women here, there, and everywhere who God has put in my path. Not all of them are part of my life in this season, and that makes me a little sad. I'd like for them to see how I "turned out." But I will see them on the other side and we will have all of eternity to talk about the things of God. This is a long post, but when you are as blessed as I am, it takes a while to talk about it. What better way to start off the week than being thankful for all of life's blessings?