I am a pastor's daughter.
The girl who was home-schooled and raised on Dr. James Dobson, who was made to stay at church until her father shook the very last hand and who wasn't allowed to eat out on Sundays because that would mean making other people work. Which I agree with now, but all I wanted back then was to feel normal. And normal families ate out on Sundays.
So I swore in the van on the way home from church and Dad would pull over and spank me and at nine years old, I began to hide behind an eating disorder.
And today, I still hide, only now it's behind my children.
Because going to church is hard.
With its pews, its pulpit, its eyes. I just want to be cool, to fit in, but deep down I'm still that nine-year-old girl with the giant rimmed plastic glasses and the mushroom cut.
So I hide behind my two sons, grateful to have someone to talk about other than myself, and I feel naked when they run away, because I'm not sure who I am in this place of nylons and suits.
Until one day when I become a foster mom.
She calls me out of the blue, my Young Life girl, says she can't be a mother anymore, and would I help her? And suddenly I am a mother to four boys ages four, two, one and a half, and six months.
And I no longer walk into the church hall seeing competition. I walk in seeing help. Seeing mothers and daughters and grandmothers who can lend me arms and prayers and casseroles.
And being broken, it changes everything.
As women, none of us ever really sees each other, do we? We're always looking at ourselves through each other's eyes. And we don't like what we see, because we don't like ourselves. We don't think we're good moms, or good wives, or pretty enough, or sexy enough, or hip enough, and we think everyone else feels this way about us, too.
But we're all just looking at ourselves.
And suddenly with four sons in tow and my shirt on backwards and my hair unwashed, I had to see beyond myself. I had to see the women for who they were because I needed more than my own perceptions or judgements in that moment. I needed help.
And friends? I want to give all of us permission to come to church this way: this broken kind of way. Because you know what happens when we do? We as women, we step up to the plate and help one another, and it is a beautiful thing.
I had women coming into my house all days of the week, getting the kids changed, reading them stories, bringing me lunches and dinners and cookies, cleaning my house, folding my laundry, helping me bathe the boys and put them to bed and it was Church, friends. It was church in all her glory.
Granted, none of us looked the part. We all wore jeans or sweat pants and we didn't have makeup on because we were fixated on serving the least of these, the children, and that made us beautiful. Because our hearts were all sorts of golden--like a garden of the most radiant sunflowers.
We, women, are a garden. Growing tall toward heaven, leaning on each other in the storm, our heads heavy but lifting them again and again in the warmth of the sun.
So sisters? Let's give each other permission to need help, this Christmas.
Let's do Church.