Sigh, y’all. Just, sigh. Are we still having these debates? Apparently, we are. Apparently, there are still people out there who cannot accept a diverse Body of Christ.
This past weekend I spent a day running a booth for Blessed is She at a local Catholic Women’s Conference. Though I didn’t really get to experience the talks or any of the events, I did get to experience the people; the women who attended. It was a wonderful mix of women – young, old, married, single, babies on the hips, grandchildren growing up and everything in between. It reminded me of what I love about Blessed is She’s ministry – it’s meant to be a community of women “just like you”, not a community “only like me”. I loved being able to tell older women that we needed their wisdom and how their eyes lit up for the feeling of usefulness it gave. I loved connecting with younger women and reminding them that we have so much to learn from the world they’re experiencing right now.
There are so many wonderful, dedicated, Truth-giving ways to be a Catholic woman and it’s no surprise that the day after is filled with opinions to the contrary. People who still believe that the only path for Catholic women is tight and narrow, with no room for grace and movement. People who see a life different than theirs and declare that it must be devoid of love, dedication and Grace because it would not be a life they could thrive in.
There are some amazing women out there – women who give tirelessly to their families day and night. Women who don’t need rest and self-care or women’s groups or an hour at the gym to regroup. Women who have always gotten by, who’ve done everything right or so it seems. Their lives are wonderful testimonies, and they are truly gifts to our communities and families, but their lives are not the only pattern for a beautiful life of Catholic mother and womanhood.
A woman with talents that can be used right now is a gift.
A woman with talents that can wait for later is a gift.
A woman who knows her limits is a gift.
A woman who pushes her self and gives much is a gift.
A woman who sacrifices what she wants for what her family needs is a gift.
A woman who sacrifices all for what is best for her children is a gift.
A woman who is called to care for others outside her home is a gift.
A woman who is called to care for those inside her home is a gift.
A woman who carefully, prayerfully discerns the right move in all of life’s ups and downs; who dies to self, cares for self, is dedicated, loving and steadfast is one of the greatest gifts of all.
And there are so many ways to do that.
It is one thing to be convicted of basics Truths – love and services of God and family – it is another to be so convicted that we insist the road toward those goals is narrow and unforgiving. That’s not how we support our Sisters and that’s not how we receive and discern the unique gifts given to each of us.
In the depths of our fertility struggles, I would often turn to the women in the Bible and I was also was shocked how many of them wouldn’t fit the molds of often shouted from the mountain tops as the ideal Catholic woman. It brought me to peace, but it also made me wonder what would modern bloggers have to say if Deborah, Gomer, Hannah, Jochebed, Jael, Martha, Sarah or Susanna came before them as modern women – women who didn’t fill a perfect mold, who struggled and sometimes failed or who were set apart through their God-given gifts. If God used imperfect or set apart women all through Biblical history, why cannot the same be happening right now? Why can’t we rejoice in the beautiful diversity he’s given us and recognize the many ways God has planned to use so many different, beautifully different women.
I wish everyone could see what I saw this weekend – the beautiful diversity of faithful women created by a creative and clever God.
Photo via Unplash; Becca Tapert