BY CARA HOWARD, GRACE ATTENDER
I vowed I’d never be one of them. I couldn’t see myself as a “church lady.” When I was invited to join a women's group at Grace Church, my thirty-year-old ego balked at the idea. I died a little inside imagining an endless future of organizing luncheons, baking casseroles and chatting in a church basement. Spiritual busywork with friendly acquaintances? No thank you. I loved Jesus, but I feared that women’s ministry would force me into a shallow box. I politely declined.
A few months later, I suffered a loss that left me emotionally raw, lonely and desperate to grow in my relationship with God. The Holy Spirit nudged me to take a risk when I saw a reminder about women’s Bible study in the church bulletin. Having nothing to lose, I signed up and showed up one Wednesday morning.
The large group teaching held my attention, surprising me with its depth. So far, so good. But my heart pounded when we broke into our assigned small groups. I didn’t know a soul. We introduced ourselves, moving around the circle. When it was turn, I gave not only my name but shared with those ten strangers my story. Take me or leave me, I wagered. This is who I am.
Instead of uncomfortable silence, I received compassion. Instead of paint-by-number Christianity, they offered a safe space to ask hard questions. The other women encouraged me to keep pursuing God and pledged their prayers and support. Over the next eleven weeks, they kept those promises, far beyond my expectations.
I expected a poised and proper club of older women who had it all together. I found an authentic group of women of all ages who were figuring out how to follow Jesus together.
I expected fill-in-the-blank workbooks and participants who echoed back all the right answers. I discovered engaging speakers and materials that helped me dig deep into the Bible. These women were serious about applying truth to everyday life.
I expected pleasant conversation in our weekly small group. I gained true friends who shared honest tears, hidden fears and hearty laughs. They wanted to walk alongside me for a long stretch of my spiritual journey. I experienced the miracle of true community and witnessed God at work in the details of our lives.
I expected an insulated club of buttoned-up ladies who stayed inside a comfortable Christian bubble. I found instead an engaged, inspiring group of women on a mission with God to heal the broken places of the world.
God shattered my stereotypes through the time we invested time together in scripture, prayer, and conversation. I abandoned my fears. These weren’t “church ladies.” They were Women of Grace. And ten years later, I’m grateful to call myself one too. Learn more at gracechurch.us/rooted and gracechurch.us/realmoms.