I remember few details, but I do remember this from that night in Seattle three years ago: how Tina and I both smiled at the women in that microcosm of cubicles and mirrors and touching up make-up. We looked women in the eye. We engaged. We even said, Hi!
We were just two women walking into a washroom being kind to what we understand as our large human family of sisters.
I may do this when I go to the grocery store, Starbucks and the YMCA. Yep, even the loo. That day we walked out of the bathroom and we had somewhat of an eureka moment: We realized we’re both that way.
We’re just … kind.
Maybe it’s because we’re immigrants and we know what it’s like to be invisible.
Maybe it’s because we have our own pain around racism and exclusion.
Maybe it’s because our mothers are both kind women.
I smile at immigrant drivers—in fact, I usually pray for them—because I remember how scared I was the first time I had to drive on a four-lane highway to a place I’d never been before. I forged ahead, because I could either shrivel up within the fear and stay in my small place at home, or I could endure the honks and the raised middle fingers when I inevitably made wrong maneuvers.
I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of impatience and unkindness.
They say we create out of the deep hunger in our souls–mine is for inclusion and equality and somehow it filters all the way through to this kindness. Because if we’re all equal in the eyes of God, shouldn’t we treat one another kindly?
Along that roadtrip three years ago—from Surrey to Edmonds to Seattle to Portland and back—Tina and I often talked about the essence of SheLoves. What makes us unique?
What is this movement about?
What do we mean when we talk about Love?
Now, a thousand-plus posts, a growing team and a swelling Sisterhood later, we still ask, What makes us different? How do we live out this calling we can’t always name, but feel so deeply?
I sense it around circles in my living room.
I see it in the comments.
I feel it in the heartfelt shares and the connections that go from the words on a screen to women sitting next to each other at a table, even in Amsterdam.
Increasingly, I am hearing an echo from our team and our SheLovelys, that this is a sisterhood that loves well.
We act. We speak up. We pray. We connect. We give. We try and live from a place of Love.
And that scares the mother out of me.
Let me explain. I grew up with expressions like, Moenie die pap te dik aanmaak nie. want dan brand dit. It literally means: Don’t make the porridge too thick, or it will burn. Or: Don’t spend too much time together or connect too deeply. Eventually, the relationship will fizzle out or burn you. It felt inevitable that friendships, including the good ones, would end.
It was a cultural story I found myself in: A story of keeping people at arm’s length and putting up walls.
Now I’m in the middle of a movement of women who are called to Love.
The fear that hovers at the door is this: What if we can’t sustain this? What if the porridge gets too thick; will it burn?
But I want our Love to be thick.
I sign off pretty much every email:
I don’t take the words lightly. I actually imagine Love connecting us when I send those words out.
It’s the kind of Love I hope for and dare to pray for, the kind that says sorry when there are cuts and bruises to our hearts. The kind of Love that utters the hard things. The kind of Love that leans in when it’s inconvenient.
It chooses grace over correct spelling or missed deadlines.
Relationships over money.
Humility over a bruised ego.
I feel the responsibility we carry when we say we are Women Who Love.
I long to be a Woman Who Loves, but I have morning breath and there are dust bunnies in the bathroom.
I still have some wounds left—wounds that are healing—but wounds nonetheless that can make me react in ways that could seem sharp.
I get grumpy when I haven’t had quiet and alone time.
I have disappointed and I still will disappoint.
Sometimes we can build up the expectations around Love so high that the thing I have been afraid of, is, What will we do when this sisterhood realizes we’re not always Jesus with skin on? What happens when we miss people? When we drop balls and stitches and hurt with our words? That sometimes we’re just human?
I want Love to be our all-purpose garment, but it isn’t always.
And yet, making this porridge thick seems right and good–like we’re chasing after an eternal way.
Rose and I have been praying early on Tuesday mornings for SheLoves, because we have a deep desire and an increasing urgency for this work to be covered in prayer. Last week, I guess the Holy Spirit noticed that I have been a bit anxious about this thing: that as hard as we desire to Love, we would eventually be found out as human.
I acknowledged the unsettledness in my spirit and prayed it out loud.
Then I saw a picture—a picture of us all standing together. Our arms were outstretched and we were holding each other, like a large chain of humanity … and we were standing in a river together. Without hesitation, I knew the river was Love.
I realized then that even when our arms drop off for a moment or a connection is missed, we are still standing in this thick river of Love that connects us.
I also realized that if we’re standing together, it’s hard to walk away … Even when we slip or need a rest, we are not taken out of the River. We have a place and there are grace-filled arms all around to help carry us.
We don’t stand in our own effort, but we stand in a divine Love.
That takes the pressure right off, doesn’t it?
The Source is not our humanity that is finite (and can burn up pretty quickly), but it’s from a Greater Love that passes all understanding.
Not only do we stand in thick Love, even the atmosphere around us is Love. It’s grace and anointing. It’s kindness, patience, goodness. Faithfulness, humility and self-control.
I’ve learned along the way that this kind of Love empowers. That when I know I am loved—even in my mistakes—I can move ahead in confidence. I know the Love is not dependent on my actions or perfect performance, but instead, this Love covers. It graces. It protects. It connects.
So, my dear sisters, this Love we’re called to stand in, is rivers deep. It stretches far and wide, for as many of us would come and stand.
I’m not scared anymore. Let’s make it thick.