Love that is Thick

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View More: http://tinafrancisphotography.pass.us/amahoro2013Two women walk into a washroom at a U2 concert.

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?

That was the year in which I wrote, Let Us Be Women Who Love.
That was the year in which Tina rallied us to run a half-marathon for our Living Hope sisters in Northern Uganda.

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:

With Love,
Idelette
xo

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.

RIVER_800

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.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

Latest posts by Idelette McVicker (see all)

Idelette McVicker
  • Amy Hunt

    YES and AMEN!

  • I love this, Idelette. If love is thick enough to cover our fears and imperfections, it is thick enough… Keep on stirring up that kind of love!

    PS! Sal wat wil gee vir ‘n lekker bordjie dik aangemaakte pap… en as dit bietjie aangebrand is, is dit ook ‘okay’ 🙂

    • Daar laat jy my hart nou sing, Dorette! Dankie!

      Let’s keep stirring this together, with hearts open wide. Awww. YES!

      • Nelme

        Kan ek n bordjie pap kom maak vir jou??Saam kan ons alles.xxx

        • Hi, Nelme… Dankie vir die aanbod, maar Thailand is so bietjie ver en die mense het nie eers ordentlike meel nie! Nou eet ons maar rys 🙂 Eet maar ene vir my part! Liefde

      • Amen 🙂

  • Beautiful Idelette. I’d like to figure out how to give more love. I too am afraid and much less connected. I will pray for more love.

    • My whole life is pretty much trying to figure out how to get out of the apartheid within us, between us and between us and our destiny. To become and be and live connected. I’m with you in this, Melody. Scared many times, but tired of the old ways and I know/believe/trust there’s a different way.

  • makeda

    “A story of keeping people at arm’s length and putting up walls.” – this has been the story I have told for so long. I am learning to let the walls down and to risk letting others in. It is not always easy and my heart feels fragile most of the time but I am learning how beautiful it is to let love in. Thank you so much for sharing. Your bravery and the strength and grace of this community is so inspiring. Hugs to you friend.

    • Thank you for sharing that, my friend … We are making a new Way, together. One honest sentence at a time. Hugs right back! xo

  • Recently I read that God’s voice always “gives us our power” while the voice of fear that confines us to the status quo always takes away our power. (R.Rohr) You have said this above and it resonated deep. Such an important distinction with so many who would try to convince us that love is other than empowerment.

    What you do in this place is not only fed by the River, friend, but I believe somehow feeds the River, too. Feeds us all. *Thank you.*

    • Now you’ve done it, Kelli.

      Richard Rohr is Idelette’s Catholic platonic boyfriend. 🙂

    • Like Tina said, I love Richard Rohr. 🙂 Thank you for hearing that in my words–that Love is empowerment. The best kind! Thank you for hearing my heart, Kelli. I love that and am so thankful for it. xo

  • Erin Wilson

    The only think that keeps thick porridge from sticking is to be constantly stirred.
    May Spirit have that freedom here: to constantly stir our hearts, to move us to action, to lead us in practical loving, to prompt us to apologize when needed, to reach out and out and out…

    xoxo

    • “The only think that keeps thick porridge from sticking is to be constantly stirred. May Spirit have that freedom here: to constantly stir our hearts…”

      I LOVE this Erin. <3

    • O, YES!!!!! This is amazing … you’re so right! Thank you, Erin!

      • Erin Wilson

        Ha! Didn’t intend for my comment to have a typo. The river of Love and grace covers that too 😉

  • Helen Burns

    A tear leaked from my eyes when I read this beautiful line: ‘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 am so grateful that I am standing with you …

    So very much love,

    Helen xo

    • I am so grateful that I get to stand with you … so so grateful. This kindness and goodness and faithfulness and strength, it’s the atmosphere you create for us. A safe place where we–I–can flourish. I will always be thankful for this.

  • Anne-Marie

    “It’s love we’re called to stand in, river’s deep.” Selah! Love the contrast to our own human strength, that burns out. And that big love – so wide, deep, yes scary. Big beyond control.

    • When you say it like that … YES! Scary and beautiful and powerful. Here we go!

  • Love and appreciate your heart for others so much, Idelette. Especially now in hearing more about your fears. To know you choose to love in spite of the messages you absorbed as a kid is a beautiful thing to witness. And yes, I can see us all standing together. A force to be reckoned with and a call toward a better way.

    • Thank you so much, Leigh!

      And AMEN, sis.

  • I love how you laid your vulnerabilities on the line for us to dig into. I love how you love. How you see the fragilities others may carry. How you see need and meet it, however you can. You are changing the world mama bear. Love you xoxox

    • And here we stand, together, dear friend. In this LOVE that carries and fills and connects us. Scared and human and all.

  • Bridget Chacon

    … thank you for speaking LOUD about LOVE! Great post.

  • Stefanie

    Oh this touches my heart this morning. It is so beautiful, Idelette! Thank you. WITH LOVE. xoxoxo

    • Thank you, beautiful friend. Thank you!!!! LOVE right back atcha. xo

  • Jemelene

    Oh Idelette, Once again you have written my heart’s cry. Thank you! xo

    • Thank you for being here in the river, friend. LOVE to you this morning. xoxo

  • “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.”
    let’s gather around the Holy lights and watch the fire of God never burn out with fuel that is pure unconditional love. this is pure radiance, Idelette.

    • Thank you, Rachel. So much. I love reading your heart echoing back the sound of Love that is within us and around us. That image of God’s fire never burning up “with the fuel that is unconditional love … ” Love that.

  • Holly

    There is so much goodness here, friend. You sing a song over all of us that is at once empowering and comforting. What jumped out at me the most, however, was this:

    “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 are not taken out of the River…this just bursts with grace untold…that when we’ve linked arms with each other, we are held, even when our weakness would betray us. We are not discarded because of what we produce or provide or project to the world. We are given space to be, just as we are. THIS has been my experience with my SheLoves sisters. The love that I have been shown has not be dependent on anything that I have produced but, rather, on everything that I am, whatever that might look like. THIS is the gospel, the incredibly Good News that every human heart needs to hear and feel and experience.

    This is the river that I want to be baptized in. Over and over and over again.

    • Erin Wilson

      “This is the river that I want to be baptized in.” This.

    • *Goosebumps!!!!!*

  • Alia_Joy

    I wrote about love in my last post as an identity we put on. I want to be kind, although I’ll admit that wasn’t always a goal. There were years when all I wanted was to be safe. Keeping people away because I’ve been burned too deeply before. But I’ve come to realize how detrimental that is to seeing Jesus in my life. We step into love, like a river, and it holds us in sway. I said in my post, “We’re going to have scars if we want to look like Jesus.” I think your post resonates so much with where I am right now. Battered a bit sometimes, at fault others, but always stepping in and choosing to stand with my sisters. Thank you so much for this post. It’s a love song, really.

    • Thank you so much, Alia … your words move me … your honesty and also your willingness to stand and love, in spite of the cost. I think that’s brave and beautiful.

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    “I have disappointed and I still will disappoint.” This line really struck a chord with me because it’s been a pain close to my heart these last few days. And then you speak such healing words “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.” Now I can rest, I can choose to love imperfectly because perfect love surrounds me in spite of me. Thank you Idelette. Love you when you roar in such a grace-filled manner 🙂

    • I’m thankful my words could be part of healing …

      We’ve got this! All we need to do is stand together … pretty fun too!
      xo

  • cjdeboer

    “We act. We speak up. We pray. We connect. We give. We try and live from a place of Love.”

    YES YES YES! THIS is why I LOVE being a part of the sheloves family. Thank you dear friend for holding on tight to that dream from years ago to create an inclusive community of women who love.

    Yes we are human and we ALL drop the ball from time to time but I don’t think we ever let go of one another’s hands. There’s the beauty. There’s the divine.

    • Thank you, friend … for standing here, for not letting go of my hand. xo

  • Wow.. this was really beautiful. I’ve lived abroad for years (part of that in Northern Uganda) and I really identify with that soft spot for wanting to make people always feel welcomed, loved and safe if even in that one interaction.
    Thanks for this.
    Georgia

    • Thank you, Georgia! Tina and I got to travel to Northern Uganda three years ago … stayed in Gulu for two nights. What a place!

      I think once you’ve had to rely on the kindness of strangers, you know what it feels like to be the outsider and so want to reciprocate the kindness to others.

  • sandyhay

    What a great visual I have of this. just today my granddaughter was warming corn starch and water as the basis of a compote but she forgot to stir quick enough. So it stuck and burned almost immediately. If we’re not allowing God to stir us…WOW>>>OUCH!!!

  • DJ

    It’s so much easier to write kindly than to live kindly with my husband…just saying.

    • You’re so right! We had “all hell” break loose at home on Sunday while I was sending this post to bed. #keepingitreal

  • Merritt

    Such a beautiful post. Thanks for going there with great honesty. I’ve been thinking lately about some similar themes….like, How can my every-day relationships go deeper? And what’s my part in making that real? If there’s something standing in the way (fear?), what is that about? And how can I not be afraid? I know the answer rests in trusting God with these things. Easier said than done. Thanks again for your courageous, love-filled words!

    • Thank you, Merritt! What a lovely comment … I so appreciate it. Thanks for reading!

  • Leaning into that grace space. That ebbing and flowing of continual Love found in this space. There is no pressure inside these open walls.

  • pastordt

    Oh, how I love this. And you. Thank you, Idelette for giving us the chance to grow into thick porridge, for guiding and guarding this place. All of it is gift.

  • Saskia Wishart

    Beauty. As always. This SheLoves community has been an incredible source of grace and love this last year for me (from a table in Amsterdam to your couch in Canada). I am so grateful for this thick porridge.

    And I think I understand Afrikaans culture just a little bit better now from that saying…

  • YES! I am the daughter of an immigrant who taught me to embrace kindness. Your words are beautiful and full of so much truth. Oh, that we as women could stop eyeing each other out of the corners of our eyes and comparing and competing and just love one another. Love thick and deep and consuming.

  • mkholmberg

    Indeed, I think too many of us have lived ‘at arm’s length’ for too long. Your mother’s metaphor still works: even if the porridge is thick and may burn, it still nourishes the body. So do relationships nourish us… even when we hurt each other it’s still better to be part of the Body. Press on, press in.

  • Jennifer Tammy

    Thank you, I don’t know where this post is going to take me, but it has opened something raw — it feels like a wound, but I feel like it is more complex. Previous to motherhood, I had rarely chosen kind people to surround myself, always choosing the dangerous ones who would inevitably hurt me deeply. Of course, I made it mean something about me which took years to sort out, and by then I was a single mom, so creating more deep relationships with other women seem like a bit of a luxury that I would love to indulge in, but I’m not sure how to create that without taking time away from motherhood. (Work, school, and toddlerhood don’t leave room for much else!)

  • Julie Cochrane

    “There is a River whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at break of day…” Ps 46. This River which you have invited us all into Idelette, is comprised of Living Water – no wonder I always find my time on this site refreshing and encouraging!

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