When I see a woman

In light of the recent women’s retreat, I have had some issues on my mind. We spent a better part of the weekend learning about what kind of woman NOT to be. The immoral woman. The indiscreet woman. The irritating woman.

As the descriptions unfolded I heard the gasps around me. I heard the shocking cries about these terrible women. I could feel the JUDGMENT in the very large room, and the underlying hint of anger at their actions and corruptions.

Friends, it did not make me feel righteous. Truth is, I have been all three of those women in my lifetime. I’ve been in some of those places they described. I’m not proud of it. Not at all. But know this – because of that – I don’t see people the same way as others, at least most of the time anyway. I guess it makes me different (or maybe I’m not?). I know to me it hurts to shame women with opinions I have no right to behold. Maybe there is another story behind their actions, behind their clothes, behind their situation. Have you ever considered this?

My heart tells me to see these women differently. To Keep believing, keep hoping, and keep loving. As the famous Avatar movie would say, “I see you”. And this is how I choose to see women described as immoral, indiscreet, and irritating.

When I see a young woman dressed in a short skirt, a tight, low-cut t-shirt labeled “Too Hot to Care”. I don’t see a child I want to reprimand and explain proper attire to. I see a little girl who is crying out for direction. She has followed the wrong role models and has had no one protecting her morality. She wants attention. She is LONELY.

When I see a woman tightly wound with a chip on her shoulder. She snaps at the waitress. Her food is too cold, too hot, and all kinds of wrong. She glares at the man next to her while he shudders inwardly and tiptoes around her drama stage. I don’t see intolerance, and contention. I see a woman who is SCARED. She is scared to love. She is scared to be loved and pushes everyone away to protect herself.

When I see a woman flirting with a married man. She charms him. She knows exactly what to do and say. A wink, a smile, a lick of the lips. I don’t see a predator. I see an empty soul who has never known what it’s like to be truly loved. The darkness inside envelopes her. She is LOST.

When I see a woman who drinks excessively, smokes, and hangs around the bar pretending she is not crushing on the bartender. Nightly, she abuses her body. She is filling her life with unfulfillable things. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how to find herself. I want to take her hand and let her know, there is so much more to life. She seeks FULFILLMENT.

When I see a woman having sex with a different man every night. She can’t commit, nor does she want to. It’s just sex. It doesn’t mean anything. She is fine on her own. It’s better this way. I don’t see a heartless user. I see a woman who has never loved deeply. The love that lifts, turns, and softens. My heart breaks for what she is missing. I want to knock down the walls so she can FEEL.

When I see a woman with an abusive mate. She cowers, she begs, she pleads. She is a trooper at keeping the peace and doing what is expected. I don’t see her weak will. I see a woman who doesn’t know her worth. She doesn’t think she deserves anything better than what she has. She needs to know how precious she truly is. She has VALUE.

When I see a woman with perfect porcelain skin, eyes without wrinkles, and a firm, fit body. She wears designer clothes. She drives a Cadillac. She has everything she needs, and other women envy her, or worship her. Inside, her heart beats like mine, her blood flows through her veins. Her mind thinks and feels just like I do. She is NOT all put together. She is NOT perfect. She is tired. She has no true friends. She bears the upkeep on her back and it weighs two tons. She wishes to relax but her needs and subsistence drive her tirelessly. If only her life could stop. If only she could just let go, and be. She wants to DIE because that would be easier than her life. I want her to know there is vitality that is not attainable through any means, but is joy filled without any appointments. She needs serenity and ACCEPTANCE.

When I see a woman dirty and shuffling. She wears plastic bags on her feet. She carries all her worldly possessions in her handbag with one unbroken strap. She doesn’t have a place she calls home. She lives where her legs will take her and where a light burns bright for her. I don’t see a helpless bum. I see a woman with great grit and determination. She lives proudly in the worst of situations. She is a SURVIVOR.

When I see a young woman bucking the system. She is trouble – fighting, lying, hating. She never does the right thing. Always does the opposite of what is expected. She is conniving and manipulative. I consider the possibility of her turmoil is from abuse. A verbally abusive mother. A controlling Father. Maybe, an unsuspecting neighbor sexually abused her as a child and NO ONE KNOWS. She didn’t tell. She is ANGRY and violated. She wants to strike out at the world. I ACHE for her. Not only is she incredibly tormented but she bears the pain on her own. How twisted and buried it must be. That child is crying inside and needs to be comforted. She needs to know, it wasn’t her fault. She is BLAMELESS.

When I see a woman jealous and hateful. She gossips and gets great pleasure in demeaning her fellow sister. She despises the happiness of others and will think nothing of a cutting remark. I don’t see a bitch. I see a woman terribly unhappy. She is void of empathy. She is withering from lack of light. She is in DARKNESS.

When I see a woman standing on a street corner. She is Looking out from hard eyes, and tough skin. She sways when she walks but she can fight when she needs to, or run. She has been beaten bloody. She has been stoned out of her mind. She has been violated, and torn until she is scarred and broken. Her life is the streets. Waiting for that twenty she can shoot up her veins. I don’t see a hooker junkie. I see a child whose mother abandoned her at age two. I see a lost, frightened little girl, who cried out for her Daddy and received beatings instead. She got lost in the system. No one cared for her. No one raised her. No one loved her. Not then. Not now. Not ever. I see a life that could miraculously change. A change so dramatic when she stood up to tell her story every ear would hear and be astounded. I see someone who God could use. She is SOMEBODY.

When I see a woman all dressed in black. She has black nail polish and hair. She wears chains and nose rings. She has a neck tattoo just above her lace trimmed collar. She is quiet and broody. People tend to give her a wide berth and confused glances. I don’t see a mental case. I see an artistic creation locked inside, lacking the freedom to express her needs and desires. She is passionate, complex, and terribly misunderstood. I want to unlock her chains. I want her to know she can live as uniquely as God made her. She is FREE.

When I see a woman struck down by illness. She has battled fiercely and lost. She is worn out. She has seen every doctor, tried every prescription. She has been betrayed by her body, by her mind. She wishes for well-being but only ends up sicker and sadder. With each failed treatment, depression sets in. Pain ensues. It’s a downward spiral of despair. Her life stops as she is only able to do so much in her weakened state. She loses her family, her job, her will. I don’t see a hypochondriac. I see a woman desperate for faith. I see a woman who needs to know she can be supernaturally healed, if only she will believe it. She is WHOLE.

When I see a woman using foul language. She swears with the best of them, dropping F-bombs, like hydros, hitting targets left and right. I don’t see desecration. I see a woman who watched their week old infant son take his last breath in her arms. I see a woman who was good and proper her whole life, until she had to dig deep to find the strength to survive burying  her baby. Her anguish expelled on her lips in short fiery bursts. I would curse too. She MISSES her son. She will always miss him. She HURTS.

You don’t know what ANYONE is going through, or how they got to that point, or where they came from. You don’t know, nor may you ever know. One thing is for sure, there is SOME story. Maybe it’s not any of the above. Maybe it’s not even close. But what if you considered the possibility, and instead of judging, held them deeply with compassion.

Fill yourself up with all the love in your soul and beam it towards these women. SEE THEM. It’s easy to reject what we don’t understand. It’s so hard to embrace when we do.

I humbly ask you, LOVE them. Just love them anyway. That is true unfading beauty.

125 thoughts on “When I see a woman

  1. “I see,” too – maybe it comes with age (which creates a lot of humbleness as our eyes open to the truth within and outside of us) – your created a perfect visual, a hand-book almost to remind us to look beneath the surface. People think I’m so together – and I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not. The true friend sees the untogetherness and loves anyhow! Beautiful post!

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  2. :-) A moving post but I am smiling because I am again grateful that you “re-shared” this one. Thank you.

    Very moving. Very important lesson to remember.

    Thank you.

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  3. This is so true. It can help us accept people more if we try to understand why they are that way or do what they do. There are reasons why people are the way they are. We need to show God’s love to others by loving as He does.

    Congrats on your SITS day!

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  4. This is very beautiful. Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? Towards the end of the India sections (the “Pray”), she talks about something similar. It really changed the way I look at people.

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  5. The world needs more Christians like you. I was so hurt by my then-Church when my first husband and I divorced. It took me almost 15 years to find my way back. People need love, not judgement.

    You sound like the kind of person I would love to sit and have coffee and fellowship and maybe even a nice glass of wine with. I love your blog.

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  6. I love that Casting Crown song. It has always reminded me of my daughter when she was going through her dark, Gothic stage brought on mainly by being verbally & emotionally abused by her father & then raped by her boyfriend. I watched people judge her (so called Christians) & I wanted to scream at them…”until you have walked a mile in the other persons shoes, don’t judge”. I actually did a blog post on people judging people.

    Happy SITS Day!

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  7. Very powerful post and full of what is most spiritual about us all – our compassion for others. We can all look this way – and see this way – if we only dare go a little beyond the surface, because we are all these women and so much more. It’s so easy to judge and name call, but it’s only compassion and empathy that lifts us up together. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Excellent and well said. I’ve also been a few of those women, felt the condemnation and judgment from others… but NEVER God. Because of Him, I am who and where I am. Your posting is powerful.

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  9. This is a beautiful post and it’s so true. When we sit around judging these women that’s not helping anybody. We’re only bringing more negativity onto them. I need to keep this in mind. I’ve been some of these women and it’s true that it’s just a cover for the pain we’re feeling inside.

    Happy Sits day and I’m so glad you chose this as one of your top posts, I can definitely see why!

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  10. Your words remind of something I read once, which is that everyone thinks they are doing the best they can, even when they’re falling short. Judging people does not help them. That’s like thinking that the best way to help someone lose weight is to remind them over and over how fat they are. That doesn’t help! Acceptance and love help.

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  11. wow…this post hits home for me. I’ve never fleshed out the stories I think someone might have, and this brought me to tears. I tend to view people as you described, and it is so moving to read your words about this, and the love that goes with them. Thank you for this post.

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  12. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this post. When we do not support each other, when we are intolerant and judgemental, we are making things worse. Did you ever catch yourself being rude and someone called you out on it in a caring way? It’s disarming and eye opening and it certainly influences me in a positive way. I hope everyone who read this, including me, will take this post to heart and be there for the women around us.
    Happy SITS day to you!

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  13. Love this post.

    There has been a bit of blog drama directed at some of my friend’s lately in the blog universe and I find it so sad.

    We are women, noble creatures who bring life into the world. We should always be uplifting each other, supporting each other, taking each other’s hand and loving each other instead of tearing down each other.

    this post says it all.

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  14. wow, that is a brilliant piece and I 100% agree that you never know what a woman (or man or child) is going through unless you flat out ask. Judgment can be such a sticky situation.

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  15. Oh wow! That was really powerful, and literally made me cry. You’re an amazing writer, and you seem like such a lovely person! This was very well written, and so so true.

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  16. Thanks for for your lovely insight. You managed to describe the various types of girls/women in a way that shines light on the person behind the image.

    In my daily life I encounter many of the types of individuals you mentioned. Often times I wish I could just grab a couple of them and whisk them away to a place they’ve never been to open their eyes to a different way of thinking.

    For the young woman in a short skirt…by a secluded beach we’d sit on a mound of green grass under swaying palms. I’d ask her, “What’s REALLY bothering you?” With no one else around–just nature, her, and me–she’d finally open up with three simple words: to be understood.

    A cathartic release would follow. And another life changed.

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  17. This is fabulous. I have someone in my life who judges everyone and I have tried so many times to let her know it is not her place to judge. Judging is God’s job. Our job is just to love each other and walk through this life together. What you have written explains how I feel so well.

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  18. Beautiful, inspiring, and powerful post!

    You never ever know what someone is going through. I feel exactly the same way; and one act of kindness and a smile can change someone else’s moment, hour, day, month and years for a lifetime.

    I love this and am going to reblog – share it on my reblog page I just started last week.

    Sincerely,
    judy

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