God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this

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Mr GLW's first EVER blog: Pastors vs. Campaigners

Posted by God Loves Women on May 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

My husband (Mr GLW) has asked me to host his first blog here.  Hope you all find it useful!

 

So, this is the first blog I have ever written. I confess, I don’t read too many other blogs so I’m hoping and praying this follows any “rules of blogging” which may, or may not, exist. My wife, Mrs GLW is very good at blogging and blogs frequently. We often read and comment on each others work before it goes to press but I’ve asked Mrs GLW to only correct the spelling and any really bad grammar in this blog as I want to be as unbiased as I can.

 

I felt the need to write this blog as Mrs GLW and many other campaigners (I’ll define what a campaigner is very soon, just hang in there) were getting very negative feedback and comments especially from pastors. Now, to be fair, any campaigner expects a fair amount of flack, which is very unfair as they do such a good job and change the world. But a lot of pastors, specifically pastors were taking issue with Tweets and blogs and the like from campaigners. This set me thinking about why these two groups of marvellous people are at such loggerheads over important issues. And so this blog is my thoughts. Let’s go for it!

 

Firstly, a couple of things I’d like to say (before I say lots of other things): Not all pastors are having a go at campaigners. They are not natural enemies. I just noticed out of all the negative comments Mrs GLW and her campaigner friends get, a fair percentage were from pastors. I didn’t scientifically measure it but was there. Also, even though I’m going to, I’m not a great lover of labelling people. I think personality types have a role but I do understand that people are complex and saying “you have an X personality therefore you think like this” isn’t doing God’s varied creation any favours. I’m also not saying that people are either a pastor or a campaigner. I’m neither and again, these are only broad terms.

 

Also, dear reader, you may recognise yourself in this blog. If you do, that’s unintentional. I did write this blog from my real life experiences but it’s certainly, honestly not aimed at anyone in particular. Honestly.

 

I’m also going to talk about victims and perpetrators. Now in case you didn’t know, Mrs GLW and I campaign to end violence against women. And coming from that world (I call it the EVAW World) I do know better than to use the term “victim”. There are much better words that describe people who have suffered at the hands of all different types of perpetrators. However, if you don’t mind, I’m going to stick with victims, just this once, as I want to capture a whole host of campaigns, not just our one and victims seems to be the best word (just this once).

 

So what’s what? What is a campaigner and what is a pastor? Like all of us, my definition of any thing really is shaped by what I’ve experienced. In the grand scheme of things, I probably haven’t experienced a lot. Because I’m married to a campaigner and live in a world were I interact with more campaigners than pastors, I know a lot more about campaigners. So I’ll start with pastors first.

 

A pastor, some times called a Vicar, Minister, Preacher, Pope is basically a church leader. The stereotypical ones stand at the front and spout forth God’s word on a Sunday morning. They are very very good at loving everyone and anyone. They want their church or group to be open and welcoming to everyone. They love the victim and the perpetrator and both are welcome. Shouldn’t we all love everyone, I hear you ask? Well yes, but remember this point for later. Most of the pastors I’ve come across are very good speakers. I think it’s part of their training.

 

You don’t have to be spouting God’s word on a Sunday morning to be a pastor Many people I’ve met are pastors but aren’t ordained, they don’t have or go to a church. They are made to be pastors though and some may be doing God’s work in a place far from the church, like a bank or the government (only joking!). But they all have a pastor mentality – that they love everyone.

 

So what is a campaigner? Listen and we will hear (a little C of E joke there). A campaigner is someone who is very passionate about a particular subject or cause. They will use any opportunity to tell anyone about it. Sadly, they can sometimes come across as fanatical, always taking about that one and only subject, especially on their days off. (Though like pastors, campaigners never seem to get a day off!) They may not get many opportunities to speak because they come across as slightly mad and, let’s be honest, we all know what they’re going to speak about anyway! Sometimes, campaigners aren’t as articulate as our pastor brothers and sisters (in Jesus, obviously). This is normally due to lack of training which may not be possible due to time or finance or both. Importantly, campaigners are on the side of the victim. The immediate welfare and the restoration (big Christian word there) of victims are their primary and sometimes only focus. They can sometimes come across as hating or having no compassion or love for the perpetrator. They can appear judgemental towards one particular group, normally those they may be campaigning against.

 

I’ll give you a real like example. I haven’t changed any names to protect the innocent as I haven’t mention any.

 

I was in church the other Sunday and it was prayer time. Our minister sent up a few general prayers then asked a particular women if she would pray for a particular country way out east which is going through some problems at the moment. This women had left England some years ago to set up an orphanage in this country way out east and quite rightly she was best placed to pray for this county way…you know where.

 

I smiled as her prayer turned in to a mini sermon about the needs of the people she was serving. She stumbled her way through a list of what needed changing in that country (mostly the government of a bigger country next door) and what her centre needed to survive. I also, disappointingly, noticed a few people sighing and rolling their eyes to heaven. A good reason to always pray with your eyes closed. She was a true campaigner being given a rare opportunity to share her God given passion.

 

That Sunday’s prayer time (it’s not really called that in our church) brought home to me how sometimes campaigners are perceived: The passion perceived as rambling on about that same subject for far too long, given half a chance. The wants and needs of the cause being seen as perhaps something else to donate to. The way she was ranting at a government (aren’t all governments allowed by God? Even UKIP?) And yes, she wasn’t the most eloquent speaker in town, especially compared with the pastor. I suppose it was that Sunday that was a light bulb moment for me. It really helped me connect the dots on why these clashes between pastors and campaigners occur.

 

(Just so you know, there was no clash between our pastor and campaigner-woman. I’m sure our pastor knew what was going to happen when he asked her to pray and I salute him for letting her do so.)

 

And so here’s where the clash occurs: love. Not to trivialise but to explain, (and this is a well known story for many in Campaigning World) most of Mrs GLW’s clashes go like this: a Christian organisation or a well know individual makes a comment which does not help the EVAW cause. Mrs GLW nicely (she can do nice, normally on only Mondays and Wednesdays for some odd reason) informs the person or organisation why their comment is problematic. Sometimes they come back “I’m really sorry, I didn’t realise. Thanks for the advice.” and life’s merry (at least for a few hours). Other times a Twitter mini riot ensues and many people will accuse Mrs GLW and other campaigners of basically not being loving, either towards other Christians or those poor perpetrators (sarcasm intended). And perhaps oddly, or not if you’ve read the above, many pastors are in the “You’re not being loving!” brigade.

 

So here’s the whole crux of this blog: I think that a lot of pastor type people think that campaigner type people don’t love perpetrators. Not true. I know many courageous people who have been seriously harmed in many ways by a perpetrator and have whole heartedly forgiven them. I also know that the vast majority of campaigners are very aware of the principalities and powers of this word that encourage bad behaviour. They just don’t condone the behaviour and want it to stop.

 

A cute example: Smaller GLW (our youngest child if you’re not into Twitter speak) sometimes has a paddy and throws things and himself around. I love him deeply but I still tell him to stop this bad behaviour because he may hurt himself, or more likely, someone else. I’m not judgemental towards him as I’m aware of his age, his immaturity (compared with an adult. Well, most adults) and why certain situations set him off (normally Small GLW, his sister). I think I’m right in saying this a very typical parent’s way of thinking.

 

So is it as simple as that? Pastors are designed (by God) to love everyone and they expect campaigners (and others too) to love everyone and never say a bad word against anybody?

 

Well for starters, most campaigners I’ve come across do love “the other side”. It may not be the “Let’s all be bestest friends!” sort of love. In most cases of past abuse, that wouldn’t be appropriate or helpful. But there are a lot of people who once experienced horrific abuse who now forgive the abuser. They may never want to interact with the abuser again but that act of forgiveness is still love.

 

I believe that campaigners are made to see what and who needs changing in the world. Pastors are made to love and welcome everybody. They were both made this way by God to complement the Kingdom. Jesus, who I believe contained every personality type as he was 100% God and we were made in God’s image, displays both pastor and campaigner (and many other) traits from what we read about Him in the Bible.

 

So what’s the way forward? Once we really recognise and properly appreciate our different jobs and roles in The Kingdom, this should lessen the pressure on ourselves when we see a brother or sister (in Jesus) doing something we don’t agree with. Perhaps our first question shouldn’t be “Should they be doing that?” it should be “Are they being called to do that?”

 

At this present time, with the current setup in our churches, pastors are gatekeepers a lot more of the time than campaigners. They have more power to decide who preaches and who doesn’t. And because pastors are, well, pastors, you’re always get a pastor’s perspective in a Sunday sermon. I’ve noticed we’re all drawn to parts of the Bible that fit comfortably with our personality type or our calling. Therefore it figures that pastors will always bring a pastor’s perspective to any preach. Now, a few notes about what I’ve just said: Yes I know we have PCCs, Elders, Deacons etc. but in most churches pastors do have a big say. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Also “power” is sometimes a dirty word. A lot of people won’t acknowledge they have power and therefore won’t use it appropriately and that in itself is not helpful. Mrs GLW went on a course about this and is much more qualified to talk about this than I am. Suffice to say, recognise the power you do have (and we all do) and use it for His work.

 

Anyway, to get back on track, pastors – please recognise those campaigners in your mist and allow them to speak. Recognise that historically most campaigners were shunned and ridiculed by the establishment. Don’t be the establishment!

Playing By The Rules

Posted by God Loves Women on November 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (1)

If you’ve ever met me, you’ll know that I can talk. People’s experiences of meeting with me range from describing it as “the day the sky turned dark” as we chatted for many hours and it was night time and she hadn’t realised; to actually chucking me out of their house (in a nice way); to talking so much we got on the wrong train and it took us 45 minutes to realise. So talking is a thing I can do.

 

Something else you may realise about me quite quickly is that I have big issues with power misuse. Having experienced abuse of power to varying degrees in relationships, in a work environment and in church, I spend my life trying to address power misuse in varying degrees. This includes my rejection of the “Christian Game”. You may or may not be familiar with this game. It is a Christian version of the celebrity game, where one’s value as a Christian and the validity of one’s opinion is in direct correlation to the amount of influence and power you hold.

 

For a long time I put all my energy into shouting, with the hope that one day, people might hear me. The scary part was when people actually did begin to listen to me. The fact that I may actually hold some power, or influence petrified me. What if I used it wrongly? What if I got it wrong? Up until then the focus was trying to get people to listen, now they were listening, I had a great responsibility to get it right. Through conversations with some wise people I realised a) I wasn’t that influential and I needed to get over myself and b) I needed to stay true to what I believed. This helped and I moved forward in a much healthier way.

 

More recently I met with an amazing communications consultant, who helped me to work through some of the barriers to communicating my message. The main issues for me seemed to be that I refused to play The Game and am losing people’s engagement because I am disruptive, challenging, disturbing and not as people expect me to be. We focussed on why I was so worried about The Game and a few things came up including fears of losing sight of God, being silenced, and losing my sense of self. That somehow my identity had become rooted in being heard.

 

Soon after this meeting I spent some time walking along the beach, reflecting on what this all meant. The fear of losing sight of God feels very holy and right, but underneath that was the reality that my identity is less rooted in Jesus and more rooted in being heard. As someone who loves to talk, and has a calling to communicate, being heard is something I thought was part of the plan. Surely it must be! Why would I be called to speak, if not that people would listen to me?

 

As I walked along the beach I realised something, I have been playing by the rules of The Game, while resisting the desire to gain power. The Game says that being heard is the object, because being heard brings power. The Game says that the more people who hear and take on the message you bring, the more power you have. And although I wanted to resist the power, I thought that it was in the being heard that would fulfil my calling. And as I walked along the beach, a still quiet voice whispered to me, “You are called to be obedient, not to be heard.”

 

If my perception of “success” is measured in the same way as that of The Game I struggle so hard to resist, I’ve unknowingly become part of the system.

 

In the last month or so I’ve shared some of my issues with CNMAC. Though CNMAC has been a catalyst for my thoughts, as it brings to the surface issues that are often less visible in the day to day of life of twitter, it’s not really about a conference or awards. Fundamentally, I think the issues lie in where our identity and value sit. My wonderful friend Helen Austin (the blogger formally known as Fragmentz) has candidly shared her thoughts on CNMAC, and I am anticipating her blog on the subject. Some of the conversations I have seen include:

  1. Building “a platform”
  2. Gaining followers
  3. Talking about how many followers someone has as if such a figure somehow makes explicit a person’s value
  4. Obsessing over blog stats or website traffic (I have no facility to check blog stats, and do not want one),
  5. Talking about ways to get people to click on links or read blogs.

In short this is about being heard, by the most people possible.

 

To be clear, that is not the call of the Gospel, it is a marketing plan. We are not called to gain followers, we are called to make disciples of Jesus (not of ourselves). We are not called to be heard, we are called to be obedient. While our identity rests on being heard, it is rooted on whether people hear, and our success on how many of those people hear.

 

I say this all as someone who likes to be heard, I have spent a large chunk of my life trying to be heard, experiencing the terrible pain of being silenced over and over. I recognise how easy it is to build my life on the need to be heard, because that’s what I’ve done. Not because I wanted power, or influence, or favour. Almost in direct opposition to that, because I wanted to challenge structures of power, and speak out about injustice. And perhaps my realisation of this comes from a place of privilege, of having been heard.

 

On that beach I repented of being rooted in something other than Christ and asked God to help me learn how to be obedient, above all else. Since then I have faced opportunities where I could court favour and possibly increase the amount of people who hear what I feel called to say, or I could challenge things, perhaps losing favour and opportunities. In those decisions I have realised that I would rather that it all ended here, knowing I have remained rooted in Christ, than continuing to move forward marketing myself in order to be heard.

 

Perhaps it is ironic that I am writing this to be read. That I’m broadcasting these words for all, but I am discovering the issue is not in speaking the truth, it is in not fully inhabiting my soul. In somehow relying on others to feel validated or as having value. Jesus shared His message with all who would hear, but He made it difficult. He told parables so “when they see me they will learn nothing, when they hear what I say, they will not understand”. When eating with the gatekeepers of His culture, (the Pharisees) he insulted and offended them, and when He had an opportunity to perform miracles to the elite (Pilate and Herod) He refused. I will be obedient to God’s call, and I will speak out, but I choose to be rooted and found in Christ alone. I hope this will be true for me: “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)

CNMAC: Some Thoughts...

Posted by God Loves Women on November 11, 2013 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (5)

You may have seen a blog I wrote last month about the Christian New Media Awards 2013 (CNMAC). At the time I began formulating some thoughts about the Christian Twitter World (not sure if I should capitalise it, as if it were an actual organised entity, but I have… ). Many conversations with some lovely people and some time with the Lord later, I thought it would be good to try and formulate my thoughts into a blog. So welcome along to the thought train (begins dancing around the room singing about the thought train to the tune of “love train” by the O’Jays…sits down calmly and begins writing.)

 

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years and I love it! I have met many of my Twitter friends, meeting for dinner, going to their house for tea (Mr GLW was rather concerned about this one, but it turned out she was a great cook, fun friend and not a raging psychopath), meeting at events like The Gathering of Women Leaders, and other such frivolity filled places. I would consider some of my best friends to be people I met through Twitter. Alongside meeting people offline, Twitter is a place I have been challenged and encouraged, prayed for and loved, and where I hope I have offered such things to others. A significant amoung of where I am spiritually, politically and philosophically has come through interactions on Twitter and through reading people’s blogs. All in all, I think Twitter is fabulous.

 

However, (there’s always a however, isn’t there…?) when the experiences I have online become labelled with a hashtag, talked about in terms of increasing my “platform” or when people I consider to be my friends and fellow travellers on the journey of life (those whom I follow or who follow me) are turned into a currency of either influence or a measurement of my value, I feel sick.

 

You’d have thought that my love of Twitter would have led me to feel excited and hopeful about the CNMAC conference last week. However, after aring my view on the awards I began feeling uncomfortable about the conference as well. I did attend the conference in 2012 and although the Twitter banter through the day was amazing, I only briefly connected offline with a couple of people I knew from Twitter. I found the conference really hurt my brain (not in a “good and thinking” type way; in a bad, “I can’t read twitter, follow a twitterfall, respond to Twitter, and listen to a speaker all at once” way.) I felt lonely and sad and disconnected all at once. The best point of the day was randomly having tea with some fun people, who had to endure my moaning about needing food *immediately*.

 

Why is it that Twitter can be such an amazing place, but CNMAC, a gathering focussed on doing “digitally better” can leave me feeling lonely and alienated? Then a thought struck me (not like actually physically hit me, more like a slow dawning realisation… ).  There are two main groups on Twitter.

 

  1. The Car Enthusiasts. They love their car, they like to make improvements on their cars and have the best cars they can. They want to attend car conventions to talk about how amazing their cars are and visit stalls which give them handy tips on maximising the output of their cars. They polish their cars, talk about their cars and enjoy their cars.
  2. The Journeyers. These people like hanging out with their friends. In fact, they like journeying with their friends. And to do that they need a car. The Journeyers, don’t really care about the car, as long as it doesn’t breakdown. But all the car is to them is a vehicle with which to go on a journey with their friends.

 

I’m always a bit worried about labelling people. In fact, I refuse to be labelled, hate “Myers Briggs” and even mute my SatNav so it can’t tell me what to do (you may laugh, but I am following the map, not being told where to go. Hmph!!). So please don’t take my two categories as rigid, immovable ideas. They are purely an illustration, and I doubt many people fit into either of the two categories fully.

 

I am a Journeyer. Twitter and blogging for me is about enjoying the journey with a group of people, some I agree with fully, some I rarely agree with, but still they all make the journey what it is, and actually together our discussions may change the direction of the journey and I find myself going on a whole new route because of the conversations going on in the car.

 

I feel that the CNMAC agenda and organisation is run primarily by Car Enthusiasts. Their explicit aim is one of excellence. One which makes sense for having a good car, but less so for having a good journey (I guess having an excellent car may make the journey smoother, but actually for me an old banger adds to the character of the journey, even if it is a bumpier ride). I feel disengaged from the CNMAC conference and awards not because there is anything wrong with them per se, but because their aims for social media are not my aims and they get excited about totally different things than the things I get excited about.

 

I worry that by posting this blog, I may upset people.  They may feel a) I’m falsely dividing people and b) I’m wrong. However, I feel in order to clarify my thoughts, this blog explains where I’m currently at. But hey, hop in the car with me and let’s discuss it further.

Colours

Posted by God Loves Women on July 14, 2012 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Me and the Lord had a couple of days away and He showed me so much.  Here's a poem I wrote about one of the things He showed me:


A life drawn with pencil

So it could be rubbed out

 

With only three colours

To lay on my page:

 

Black; dying soul, destroyed by others

Red; bleeding heart, bleeding wrist, life source dripping away

Grey; creeping sighs and mist covered everything

 

Black

Red

Grey

 

THAT

Was

Me

 

But…

I am no longer THAT

 

Colours galore, colours true

Colours fresh, colours new

 

A life full of colours, full of laughter

With permanent marker, for ever and after

 

I’m no longer bound by black, red and grey

I’m free, I’m alive, with new colours each day

 

As you look at my pages

My life 2D

The change in colours

Is astonishing to see

 

Where once there was pencil

And black, red and grey

There is now a rainbow

New day by day

 

The colours of life and freedom and hope

Of love and of beauty and learning to cope

Of kindnesses offered and given away

Of Light and of Mercy and new Grace everyday

Worshipping the created

Posted by God Loves Women on October 27, 2011 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I had a two part revelation from God recently.  The first part came during my first experience of a West End musical earlier this month!  Apart from my seat being VERY high up, the show was wonderful.  There was the orchestra playing the music, the performers acting, singing and dancing wonderfully and the sense, as I looked around at everyone else, of a shared joyous experience.

 

But as the show came to an end and the performers took their well deserved bows as the audience applauded and whooped, I looked around and saw many people on their feet, pouring out their adoration.  Suddenly, I felt this wave of sadness as I realised that most of these people have never given God a standing ovation, have never even considered the awesomeness of their Creator, and in His place they have put performers, actors and actresses, dancers and singers, who although capable of much, are still just the created beings of the truly Awesome Creator.

 

I left the theatre feeling so broken hearted for a world in which God is ignored and the created is worshipped.

 

The second part of this revelation happened as I was spending a day with God recently.  I started to praise God for all He has made, flowers, dogs, cats, science, intelligence, love… and as I did this, for each thing I named, I could think of at least one group who dedicated their life to that thing, above and instead of the Author and Creator of the things.  So there are people who dedicate their lives to gardening, to their pets, to the pursuit of science, to trying to find true love… and yet all of them are missing the point, they are worshipping the created and missing out on the Creator.

 

And I began to feel it again, broken hearted for a world in which God is ignored and the created is worshipped.  But this worship of the created is not a new thing.  As it says in Jeremiah 10:14-16:

 

“Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.  The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them.  They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish.

He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for He is the Maker of all things,

including Israel, the people of his inheritance - the LORD Almighty is his name.”

 

The idols of today may not be made of gold, but they are still worthless.  Don’t get my wrong, I’m not saying West End shows, gardening, owning a pet, science or any other such thing is wrong or evil, but when worshipped and placed before the Creator of the universe, all things fall far short.