A week after my daughter was born, my mother and I loaded her in a stroller and enjoyed leisurely walking the aisles of a craft fair at the expo center in town. When I said, oooooh over a rustic end table, mom bought it for me. Eighteen years later it holds its place at the end of the couch.
When company comes they look for a coaster before setting a drink on this end table, and I say, Oh no, moisture rings are welcome. Because the more usage it gets the more I like it.
Patina: The sheen on an antique surface produced by use and age.
Over the last several years, I’ve been talking to lots and lots of women about church. Dozens of women.
…women who think all the other women who go to church are five layers of shiny varnish and unscratched. Who think all those other women look so nice and new that you’d have to use a coaster to set a dripping glass down on one.
But here’s the truth: There aren’t any shiny new women.
The only ones I’ve seen come with all kinds of scratches and stains and whole notches taken out of them. The women I’ve talked to have known abuse and addiction and abandonment. The regular women walking around in church know what it’s like to raise kids with love and then watch them end up in trouble. They have loved men they shouldn’t have loved. They’ve been lonely and have been depressed. The women who sing in the pew next to me have felt a pain that has left outside scars from cutting. The normal women at church have known empty wombs and empty arms. They’ve had annual remembrances of grief from loss and disappointment.
And I think they’re beautiful.
Because Jesus takes the old wood and places it in the cozy family room and enjoys it as the best-loved furniture. The pain of life leaves marks, and no need to hide it away all shameful-like.
This is what I would say to every woman who walks into church: No coasters are needed here.
No smiling as if nothing bad has ever happened to you. No pretending you’ve never made bad choices. You don’t have to try to be all glossy and hide the fact that you have pain and struggles.
Of Jesus we know these words are true:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1 NIV)
Church is a place for women who have known poverty and brokenness and chains.
We all need Jesus.
You know what’s on my rustic end table right now? A beautiful clear glass full of cheerful daisies.