Listen. Repent. Love.

by Jessica Leep Fick

solidarity with women, standing up for women, repentance, Jessica Leep FickAn open letter to evangelical women.

I know you’re hurting right now. Things feel dark and confusing. You might feel embarrassed by what the Church is proclaiming (or not proclaiming) to bring truth and light into this world. You feel like you don’t quite fit anywhere. I look at social media and see the throngs of women marching across the world in lament. I see a longing for restoration, justice, and flourishing. I see women in my communities struggling to find a place to demonstrate Jesus, especially when so many people see the word “Evangelical” as a nasty word.

I don’t know what you thought when you saw friends, sisters, or strangers marching on behalf of women, life, equality, or out of anger. What I do know is that moments like these are a wake-up call to ask, “Holy Spirit, what are you doing in our midst?” What does it look like today for the gospel to overcome the gender divide? What does it look like to demonstrate love like Jesus, who always reached across dividing lines to welcome women who were outsiders?

A former mentor and friend once said to me, “You aren’t responsible for people, but you are responsible to them.”  As women who claim to follow Jesus, we are responsible to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God in our churches, communities, and workplaces.

I think a good place to start looks like this:

Listen. Repent. Love.

Listen: It’s difficult to bridge a divide among women or men who are different than you if you aren’t willing to listen. Listening sometimes hurts. It brings up feelings of defensiveness, confusion, anger, or sadness. This is what it looks like to walk with someone in his or her pain–to hold it in a place where you don’t judge, don’t fix, and simply listen. If someone is hurting, regardless of if you understand why, it demonstrates love simply to be present and listen to his or her story or perspective.

Repent: The Book of Common Prayer says, “Lord, forgive us of sins of commission and omission.” It’s hard to face up to the things we’ve said or haven’t said that have hurt others. Each of us have the ability to be healed of the ways we reject God’s goodness for ourselves, others, and this world. We can agree that we don’t know the best way for things, but the Holy Spirit can guide us in the bumbling, joyful mess of community. And this is an act of repentance.

Love: Actions speak louder than words. It’s easy for me to forget that love isn’t simply demonstrated by what I tweet or which side I’m on of a political or theological issue. Love shows up in real life, in real ways that demonstrate and say, “I am with you and I am for you.” It looks like bringing a meal to someone who is struggling or to take the awkward steps of seeking to understand someone first rather than demand to be understood. It means to fight for justice for oppressed people even if people misunderstand your choice to do so.

It’s going to feel uncomfortable. Yet it is the life of love that Jesus calls us to live, speak, and demonstrate. It’s a love that can overcome any divide of sexism, misogyny, or ignorance which exists around us.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we read,

I now I will show you the most excellent way…love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers.  Love never fails.

Sisters, let’s not grow weary of doing good and loving well. Jesus has enough love for us. He can fill us with his love for this broken, hurting world. Now is a moment to be known for what we are for and to stand together to speak and demonstrate the healing love of Jesus.

Jessica Leep Fick (@JessicaLeepFick) is the national director of Evangelism Resources for Stonecroft Ministries which is committed to reaching every woman “where she is + as she is.” She is author of Beautiful Feet: Unleashing Women to Everyday Witness. Jessica is married to Dave and enjoys exploring Kansas City with their two sons.