Relationships

When Women Encourage Rather Than Criticize or Compete

quote on loving others well

Blessing and Bonding

By Victoria Mejias

Ever feel like you don’t belong? I have. I still do.

I have one older brother. I never had a sister. And for a long time, I was the only girl on my mom’s side of the family. So growing up, I tended to be closer to my aunts. I longed for that camaraderie among women. I wasn’t getting it at school.

In fact just about every girl I thought was my friend growing up, turned out to be catty and gossiped about me. I couldn’t understand it. Most of the gossip and rumors they spread weren’t true.

It didn’t take long for me to keep to myself. I focused on my studies–hard. I graduated high school as fast as I could, at the age of 16, just to get out of that place. My mom and I had recently moved here from the east coast and boy was it a culture shock!

Back east, it’s such a melting pot that no one notices race or ethnicity. That wasn’t the case when I moved to Nebraska. Right away I learned I didn’t belong. Our family is from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean. I was born in New York, NY. But that didn’t seem to matter.

I’d immediately get asked if I was in the country legally; if I was Mexican or Guatemalan; if I had a visa; if I had any good enchilada recipes…Till then, I had never even tasted an enchilada.

I stuck out – and not in a good way.

I enrolled in college at the age of 16 and persevered there, too. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to belong to something so badly. I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I was made for more. It’s what led me to Christ. But prior to that I searched for places of acceptance and none of them worked out well for me. I explored joining a sorority to have that sisterhood I longed for.

Long story short – that didn’t end well either.

After college, I married and had children. Boy did I want female bonds then. Pregnancy scared me! It didn’t help that both of my pregnancies were back to back, at risk, and I ended up on bedrest for one.

I called my mother, grandmother, aunts and any woman I could think of who had had children to hear about their experiences. I had questions, lots of them! I’m a planner at heart and needed to know what to expect.

I’m so grateful for the handful of women in my life I could trust and lean on during those times.

This reminds me of a story from Luke Chapter 1 where a newly pregnant Mary, Jesus’ mother, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. I cannot imagine what Mary was thinking.

Nevertheless, she visits her cousin who is also expecting. I love Elizabeth’s reaction. Though also pregnant, she wasn’t jealous because Mary carried God’s Son. She didn’t drill her with questions or pry into how Mary conceived and second-guess who the father was. No. She blessed her.

Scripture says,“ In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women,and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Luke 1:42-43, NIV).

And Elizabeth was blessed by Mary’s visit.

“‘As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’” (Luke 1:44-45, NIV).

What would the world look like if women banded together, leaned on one another, and blessed each quote pulled from post on gray backgroundother no matter the circumstance? What if we rid the world, or at least our circle of gossip? What if during life’s trials, we reminded each other that we are blessed and loved by the Lord Most High?

The Bible addresses how poisonous gossip can be. And I firmly believe that women are created with a divine and irreplaceable purpose. I have never understood the need-to-know curiosity and temptation to gossip. But I have seen the damage that it causes.

I’m certain that’s why I’ve gained the confidence of some pretty amazing women locally, nationally, and around the world. Eventually I did find a bond with women, one I wouldn’t trade anything for. And I’m raising a daughter that is approaching teenage years. My prayer is that she’d focus on uplifting others, rather than tear anyone down. I pray that for all women. I pray that for me and you.

What are ways you stay in community with women who keep you rooted and growing in Scripture? How can you invest in women seeking to deepen their relationship with Christ?

My hope is that women everywhere would join forces, encourage and remind one another that we are each wholly loved by God.

Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to celebrate someone else’s wins? If it’s hard, why do you think that is? How might remembering we serve a sovereign God of abundance help? Share your thoughts, stories, and examples with us in the comments below or on our Facebook Page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another. You can also connect with us on Instagram.

If today’s post encouraged you, make sure to check out our latest Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health. You can find it HERE.

Get to Know Victoria:

Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria received her Certification in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute in 2012. She has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally as far out as Damoh, India at the World Leaders Evangelical Conference. Recently Victoria was the recipient of two Congressional awards for her service by Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and Nebraska’s Congressman Don Bacon during a floor speech at the US House of Representatives. She has two children, loves the Lord, reaching the lost and enjoys travel, arts and culture. Visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Relationships

Our Innate Need for Community

Quote from Rick Warren with background of friends

God doesn’t want anyone to be alone, and I’m not going to disappoint Him.”

That’s a powerful quote from my grandmother, something she said to my mother when she was a child. They apply, among other things, to how we do life with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God made us to come together and worship Him. Scripture reveals the importance of church community on every page! God wants us to live together and learn from, as well as teach, one another.

Christ-centered relationships, together in a community or church, were instituted by God.

Jesus is the foundation of church. (1 Peter2:5-7)

Paul helped spread it. (Acts 9:20)

And intended for us to continue it.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, He longs for us to do more than simply set foot inside a building, commonly known as a church, to worship Him on Christmas and Easter. Or, maybe, to do more than never set foot in one at all.

Let me be clear in how I define church. It’s a group of believers in an environment who seek to grow in their relationship with, and their understanding of, Jesus through many ways including music, prayer, discussion, and/or listening to a message.

This can be a small group held in a home or coffee shop, or a formal service in a traditional or contemporary setting. It can take place in a small or stadium-sized space, or any time and any day. Scripture shows church as place where people are gathered together to praise and learn about God.

Notice the use of we, us, and our in these verses:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken [heaven], let us be thankful, and so worship God with acceptable reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …” (Psalm 95:6).

According to the gospels, Jesus gave sermons to thousands. He allowed groups to gather around Him as He revealed Scripture. I’m sure these people grew stronger in their faith and leaned on each other in hard times—like when their very lives were threatened after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, the accepted writer of two-thirds of the New Kristen speaker image and quoteTestament, elaborated on this, mostly in letters he wrote to churches. He loved to use phrases like, “Brothers and sisters” and “Dear Friends” when addressing first century believers. In Acts 9:15, we’re told he wanted his ministry companions to join him as soon as possible. They, his friends, were needed by the great Apostle. In Acts 2:42-47 we read an account of some of the first groups of Christians, known as a fellowship of believers.

The question is why? Why is doing ministry together better? I believe God uses us to help and grow each other. To pray for, meet a need for, to celebrate an answered prayer with one another.

God designed us to live in community, to never be alone, as my grandmother might say, in our journey on earth and with Him. In order to live this out, and using the Bible as our example, we must prioritize our time with other believers. We must walk alongside them and help each other worship Jesus and learn about Him.

Where do you stand? Are you heeding God’s call to remain connected with other Christians?

We’ve found, often it’s our fear of rejection that isolates us from each other. But God didn’t create us to live in fear! In Christ, He’s given us everything we need to live Bold and Brave! Join us for one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences to gain tools that will help you develop deep community and walk in freedom. Find our more HERE.

Want us to come to you? Contact us HERE to find out about hosting your own Wholly Loved event or inviting one of our speakers to join you for your next women’s event.

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Related resource: Included in Christ: Living a New Story From Ephesians by Heather Holleman