Men fix things right? What do women do then? Years ago one of the more arrogant men I’ve ever met offered up a description of men vs. women in meetings.
It went like this: “The men will all bring their best solutions and offer them up. They’ll zero in on the objective, get to the point and battle it out for the best solution. Efficient and outcome based.” He grinned a satisfied grin. “The women, on the other hand, will sit around and talk about their feelings. At the end of the meeting no progress gets made but everyone feels good.” He laughed a condescending laugh.
Clearly, gold star for the men right? This post here isn’t about showing that women can run a better meeting than men, but a look at what a group of women uniquely offer…particularly to one in need and how this group of women can act not only as support but as an ongoing prayer.
This past summer has been one of deep challenge and radical shifts in the lives of so many who are close to me. There has been so much ache, longing and confusion. What seems most automatic at such times, for men and women alike, is to try to find a solution, figure things out and take some action to make it better, usually on our own. Over and over again what I’ve thought, in the face of my own challenges or those of others is…What’s needed here is a good old fashioned women’s circle…
For almost a decade I worked with a team of only women. I’ve had the same core group of girlfriends since I was 16. Over the past few years I’ve been part of a women’s spiritual group that has been a massive support in both my wellbeing and my development and I continue to form in groups with other women that show me the dramatic difference that gathering with the hearts of women can make. One on one is awesome, one on one is important. But something happens in a group gathering that most women know well…
We hold space. The space that’s being held for the group or the individual in relationally focused, not outcome focused. The space that is held is one of embrace and opening. There’s a fervent desire to know and meet the arising needs. In the most impactful women’s gatherings I’ve ever been in, the space that’s held feels so safe, so clean and so sacred that needs and longing and insights that we were previously blind to start to emerge. Having a specific objective going into such a space could be irrelevant as what’s stirring beneath the surface gets light and air.
We listen. To your words and to the needs or commitment behind the words. We listen with interest and curiosity. We listen with our hearts and minds and bodies. When we are listened to amazing things happen, in being witnessed, our own challenges start to soften or intensify, they shift. Without a plan or a solution, just simply being heard in whatever is arising creates movement.
We offer. Perspective or support or love or food or childcare or lip stick. It’s impossible to be in a sacred gathering of women and not have each one offer to give in some way. It’s particularly incredible to be in a group where all the focus in on one person. Women will work together to figure out the varying needs of that individual and handle them for her. This flies in the face of a lot of what is valued in our culture today, pulling up our bootstraps and handling things ourselves. In fact the hardest part of being with a group of women who are offering up their time and energy and support is actually being able to receive it.
We challenge. Beliefs, ideas, habits, stuck and unhealthy ways of being. In my experience, women generally have a lot harder time challenging one another than men do. But in this kind of intentional space it works really well. When space is held and deep listening is occurring and we’re offering out to those in need, challenging becomes a natural extension of support. We can see what you can’t see in the moment, or we can nudge you past the fear or uncertainty. And we will do it with love and on behalf of your deepest longing.
Heart. Here’s where the prayer comes in. Ask a woman who deeply loves you to hold an intention in her heart and that will be carried around with her all day. At a recent dinner with a couple of friends, one asked for us to hold her in her deep yearning for partnership. This opened an incredible space of sharing what each of us want to be held in, not have a solution for, not fix or change, not have an action plan for, but simply be held in, as a prayer. Since then I have been moving throughout my day as a prayer. With each encounter, as I feel the need or ache of each person with whom I am engaging, I have started holding their deepest longing in my heart as well. It’s become a moment my moment practice of heart opening prayer.
So I’m going to make an invitation here. Whether you’re a man or a woman, feel into what you deeply need right now, what you’re longing for. Endeavour to share that with two or more women, preferably at the same time. For many (particularly the dudes I imagine,) this may feel vulnerable or just plain silly. Allow yourself to be listened to, heard, receive what is offered as both support and challenge and be held in the hearts as prayer. I invite the women who know someone needs a little extra to seek them out and offer this space.
I invite you too to share about this in the comment section, in whatever way you feel moved to share. Further, for those who have a longing or need that they’d like to have heard or connected to may share in the discussion section as a place for public prayer and holding.
May you all be held in One Heart today and onward.