You certainly said in my hearing; I heard the sound of your words:“I’m pure, without sin; I’m innocent, without offense. Notice that he invents arguments against me; he considers me his enemy, ties up my feet, watches all my paths.” Job 33:8-11 (CEB)
“Blessed Be The Ties That Bind” is one of the first hymns I remember hearing when I attended Presbyterian Sunday School as a child. To make my Sunday School story very short, I, as a Catholic child, attended Presbyterian Sunday School. In those days, Catholics had religious education (CCD) classes after school on a weekday, not on Sundays. When I was first in school, I went to public school (I went to Catholic school when I was in 5th grade). So every Wednesday, we’d go to religious education with Mrs. Rusin, rather than going home. Somewhere between now and nearly 30 years ago, the laws changed, and now kids aren’t allowed to do that anymore. Alas, in those days, I wanted to go to Sunday School, Catholics had never heard of Sunday School, so my mother found me Sunday School. It just happened to be Presbyterian. We would get out of Sunday School right as they would start their service, and I remember hearing “Blessed Be The Ties That Bind” one particular day.
The hymn isn’t my favorite. There are other hymns I like a lot more, that are easier to sing. I think it has a nice sentiment, and I like that it teaches on unity. The bonds of Christian love and Christian unity should keep us together. However, God knew what He was doing when I got a word from Him recently where He told me: Get rid of the ties that bind.
Recently I posted a three-part testimony that spanned the past two years. What I didn’t mention in that testimony was the progression that has been happening all this year toward improving our flow and organizational things that relate to this ministry. Over the past two years, a lot of changes have happened in the ministry. Several key people left, all under less-than-ideal circumstances, and we’ve had some shake-ups, shake-downs, and shake-it-all-arounds. Where I stand now is not where I stood a few years ago, and how I feel about some things has radically changed. I see the need for reformation and revision, and while I am not changing the vision, I can see where our execution on some things needs to be different.
So when I finally got the sense that it was time to dissolve Women of Power as a part of the main ministry and, instead, start Sanctuary Women as our women’s ministry (and add a lot of what we were doing to Sanctuary Women, and dissolve the rest), I was curious as to why I was all right with doing that. I didn’t even put up a fight…I just knew what it was time to do, and I had peace about it. Yet, I was curious why I had peace. I wondered why I didn’t feel more upset or more like I had lost something. Women’s ministry has always been very important to me, and the work of Women of Power came at a very difficult point in my life. It represented something I wanted, something I felt was so important, and something I wanted to do. I wanted to bring different women together who agreed on the importance and education of women, from different ministries and perspectives, to work together and educate and empower other women. Sounds great? Sure it does. It sounds like that song, “Blessed Be The Ties That Bind.” Just like it looks in the hymnal, you figure, “we got this,” until you start singing it.
That’s exactly what happened with Women of Power. Year after year, our events were always filled with someone who just had to try and sabotage things. Someone would seem all supportive, then show up with a mess. Sometimes the sabotage came from speakers; sometimes attendees; sometimes both. And it always seemed like, every year, we were subtracting rather than adding. After every event, someone who was a part of Women of Power was no longer such, and was no longer even a part of any of our lives. While Women of Power was great at exposing things and motives…it became a headache.
Women of Power was tied to all those people, and their sabotages. It was tied to their visions, their manipulations, the way in which they misrepresented themselves, and the way in which they took on the vision as a part of their own lives and work. It represented trust in the wrong people, and dishonesty on their part. For that reason, it was tied to memories, feelings, and ideals that are no longer present here because they have been cast out of this ministry.
The ties that binded needed to be cut. I was good with moving on because those ties: to those people, those memories, and those things, was no more. It was fine to take the parts of the events and work that worked – and do something else with it. But Women of Power, as an identity, was forever going to bind us all together, when we needed to be separate.
Not all the ties that bind are blessed. Some people, considering us enemies, are binding us up through our sense of loyalty, our desire to have things go on without them, our own stubborn pride in wanting thing to stay the same and show someone else up, or our own lack of realizing that the things that connect us to them still bring back those ties, tie and time again. Lord, in this hour, help us to see those ties that are blessed, and let us embrace them. Let us also recognize those ties that are not, and know what to cut, and when.
(c) 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.