We are all familiar with the negative stereo-typical “church lady”. She is judgmental, strict and humorless. Her world is small and her view is extra narrow, believing that it is her job to point out sin in those around her.

I used to be a church lady. But I let a smile cover my fear of not being good enough.

I was a busy mom and even busier churchwoman who was involved in multiple church committees and jobs of all kinds. You name a department of the local church and I either organized it or was a  “pillar” of it. My life was centered around the local church with very little “worldly” interaction.

There is a well-kown TV character using this stereo-type that makes me laugh, but she also makes me very sad. Sad, because I know her. Sad because I recognize the fear that motivates her. She acted superior but she did not  feel superior, she felt afraid.

In her mind, God was an extremely difficult and unreachable being who set up a series of unreachable standards that were requirements for entry into Heaven. The idea of a friendship with God here on earth was not even considered. Life was all about getting the points piled up by doing good here, so that we will be issued a ticket that said, “Well done, you may enter your reward.”

I too, have spent many years working for God. More than a few of those committees and Bible studies I was involved in had little to do with my friendship with God. They were expectations put on me by myself and by others. Wouldn’t God love me more if I did more for Him? Is that such an unreasonable motivation?

The truth is that God loved me long before I was introduced to Him. He thought I was amazing before I was a senior pastor’s wife who spent ridiculous numbers of hours on the phone getting the women’s ministry event organized. God delighted in me without taking into account all the wonderful work I did for Him.

But why? Why in the world would the great Creator of all things care about me just as much before I shivered at six o’clock every morning for two years praying in the church sanctuary? Didn’t He love me at least a LITTLE bit more when He saw that sacrifice?

You can be sure that the church lady in us believes that I made some pretty big points on those mornings. Every minute spent on my knees or pacing and praying was definitely adding up in His big book of good deeds. What about missionaries? They give up the comforts of a civilized society and move to remote, dirty places to tell strangers about God. Surely missionaries will be hearing some extra hearty welcoming praise as they enter Heaven!

I am no longer a “church lady”. The striving to be holy and pure is gone. The fight to appear perfect so that I don’t become a “stumbling block” to others is over. My mission to live by the rules to gain the love of God is done. To continue would be the same as the poor little hamster who runs with all his might on his spinning wheel, getting nowhere.

I am loved, accepted and delighted in by God. He is not waiting until I get it right. He is not looking at me with hope in His eyes for what the future-me will become. God is pleased with me today, now, in all my ordinariness and goofiness!

Is there some “church lady” in you? In the coming weeks I will be exploring this whole question and letting you in on my journey to being a Recovering Church Lady.