RelateHER: She Has Done A Beautiful Thing

Written By: Alyssa Esparaz, Compassion Canada

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“The poor you will always have with you.” (Matthew 26:11)

As someone who works for an organization that strives to end poverty in the lives of children, I think about those words of Jesus a lot. So, is my work in vain?

Because we see Jesus’ heart for the poor in every aspect of His ministry, I am confident that the intended effect of His comment was not to have us throw up our hands in defeat.

Rather, I think Jesus’ point here was far more convicting.

We live in a world wrought with brokenness and injustice. In this passage, I think Jesus acknowledges that we live in a broken world where broken people will inevitably build and use unjust systems and oppressive structures to shame and marginalize vulnerable populations.

And in the case of the above passage, it was Mary who was marginalized as she poured perfume on Jesus. Judas, a man of power and privilege, was in a position to oppress Mary, and he does just that—he shames her, asking, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” (John 12:5). But, as the Gospel of John tells us, he just wanted the money for himself (John 12:6). You see, he was known to use his position of power to advance his own wealth and build his own selfish kingdom.

So, Jesus shows us what we ought to do instead, with our power and privilege.

He defends Mary. He calls her actions beautiful. He affirms her.

His actions were shocking and radical, to be sure—a man of influence defending a powerless woman. It was actions like these that made Jesus so unpopular among the religious elite of His day. In fact, Judas leaves this event to go and arrange Jesus’ betrayal.

And yet, in this story I hear Jesus saying, “Follow me. Follow my example.”

We might read that account in the Bible and imagine ourselves in Mary’s position. But I think more often than we’d like to admit, we Canadian Christian women find ourselves in Judas’ place. On the world stage, we are some of the most wealthy, powerful, and privileged people on earth. Too often, we use our privilege to advance our own kingdoms, rather than to build Christ’s Kingdom by standing up for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-56).

You see, because we’re broken and sinful people, we knowingly or unknowingly create and participate in systems of oppression that enslave, stigmatize, abuse and neglect our most vulnerable populations. In North America, these systems and structures are tipped in our favour in so many ways, giving us power and privileges that we often don’t even recognize. It begs the question: How can we use our position in this world as Jesus did?

I’ve sat with children living in poverty and teens fleeing war, and every single one of them is doing something exceptionally beautiful in this world. But the world is often terrible at recognizing beauty. Maybe you are all too aware of this, because the world has failed to recognize your beauty and has scarred you deeply.

But you know what? Our Saviour has already spoken these words over us, as He did over Mary: “She has done a beautiful thing.” (Matthew 26:10)

And now, with those words spoken over us, He asks us to use our voices to do another beautiful thing: to speak the same words of defence and affirmation over those who are marginalized in our communities and in the world.

I firmly believe that as we turn a little more each day from building our own kingdoms to establishing the Kingdom of Christ, those actions of love not only heal the brokenness in the world around us, but the brokenness in our own lives too.


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HERstory: To Live By Faith

Written By: Hanna Ekres

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I’ll never forget the morning of June 11 2011.  

Those four somber words from the attending ER doctor, “I’m sorry its leukemia.”  Cancer. Those six cold empty letters that sent a chill down my spine. I was eighteen years old on my way to to Bible College to fulfill the call God placed on my heart. Out of the all the things that I had imagined for my life, this was not part of my plan. In those next few moments my whole world began to collapse and any dreams that I had became fragmented pieces of a life I once hoped to have.

I was your average 18 year old. I grew up in the church my whole life, and from a young age became involved in serving in different ministries. It was in grade 11 after a youth retreat where I felt a call to go into youth ministry. My heart ached at the statistics that a large percentage of youth would leave the church upon finishing high school and entering the adult world.  My heart was set on entering youth ministry and helping teenagers grow strong in their faith and to help grow and invest into their lives in a positive way.  I finally felt I was headed in the right direction for my life and I couldn’t have been more happier then eagerly waited for September to roll around.

By the time it did, I was already halfway finished through the first part of my aggressive treatment. Even though what was happening at the time seemed cruel and unfair, it was a true matter of the heart to learn what it meant to surrender all of myself to the Lord.  Every day I was challenged by what trusting God looked like, and to put it simply it's learning to “live by faith and not by sight.” ( 2nd Corinthians 5:7) Learning to understand no matter how I may feel, that God’s word and His promises stand true always.  Even when I didn’t see healing as quickly as I had hoped for, I based my faith on truth rather than emotions. This helped me to grow in my trust in Him.

It’s been six years since I was diagnosed with leukemia.  Six years of dealing with painful side effects from a stem cell transplant and harsh treatment. But it’s been six years of being cancer free, making eternal friendships and dreaming with God of my new future. In some of the hardest times His joy has truly been my strength.  Ultimately I give Him the praise for healing me in the way that He did.  For helping me grow in my faith and also for loving me through the hard times when I felt like giving up.  Knowing that whatever trials I face I don’t do alone, gives me the greatest confidence of all.


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RelateHER: Emerging From Burnout

Written By: Abby Paterson 

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I've been tired. I am tired. Really tired. I finally realized this week that it's all too much.

But then I prayed.

I went to seek counsel.

One of my prayer meetings involved us calling out lies I was believing, releasing them to God & speaking the truths over them. She wrote down the truths for me so I can now re-read them.

The second prayer meeting I had with my friend Jazelle, she reminded me in her prayer that walking through valley means there is a mountaintop coming.

As she was praying, my legs felt like they strengthened and I felt lighter.

You are, it's been a long 4 years. I have walked through a lot & I am just yearning for a break. Four years ago started the crumbling of my marriage - in turn my life. Very quickly after, I moved away and started a new life in Victoria. After six months, I had to prepare for change again after learning my job was moving to Toronto. With that came the frustration of figuring out who I am and what I have to offer. What job title fits 'Abby'? Then, again, very quickly, I moved across the country chasing a larger world.

That started this crazy uncomfortable life in Toronto. What has been consistent has been Gather. Everything else - my house, my jobs, my relationship - has changed.

I feel like I've been striving. I want to rest. I want to soar. Have I not been trusting God?

I'm so tired of questioning everything in life. Am I doing it right? Do I stay or do I go? Where is the money coming from next?

Falling into bed exhausted still feeling like there's more to do...it seems to be my theme lately.

I've always been this girl - taking on a lot, wearing many different hats, networking, maintaining a very full social life...often at the expense of my health and my 'refuelling' alone time.

Last week I burned out pretty bad. I woke up with the intention of working from home that day and could not make it into work mode all day. I felt unwell, had to take a few naps & pretty much felt my brain had broken for the day.

That was my wake up call. When my brain started working again, I looked at my list of 'hats' and the expectations that came along with them. I quickly realized that there were some really hard things I had to say no to or take off my plate. Good things...which made it more difficult.

I am a self admitted sufferer of FOMO. When any opportunity arises, I feel I have to take it. If I don't, I may miss out on something or meeting someone that will help propel me into my destiny - or at the least miss out on a good time. So saying no to something I could be a part of is the equivalent to me of social suicide.

I felt the burnout coming on, so I had made an appointment with a prayer pastor where I work. She walked me through what lies I was believing for the purpose of speaking truth over them. We both had an 'ah ha' moment when I said, 'I fear if I don't take an opportunity, I am going to miss out on 'my big break'' Guess what this really means? I don't trust God to fulfill His promise to me when he told me, 'I will take you to where I need you to be.' That was a slap upside my head.

How small I am! I feel that if I don't accept every hat someone asks me to wear - or every meeting that comes my way (social or not) - that I'm going to mess up God's plan. Good news: I'm not that powerful. Also - God isn't limited in His ways. I also don't believe God would expect us to burn ourselves out in order to fulfill our calling. Unfortunately there are too many like me.

I started to learn to be okay with just doing the things I felt God had asked me to - despite what I felt were expectations from others. I also have to now talk myself through that if I miss out on something, if there was someone God needed me to meet for whatever reason, that He can make that happen in other situations. I need to stop putting him in a box of my understanding which is so limited.

One of the reasons I've been wearing so many hats is because finances are a struggle. All of this filters down to trust. If God calls us to something, He will provide without us having to kill ourselves in exhaustion. So maybe I need to start asking the following questions:

Is what I am about to say yes to something I feel God has orchestrated or called me to?

If yes, am I trusting that He has the details, such as finances & timing, worked out?

Or - if no - will I own the fact that I may miss out on other things or wear myself down?

This lesson in ‘pacing myself’ has become a deeper lesson of trusting God. I often come back to a question someone asked me a long while ago, ‘Do you believe God is who He says he is?’...

I do - now I need to start acting like it...


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