Also had an unplanned lunch with a casual friend from church. She's hurting, badly. In May she had what sounds like pity sex with another friend from church (a 30 year-old virgin who was pursuing her, on his birthday), got pregnant, and terminated. She was depressed before and during this time, basically withdrew herself from the church community entirely, and was further wounded by the fact that no one pursued her. Now she's trying to restore relationships and return to the church. She still needs to face and talk with a number of people, including Tommy.
It wasn't hard to hear her with compassion. I can only imagine how hard the road has been so far, and it's not going to get easier anytime soon. She has much to face that she's still trying to avoid. All her instruments are off-- she'll need lots of help, support, and work to be healthy.
In part, she had lunch with me in hopes that I could think of ways for her to be more involved with the church (she used to be heavily involved). That's not the way things need to be right now, and if she continues to pursue that, I'll have to be honest about it with her. Attempting to return to the past will result only in harder falls and a mouthful of bitter ashes. She needs to walk before she runs, take milk before solid food, allow herself to be cared for instead of trying to lead. The roots of what caused her to stumble in the first place run clear through those old ways of being and doing. She doesn't need punishment, but she will need discipline-- and much, much, much love.
I pray that God will open her eyes and heart to see this. He's the only one who can. Yesterday she would say things like, "I want women's voices to be powerful in the church," and all I could think was, "Stop running! Stop hiding! Stop pretending! Let yourself simply be loved." Under all the bluster is a terribly frightened little girl who needs healing. That's who she needs to be now.
If we talk again like this, I'll seek to tell her some of that. Yesterday, it was early, and she had no way of knowing if she was safe with me or being condemned for all the things she's already beating herself up about. To be honest, I think her reaching out to me was manipulative, motivated by my role at the church. We've been little more than passing acquaintances in the past. No matter-- I'll not dismiss the opportunity to give compassion. We all find friends in the least expected places.