Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

The Popular Church Girl & The Other One

on June 4, 2014

photo credit: azntaiji via photopin cc

Two young, married women join a local church around the same time. While both ladies are married and have children, they are different in appearance, personality and background. One of the women (we will call her Rachel) is lovely physically. She is slender, fit and lives a healthy lifestyle. She has four beautiful children, all perfectly behaved. Her husband is charming and popular. They have a comfortable income and a beautiful home. Rachel is sweet and friendly. She loves the Lord. There is nothing at all to dislike about her.

The second young woman (Leah) is also kind and loving. She is generous with her friendship and quick to serve where needed. She is well-studied in the Word and has a burden for the lost. She also loves Jesus. Leah is in a difficult marriage. She has made mistakes and the consequences linger, but she and her husband work hard to honor the Lord in their marriage. They love their two children and are committed to their family. Leah’s family struggles financially. There is rarely enough money each month to pay all the bills. Leah also struggles with health issues. She is overweight and doesn’t feel attractive by worldly standards, but her husband loves her and says she is beautiful.

Rachel and Leah are both welcomed into their new church home with open arms. They are both treated with kindness and shown hospitality. Yet, as the weeks go on, Leah begins to wonder if any of her new friends at church will seek a deeper friendship with her. A few months later, she is at church and is talking with Rachel. Rachel shares about how she has been invited to another lady’s house for a little get together with a few of the ladies. Rachel is surprised to hear Leah wasn’t invited. Leah also notices that Rachel seems to be surrounded by ladies after service each week. She is making lots of friends. In fact, they all seem to want to be her friends. Despite Leah’s efforts, she still hasn’t managed to make one good friend. Leah is feeling the pangs of loneliness and unwanted battles with jealousy. She prays for a friend…just one person who wants a deeper friendship with her than the typical Sunday chit chat.

The months go on. Leah watches on Facebook as every post that Rachel makes ignites a long list of replies. She and her family are invited to birthday parties, bridal showers and other events. During the week she receives no calls or emails. She doesn’t get invites to lunch. She is keenly aware that, for reasons she can only assume, she has not be counted worthy of relationship. She has no one who will check on her or know if she is going through a trial. She has no one to turn to when she needs a listening ear. She has no one to call a best friend…at least not from her church family.

This “Rachel & Leah” story is nothing new in church today. It is common. It is disappointing. It often goes unnoticed. The truth is, the church is sometimes a breeding ground for being a respecter of persons. Cliques and preferential treatment is far too common. There are always Rachels, who walk into the church and are immediate hits. They are popular, loved and preferred. People flock to them and seek to have meaningful friendships with them. There are always Leahs, who are the ones that are left unchosen and unselected as a friend of importance. They may be very pleasant and loved by others in the church, but they are never the ones that people choose as close friends. It’s really quite sad.

What is this preferential treatment based on? It’s usually the same criteria that the world uses, which is extra sad. Appearance. Wealth. Popularity. I think most people don’t even recognize what they are doing. It is a subconscious working of the flesh to prefer one person over another for these reasons. They are just drawn to them.

At the end of the day, both Rachel and Leah need close friends within in the church. They both need relationships. It’s so important that every Leah who walks into the church is singled out and pursued by someone. We need to keep watch for those Leahs who are slipping through the cracks and going home hurt every week because no one is trying to get to know them.

Sure, be friends with Rachel, but don’t forget about Leah!

A few years ago my world was rocked when a woman from our small church took her life. She had relapsed into alcoholism in a moment of weakness and was overwhelmed with guilt. I remember weeping and being filled with conviction because I knew I missed so many chances to get to know her better. She needed relationships. She had some, but maybe if she had more she would have had someone she felt she could turn to. I don’t know. What I do know is that there are too many Leahs out there, of all ages and backgrounds, who are getting completely overlooked in church. It is a shame. It is wrong.

I’ve committed myself to loving Leah. I’ve committed myself to seeking out Leahs who need friendship. I am completely committed to loving all of my sisters, regardless of how the world would measure them up. They are daughters of the King and so precious to Him. Thus they are precious to us!

I am committed to Leah because I know Leah. I understand Leah. I have been Leah at times.

If you are Leah, I pray you will understand that your worth is not measured by worldly standards, but by the Creator of the Universe. He made you wonderful and well worth friendship and love. Don’t give up. Perhaps you will find another Leah who needs you as much as you need her.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said,“Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:1-13

15 responses to “The Popular Church Girl & The Other One

  1. valeribarnes says:

    I just can’t say amen enough to this blog post, Chelsea! Well done!

    • Thanks Chelsea this is a great article. I want to add to it….teach your daughters to look for Leah’s too. We have been at a new church for about 6 months and although people are friendly I have been surprised at how clicky it seems, adults and children. It is especially hard for my 12 year old who is kind of shy. She stands with me at the end of service and all of the other girls her age visit and giggle, but no one has asked her to join them. She has tried to join in only to be ignored. I get the same response from some of the adults too. This is a smaller church and almost all homeschooling families, so my expectation was higher for making friends. We all have been guilty of doing this at one point or another and I know God is allowing this so we can learn to be more Christ-like. Through our hurt and trials we learn compassion. Knowing this makes it easier for me at times. It is still hard though, for my daughter since she is experiencing it and for me to witness her hurting and questioning herself. She/We are use to including everyone so please pray for her.

      It doesn’t always have to do with outward appearances but more so with needing to look past ourselves and just SEE other people.

      • Thanks so much for sharing that Rachel, and I’m so sorry to hear that your girls are experiencing this. Your absolutely right. It is probably even worse of a problem, and more hurtful, around that age and teenage years. We do need to teach our girls to be always watchful for the one who’s being left out. And not only that, but we need to encourage the Rachels out there not to be content with receiving all of the attention, but to also look past the crowds to the ones on the outside and bring them in. Tahsnks o much for sharing and I pray that the youth (and adults) of your new church would grow in this way. Love and miss you ladies!

  2. Thanku for this article! Loving your neighbor as yourself solves all kinds of problems. Here’s a song of hope for “Leah” by Lara Landon,

  3. Chelsea, this is a great article; well done. Thanks for taking the time to write and share it.

  4. Tamra says:

    Thank you so very much for this article. It is validating. I find myself seeking out Leahs because I am one myself. I serve, I volunteer, I attend services every week, I go to small groups and women’s bible studies…but after almost 7 years I have no real friends in the church. I have sisters in Christ and acquaintances but no real meaningful relationships that I crave. My husband is not a believer and does not attend church so I feel even more so an oddball. I have taken on the burden of feeling like it’s me, not the other people, and I must be repelling them in some way that they do not trust me. I’ve accepted that. But when there is a function the first thing I do is selfishly zero in on the woman who sits on the sideline alone because if nothing else, we can be there for each other and I don’t want either of us to become discouraged and leave.

    • Tamra, God bless you sister. Thank you for sharing. We are not alone! That’s one thing we need to remember, and you clearly do as you minister to the other “Leahs” out there. Bless your heart. That alone tells me that this exclusion you feel is not because of you. You are so precious to the Lord. You are worthy of friendship and I’ve no doubt you are trustworthy as well. I pray that God will bring an eye-opening revival within the church in regards to this issue, and that brothers and sisters in the Lord would really be able to break free from partiality to love each one of God’s children. Praying for your husband’s salvation sister. I’m so glad to know you and I’ll be praying that you experience a real meaningful friendship soon. God bless!

      • tamewitt says:

        Thank you for your kind comment, Chelsea. I know that it’s not about me (us). The focus should be on Jesus. Did God not create his people for relationships with each other, especially those within the fellowship? He did, to glorify His name. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
        God bless you!

  5. […] to show partiality, but we do, in wealth, social status, popularity and many other things. (See my wife’s blog about showing partiality here, she wrote an awesome blog about […]

  6. Cate says:

    Thank you for this! As a single, childless woman I’m automatically an outsider at the church I have attended all my life. The women’s Bible studies are only available during the day when I’m at the office, the Sunday School classes are by “life phase” so I have to do to the senior citizen’s class since the other choices are “newlyweds”, parents with young children, parents of teens, etc. Women’s ministry get togethers focus on how you can be a better wife or mother. Small group Bible studies were separated by couples. I see dozens of FB posts about how wonderful their mom time was, how the moms went out to a concert or restaurant together, and how they got a wonderful moms’ weekend away. I would do just about anything to feel a part of the church. When I have approached the leaders about possibly a general Sunday School class I was told that since I’ve been “blessed” with singleness I could pass on that blessing by teaching the children or working in the nursery so the moms can have a break and go to church without their kids. I feel like church is not for me anymore – it’s lonely and it makes me sad to go and have no one to connect and few if any opportunities to make deeper friendships.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of the hurt you’ve experienced. It is so true that many churches focus so much on women being wives and mothers that they leave out the single, divorced and sometimes widows altogether. I feel your pain. I remember feeling quite the outsider when I went through a time of infertility. It was so painful to be looked at differently than the other ladies because I had no children. Perhaps trying another church might be a good idea? You might find one with a singles group or Bible study, or general Bible study that would work? I pray that you not give up on “church” altogether but that the Lord leads you to a place where you can feel included, important and your needs are met. God bless you sister!

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