Why Girls Purl

We were hanging out with the Allies recently when Lauren raised an interesting point: we’ve seen many more girls leave fellowship than guys. As we listed the cases, it became clear that her observation was accurate. “Why is that?” we all wondered, and came to a quick conclusion that bad boyfriends was the common factor. This seemed true, but I felt compelled to ponder the question more because I’ve lost many female friends in ministry, and I want to better understand what draws them away from the Body of Christ. And I’m going to minister to women for the rest of my life, so I should probably seek to better understand this female-drop-out phenomenon. My goal is not to analyze non-believing women who came to meetings but never came to Christ. I’m considering those who were believers (as far as anyone could tell), were part of our fellowship, and then left for good.

First, a brief history: Lauren recalled a time before I knew her, when she lived in the ministry house with Diana. Those two are the only remaining members. Four others left before I came to the KSU Bible study. Lauren and Diana are also the only girls who came out of the Bedford high school ministry into college.

Women were vastly outnumbered at the college Bible study I attended my freshman year. A number of girls came in and out of our women’s group that year. Those who remain are Diana, Lauren, Melanie, and me. At least six others faded away.

Next year brought more stability to the women’s side as Jen, Sara, and Leah Z. joined us. Melanie moved to Columbus but was in fellowship there. I may be forgetting those who drifted in and out, but this is when we started to see our women’s ministry grow, and experienced fewer losses. The following year saw even great growth as Amy, Nicole, Kathryn, Sarah D., and Kay joined. Melanie returned. Again, I’m probably forgetting some. But we successfully split cells and then home churches.

Since then many women have joined us and we’re more in danger of being a chickified church than the testosterone-dominated scene of Lake and College St. days. But we’ve also lost Sarah D. , Lisa, Carey, Kay, Jen, and Yana. And several more in the other home church. This problem is evident in the high school ministry as well. None of the girls I worked with two years ago were still around when I
rejoined the ministry this summer. And our girls ministry charts have changed significantly since July.

On the guys’ side, I can think of six losses from the KSU home church. I’m sure there are others, but certainly the body count is much lower.

So why do girls purl? After examining this case-by-case, unhealthy romantic relationships seem to be the most common reason. Variations include immorality, unequal yoking, or break-ups with in-fellowship guys. Several suffered from emotional problems, such as eating disorders, major depression, and bipolar disorder. Many sold out to worldly values and choose school, career, and materialism over healthy relationships. Girls seem more likely to be overly-concerned about their college G.P.A. Cultural factors like divorce, dysfunctional families, body image pressures, and increased incidence of psychological problems surely play a role. And perhaps women come in with more baggage then men—more unhealthy friendships and family and dating relationships, more emotional instability, and less self-worth. This means they desperately need Christ, but it makes it harder for them to follow Him as true disciples.

There is no easy answer to why girls purl. Perhaps it’s tied to the age-old questions of “what women want.” But I don’t want to see more women sell their souls to immoral men and the world system. I don’t want to lose more dear friends to these harmful forces. Perhaps we need to take more care to ground women in the Word so they can learn what real love looks like. Some ideas to try to fight this problem:

1. Study Spiritual Relationships that Last.
2. Teach identity in Christ and its implications.
3. Study and practice love ethics material—this is crucial!
4. Be willing to confront unbiblical values early on.

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

SurvivorWoman

It started off like any other camping trip, with Diana and me obsessively checking the forecast throughout the week even though it has no bearing on reality and is unpredictable as what color combination Keith will wear to CT. Next I scoured our camping box and wracked my brain to compose a Walmart shopping list. As always with Walmart trips, I thought of two more items I needed immediately upon returning home, thus requiring a second trip. I packed my hatch to bursting, seemingly defying the laws of physics, and stood back to admire my work and wipe grill grease off my favorite jeans (the ones I wear constantly).

But this camping trip was to be like none I’d experienced in almost six years of Xenos camping.

Neil arrived home from work and emphatically declared, “I can’t remember anything.”

Was he frustrated that he’d left some beloved piece of technology at work? Nope.

Neil, my camping partner and good little Indian extraordinaire, spoke because he knew exactly what I’d been thinking. He was going to miss the first night of camping, along with Mark and Fish, to attend a bachelor party, and I’d considered sending the cooler with him. But his determination to assume no such responsibility affirmed my previous decision to handle it myself.

Diana arrived, deposited herself and a few items in the Focus cabin, and we began our long journey to Mohican State Park.

“I don’t know how to start a fire,” Diana noted as we drove the winding, narrow road to the group camping site an hour and a half later. “I know the basic idea, but I’ve never actually done it.”

“I know, Sarah and I were just talking about that yesterday, how we both want to know but then never actually try to find out,” I concurred.

Finally we made it to the site, no thanks to the clueless blonde high school girls working at the camp office. “We’re not, like, affiliated with the group camp. I mean, we are, but like, I’ve never been there…”

The first to arrive, we set up my tent where we both planned to sleep the first night. My mechanically challenged self couldn’t figure out how connect the air compressor to the air mattress, but luckily Diana had more common sense than me. Then my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Craig. I just wanted to let you know that we broke down.”

“Who’s we?”

“Me, Nick, and Brian.”

Of course the NASA nerds travel in a pack. About halfway to the campground their spacepod broke down.

“Let me know if you need a ride,” I said at Diana’s suggestion.

Just then, a car pulled up to the site. It was Mandy and Sarah.

“This is funny because we were all talking about how we don’t know how to start a fire,” I observed.

“It’s like Survivor Woman!” Diana was excited at the challenge.

“Yeah, can suburban housewives survive without their husbands?” I challenged.

As Sarah and Mandy pitched their tent, Diana and I ventured out to find firewood. Although not very survivor-like, we thought the camp store was our best bet. We didn’t want to travel the long, scary road back, so we consulted the map and attempted a different route. Thirty minutes later we were nowhere near our destination, but fortunately ended along the route we’d come. Sara was blowing up our phones while Diana expounded on why the map was wrong, and just as we got re-oriented Craig called, asking if we could pick them up in Wooster.

I was upset, not because I didn’t want to pick them up, but because I didn’t want to keep driving up and down that winding ravine-bordered road. With a car full of supplies and wood, there was no way I could fit three astronauts and their gear into my two-door. My frustration led to a frantic conversation with Neil and expletives such as, “Why is there a fucking fat guy on a bike?” which he ignored but Diana found hysterical.

We purchased firewood, used the restrooms since the group camp has only outhouses, and were about to call Sara back when an familiar white car rolled up, containing Sara and followed by a park ranger.

When confronted for exceeding the 20 mph speed limit, she played the girl card with surprising aptitude. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I was lost and couldn’t find my way to the camp site and then I hit a pothole and almost fell off the cliff…” Despite her admission of additional driving faults, it worked and the ranger let her go.

Craig called back with a location and directions. Luckily we had two cars now, so the rescue squad wouldn’t have to return to the campsite to drop off stuff. Sara offered to get them, Diana joined her, and I made my way up the scary road alone, this time in the dark.

While the damsels swapped roles to rescue the engineers in distress, Mandy and I successfully started a fire, pitched Sara’s tent, and kicked back with well-deserved s’mores. Sarah joined us, and finally the men and their heroes arrived.

The bachelor party boys couldn’t wait till morning to come, so they rolled in around two a.m. I became aware of Neil’s presence as he blew up the air mattress with me on it.

The next day we canoed, an activity I was quite adverse to at first. Sarah, Mandy, and I shared a canoe. We immediately hit the bank and went into a spin, but with Mandy’s direction we got the hang of it soon enough. It was a blast, a great bonding time, and no one even got wet. We looked over to see Mark sitting in the bottom of the canoe, smoking a cigarette while Ryan and Fish paddled away. Neil was with Nick, who boasts over 100 miles of canoeing experience. Yet the wiry team finished last, “because we stopped to wait for you girls.”

More people arrived before and after canoeing with a total of twenty by the time we sat down around the campfire for Nick’s teaching debut, which he tag-teamed with Craig. Their teaching recapped a Servant Team Retreat talk on the motivation of grace versus the “I-should mentality.” It was followed by an insightful discussion and prayer, which saw a consensus of wanting to be excited about grace and motivated to radical Christian living that defies our tribal, comfort-loving tendencies.

“It’s really cool that you guys are out here,” Neil pointed out. “It shows you’re willing to leave your comfort zones.”

Late into the night, the conversation about grace continued informally between friends. As Neil heaped wood on the blazing hot fire, many of us felt the Holy Spirit fanning the flame in our hearts. As we move into adulthood, marriage, careers, and parenthood, we want to become increasingly radical in our faithfulness to the Lord. While the lures of compromise and comfort are subtle and appealing, we want to fight against the flesh and experience the joy of sacrifice instead. Big questions still remain as we seek a vision for where God is leading us, but we want to seek out steps of faith that will prepare us to build His Kingdom in Canton, Cambodia, or elsewhere.

So can suburban housewives survive primitive camping without their husbands? Yes. But the real test of substance remains as we follow God’s will. And you never know where that leads. Heck, maybe we’ll buy a duplex in the Amazon.

SurvivorWoman

It started off like any other camping trip, with Diana and me obsessively checking the forecast throughout the week even though it has no bearing on reality and is unpredictable as what color combination Keith will wear to CT. Next I scoured our camping box and wracked my brain to compose a Walmart shopping list. As always with Walmart trips, I thought of two more items I needed immediately upon returning home, thus requiring a second trip. I packed my hatch to bursting, seemingly defying the laws of physics, and stood back to admire my work and wipe grill grease off my favorite jeans (the ones I wear constantly).

But this camping trip was to be like none I’d experienced in almost six years of Xenos camping.

Neil arrived home from work and emphatically declared, “I can’t remember anything.”

Was he frustrated that he’d left some beloved piece of technology at work? Nope.

Neil, my camping partner and good little Indian extraordinaire, spoke because he knew exactly what I’d been thinking. He was going to miss the first night of camping, along with Mark and Fish, to attend a bachelor party, and I’d considered sending the cooler with him. But his determination to assume no such responsibility affirmed my previous decision to handle it myself.

Diana arrived, deposited herself and a few items in the Focus cabin, and we began our long journey to Mohican State Park.

“I don’t know how to start a fire,” Diana noted as we drove the winding, narrow road to the group camping site an hour and a half later. “I know the basic idea, but I’ve never actually done it.”

“I know, Sarah and I were just talking about that yesterday, how we both want to know but then never actually try to find out,” I concurred.

Finally we made it to the site, no thanks to the clueless blonde high school girls working at the camp office. “We’re not, like, affiliated with the group camp. I mean, we are, but like, I’ve never been there…”

The first to arrive, we set up my tent where we both planned to sleep the first night. My mechanically challenged self couldn’t figure out how connect the air compressor to the air mattress, but luckily Diana had more common sense than me. Then my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Craig. I just wanted to let you know that we broke down.”

“Who’s we?”

“Me, Nick, and Brian.”

Of course the NASA nerds travel in a pack. About halfway to the campground their spacepod broke down.

“Let me know if you need a ride,” I said at Diana’s suggestion.

Just then, a car pulled up to the site. It was Mandy and Sarah.

“This is funny because we were all talking about how we don’t know how to start a fire,” I observed.

“It’s like Survivor Woman!” Diana was excited at the challenge.

“Yeah, can suburban housewives survive without their husbands?” I challenged.

As Sarah and Mandy pitched their tent, Diana and I ventured out to find firewood. Although not very survivor-like, we thought the camp store was our best bet. We didn’t want to travel the long, scary road back, so we consulted the map and attempted a different route. Thirty minutes later we were nowhere near our destination, but fortunately ended along the route we’d come. Sara was blowing up our phones while Diana expounded on why the map was wrong, and just as we got re-oriented Craig called, asking if we could pick them up in Wooster.

I was upset, not because I didn’t want to pick them up, but because I didn’t want to keep driving up and down that winding ravine-bordered road. With a car full of supplies and wood, there was no way I could fit three astronauts and their gear into my two-door. My frustration led to a frantic conversation with Neil and expletives such as, “Why is there a fucking fat guy on a bike?” which he ignored but Diana found hysterical.

We purchased firewood, used the restrooms since the group camp has only outhouses, and were about to call Sara back when an familiar white car rolled up, containing Sara and followed by a park ranger.

When confronted for exceeding the 20 mph speed limit, she played the girl card with surprising aptitude. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I was lost and couldn’t find my way to the camp site and then I hit a pothole and almost fell off the cliff…” Despite her admission of additional driving faults, it worked and the ranger let her go.

Craig called back with a location and directions. Luckily we had two cars now, so the rescue squad wouldn’t have to return to the campsite to drop off stuff. Sara offered to get them, Diana joined her, and I made my way up the scary road alone, this time in the dark.

While the damsels swapped roles to rescue the engineers in distress, Mandy and I successfully started a fire, pitched Sara’s tent, and kicked back with well-deserved s’mores. Sarah joined us, and finally the men and their heroes arrived.

The bachelor party boys couldn’t wait till morning to come, so they rolled in around two a.m. I became aware of Neil’s presence as he blew up the air mattress with me on it.

The next day we canoed, an activity I was quite adverse to at first. Sarah, Mandy, and I shared a canoe. We immediately hit the bank and went into a spin, but with Mandy’s direction we got the hang of it soon enough. It was a blast, a great bonding time, and no one even got wet. We looked over to see Mark sitting in the bottom of the canoe, smoking a cigarette while Ryan and Fish paddled away. Neil was with Nick, who boasts over 100 miles of canoeing experience. Yet the wiry team finished last, “because we stopped to wait for you girls.”

More people arrived before and after canoeing with a total of twenty by the time we sat down around the campfire for Nick’s teaching debut, which he tag-teamed with Craig. Their teaching recapped a Servant Team Retreat talk on the motivation of grace versus the “I-should mentality.” It was followed by an insightful discussion and prayer, which saw a consensus of wanting to be excited about grace and motivated to radical Christian living that defies our tribal, comfort-loving tendencies.

“It’s really cool that you guys are out here,” Neil pointed out. “It shows you’re willing to leave your comfort zones.”

Late into the night, the conversation about grace continued informally between friends. As Neil heaped wood on the blazing hot fire, many of us felt the Holy Spirit fanning the flame in our hearts. As we move into adulthood, marriage, careers, and parenthood, we want to become increasingly radical in our faithfulness to the Lord. While the lures of compromise and comfort are subtle and appealing, we want to fight against the flesh and experience the joy of sacrifice instead. Big questions still remain as we seek a vision for where God is leading us, but we want to seek out steps of faith that will prepare us to build His Kingdom in Canton, Cambodia, or elsewhere.

So can suburban housewives survive primitive camping without their husbands? Yes. But the real test of substance remains as we follow God’s will. And you never know where that leads. Heck, maybe we’ll buy a duplex in the Amazon.