Don't punish yourselves, Christian women told

(Photo: Lucasbite)

Holy Trinity Brompton opened its doors to over 900 women on Saturday for the Free to Be conference, an event that aimed to inspire them to be the women that God created them to be.

Hosted by Pippa Gumbel, wife of Alpha creator Nicky Gumbel, the conference was divided into a series of talks on topics such as self esteem, trusting God and guilt.

The first talk was led by the Executive Director of Mercy Ministries UK, Arianna Walker, who spoke on the topic of 'artificial stabilisers', coping mechanisms that individuals use to get through life and the importance of identifying them when in a relationship with God.

"These can be things such as the values we place on our relationships, dysfunctional thinking, or the value we place on a need to people please," she said.

"It could be more destructive coping mechanisms such as eating disorders and self harming. Self harming is a way to stay sane, it's a way to cope with things that you are going through."

She continued: "I believe there is a challenge from God going out to us all. Are we prepared to take some of these things off of our lives? If we stop and ask God about these things, He will say 'let me teach you to take these things off so you no longer need to stay in control all the time, you no longer need to be liked all the time'."

Walker highlighted what she felt was the most common artificial stabiliser amongst people.

"I think for most of us the biggest thing we use to keep ourselves upright is our own insight and understanding. It's our own need to be in control, our own need to see it all and have all the answers.

"We don't like it when God doesn't give us all the answers.

"So often we say to God, 'Prove it and I'll trust you,' but God says 'Trust me and I'll prove it,'" she said.

Reverend Will Van Der Hart, founding director of Mind and Soul, addressed the subject of guilt and noted how women are made to feel guilty by society.

"It is my belief that women have a tough deal in our society, increasingly because there are cultural expectations and standards of women which are portrayed by a very aggressive media which makes women feel bad about who they are," he said.

"The model of womanhood that is projected by our society today is an unattainable model which makes you feel culturally deficient," he said.

He also touched on how followers of Christ should accept God's forgiveness and stop dwelling on sins of the past: "You are not here to punish yourself on God's behalf, because the punishment was laid on Jesus on your behalf. So there is nothing to pay," he said.

Van Der Hart encouraged women to invite the words of Jesus into their lives for healing.

Titled 'Beauty for Ashes' the last talk of the conference was given by Beth Redman, UK ambassador for the A21 Campaign, who briefly shared her testimony of how God comforted her in times of despair.

"Jesus hears your tears like a prayer, and sometimes when you cannot speak, somehow by weeping before him, we are going to the very source and saying, 'I trust you'," she said.

She continued: "Beauty for ashes is about the power that Jesus has to transform all of our brokenness.

"It is a about a complete transformation on the inside that only Jesus can bring which bears fruit that brings glory to him.

"When he heals us we receive a complete transformation."