I really hate those "home parties." You know, the ones where you go to someone's house and hear about the latest gadgets, skin care products, or overpriced home decor. The hostess serves brownies and everyone talks about their kids and how busy they are. Then the sales representative stands up and gives a hyper-peppy presentation punctuated by polite gasps of delight from the women packed in the living room.
A few of the women get really giddy about the whole thing and start ordering everything that catches their eye. Some of them find just a couple of things they like, grab another brownie, and head home. I twitch uncomfortably and look for the least expensive item on the order form. I feel obligated to order something. After all, the hostess cleaned her house and made snacks for us, and if I don't order she might not get her free "hostess gift."
I learned my lesson when I once tried to leave one of those parties without buying anything. I had spent the entire party looking at my watch and thinking about how if I wanted to, I could make those doodads myself with some cardboard, fabric scraps, and magic markers. But I didn't want to. And I certainly couldn't imagine paying for any of them. But as I tried to leave, the sales representative cornered me with a desperate smile and asked me what I was going to buy. Everyone else stared at me as if I had been caught shoplifting. I did manage to escape without lightening my checkbook, but not entirely unscathed.
I don't go to those parties anymore. I've conquered my sense of obligation to attend. I don't even try to come up with excuses anymore. I just picture myself at the party, looking at my watch, wondering why in the world I agreed to spend my evening there. I imagine the feeling of watching the other women and wondering why I seem to be the only one who isn't enjoying myself tremendously. And I politely decline without bothering to explain.
I must confess I've had the same experience with women's ministry events. It's been a long time since I attended a women's Bible study, luncheon (why don't they just call them "lunch"?), or anything else just for Christian women. I've spent enough of my life feeling bored, self-conscious, and out of place (think junior high gym class).