For the past several years, I’ve been attending the Northwest Women’s Show in Seattle, a kind of expo devoted to all things women. Some of you guys might be switching to a sports blog about now, but I’d advise you to stick around to learn some surprising things about women, at least women in the northwest.
The event is held at the Quest Field Events Center, a huge space where you could imagine a RV show being hosted on another day. But today (and the rest of this weekend), it’s filled with hundreds of booths, many of which are pink, and long lines of women ready to grab the latest giszmo, freebie, or service.
My favorite aspect of the show is the freebies. Over the years, I’ve learned while attending the event, that I’ll do just about anything for a free bottle of stuff. Stand in a 30 minute line, you bet. Give them all my contact information so telemarketers can find me, why not? Eat whatever they’re handing out, so as to not leave a bad impression on the strangers who are working the booth, sure. I used to give Dan a hard time about all the free teeshirts he’s collected, but I realize that I’m just as bad getting makeup samples.
And I don’t seem to be alone. The most popular booths were the ones giving product handouts or food samples. So, that’s my first insight into the northwest woman. She loves her free stuff, especially if she “wins” it. For example, there were many “spin the wheel for a prize” games, where everything on the wheel was complete dumpster fodder. But women would gladly stand 20 minutes in line to get their magnet or pen (emblazoned with the company’s logo). One woman dared to reject the plastic cup offered to her by a rice company, and suffered the ridicule of all the women around her. She got rather upset at their response. Inwardly, I cheered her on for being brave enough to cut down on the dumpster filling she’d be doing anyway at home. Me, I smiled and accepted the ugly magnet they gave me, which will probably go in the garbage once I sort out my bag of junk.
The next major thing I observed about the women at the show were how much they gravitated towards alternative medicines, therapies, and psychobabble. Many of the talks going on were about harnessing energy and curing yourself the natural way. Ladies were willing to rub mysterious creams and tonics all over themselves, putting faith in the pretty salesladies or the smooth talking salesmen. Convince someone that they have toxins in them, and you can sell them just about anything. What about the most toxic substance on Earth, which always leads to death and is with us from birth: sin? Why is it, that people are so quick to accept these quackeries and so quick to reject time tested and proven Biblical truths? It boggles the mind.
And I’m still processing this lesson, but it has to do with women who show one face to one person, and another face to others. I was in the ladies’ room, and I witnessed an interesting exchange going on. A young mother was trying to soothe her very cranky baby and looked pretty despondent. A couple older women went up to her and offered their services, one of them even picking up the child and rocking it. They offered their motherly advice, and I watched, touched by the thoughtful act. The young mother was crying, as they all told her that they understood how hard her job was. The baby calmed down, and the woman handed it back to the mother. I followed the woman out of the bathroom and happened to overhear her comment to her friend, “I just couldn’t stand seeing that baby so miserable. The mother had no clue.” Ouch. Such unkind words when talking with someone else. But it wasn’t just the attendees. I heard so much false flattery from booth saleswomen, that I began to develop a very cynical outlook towards people there. When everyone puts on a false face, who can you trust?
So based on these observations, I began to imagine how to fit Jesus into the Northwest Women’s Fair. What if he had a booth? Women love the freebies so much, they might just respond to Jesus’ grace, that he offers us so much for free. And he’s one of the most alternative choices out there. He’s radically different from all the other religions. And his followers are some of the most unique people under the sun. And finally, in a world where people are two faced and untrustworthy, he offers steadfastness and authenticity. He meets all the needs that women were seeking to fill at the show. The challenge is, how do we share that good news? Something tells me a booth isn’t enough. A radical God uses radical means. He’s alternative that way.