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Be Present: The Journey of Women (Part 2)

We are thirteen women.

From the outside looking in, we are an unlikely company. We span decades in age, represent diverse cultures, come from very different backgrounds, and have powerfully distinct life stories. No two of us have the same personality, temperament or perspective. Each of us has a unique calling and endowment of spiritual gifts. Some are introverts; some are extroverts. Some talk; some observe. Some put it all out there; some take it all in.

If we’d looked for these relationships on a dating website, we wouldn’t have been a match. Our statistical probability for “compatibility” would likely have been low. With all of those differences in age, race, background, personality and interest…how could this possibly be a love story in the making?

And yet here we are. ♥️

God threaded the needle of his purposes and over many years and many shared experiences, stitched our lives together. He didn’t gather us all in a room one day, introduce us to each other and assign us to a group. He orchestrated each friendship one by one, stitching two hearts together. Then another two. And another two. Then he gently and strategically pulled on that strand until each became part of the whole.

What does that look like in the everyday? How does this stitching come together?

That’s really the best part of the story. But it’s also the part many women have a hard time understanding and accepting. Friendships can’t be acquired. They can’t be appropriated. And they can’t be fast-tracked. You can’t jump into someone’s friendship group like you’re applying for a membership to Costco. You also can’t spend your life in physical or emotional isolation and expect friendships to show up at your door like a package from Amazon. Friendships are a complex and beautiful tapestry, painstakingly sewn by the hand of God over a long period of time.

So how did it happen for us?

It would take several novels to tell you our whole story—every shared moment of our journey. But I can tell you that the “stitching” happened because of these simple but powerful things:

  • We have the same spiritual DNA. We may be a diverse group, but we have one really important thing in common. We are crazy about God, his House, and his people. The concept that “deep cries out to deep” is phenomenally true in relationships. God navigates us to people who share our heart’s cry. And every single woman in our group is sold out for the Kingdom, passionate to have an impact, and driven by deep love for God’s daughters. It is our inexorable bond.

  • We are co-laborers in the same field. Friendships are built and strengthened over many connected moments, many shared confidences, many meaningful conversations. Those connections can’t happen in isolation. They require us to step into spaces where God can orchestrate those divine appointments. Our group came together organically through serving God’s people. Friendship blossomed by showing up and being present—serving at ministry events and on Sunday serving teams, attending retreats and conferences, being front and center for anything that had the word “Sisterhood” associated with it, leading and hosting small groups, going through ministry training, taking mission trips around the world, and showing up at doorsteps with meals, in birthing rooms with intercession, in hospital waiting rooms with time to spare, and at gravesides with Kleenex.

Click on the right arrow for slide show.

  • We know each other’s stories. We’ve poured out confessions and testimonies that would make some squeaky clean “church girls” run for the nearest exit. There’s nearly no sin we haven’t confessed, no shame we haven’t whispered, no fear we haven’t had to slay to be transparent. We’ve learned along the way that Kingdom friendship means staring into each other’s closets and seeing the “ugly”--the whole story of each person—and choosing to love each other deeply, madly, unconditionally no matter what. No judgment. We have common stories and many shared journeys. We’ve been sexually abused, emotionally neglected and physically abandoned. We have our "MeToo" stories. We have some promiscuous pasts and made some broken, shocking choices. We’ve been mistreated, dismissed, and discarded. We've also been adulterers, liars, and hiders. We’ve been cheaters and been cheated on. We’ve walked out and been walked out on. We’ve fought to stay in marriages and fought to leave them. We’ve carried the shame of abortions and the heartbreak of miscarriages. We’ve been single moms and stepmoms and every other kind of moms. We’ve had stellar parenting moments and colossal parenting failures. And Jesus rescued us, redeemed us, healed us, and entrusted us with purpose. We love because he first loved us.

  • We’ve held up a lantern in dark places. The greatest bond we share is that we've pulled up close to each other in the bleakest, darkest, most painful of hours. Some of those hard-hitting life experiences I listed above have come during the span of this friendship, and we have circled close, girded each other, and held out the lantern of God’s love to lead each other out of darkness. We declare, we prophesy, we intercede. Disease, depression, anxiety, fear, self-doubt, and confusion have had to flee under the collective power of thirteen women praying in fierce and relentless unity. We go to war for each other. And we win. In Jesus’ name.

  • We’ve stood the test of time. No friendship is truly a friendship until it’s been tested—until it’s been put to the fires of misunderstanding, disagreement, distance, neglect, betrayal, and disappointment. We have had a few of those bumps in the road. They are inevitable in a group of this size and complexity. They are very rare, but when they happen, we are committed to the proposition that what has been offended must be quickly mended. We seek understanding and forgiveness. We lay it down and choose love. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I spent a lot of time chasing boys in my youth and trying to find the perfect man in my adulthood. I wasted a lot of years completely clueless about the love that could exist between women. I never knew how deeply necessary women would become to my soul. My friends are oxygen to me. Loving and serving them is my greatest privilege, and together we share the joy of serving the Kingdom, always facing outward to love and care for the women in our world.

More next time. ♥️

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