"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart." 1 Pet 1:22
I want to tell you a story.
This isn't a fiction story. Its characters are not made up. They aren't contrived from the dreamy, creative spaces of my writer's mind. This is a real story about real women. It's the beautiful narrative of very ordinary women saying yes to an extraordinary God, saying yes to transformation, and saying yes to the challenge of loving each other and the broken, hurting women in their world with every breath in them. These are the women God has stitched to my heart and life... permanently, irrevocably, and eternally. They are my Gethsemane girls. ❤️
Our story is one so unlikely, so unexpected, so unmerited that the credit for it can be given to God alone, the author and perfecter of all Kingdom relationships. It is a beautiful thing when God orchestrates a Kingdom friendship, but it is a wondrous work indeed when He is able to orchestrate a Kingdom circle or community. Such a proposition is no simple ask, no easy task, and no quick journey.
Kingdom friendships require a fierce and unyielding commitment from each person to all of the following:
God first---in everything and at all times.
Transparent and accountable personal growth and transformation.
An all in pursuit of wholeness and spiritual maturity.
A daily willingness to die to self and love unconditionally.
A commitment to protect all hearts and shun every form of division and offense.
The willingness and spiritual readiness to speak tough truth steeped in unquestionable love.
A passion for and devotion to intercession---regularly bringing the others to the feet of Jesus.
No-questions-asked, drop-everything readiness to show up in any crisis or emergency (preferably with food 😁).
An equal eagerness to bear another's burden or celebrate their victories, whatever the moment calls for.
The humility to walk beside each other (not in front or behind), where all lead and all serve.
To show up, be present, and pour one's self into the life of another without reservation.
That's a tall order.
As beautiful as this picture looks, it's very rare and not for the faint of heart. The world has programmed women to deeply distrust each other---to sabotage God's attempts to stitch us together in such a profound way. The enemy would like to keep us in brokenness and spiritual immaturity so we can't see past our own egos, needs and insecurities---where we are unable to die to self, love unconditionally, and shun offense.
Personal growth and transformation has to come first. The wholeness of the group will be entirely predicated upon the wholeness of each individual. The one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy looks for the weakness in any group or community---he looks for the wounded, the one projecting false maturity, the one lagging behind, the one in hiding, the one on the periphery or in the shadows. And he can take down a whole group by manipulating the weakness of just one person to his own ends.
But when each person in a circle or group has been strengthened and refined by complete surrender to the hand of God, it is a powerful thing. The enemy can rarely breach those walls or find an entry point into such a group. God is able to shake foundations, move mountains, and build His Kingdom through such a group. He's able to unlock chains, set captives free, bind broken hearts, exchange beauty for ashes, and set feet to dancing with such a group.
It is beyond imagining that God has navigated me into a company of women who truly walk this out every day. None of us is perfect. God has to remind us of the qualities in that bulleted list above on a regular basis. It has taken many years and a long journey to stitch us together. That road has been paved by sacrifice, mistakes, shared confidences, heartache, victory, and sincere love for one another---deeply and from the heart.
In the next few posts, I want to tell you who we are and how we got here. Not to boast or flaunt. Not to admonish or compare. But to share and to inspire.
God has called us to be fruitful and multiply. My heart is to see friendship and community replicated in the hearts and lives of all women.