Every month when I am sitting down to write this I have a friend that I consult. Some months I ask her for ideas, some months I ask her if she likes my idea. But every month I consult her. (With the one exception being this month – this month I simply sent her a text that said “Hey, I’m writing it!”) But each month when I ask for her advice? She says “Tell your village story!” which leads to my teasing her that she just likes that story because it’s about her. But this month? I am telling my village story, because it’s such a huge part of my story. (What story, you ask? It’s part of my ever evolving testimony. It’s who I am.)
About a year ago I saw a lot of my friends posting an article to Facebook from some random blog on the internet. It was titled “Searching for my Village” and I immediately clicked on it, I’m a big fan of the idea that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ – But as I read? I became angry and annoyed. (As well as sad for the bitter woman writing this article.) She complained about how she was doing all of these things to find friends, but they just weren’t coming to her. And the more I thought? The more I saw myself 6 years ago. (See, here is where transparency comes in!)
When my daughter (now 7) was 1? We made a huge lifestyle change. I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, and I was “stuck” in Pueblo. It was just me, my parents and my in-laws both 600+ miles away and my husband on the road 300 days per year for work. I was miserable. I didn’t have a church home, all of my friends were still wild and crazy and not the kind of people I wanted around my baby. I was lost. I quickly became depressed and gained a large amount of weight because I locked myself at home with my baby, leaving only for trips to the grocery store – which quickly went even farther down the rabbit hole and I would only leave the house to drive through a fast food restaurant.
So there I was. Miserable. Alone. And a horrible example for my daughter.
That’s when God reached out to me. (I am sad to say that I had been ignoring him entirely for far too long. I had grown up in the church, was baptized – all the stuff you’re ‘supposed’ to do. But as a teen and young adult I wandered away. I was too busy having fun to worry about anything else. ) I wandered into church on Sunday and felt a sense of “home” that I had never felt before. (And I’ll be honest – I was going because they had a nursery and I figured it could give me a 60 minute break from my toddler.)
A few months after I started attending church I was reading my favorite coupling blog (yes, it’s a thing!) when the blogger commented on something her Pastor had said during Sunday’s sermon. I quickly left a comment asking if she by chance went to the same church I did! The fictional tale of this is that it was an instant friendship and we were BFF’s. (For our daughters who are 3 days apart? That’s how it goes. For us? It took more work.)
See, this friend? She’s my polar opposite. I’m an extrovert, she’s introverted. I’m 15 minutes early for EVERYTHING, if she’s there within 20 minutes of an event starting? She’s early. She’s very analytical, I fly by the seat of my pants. I could go on. But we’ve got one thing in common – we’re both believers.
This friendship has been so important to me on so many levels. I’ve had to work hard to foster this relationship, but at the end of the day? I have someone to pray for me. I have someone who will keep me accountable. I have someone who will lift me up when I need it, and call me out when I need it.
Over the years, I have picked up more friends – from a variety of places – most of them sharing my beliefs and values. (Although I have to admit to having several non-believing friends whom I hold dear! Although with lots of prayer and love? I have high hopes that those women will soon join me in serving the Lord!)
I have a point (I promise, I do) to this! We need a good, strong, support group of friends. Especially those who are believers like ourselves. Even in the Bible the women had a good support system of friends; Ruth had Naomi, and Mary had Elizabeth.
These bonds serve many purposes for us. They help to anchor us, keep us sane and firmly in the Word of God. I know I would be absolutely lost without my friend who isn’t afraid to shake me and say “Jacque, you’re way out of line here!” She’ll send me a list of verses that pertain to my current situation. (Just this week, she gently reminded me that I was being selfish – which was a huge moment of humility for me.) Life is so full of people who are against us, that I firmly believe we need someone in our corner.
One of my favorite examples of Biblical Friendship is not women at all – it’s found in 1 Samuel 18, God knit the hearts of David and Jonathan together. He knew they needed one another to face the challenges of life, and that they would help to strengthen each others faith.
I am a strong believer in surrounding ourselves with believers! And it definitely helps to have a friend along for the ride as we witness to those outside the walls of our church! Some of my favorite moments in the friendship I mentioned above have included when she and I have our kiddos at the playground and she will reach out to a mom who is obviously struggling, she will pull them in and quickly invite them to her coffee group! (A group full of mom’s from our church, all ready to welcome the new mom into our circle and help her to feel the love of Christ!)
My challenge to you this week? Reach out and grow your circle of friendships. There’s someone that we can all reach out to. Maybe it’s the woman sitting in the back row at church on Sunday. Or the lady at Starbucks who just looks like she’s having a rough day. That girl from high school who you’re “Facebook Friends” with. There is someone out there that you can reach out to. Maybe it won’t be the beginning of a life-long, faith-based friendship; maybe all it will do is lighten her load for the day and let her know that she is not alone. (Even a simple smile can go a long way!) But I challenge each one of you to reach out and help encourage another woman’s faith this week.