This past weekend, our church hosted a freaking awesome women’s event. I’m very serious. I would try to list a few words here to give you an idea (ahem, nachos and karaoke), but none of it would do the night any justice. I got the amazing opportunity to answer a few questions as a part of a panel during the event. The whole night was focused on true community, and it forced me to really consider what community has done for me.
When they asked what I’ve gained by being a part of a community, I answered, “Everything.”
And my answer was real. It wasn’t for drama or effect. For about two years, everything in my life became heavy and blurry. Through therapy, time, and God’s mercy, the light has come through more than the dark has lately. I’ve found breathing to be easier, and gratitude isn’t such a stretch for me.
As I’ve begun to look back on my season of heaviness, I’ve seen your faces. You, the women who were there. Your face and your words and your eyes flash in my mind. I remember Nichole putting her arm around me and telling me God was saying I needed to be still. I remember Sherilyn writing in my birthday card, “I’ll believe for you until you can believe yourself.” I remember Kristin crying with me in the parking lot. And I remember Emily and Helen and Dawn and Jenn and Arlene and Justine and Lisa and Lily and Gina and Kas and Alecia and all of the other women that would take up this entire blank space. I literally keep going back and adding names. But if you’re wondering if you’re one of them, you are.
Thank you for loving me when I felt unloveable. For either being gentle or maybe pushing me when my walls came up. When I fought tears because I was so tired of them, you let them be there. Thank you for sitting with me in my hurt. Thank you for never rushing me. And when I rushed anyway because I was afraid to slow down, you let me do that, too.
Thank you for picking up the pieces when I couldn’t fulfill my responsibility. Thank you for taking my kids when I just couldn’t anymore. Thank you for texting me even if I didn’t respond. Thank you for never making me feel judged or less than. Thank you for never making me explain myself. You taught me what I thought I already knew; that shared silence can be just as powerful as all the right words.
You did so much more than just “be there.” You were more than extensions of grace; you were and are grace and love. When I couldn’t seem to find Jesus, I saw Him in you. When I felt unseen by Him, I felt seen by you.
To all of you who are simply loving people by being you, and feeling like what you’re doing isn’t all that important; you matter. When you write a card and toss it in the mail, you are extending the touch of God. Don’t underestimate your words. Don’t sell short what just your presence in someone else’s turmoil can do. And when there just aren’t any words at all, just being present can help to fill a void. You are changing lives. You are assisting God in His journey with them to freedom. It’s what you did for me. You taught me vulnerability and humility and gentleness. You taught me what God’s strength made perfect in weakness looks like. Because I’m not idolizing you. I know you’re not perfect. I know you’ve got your stuff going on. But you cared, and you acted. And it changed me. And because I’ve been affected by you, others will be healed, too.
To anyone reading this who is experiencing more darkness than light lately, let them in. Find them. There are women who would be so honored to patiently walk through the confusion and the heartache with you. It’s more than just worth it. They are the tangible life raft God has given you.
And to those of you who are maybe doing fine; but you have broken and hurting women in your lives, they need you. You’re not sure how to help or what to say. You’ve never experienced their kind of trauma or loss. Right now, they don’t need your advice. They don’t even need to know if you have similar experience. They just need your presence, and they need to know you’ll remain steady.
This post is about the specific women in my life, but it’s so much bigger. I know they are in yours, too. My prayer is that you would stop and look back on the ones who have been there for you. Or open your eyes to the ones who need you now. The time to acknowledge our people is always now. It doesn’t take much. Maybe just one little sentence in a text or a card that reads: “I am better because of you.”
“In this way, whatever happens to one happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices. You are the body of the Anointed One, and each of you is a unique and vital part of it.” [1 Corinthians 12:26-27]