Gather Together--> Greater Together
I have recently been privileged to spend time with incredibly inspirational, influential women- outside of my regular circle. Women whose wells I want to draw from, whose life experience speaks louder than any book knowledge and whose spirits are so full of love, life and joy that I often found myself like a child sitting at their feet with my mouth open, staring at them in awe. Women who have carved trails where there was no light to be seen through the thick forest. Women whose waves I get to the privilege of riding. Moments that I have been praying for since I was a teenage girl, when I, for the first time at a youth conference witnessed the power of women together in unity. I remember vividly standing in the audience and watching these women interact with one another on stage doing life together, laughing, crying, encouraging one another and cheering each other on. I stood there as a 16 year old girl and prayed this prayer…
“Lord, give me friendships like that. Ones that are refreshing, challenging, established and rooted in you, confidently and boldly walking together in the calling you’ve placed over us.”
I remember the prayer because I wrote it in my journal and for the next years continued to proclaim that prayer. I would yearn for friendships with those who wouldn’t leave me in my dust, in my filth or in the past version of who I knew myself to be. I wanted women who would pull me up and say “you made a mistake, but we aren’t going back, we are moving forward.” It would radically change the way I would pursue those in my future. It would define who I would become as a 30 year old woman, and it would catapult me into the season I now find myself in.
As I spent time with them listening to them pour out wisdom and grace, speaking life over me, and staking themselves to me, it reminded me of what I believe the Lord had in mind when he created friendships. Has it all been rainbows and butterflies? Of course not- don’t be dumb. It has been challenging. Sometimes it was so painful that I felt like it would kill me. There were moments when the vulnerability of putting myself out there made me want to run in the other direction as fast as I could (think Forest Gump when he leaves his house in his buttoned up shirt with khakis and a hat- we’ve all seen the meme). Other times, the insecurity was so blinding that all I could do was lay in the fetal position and cry. And I know some of you are thinking “Skye why on earth would you put yourself through that? That literally sounds like the worst thing ever!” And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I questioned myself over and over about it. But sometimes in life, you need to put your big girl panties on, (wo)man up and just take it. Growth doesn’t happen without pain and dreams don’t come without a cost. You will never find yourself in the spotlight of your dreams if you don’t turn the lights off.
As I write this, I imagine that there are women out there that are thinking
“this is great, but that’s just not me. I’m not a pursuer, I’m awkward socially and everyone thinks I’m weird.” To you I say: everyone is weird, some people just hide it better! It’s only not you if you choose it not to be, the power of life and death is in your tongue, so as long as you continue to speak that over yourself you will prove yourself right.
“I just have never been good at making friends and taking risks.” To you I say: There’s no better time than now to start. Like any other skill in life it takes practice and determination not to give up. People need you. They need your light, your spark, your humour, your view of things, your opinion, your voice. Don’t withhold it.
“I don’t need friends, I’m an introvert and would rather spend time by myself than with people.” To you I say: PHEWY! (Made up word, don’t judge) I’m not an introvert but as I get older, I LOVE alone time, I crave it (shocking, right?). Regardless of social preference, you need people. We were not created to be alone. I’m not telling you to spend every living second with people- again, don’t be ridiculous.
Friendship is a choice. You choose to stay in unhealthy ones. You choose to isolate yourself- I don’t say that lightly, I’m not naive to the struggle so don’t come at me with all the reasons you have to stay in it. I had to choose to get out of a lesbian relationship that was toxic to me and not who I was. I had to choose to stop selling myself short sexually and emotionally with men that would never give me what I truly desired. I had to choose to cut ties with the man that should’ve been the one to provide and protect me. I had to choose to stop being friends with people who did nothing but take from me and care nothing about my future or well being. I had to choose! No one chose for me. No one was there when I was laying on my floor in the fetal position screaming in frustration and anger at another failed friendship because of my choices. No one was there when I took the responsibility on myself and realized that it was me that needed to change. No one was there when I was on my knees begging God to teach me how to be a good friend, begging him to show me the ones to invest in. No one was there when I had to choose forgiveness over bitterness. You CAN choose to be surrounded by people who are for you, ones who will speak truth over flattery, wisdom over fantasy and life over death.
The choice will always be worth it. Through the pain, cut ties, confusion, frustration, I would make this choice 10 times over to be in the season I am now. To be on the sidelines of my friends dreams cheering them on, doing everything I can to support and encourage them. To be the one to stake myself to those that are worth my investment.
When we gather together, we become greater together.