(I’ll be posting an Art Focus on Wednesday this week. We’re shaking things up on HBOM!)
Last week, I spent the evening with some good friends. One that I see frequently, one I hadn’t seen in over a year, and one a new friend. It was so good to talk and laugh and give advice and laugh and be accepted for who I am. And not only accepted–appreciated…celebrated! And the feelings are mutual. All of those women are people I admire and learn from and enjoy. We laughed so much I was worried someone from the cafe was going to tell us to be quiet or leave. But thankfully, it’s the kind of place that is noisy anyway. I think we got some stares, but they were jealous stares, not librarian stares.
If you don’t have a group of friends like that, pray that God will send you some. That’s what happened for me. Robby and I both prayed for years that I would find some friends, close friends who would help bear my burdens and meet my need for deep female relationships. Robby prayed from a sense of self-preservation, poor man. He was having to fill that gap and he’s just not equipped for that!
Anyway, about 2 ½ years ago, a friend was over for coffee and invited me to a ladies retreat she was organizing at God’s prompting. The goal was to have fellowship and spend time with the Lord together. One of the women she had in mind had not been able to go, so she asked me. I didn’t hesitate to say “yes!” I left the kids with Robby (for the first time) and we all went away to the beach for a weekend.
Eight women who didn’t know each other very well showed up at the beach. Eight sisters left. We shared our stories one at a time after a meal, most of us taking over an hour, some more than 2. We cried and laughed together and forged the kind of friendships that last a lifetime. It was a God thing, and it was good. Just knowing those women are there, even when we don’t see each other often, has strengthened me and breathed hope into hard days. We have had 2 more retreats and tried to meet monthly since then. I don’t think all eight of us have been together since that first time. Our schedules just don’t fit. God worked a small miracle getting us together for that one weekend.
Recently, I read an article that encouraged friends to set up a permanent, regular time to get together. Last night was our first time to do that. Four of us showed up; the others had prior commitments or unexpected things come up. It was perfect. Next month, it will be a different combination of us and the conversation will have a slightly different flavor. It will be perfect.
Again, if you don’t have a group of friends like this, pray. God wants us to operate in these deep friendships, where we see each other’s heart and quirks and failures and successes and accept and love one another no matter what. This is true fellowship.