Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Strength In Numbers

I want to dedicate this post to the many women I had the privilege of spending time with over the last four days. 

My “Calgary Crew” who all took the day off to come and spend it in Banff with me, the “Southwood” group who gathered at Kingsfold for a women’s retreat on the weekend, and the management group in the office who took the time to gather for dinner at the Melting Pot after an eight hour management meeting on Monday. 

You all know who you are and you’re all unique and beautiful.  Thank you for playing an important part in my life.

Strength In Numbers

Some people wish they could re-live their childhood, their teenage years, or their early twenties.  There isn’t enough money in the world to entice me to repeat those years!!

I had a great family life, but outside of it I was painfully shy, a typical introvert who didn’t have a lot of social savvy.  My sister and I were very close and I had one or two good friends, but otherwise was a social pariah. 

I had nervous ticks, made odd grunting and squeaking noises, and would periodically “punch” myself in the stomach for no apparent reason.  To this day I don’t know what these habits stemmed from, but am happy to report that, for the most part, they’ve disappeared as I got older.

I was teased and bullied in school and still carry scars on my hands as a result of a struggle to resist being thrown in the change room shower by a group of girls in junior high school.

As protection from their verbal assaults I wrapped myself in a cloak of imaginary superiority, telling myself over and over I didn’t care what other girls thought of me.  I didn’t need their friendship. 

The protective cloak grew with me into adulthood.  Because the worst of the bullying originated from the female gender, as I got older I naturally assumed no other women were interested in talking to me.

People perceived me at being stand offish.  In reality I believed other people would think I was stupid, and striking up a conversation with someone I didn’t know was the worst possible nightmare.  Other than one or two close friends in my twenties and early thirties I led a fairly isolated life.

Why am I sharing this?  To remind everyone of the importance of being in community with other women.  We all need someone around us to share our laughter and tears.

 Jesus recognized the importance of friends.  He surrounded Himself with the twelve disciples. 

In Mark 6, when Jesus sends his disciples out to teach, he sends them out two by two, not individually.

Paul recognized the need for community and frequently brought other disciples with him when he travelled.

About nine years ago God started to work on me and through His patient love has healed my insecurities.  As part of the healing process He introduced me to the beauty of true friendship with a group of wonderful women who have stood by me through job changes, surgeries, and moving to a different city. 

They’ve never walked away from me even when I shared things from my past that I was convinced would drive them away.  They know all my innermost secrets and insecurities, and love me in spite of them.

God also brought a group of women into my life through the church.  These are amazing women who have blessed my life significantly, and who continue to do so even though I’m no longer a member of that church.

He continues to introduce incredible women into my life through opportunities at work and church retreats.
You might be struggling today to reach out in friendship to women in your life.  I get it.  When you’re filled with insecurity it’s hard to reach out.  But think about this quote from Beth Moore’s book “So Long Insecurity, You’ve Been a Bad Friend To Us”…

"The enemy of your soul will never have to worry about what kind of damage you could do the kingdom of darkness, if he can get you to buy the lie that you are incompetent, weak, and inadequate."  Page 172

It’s so true!  When we reach out and form bonds of friendship we become stronger as a group than if we isolate ourselves in the darkness.

After living a life relatively devoid of friendship for many years, I encourage you to reach out as best you can to embrace friendship. 

Ask God to give you courage to invite that woman you’ve seen in church for coffee next week.  What about the girl that sits next to you on the bus every morning or the new woman who started to work in your office?    

Friendship is an amazing gift and it's too precious to miss.


Lori Beaton said...

Thanks so much for this reminder, Carol!!

Carol Henders said...

My pleasure, Lori!