strength in numbers

Were talking about strength on the blog. Im not sure for how long, because I’m realizing more and more every day about the topic. But recently, Ive especially been reminded that strength isnt something youre meant to do alone. Its identifying who is on your team, and opening yourself up to experience life together. This last week, my eyes have opened wider at the realization of not just how many people I have on my team, but how many all-stars there are. 


Several weeks back I blogged about visiting my friend Haley in Jacksonville. We’re progressively becoming closer and closer. We share prayer requests. We send each other Snapchats about missing each other. We do the same devotional and text about it frequently. So when my girlfriends and I decided to come to Rosemary Beach for some R&R (only a few short hours from her) I wanted her to be a part of it. So she came.

Let me pause there. She didnt know anyone there but me. My friends didnt know her. That alone could have created an awkward tension or cliché-girl-cattiness and put a damper on the weekend. But it didn't. We had an incredible time together. She wanted to know my friends hearts. And they wanted to know hers. After knowing each other for just over 24 hours, we were all sitting around a fire pit at dinner by the ocean at sunset, making toasts about what we appreciated about each other. How we inspired each other. The beauty we all saw in each other. We were magnifying each others strength rather than judging each other for our weaknesses.


As I sat there with a full heart, beaming with happiness, I realized how much God had been answering a repetitive prayer Id been praying for a while. “God, give me a better understanding of your heart for me."


God had been pouring so much love around me in less than a weeks time. Along with time as a group, I also got to spend time with everyone there individually. Haley and I sat on the balcony into the wee hours of the night drinking gin and tonics and talking about life. We got to lay on the beach with our toes in the sand and talk about the books we were reading, and the lessons God was teaching us. I walked up and down the gulf coast with Tillie, while we opened up about moments from our past that we had buried out of shame, but in the moment could share freely without judgement. I stood in the ocean with Kyle and talked about the waves reminding us of God’s continual grace washing over us.


Cara, one of my best friends who lives out of state,  also happened to be in Rosemary for work one day and we got to catch up over Rosé by the beach. Right before I left town, Emily (another one of my best friends) had come to Nashville from New York and we got to catch up over margaritas and guacamole. It's rare I get to see them, much less days apart, but it's always such a gift to hug tight and sit in the actual presence of a friendship that usually has to happen over phone calls and text messages. 


I also saw Turri, and Ferg and Jordan and Lauren and Sarah and Danica and countless others in that short frame of time.  I could write storybooks, not measly blog posts, about each one of them individually. How upstanding they all are as people and how much their friendships have impacted me.


Its no coincidence that God blanketed me with every one of these moments within the span of just a few days. He rallied the troops. He brought me face to face- up close and personal with the cream of the crop friends so I could be loved on. Every friend that has coached me through a breakup, who has dreamt with me about my passions, who will stand by me at my wedding someday- they were all there for me at one moment or another this last week. 


I believe that as long as we’re here on this earth, we’ll be longing. Longing in a way that will never be fully satisfied until we’re home in heaven. But I believe that God gives us community and friendships to satisfy some of that longing in the meantime. To blanket us with the love of others who share that same longing so we can experience it together. And I believe that all these precious encounters with friends this week was God’s way of revealing his heart for me. 


Im so thankful that strength isnt something I have to do alone, and that I have such a beautiful community of people that are on my team. They remind me what an honor it is to walk through life with people who love you where you are. Who you dont have to perform for or pretend to . Who aren’t burdened when Ihonest about where I really am. Who sit with me in pain and listen again and again. They hold me accountable to make wise decisions. They're honest even when it isn’t easy for me to hear. They are friends that deliver everything with love. 


So thank you to the countless people that have been on my team- whether you’ve simply sat in the stands cheering or fought hard through every inning with me- never taking a break. Thank you for showing up and loving hard. I’m a stronger person because of all of you. 


"I believe friendship is God’s greatest evidence of himself here on earth… I believe everyone needs a home team: a go-to, show-up, middle of the night, come-in-without-knocking tribe that gets us through when things fall apart… I believe in circling the wagons—gathering your people around you to tell you the truth when all the voices out there are shouting bad news."

-Shauna Niequest