"As I was praying for you..."
That was the first sentence in a letter I received this week, sweetly tucked in with a beautiful gift of flowers and watercolor print. The rest of it chronicled her prayers over my life and what she could see God doing in this season I'm in. It was from one of the ladies in my monthly dinner group, and was quietly dropped off to my office while I was out running errands.
This group of women has been meeting together since the first of the year. We have a date, the second Thursday of the month, that's now blocked off for gathering around the table. We eat, we talk, we laugh, we pray, and we eat some more.
And even though I always know it's going to be fun, sometimes I don't feel like gathering.
Since it's at my house, gathering means cleaning (I've tried not to worry about this, but I can't not worry about it), cooking, and finding some place for my family to eat dinner without making a mess of what I just cleaned. It never fails that I end up being tired that day and wish I could warm up a frozen pizza for my family and eat dinner in my bathrobe.
But, I am always, without fail, so glad that we gathered.
Every time the last woman leaves the front porch after that one last goodbye chat, I am thrilled that I get to share my life with them and partake of theirs.
They are all so beautiful and so valuable, and when we share a meal together and then take the deep breath and jump into the pool of vulnerability month after month, their beauty and value spills over the wall of their own life and flows into mine.
This is the way women were meant to be together. Friends. Confidants. Champions of each other. It's what every little girl is looking for when she heads into the lunch room and wonders where to sit. It's what grown women still long for when they find themselves in transition and wonder where their safe place is.
And it doesn't happen by accident.
Because life is crazy, and families are demanding, and vulnerability is terrifying. There is only one way it happens. It happens when you decide you have to have it and that it's a vital part of shepherding your heart and having something to give to the people you love. It happens when you take a risk and throw open the door to your home and your heart at the same time.
It happens when you welcome the beauty of the woman next to you into your life and tell your own insecurities they can not dictate your parameters to you anymore.
And the reward of letting go and diving in is the note and the flowers and the watercolor that speak life to your soul because someone loves you and is praying for you and listening to what God has to say about her friend.. It's the text you can send in the middle of the night when your kid is sick and you're scared. It's the lunch you know you can grab in the middle of the week that will connect your heart in a matter of four minutes, before the bread even comes. It's the long phone call when you're a mess and don't want anyone to know, but also know you can't afford for anyone not to know. A reward beyond price.
Last week, we met at a restaurant instead of my house, because life.
And I noticed the ladies around the table all had a hard time getting there, because life.
There was a lot of weariness in the eyes as we sat down, because life.
But, after thick bowls of pasta and laughing until we snorted, I also noticed that the walk to our cars looked different. We were full of energy, and our smiles were in our eyes.
Because life together.