Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Gift of Tribe

The C7, Captivating, October 2012 ~ At Our Table :)

When I remember my life pre-2012, I struggle. I tend to get sweaty palms (sometimes I sweat through multiple layers of clothes), there are a lot of accusations (99% of those are directed at myself), my head tends to lower, my voice changes....lets be honest....everything about my state of being in those moment changes.

Even after all of the growth and healing of these past few years (nearly three), it doesn't take much for my mood to shift. The shift happens a lot less often today then yesterday, but it still happens...and when it does, it feels JUST LIKE the hissing whisper of a snake in the garden years ago.

Eve still lives in me. She always will.

The difference between then and now is not simply God, but the warriors he sent to ride next to me into battle. I call them my tribe.

To say I knew God, loved God, and wanted to be "good" for all of those meanings would be an understatement. The problem is prior to 2012, I didn't really trust God so the knowing of God was really more in my mind instead of true actuality. That is hard for me to admit as a card-carrying Christian and church-goer for all of my life, but the truth will set you free...and to know me is to better understand my story, and at the heart of my own personal story is an honest assessment that I didn't trust God as far as I could throw him and because of that....I neither knew him nor myself.

*Sigh*

Of all of the things God has worked through with me, one of the hardest to date is my deep mistrust of both him and others. I simply have not ever believed that anyone really loved me or had my best interest at heart. My story told me that everyone has ulterior motives, and I believed it.

When God sent me to Captivating in October 2012, I was in search of I knew not what, but he did, and as I worked through...well, lets just say,  A LOT on that mountain...I had no idea that the most lasting lesson was being interwoven every day, three times a day, at a simple table next to a window, in the sunshine.

I have often written about how the C7 met all clamoring for the same table in the sunshine at that first meal, and how we each came back again and again. What I haven't spoken a lot about is how we never talked about jobs or titles or what we did back home. We stuck to Jesus, our spiritual life, our spiritual battles, and what we were doing on that mountain. Bless. Us. When we said our good-byes four days later, and I walked up the mountain to my jeep, it hit me like a soft feather...they don't know what I do, have a business card, they don't know me...BUT yet...They. Did.

It would be nearly six months later on a farm in Kentucky before I admitted to the group what that simple not knowing had meant to me standing alone on the mountain that day. Right, wrong, or indifferent...what I knew to be true in my heart was that what I could do for others was not only my strongest quality, but more often than not all I really had to offer.

In the days after Captivating when the group text messages started, e-mails, writings....the shock and awe for me turned to an openness with others I had rarely experienced. These women knew my fears nearly as quickly as I did...they prayed for me....they listened...they encouraged....and all without judgment. I was in a GREAT battle for my heart that even they did not know, and frankly I was too beaten down emotionally at that point to realize there was a battle...I already felt it had been lost.

There have been hundreds of text messages since then, and I do mean hundreds...I can walk out of a meeting and have 32 (In. 30. Minutes.). There have been visits, phone calls, e-mails, private blogging back and forth, dinners, trips, etc., but mainly there has been the knowledge that they are there...Every. Minute. Every. Day. They for me and me for them. It is a safety net for my heart that I note as, "Oh my C7," but the truth is I should state it more as, "Thank God for my C7!" because I do thank God for them...Every. Single. Day.

One of the C7 went to Haiti with me this past month. An act of faith and trust in both me and God that I admire more than she knows. She loved on Haiti....Like. A. Boss., and Haiti loved her right back. On the final night of reflections, I gave her a risk bead for stepping out of her comfort zone and taking the journey. I  then lost my mind and my heart and thanked her, on behalf of the entire C7, for saving me on that mountain two years ago. As I type this, I am weeping (in a restaurant no less...thank goodness everyone is watching some game) both at the memory and the truth of that moment that rings today in my heart. The truth is that God sent them to me...covertly...to save me, and they were already doing it before I even had the sense to catch on. #bless

That. That, is my God. That is how my God works.

Maybe because I am a tough nut. Maybe because he is just that good.

This past weekend I was asked a lot about the how of living from your heart...living differently. Every time. Every. Single. Time. I explained tribe to them. I simply don't know that one can live this life well without one. I think you can survive and even have a good life, but for some of us...

Allow a digression....

For some of us that weren't raised with solid families, stability, etc. For those, tribe means so much more than I can explain. A lot of people learn how to do life with others in their families growing up. I was not one of those. Clearly. It took a tribe, my God-given tribe, to teach me that, and frankly, the lessons continue.

So....tribe is important, and for some of us, it is EVERYTHING.

There are hard days ahead for me. God is calling me deeper into hard things, hard decisions, scary stuff. I have been resisting a lot of it...okay, most of it, but this past weekend reminded me to both whom I belong and who he sent to be my wing women. It was pretty epic. I was pretty humbled by the whole string of moments he had orchestrated for me. Have I mentioned I am a bit stubborn? ;) :)))

Who are you? What breaks your heart? Who is standing next to you...pushing you deeper into God's will for your life? Who is pushing you toward God not away from him? Who is asking you the hard questions, not agreeing with you when you whine that life is hard? Who is pulling out your best, versus catering to your worst?

These are hard questions. The answers often suck. Some of this hurts. Diving in and finding, saving, restoring, and growing your BEST self is hard work. Read that as #growth sucks because it does...it really, really does...right up until it doesn't. I saw a glimpse of when it doesn't this past weekend when one of the C7 not only sent me scripture and prayers, but heard me/restored me/lifted me with a couple of sentences in a text and then he sent confirmation via another C7 who happen to be in the audience. I nearly emotionally crumbled under the awe of recognizing the beauty of the moment.

I have spent a lifetime running from my heart, crafting my life to what I thought was wanted by others, and working to please and fill a hole inside of me that was always too vast to be filled by anything of this earth. Only through hard work, a tribe, and a God who offered me grace and restoration...In. The. Same. Breath. have I learned differently. I am not done yet, the growth continues, but it is time to more actively help others, newbies in my tribe, to find the same hope that I did...two years ago on a mountain in Colorado.

You can't do this life alone. If you hear nothing else, hear that. The good news is that God never expected us to go this alone...that was always the lie. Always. Don't believe it.

Ask God to show you your tribe, and then hold on to them, fight for them, love them, and pray for them every day...as they do you.

This post...albeit incomplete this side of heaven...is dedicated to my C7, my original tribe. I tell you I love you nearly every day, but in case you ever forget, let this post be a love letter from my heart to yours. I couldn't have made it to this point without each of you, and I cannot imagine the remaining days of my life without you in them. Each of you is a warrior, a priest, a preacher, a beauty, a mother, and my heart. I love you.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)