Friendship is mission critical to motherhood.
As a teenager or early twenty-something, I remember literally running laps around older ladies walking together. The last thing I wanted in my future was a walking group or any of its kin; it just seemed so very ordinary. I didn’t have time for such small things; I was ready to conquer the world.
I didn’t realize that those women were, in fact, conquering the world in their walking. What looked like a boring daily or weekly routine to me has now become a saving grace in my life. When I see a pair or a handful of ladies walking together these days, I literally grin from ear to ear in full recognition of the mission critical work that is happening in such a seemingly trivial way.
We may not be going very fast and we may not look too together, but soul work is happening as we walk or sip coffee. Little lives depend on the time we spend together, telling each other truth, pointing each other back to the One whom we are seeking to serve in this ordinary yet extraordinary calling of motherhood.
One of us is always over-tired and unkept, if not the whole bunch. Sometimes we walk and talk through the burdens and blessings of the week ahead. Sometimes we sit dazed on a front porch stoop while Nerf darts buzz past our faces that are staring out into nothing. Sometimes we load up the gaggle of children among us and go to Chick-fil-A for a change of scenery. Sometimes we pray for the one of us who is the most banged up. Often we cry a little and a complain a little and laugh a lot. Sometimes we don’t know what to say, but at least we know that we are not alone.
Time and time again I have found the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer true in our doing life together.
“Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself, he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure. And that is the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.”
This motherhood thing is impossible without a handful of steady bearers and proclaimers in our lives.
Sometimes we find ourselves on the giving end of the gospel, other times on the receiving end, but most times we find ourselves doing a little bit of both. We take turns listening and leading each other back to truth, leaving space for confusion and frustration and numbness.
We borrow toys and eggs and clothes and kids, but more importantly, we borrow hope and faith.
I am so thankful for the gift of ordinary, imperfect, sometimes tenuous friendships. I am thankful for the women in my life who patch me back up and send me back into the high calling of motherhood. But most of all, I am thankful for a relational God who made us in His image. Introverts and extroverts alike, we were made to be known by a few people who point us the all-knowing, all-loving One. Relationships are, indeed, a mess, but they are a mess well worth making.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25.