My small group broke up right before Christmas.
Fortunately, it wasn’t an ugly break-up. It was mutual, and we’re all parting as friends. We’re girls, you know…it could’ve gotten ugly.
There were a lot of factors that led us to the decision, but ultimately, it was God’s timing.
The group began about 3 years ago–birthed out of a need for community for girls in their late 20’s through 30’s. I’ve been a part of the group for two years. In fact, I found the group before I even started going to my church. I was so thirsty for like-minded women when I was invited to visit, and God used this group to satisfy that need in a seemingly sun-scorched land.
In the 2 years that I’ve known them, we’ve:
- married off a few girls
- birthed a few babies (I mean, not me personally…)
- lost, prayed for, and gained jobs
- witnessed the long, hard roads of both fostering and adoption
- cried and prayed through marital strife
- and everything in between.
But as I sat beside my precious friends Sunday night in church, I couldn’t help but think that our ending was the most beautiful part of our journey.
Sunday night, we watched one of our own as she took the hand of our pastor, entered the baptistry, shared her story with the Body, and followed through in the ordinance of baptism.
You see, this year, with the help of a Christian counselor, she uncovered that she was sexually abused when she was younger. We’ve heard some of her anger, doubts, and bitterness, and we’ve fervently prayed that God would redeem the situation for His glory. Watching her come to terms with the events of her past and seeing the shame slowly disintegrate has been stunning.
She shared with the church that she really didn’t remember much of her baptism when she was younger, due to all of the trauma, and she wanted to make a conscious, public profession of the work of Christ in her life. Sitting in the front of that sanctuary and hearing her speak her story out loud to the entire congregation counts as one of the great joys of my personal walk with Christ.
One of the first things my sweet friend did when she walked into the baptistry was to look for us. She wanted to know she wasn’t alone. And our presence, all 7 of us, gave witness to the fact that she wasn’t. Sure, she was surrounded by 1,000+ members of our church at that very moment. Technically, she wasn’t alone. Any one of them could have walked with her through her trials.
But they didn’t.
God chose us.
And in that pew, in that moment, I flashed back to all of the times that she was so guarded with us, all of the times she put up walls. And, with tears streaming down my face, I had to defer to the Holy Spirit to utter words for me that I could not. Everything seemed so trite when trying to offer praise and gratefulness for all God has done in her life and for allowing me to bear witness to it all.
I thought of how far we had all come, together. Lessons learned and iron sharpened. And how, even though we wouldn’t be meeting weekly from now on, we would still be knitted together regardless of geography or time.
It was a fitting ending.
*Photo credit: Noemi Manalang