Almost three years ago to the date, my husband and I stepped foot into the home of some people we “sorta” knew, for a small group led by other people we “sorta” knew from our church. Nervous at this brand new adventure, we weren’t sure what to expect. Of course, everyone was warm and welcoming. I will have to say, we learned a lot that first year of group, and grew in our faith and friendships. The following year the group added a few new families, and about mid-year, each of us started to share our testimony each week at our Wednesday night gathering. This is where the bond with these amazing ladies truly began.
It was intimidating for me to tell my story. People at church know the “new and improved” Erica, and there is safety in that. The thought of telling the darker parts of my past brought about a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach. I decided to just get it over with, just lay it all on the line. I was to go first, and I read my testimony from a typed letter because I just didn’t think I could talk about it without crying. I managed to speak the last few words from my page before tears started streaming down my cheeks, and looked up convinced I’d see looks of disappointment. Looks of judgement. Looks of rejection.
That is not at all what I looked up to find. Instead there were eyes of understanding. Words of encouragement. And hearts of GRACE. They love just like Jesus does.
Week after week others read their testimony. Some, surprisingly, were very similar to mine. Many were filled with tragedy and stories of being lost… but ultimately they all concluded the same. We all are broken people in need of the love and grace of Jesus. It was the common thread that brought us together… all part of God’s glorious plan.
From that point forward this group of 12 has been tight tight tight. First of all, can we all acknowledge that 12 women that are close friends with ZERO drama is a miracle in and of itself? I mean, seriously. But it’s more than that. We are there for each other through it all. One of us has her back blow out while her husband is away and ends up needing emergency surgery – we all pull together and take care of trips to the ER, caring for her kiddos, meals, and more. Bad medical test results, the 12 prayer warriors are on it! Parenting issues, we pitch in advice and offer support. Stress at work – we can count on words of encouragement from this group. We celebrate each-other as well! Expecting a baby? We’re all there to share in the joy and help bring that little blessing into this world with love. New job? Cheers all around. New studio??? These ladies not only helped me celebrate – they (and their amazing husbands) helped me finish the place so I could actually open!
The crazy thing is, we might not have even been friends had it not been for our Grace Group. We are all in different stages of life. Some of us are “more mature” (read – old) with teens or older… and yes, I fall into this group. Some have little ones, while some are expecting. A couple are single and faithfully waiting for God’s plan to unfold for them. Some are stay-at-home moms, others have full time jobs. But, we ALL love Jesus. He brought us together to form this amazing group.
I remember sitting through a session at a women’s retreat a couple years ago about community. The speaker talked about Jesus and his 12 disciples, and the community they shared. Is it coincidence that He brought the 12 of us together? Somehow I don’t think so.
We actually aren’t in the same Grace Group any more. We split last year to help build some new groups for our ever-growing church body.
But the bond “The 12” share is unshakable.