To Listen to Today’s Post Read by Ann Voskamp Click Here

When Lissa Turscott slid down her bus window and whipped that baseball hard, I felt the thud in my back and the smash of my heart and I hunched over to catch the pieces all shattering.

I heard her friends all slapping her on the back in congratulations as the bus moaned away.

Some bruises break the vessels skin deep and others just break souls and Lissa and Judith and Alexa and all the girls with the teased bangs, they were the ones sashaying to the latest Madonna songs and I was the mocked girl wearing polyester pants from the Sally Ann.

DSC_0548
DSC_0577

 

I’ve been rejected and I’ve skirted wide circles around women and maybe you know something about wide berths and big circles? 

The skittish circles you make at church teas around the buffet table looking for another cracker and hoping no one makes eye contact?

The way you carry a book to the kids’ swimming lessons like a piece of armour so no one gets close enough to trample on your still bruised heart?

The imaginary and very real boundaries you draw around your life like a barbed wire fence?

And when you’ve been hurt, you’re making sure that won’t be happening any time soon and you keep this wary distance from anywhere where you’d have to show the bare underbelly of your tender heart. But no one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, become the the steel cages that keep you alone. 

 

And then sometimes along comes someone who lays a hand on your shield, who sticks her hand through the bars of your protective cage… and quietly waits. And for you.

She’s a woman like Tonia who every day sends me lines of her thoughts. I get brave and send back mine. For five years, we write letters and exchange bits of our lives. I begin to trust the places with no shields. And I begin to see the beauty of women and the way their words have movement and action and meaning and you can always trust what moves, what reaches out, trust the words that migrate down to the muscle and touches skin.

She’s a woman like Marlene who shows up unexpected in the middle of some crazy morning with a bouquet of yellow roses in hand and she says she believes in me and God and whatever is to come and she prays before she leaves. I dry her roses and this is what I will preserve, a friendship that gives like this because there’s no currency in the world that can buy you this and this is the only treasure worth storing up, love.

She’s a woman like Megan  and I open a note from her and I laugh wonder when I find this picture of her holding a square of cardboard scrawled with the words, “Run the Race, friend!” and another picture too, her holding the back side of the cardboard and the words, “You can do it!”

And we can. We can do it.

We can believe that God alone is our security and love is always worth the risk and there is no better investment than reaching out to someone and locking arms and unlocking your heart. No better investment than finding the time for friendship and the courage to be real and the humility to say we’re sorry. And distrust can cost us the very richest life of all and the price for being safe can be too expensive and friendship is the only thing that will show up at our funerals. 

We can do life together and we can laugh about babies who pee on Sunday skirts and boys who lose piano books and daughters who try on seven outfits before deciding on anything and their bedroom floor is proof of it, and we can drive each other to doctor appointments and bring soup when the flu season hits and we can see something on a shelf that whispered the other’s name and we can wrap it up and give it on any day at all for no reason at all but to celebrate a kindred sister.

And we can hold each other’s fragility and we can forgive each other when we crack an artery, and our hearts will break, and we can pray and grant grace and begin again because we’ve tasted mercy and His name is Jesus.

 I am learning to reach out my hand.

And long after Lissa Turscott, on one fine spring day in the summer of my life, I meet a woman, a woman who loves women, a woman who helped build a certain cyber beach house I know,  and she drives me up and down and around the winding backroads of Arkansas and I ramble all awkward and thick tongued in her passenger seat and I wish for the luxury of a wall somewhere just to be a flower.

We share a no-fat sticky bun together on a Monday morning with a glass of orange juice and we don’t believe for a New York minute that that sticky sweet won’t find our hips. We laugh. I meet her friends. They are wondrous. My mouth feels dry. She drives me to the airport.  And when I am back home on the farm, she writes me a letter, and I keep it.

You have been hurt by women. I could see the pain in your eyes… And I’ve never done this before but… I feel prompted to make you a promise of friendship.”

I promise I will never speak an unkind word to or about you. I will never be jealous of you. I will never compete with you. I will never abandon or betray you. I will love you. I will pray for you. I will do all I can to help you go far and wide in the Kingdom.

I will accept you as you are, always. I will be loyal to you. Before our loving God of grace, you have my words and my heart in friendship for this life and forever with Him.”

And our God is a love body and He hates amputations and He sutures our wounds together with the silver threads of community.  And I have found healing here. Trust asks us to live (in) Courage.

In this place, we kneel down beside you. In this place, we reach out our hands. In this place, can you hear us whisper? “You have been hurt. We can see the pain in your eyes —- We offer you a promise of friendship.”

In the places of sisters and sinners and souls made saints, we make big circles around women and together we watch each other’s backs and together we bend down when one hunches over in pain and together we pick up the shards of the hearts all shattered.

Because this is the promise of friendship that the true sisterhood always makes good on.This we can do.

And by God’s good grace, we will.

 

Q4U:

How is community healing you? How do you feel about making someone a promise of friendship today?

Let’s reach our hands out to each other — maybe even a card and a pen? — and be the real sisterhood to each other!

Photos and Text: Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience

comments:
share:
  • http://www.thegypsymama.com Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama

    Because I am up late with you, I get to comment first. These words, they are a treasure. And this community – you, me, the women of (in)courage – they make me feel rich beyond my wildest dreams! I feel the luckiest girl in the world to have stumbled into this time and place. It is one of the Godliest glimpses of community I have ever had.
    Love to you, Ann. And lots of it!
    ~Lisa-Jo

  • http://AHippoWithAHeadband.blogspot.com Jeannette

    That was heavenly. I think you spoke to and for many women tonight. Thank you for speaking to and for me. There was something special in hearing you read those words to me. Thank you, thank you.

  • http://faithhopecherrytea.blogspot.com/ Faith Hope & Cherrytea

    here’s a post for you Ann today on my blog and one more to build on it for every reader
    how LoVeD you are !
    as are each of us sisters and sisters to be~

  • http://faithhopecherrytea.blogspot.com/ Faith Hope & Cherrytea

    here’s a post for you Ann today on my blog and one more to build on it for every reader
    how LoVeD you are !
    as are each of us sisters and sisters to be~

  • http://careann.wordpress.com Carol J. Garvin

    God never promised us a life free of pain, but he did promise he would always see us through. How wonderful that he uses friends to help keep that promise… friends who uplift us and bless us with their God-given love.
    Thank you for sharing from your heart. You and your words, whether written or spoken, are always a blessing to me.

  • http://winddancerimages.blogspot.com Elaine Fish

    I posted this on my blog yesterday after an amazing prayer meeting with my kindred spirit friends-most of whom are in their 60’s-I got this image of us playing dress up at a tea party where Jesus was the sweet satisfaction!
    Six little girls,
    lipstick blurring,
    hats tipping,
    diamonds pretending,
    laughing outside the lines,
    adjusting tresses, buckling mary janes.
    Twirling in their glory!
    do you see? do you notice the beauty that is me?
    Whispering secrets long since forgotten . . .
    dusting off cobwebs in the corners of our hearts.
    . . tears dissolving crusty dirt into velvet mud pies
    Maybe the grace in you can mingle with the grace inside of me and together we are enough.
    We are loved!
    I could feel the energy in the room almost vibrating the air molecules. Have you ever been with 5 friends who were beginning a journey of deeper vulnerability? We were almost giddy, playing tug-of-war over the air space. It was hard to take turns. Sharing the miraculous always is. But it was glorious. I think it was what Jesus meant when He said, “they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Love was almost palpable. I think we each felt celebrated and received. Even with all our junk.
    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” I looked up mercy and it’s defined as “compassion for someone’s suffering that moves them beyond their pain.” My friends offerred each other Abba’s tender mercy. It’s hard sometimes to sit in another’s ashes for as long as it takes. But in the sitting, transformation happens. We learn we are not alone. And the power of that truth is life changing! So here’s to more days of laughter, tears, dress up and twirling!

  • http://mandiesmumblings.blogspot.com Mandie Segura

    So, SO beautifully written- and I can feel the warmth & genuineness, too. This is what I want to be a part of- a loving community of sisters. Thank you, Ann, for this beautiful nudge.

  • http://emma-marsh.blogspot.com Emma

    How powerful to hear those words read aloud! Thank you, Ann.
    I think that healing within community, within a sisterhood, takes openness and honesty and truth, and these are all things I am growing into slowly :)

  • http://tenfootfamily.blogspot.com Kimberly

    I can count on one hand the number of women throughout my life who provide a healing sort of community. They speak the life-giving words. They know when to listen, when to share. And we can commune on the races we’re running – cheering each other on.
    Community looks different when you are always on the move. These women don’t know each other, some live on another continent, and our meetings are few and far between. But knowing them (in the deepest sense) has been a healing balm to my own weary soul. And there will come a day when we will not have to pack up and say goodbye anymore.

  • http://www.sandeeblogspot.com sandee

    I love this. I have very few that I am very close to…no one really close…they are all distant or I keep them at a distance ..either way…it is lonely.
    Thank you for sharing htis.

    • http://Oasisatschool.org Janet Cross

      I have also felt desperately lonely.
      Don’t be afraid.
      We are often “alone” to give us time to turn to and to speak to Jesus – to seek and receive the peace of Jesus. When you have some time, still your mind as best you can and ask Him to bring His peace . . . breath in and out slowly, relax and wait . . . expect it to come. . . God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
      Finding the courage to trust involves giving Him all your thoughts and leaving the consequences of all of those thoughts in His Gracious Hands. It is so much easier to learn to trust Him with our thoughts, than our actions – and the process teaches us to think and to do less more thoughtfully! For a start, we have given Him something VERY personal and, as yet, not loaded with too many consequences for Him to undo!!! When we trust Him with “the personal”, He responds in kind.
      Much of our thinking is unnecessary (it never actually happens!). We are chasing the “answer” to our thought in our mind. We have the answer to EVERYTHING, it is Jesus Himself and He doesn’t live in our head.
      Start a dialogue with Jesus and then wait – observe Him at His glorious best. Give Him your thoughts and let Him lead you- punctuated by His peace. Let your thoughts flow out of you and into Him. He wants you to give Him it ALL, especially the hideous, unthinkable, unrepeatable stuff. He does already know, but now you really know He does, you’ve just given it to Him straight!! Now go about your day as quietly and as peaceful as you can. Know that Jesus has everything you’ve said in hand and He is sorting it all out. Be gracious enough to give Him time and remember you will be invited to accept some re-adjusting – no doubt some of the ways you’ve been thinking!!
      Relax, be as patient as you can (especially with yourself) and observe – learn to be a grace-filled passenger. To receive, we must first give – if for no other reason than to create the space to receive. He is well used to receiving our grief and grievances – no amount phases Him, but it is lovely when we remember we can also give Him thanks! Either way, all we bring to Him is welcome and just as He knew it would be, as we learn to know ourselves and grow spiritually.

      Start a dialogue with Jesus today – prayer is talking to Him, meditation is listening. Listen for the Peace, it comes one breath at a time. Ask Him to teach you to give Him your every thought and trust Him to look after them from now on. Out of this journey you will be invited to play your unique part in bringing healing to our broken world.
      We need do nothing more to serve Him; talk to Him, listen to Him and trust Him to be our best friend. He will bring wonderful gifts into your life. Thanks be to God!

  • Jules Green

    Thank you for sharing your heart:) I don’t have that kind of community here, where I am. But I know God can make it work to His good, so I pray that He does it in me, that I can be that to my sisters, anywhere, as He lets it. Thanks for the inspiring message, I will pass it on:)

  • Wendi

    I am so thankful for the community of on-line blog friends that I have found who inspire me and encourage me. I am so thankful for my community of homeschooling moms who walk this path with me. And I am thankful for the community of church women friends who are there for support and hugs.
    I hope that today I can find a new friend by what I do and who I am in Christ that they see in me.
    Thank you Ann for today and every day on your blog. You always inspire me. Today I received your geography book and cannot wait to dig into it with my children. Blessings, hugs and love to you.

  • Stephanie

    Ann hearing you read this today made me cry. Oh that we would be women who love each other and hold each other and help one another to put the pieces back together. I am finding friendships that do this and it is a blessing to my heart. Thank you for this challenge. Bless you my sister in the Lord.

  • http://watchmesoar.blogspot.com Rach

    Community heals me by helping me with things I don’t even know need healing! By loving me when I am so unlovely and by accepting me as I am on the road to who I am becoming!
    That promise is something to think about for sure!
    Rach D

  • Julie Pittman

    Amazingly raw honesty and purity of expression in something so sweet even with stinging memory at the center… I know that for me, and many others, courage to step out of what has been there so long will be felt after the reading freedom expressed in these refreshing words…. thank you for the unguarded truth from the depth of a heart that sounds so much like mine and little girls everywhere living out the journey with our adult suits on. This has blessed me in a way that is so unexpected today but is precisely what my soul has been waiting to hear and experience…Joel 2:25 and Isaiah 43:19 for sisters in all places today–
    Love,
    Julie

  • Mcoat

    it’s so funny, community is one of those things we long for most and fear just as much.. thank you for this post i found it encouraging and also inspiring..

  • LM

    Ann, thanks for being so real, to allow us to enter into the painful part of your world and see the beauty of healing taking place. I have looked up to you and you have often encouraged me and spurred me on. My mom and I talk about it that usually if there there an author we admire and look up to, one who spurs us on with their godly example, they have been through the fire and allowed God to work and beautify their lives. My mom has been through fires too but the prayer and healing grace which flows through her is incredible– all because of Jesus!! I honor her today as one who has been a part of my healing journey and ministered healing to others. There is so much I can learn from all of you.
    The last six months God sent a couple into my life to pour on love, acceptance and healing rain. Just over the weekend God sent two couples from church to me in a way I hadn’t expected and I have found even deeper healing in community where I once felt “orphaned” and alone. Thanks for the reminder to be a vessel to someone else of healing love and grace; to allow the love which has ministered to us flow out to them. Thanks. The Lord will continue to be your gentle confidence. You are loved. May healing rain continue to fall. To all of us, may gentle whispers of God’s “you are loved” fall on our ears and spirits today.

  • http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com deb @ talk at the table

    I just want to hug you.
    Real.
    Love.
    and I wrote to a blogger yesterday about by fear of actually meeting, my fear of the “friendship ” no longer existing once it went from cyber to IRL.
    and I wrote of the book at the pool? where .. did you read me?
    .
    you have my promise,
    love,
    deb

  • Esmie

    Ann, Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs and a link sung by a precious girl I found on YouTube. Be blessed as I have been blessed…by this song, by a precious voice and by your poetry.
    Sister, let me be you Servant…
    Sister let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be
    my servant too.
    We are pilgrims on a journey, fellow travellers on the road; we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.
    I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night time of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you speak the peace you long to hear.
    I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.
    When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony, born of all we’ve know together of Christ’s love and agony.
    From:Common Praise #500
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WySNgROQkPs

  • http://www.thehomespunheart.blogspot.com Monica

    Ann – what a blessing to hear you read these words this morning. God’s words through you are so often a balm, a blessing and lift me up. These things make me feel like you are already my friend – because through so many things it feels like we have walked together as I have read, prayed and implemented God’s words and ideas that you have shared.
    So as this day begins, I am pondering your questions…that I may hear His voice and know the way to go in offering friendship and finding community.
    Thank you for the friendship you invest in my life!
    Your friend and sister,
    Monica

  • http://www.mommy2kyra.blogspot.com Lisa

    Community is such a wonderful thing. I am so lucky to have IRL friends and cyber friends who are wonderful! God has been such a blessing in my life with girlfriends!

  • http://pollywogcreek.blogspot.com Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

    What a gift – your words, your voice, your heart, your love – sister Ann.

  • PJS

    It’s been a challenge, lately. Community has gotten me through (what I hope) was the worst of it. . I, too, found solace in the exchanging of ideas, in the friend who connects daily and made her own promise of friendship to me, when she alone realized the situation. And this week I brought her a meal and am waiting for mourning to pass for her so that we can meet the goal we set when this all began. The girl that carries books everywhere saves a seat for me at the practices. . . the calls and fb statuses that remind they are there. And the blog with it’s beautiful music and new message each day- all of those things are my community and bring me back to the world. . . thank you:)

  • http://www.beautifulcalling.ca Jenn @ Beautiful Calling

    It is so encouraging to be able to share your heart and know that there are others saying, I’m there or I’ve been there, and you’ll make it through.
    Sometimes we don’t have the support we need in real life and it is an incredible treasure to have it online.

  • Anonymous

    “Let’s not shoot our wounded.”
    Jerusha Clark (from Focus on the Family broadcast 8/18/10)
    That statement says it so well. I wish it were not a common occurrence in the Christian community, but it seems to be. Maybe it’s the pessimist in me.
    The leaders in my church are big in focusing on the joy of the Lord, and so we should. But when I read the Bible, I see, feel & hear more of the stories of pain, trouble & woe. More than I see the joy of the Lord, I see God’s healing hand as a balm on our weary souls. Different perspectives of the same thing? Maybe so. However, it makes me feel so lonely, so alone in my thinking.
    Growing up as a very sensitive, insecure child, I learned quickly to distance myself to avoid the pain of rejection. No great tragedy occurred in my life. It was just the little words spoken, the not belonging in school, the failures, the not quite measuring up even though I did well. I guess praise & a feeling of accomplishment always eluded me.
    By the time I got to college, I was like a tight clam shell. I was quietly angry & distant with my family. They didn’t know of the pain I felt inside. God gradually brought me out of my layers of defense through some special people.
    However, in these last few years as I have gone through a deep crisis of faith and health issues, I have found myself alone again. A very few times I have shared the deep recesses of my heart. It did not go well in my perspective. The feeling I was left with was one of a door gently closing on me. I was “too much” to be helped there at the church itself. It seems I am too intense for most people. People’s natural reaction to this intensity is to distance themselves. That is why I put up my walls of defense. It’s less painful to do it myself.
    I have not found that treasure you have, Ann – not in a warm body, that is. I am so happy for you as I have read of your pain & your fears on your page that so give life & healing to others. You don’t know me, Ann, but if I have anything, I know at least that there is a kindred spirit out there who is familiar with the things I battle.
    Your words are so unique, so delicately crafted. They are like drops of chocolate from Heaven. So not eloquent, huh? :) Though in itself chocolate may be bittersweet, when mixed in, it makes a wonderfully sweet dessert – a pleasing aroma & a pleasing taste. Is that not the oddest compliment you’ve ever had? LOL
    Thank you for your courage to share of your pain, your healing, your failures & successes. Thank you for sharing your unique gifting with so many. Thank you for being willing to fight your fear and get on a plane for the sake of others. May God continue to bless you.

  • http://www.misswisabus.com Elizabeth

    I needed this encouragement. I am finally ready to step out and make a promise of friendship. There has been so much hurt, but I am ready to build new relationships.

  • Jamie

    Thank you for this! I am in a new place, challenged with building a new community of local friends and I needed this encouragement.

  • http://www.blueridgemountainmama.com Carrie

    I’ve been hurt…burned…and I hold back. Constantly. And it gets lonely and I long to pull out of it. Its easier to have those communities online, the people who will never (most likely) see you and who you can bare your soul. But to share those soul ramblings with someone who can look you in the eye or who can break that trust and tell someone else, that’s frightening.
    But I find myself trying again. Despite being hurt, being told that I’m the selfish one, besides just hurting. We’re nothing alike, these friends of mine but we are knit together. I miss having a best friend, that person that I can call no matter what.
    Your words reach across miles Ann and touch. Know that. Stand firm that God is using you to reach women, thousands of women. And if it were possible for this southern woman to sit on your porch and chat for hours, it would happen. Blessings sister.
    (It was wonderful to finally hear your voice! Just as I imagined.)

  • JM

    I’m still learning to reach out. I am a member of several local Christian women’s groups and am slowly getting comfortable with sharing the real me. You’re right, sometimes it feels like I have to start all over again.

  • http://www.givenmuchmom.com/ Chantelle

    I needed to hear EXACTLY THIS MESSAGE today. Bless you for sharing. ((hug))

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com Southern Gal

    I have those walls all around me. The hurt began in middle and high school. Isn’t it amazing how the thoughtless little things we say and do can affect someone’s life for a lifetime? I want to tear the walls down and I am…gradually. I have had the hand extended to me and I’m reaching to touch it. I love this community of women that are bloggers. I hope eventually through the strength of Christ I will be able to tear all the walls down.
    My daughter’s sweet friend, Joy, went to be with the Lord yesterday. She was serving in Malaysia and died of complications from surgery to remove a blood clot from her brain. She was the kind of friend you describe. She was a bridesmaid more times than you can count! Her life is an inspiration to extend the hand of friendship and love of the Father to everyone we meet. I feel I can do that now.

  • http://www.traditionalsimplicity.com Michelle

    How beautiful. Almost made me cry, thinking of the pain of lost friendships. My husband truly is my one and only best friend. How I long for true friendship and am so thankful to have gotten a glimpse of it from (in)courage and Gather In Spirit. Thank you! As a new year of MOPS begins, I hope to really reach out to develop some of these “friendships” into real friendships, not just MOPS friends I see every 2 weeks during the school year.

  • http://www.thepueblaponderosa.blogspot.com Adoption Mama

    Community is an amazing thing. Since I have started blogging, the Lord has brought the hardest trials in the life to me. It’s amazing having sisters all over the world praying for me through it all.

  • http://aspiretoleadaquietlife.blogspot.com/ A Simple Country Girl

    Ann,
    When I was new to this land of Blog and had only been to three sites, I found yours. Perhaps it was the brokenness of your own heart that spoke to the unhealed places of mine. When I was my most vulnerable, a couple of women were there for me–after I asked. I reckon I needed their love so much that I just out and asked for it. But now they are gone. Off to bigger and better things, or so it seems.
    And I have been an (in)Courage reader since it’s beginning, but like always, when things get big or when crowds swell, I back away, thinking “this is for them, but not for me.” Why? I reckon because deep down we each want to feel special enough to be noticed. I think that hollow space is a place God created as a void so the only place we have to look for filling is in Him.
    This [(in)Courage] is a fine place, indeed. And I never saw my backing slowly outta the room as a purposeful barring to my heart. But now I see some reality there.
    Perhaps the void and discomfort is partly self-induced. Ugh, I don’t know if I feel better or worse… Nonetheless, if I compare what I have to what anyone else has, I always come out feeling less than, but if I compare what I have in Jesus to what the world has, I always come out feeling like the daughter of a King.
    Thank you for this shared heart of yours and for your insight.
    Blessings.

  • http://www.treasuredupandpondered.blogspot.com bevy

    Beautifully said. Beautifully read. Beautifully – pricking the heart.
    Thank you, sweet sister…for doing your part in sharing what the Spirit has led.

  • http://www.craziefun.blogspot.com Kathy

    Thank you. So many of us can say “been there” or “done that”…and now having 2 daughters I want to save some of the pain and frustrations of friendships during the tween and teen years…I explain the why’s of girls growing up. I explain what a “true friend” is and what they will do for you! But, feelings still get bruised and their feelings being bruised are much worse than mine back then.
    Your post had many nice thoughts…thanks again!

  • http://www.morningcupwithmeg.com Meg

    What a beautiful post, Ann.
    I, like so many other women, have struggled with this. I had been hurt by many people in my previous church, and unfortunately I carried those wounds with me into my new congregation.
    It took a whlie for me to open up. At first I only attended Sunday monrnings and didn’t want much to do with other services and events. But the women in my church kept flinging all kinds of love in my direction, until they melted my heart. Now I have the privilege of saying that I am a part of the worship team and young adult fellowship group, and I couldn’t be happier.
    I am so glad that I stumbled upon InCourage a couple of months ago. I have found even more healing here among all of you fabulous ladies. :-)

  • http://29lincolnavenue.com Stacey

    I love those brave souls that reach in and offer their friendship even when we have constructed walls that speak loudly for them to do otherwise!
    What a vision of the love and pursuit of Christ in our lives.
    Thanks for your words here today, they are rich and filled with blessings!

  • http://www.missalamode.blogspot.com The Scooper

    Hurt by women, yes. More in adulthood than in my younger years. I am reluctant to receive from others, afraid there are strings attached (because there always are…so I’ve learned) and so I’ve wrongly chosen to remain an island so that I need no one and no one needs me. You know, because of the hurt inflicted by other women who had (unspoken) expectations I didn’t meet.
    And yet there are a few precious souls who pursue me, who give lavishly to me, who desire sisterhood and I need only receive it…but the fear makes the receiving hard, even tainted. Still, they bombard my wounded heart nonetheless and gradually I am learning to embrace community, both the ones who have wounded and the ones who stubbornly love me into sisterhood.
    A promise of friendship? How courageous…and beautiful.( Just like you Ann.) Providentially, I found your blog a couple of years ago. You speak much-needed truth into my life with each post. It’s the only one I have delivered to my inbox. Yesterday my mom e-mailed me and said “Have you read Ann today? You need to.” And she was right. I did.
    Thank you for allowing your circle of sisterhood to be wide enough for us all.

  • http://www.compassioncan.blogspot.com JD in Canada

    These are God-breathed words, Ann, and I know you’re not alone in those experiences, those feelings.
    Thank you for helping me understand the heart of my best friend, the precious best friend that God entrusted me with, the best friend I made a promise of friendship to… a woman I treasure and who, like you, is finding healing.

  • http://www.andthensomore.blogspot.com Brianna

    I believe God has healed me over and over again from the Lissa’s of my life that have shown up in various seasons and with different names. Through tear-filled eyes, God brings to mind two different groups of women that He brought me at two different seasons of my life. The first — four dear friends who loved me back into trusting after an abrupt ending to what I thought was a dear friensdhip. They had no idea. But God used that group of women to teach me about His loving me through His body. The other is a group of women He blessed me with a few years ago when we moved to this place we now call home (away from the first group and my very best friends). We pray for each other. That’s how we’ve bonded. That’s how God’s healed me. Through the prayers of His saints. And I am blessed!
    Thank you for reminding me of that.
    Oh, and the promise of friendship, yeah, that’s really cool. A little scary. But a whole lot awesome.

  • Charlene

    Thank you for the lovely words this morning. I just found this site and love the wonderful words of encouragement already.

  • http://whisperedlonging.wordpress.com/ Esta Miller

    such deep hope, truly.

  • http://www.anewlifehartz.blogspot.com Lindsey @ A New LIfe

    So hard, finding women who invite me in, will hold my heart safe, will point the way to my sweet Father when I am faltering.
    Even harder to feel like I am sometimes the only one reaching into other women’ss cages. I love doing so, but sometimes that longing for reciprocal love from a soul sister is hard to shake.
    Praying for grace & contentment in my Father’s love alone~ and thank you for your beautiful words.

  • http://sweetestpetunia.blogspot.com Jacky {The Sweetest Petunia}

    Beautifully written, Ann.
    I can’t put my finger on a definitive hurt, but I know they’re there. I have very few {if any} friends who really know a lot about me, which hurts in and of itself. I’m going to ask God to give me a loving spirit toward all the women I know. Perhaps in reaching out to them I’ll find friends I didn’t know I had.

  • http://www.creekbedthreads.com Erin

    I suppose hurting is a part of all relationships. I can’t say I’ve ever been truly hurt with a friendship, though, so for me it’s not too difficult to reach out to new relationships and friendships. I value my friendships so much!

  • http://www.caseytheaslgirl.blogspot.com/ Casey Bahm

    That was beautiful – I think community is something we all both desire and fear at the same time. I’m actually on my way out the door for a breakfast date with a sweet friend of mine. I think this post may have an effect on what we talk about. :D Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

  • Mary Even

    I have 2 grown daughters and they have become my sisters and friends. It is a wonderful relationship for the 3 of us even though we are far apart from one another

  • http://myrtlesturtles.blogspot.com Myrtle

    This is how I have survived the horrific year that waves behind me. It was through friends that God put in my life. I feel so blessed that God has encircled my life with women who are gracious, warm, just as they are, and loving. I thank God over and over!

  • http://www.forsuchasthese.blogspot.com Charisa

    this really spoke to me! I have taken turns being in the middle of community and building that cage around me. As we adopted our son and came home and the emotional needs of him and the rest of the family began to overwhelm me, I was so thankful for the friends who understood my need to just be, friends who called or emailed and said I am here when ready, friends who loved my son and me…unconditionally.

  • http://freshbrewedwriter.blogspot.com Pattie

    This is a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. And your voice–so wonderful to hear!

  • http://www.fixedonhim.blogspot.com Denise Cornett

    What a delight to hear you read this post, Ann. I could identify with a lot of what you said. Being that girl that never seemed to fit in caused a lot of hurt and pain through the years. When I came to the Lord though and was given that beautiful revelation of His love, and that I am not supposed to live to please man, but HIM. What a journey this life has become trying to walk that out and to show His love to others, instead of easily running away from them. I have a long way to go, but I have begun.
    I came from a family of women that had few to no friends. It seemed like a disadvantage growing up to not be able to witness them serving and giving to others. Sometimes I wonder if a simple teaching on “Being a Friend & Becoming a Friend” could be taught in the church? For those of us who would just shy away from the lack of knowledge or the simple “how” in walking it out.
    As a mother of two younger girls, I must draw the line though and not allow this to continue on in their generation. Our family of four is learning to serve together and we are truly blessed by watching others receive.
    Thanks, Ann for sharing such a wonderful post with all of us.

  • http://www.servantsheart.wordpress.com Stacy

    Wow. This brought tears to my eyes. So many of us have been wounded and have retreated into ourselves. We have allowed others to make us feel…less. Gosh, but I’ve been there and I’ve lingered there too long.
    Here, there is acceptance. Isn’t that what we all long for?
    To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:5-6 KJV

  • Anjanette Warren

    God has returned an old friend to my path. This sense of connection is healing me and the ways I have pushed people away. So grateful.

  • Lauren W.

    Community is healing by giving us a place to belong. Accountability, acceptance, love, grace, forgiveness….and hugs.

  • http://dailydomesticdiary.blogspot.com/ Houston Stapp

    Ann,that was beautifully written. I’ve been hurting and broken this past year and found such a wonderful place of community in a circle of friends from all different walks of life that has helped me to see the world as a bigger place, unsafe still, but now I know that when the hurts come I have my own circle of women with whom I can stand.
    You are right that God alone is our only real security… thank you for that reminder today.

  • Shawn Bensley

    I am not a very open person, I am private and don’t want to be that way so much anymore. I want to open up to people and be a friend. Please pray for me.

  • Susan

    I have yet to find community (even a community of one) where I can let down my shields and be free from the cage they created. It seems everyone wants someone to listen, but they don’t want to listen to me in return.

  • http://www.joyinthefurnace.com Debbie

    First, I have to say what a treasure it was to hear this read by Ann. I am legally blind and listen to everything on my computer…usually with a computerized voice. How refreshing to hear this one as read with Ann’s tender voice!!!
    Community can be hard at times…it can hurt…even in the Christian community we call the church. I recently experienced that while on a mission trip and so wanted to withdraw again. It brought back too many memories of those years in the past when I was hurt.
    Yet, God quickly showed me that He wants to use me to reach out to those who have been hurt; He wants me to help those who still have those walls of steel surrounding them. He wants me to be one to make promises of friendship…promises that won’t be broken. And I can’t do that if I’m withdrawing. Neither could I keep the promises I’d already made, if I withdrew into self-pity and pain.
    Just this last week, I had opportunity to make yet another promise of friendship to a precious gal who has never known unconditional love from anybody…and oh, how she needs it right now. Oh Father, may I love her as you would…and may she learn to trust both you and me.
    It is so worth the risk…and I’m in for the long haul!!!

  • http://thisdaybysusand.blogspot.com SusanD

    My hurting heart cries from hearing these tender words and aches for this type of friendship. Oh to find such a friendship would be worth far more than rubies or gold. Thank you for sharing. Blessings, SusanD

  • http://decortoadore.blogspot.com Laura Ingalls Gunn

    Big, fat crocodile tears are sliding down my cheeks. I am the girl wearing polyester pants. I am the woman reading a book at my son’s swim practice.
    This past week has made me lose a bit of faith in humanity.
    But I hear God whispering to me to copy this link and send it to a few women.
    I will listen.

  • http://mindymaywaters.blogspot.com Mindy May

    I have always wanted to be that kind of friend. The friend who shows up no matter what they have going on in their life. The friend who just holds the other and speaks words of encouragement but I am not (at least not yet anyway). I would love to make this promise of friendship because in my heart that is what friendship is all about. Everything else can wait but being a good friend can make all the difference. I know what it is like to receive a letter unexpectedly at the exact perfect timing. I cling to those letters and it reminds me of how the simple words “I’m thinking about you” or “I am praying for you” can penetrate through the sadness and hurt I was experiencing. Thank you for your words and reminding me to be that kind of friend.

  • jeannie

    Thank you for sharing this. I recently had knee surgery and not one woman from my small church where I led a ladies bible study picked up the phone to call. I am always willing to take a risk by reaching out and offering friendship but 99.9% of the time I am left alone. I am willing to offer the promise of friendship, I just don’t know anyone who wants it. There is a lot of encouragement online, but we need someone with skin on, don’t you think?

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn Yocum

    “…for I am the Lord, who heals you.” – from Exodus 15:26
    IMAGINE what we could accomplish for His purposes, by His leading, if we stopped competing and helped bind up each others wounds. We start by contemplating the commitment you’ve written about here and stepping out into it. Bless you for these words, both written and spoken.

  • http://www.ourappleasianlife.com Karen

    Beautiful, thoughtful, and encouraging post.
    Spoke right to my heart. Moved away from the large, metropolitan community I grew up in nearly 8 years ago to a very close-knit, small town. I thought it would be so easy to make new friends in a small town.
    Wrong. It is not-I have been the gal at the swim lessons with the book! I am also learning to let go of insecurities and distrust and just live fully loved by our amazing God.

  • http://thestollcrew.blogspot.com shana

    what a wonderful, powerful story. thanks, ann! {it was especially wonderful to hear your voice . . . different than i expected it to be somehow, but beautiful!} what an amazing promise. what a blessing to have true friends! in all honesty, i feel a little inadequate {even though well-meaning} to have the grace, self-control and power to KEEP a promise like that. a wonderful, wonderful challenge. thanks!
    blessings,
    shana

  • Kim

    I am blessed today by your words, and blessed that I found this exact same thing in my small group – called the Lifeliners. They reached down into the miry clay and with Jesus’ help, pulled me up onto solid ground. Thanks for putting it into words for me – I will share this email with them.

  • http://studyinbrown.com tonia

    hey you!
    i decided to visit the internet today…and look what i found waiting for me! (((YOU))) thanks for recording your voice, cause i am MISSING you like crazy…it being august and corn-time and all.
    thanks for loving me back and being a true, good friend.
    love you,
    t

  • http://undeservingyetoverblessed.blogspot.com/ Michelle G

    It can be such a scary thing to allow those walls to come down. I have become a master at building them. It took me a very long time to realize that intolerance for others short-commings was just my way of protecting my heart. I just didn’t put much stock in anyone – therefor I couldn’t be disappointed.
    I realized that when I hold the sheild up in front of myself – when I hold grudges and hurt – I don’t have both arms open and free to accept the love and blessings that God is sending my way. – I’ve got my hands full already! ;(
    Thank you for your honesty – for your beauty – for being REAL and for reaching out to our hearts (in spite of the walls)

  • EFY

    Community is essential to a believer ~ God tells us that we shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together. In community we have opportunities to encourage, to challenge, to bless, to sharpen one another.
    The promise of friendship ~ what a gift. A precious girl of God offered that to me years ago even before I was ready for it and I have delighted in it since.
    Blessings!

  • Dori Cox

    Thanks so much for your great message on “community”. I have a circle of friends that can talk to each other about everything. We all rely on God to help us through each and every day – I know that’s the only way I make it through most days as a single mom. Glad to be part of (in)courage! Keep those good messages coming!

  • http://www.kellylangnersauer.com/ Kelly Langner Sauer

    I’m listening lately, and today, today I am hearing.
    The rejection came when I loved, and they shook their heads and clucked their tongues and they turned away – and how do you answer that? I learned to love secret, to hide my heart away, because the grit and the grime of it didn’t produce the fruit they wanted to see in me – it couldn’t have been Him in me.
    In their minds, I was obsessed; I expected Him to tell me so, but He never would, He never did. I told Him I would love because I believed He could heal me, and the breaking finished and I hid away from any more and now He whispers “Open” and it is time, but I don’t know where to begin…
    Thank you, Ann – for another piece of Him for me.

  • Mary Catherine

    Thank you for encouragement! We need each other. Friendship is a cornerstone of Christianity. We share his love as it flows through us, from us, to others. In reaching out, the healing takes place. It is his presence that heals. I do better focusing on others instead of choosing to wallow in my self-pity. We ARE the hands of Christ.

  • http://thoughtsnwhatnots.blogspot.com LeAnna

    Oh, am I here or what. I’ve been hurt by so many women with friendships masquerading as secret talent shows. But I praise God for the faithful who truly are led by His spirit, who think before they speak, and acknowledge when they don’t. Friendships so genuine you feel like sisters…opportunities to be for them what you would want all to be for you. We’re all different, but together we make a team. That kind of community is beautiful!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/hstuart H

    I, too, held many a book as a shield over the years. And this I learnt, even as I savoured the wonder of a book with words – that those people who did the (intentional or otherwise) bullying, were also in a very lonely and unhappy space in their lives.
    I have known you for awhile, Ann, even spent time together in a S&L classroom, but it seems we were always kept too busy to make an impact on each other. I also make that vow of friendship with you. Love, H

  • angie

    I love having a community of girl freinds. I have that at my work place. How blessed am!

  • Kimberly

    I do not know what I would ever do without the encouragement of my friends and family. Just when I think I can’t go on, someone is there is to pick me. I know they are angels in disguise.
    I am committed for being there for others…to help them through whatever comes their way.

  • Lydia

    When I thought your writing couldn’t be any lovelier, you challenged that by showing me how it sounds when you say it – so amazingly real. Wonderful to hear your voice, dear friend.
    On friendships and community, I made my barbed wire a different way – I have hurt others before they could hurt me. I have a shameful past and I am looking forward to a brighter future with Him as my guide.

  • christy

    this was so beautiful…so needed by so many women…i’ve been there..or maybe i am there because i only choose to keep my four friends and not try to make more…mayeb i do have that fear…i have been burned by close friends and the pain was deep…so thank you again for writing this…it makes me feel loved:)

  • http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com Maureen

    How wonderful to hear your voice put to such words and to be able to see you in ways certainly not virtual.
    May blessings accompany you.

  • Pam

    I don’t really understand this site yet…just found it….but I’m enjoying the fellowship I see. I’m usually the one that does the encouraging and others look to me….with so many years under my belt of walking through life with God and being in leadership positions most ladies I’m around think I’m strong and on the steady side of life….BUT all of us need to be noticed and blessed with life giving words sometimes. My hubby and I are in a transitional stage of life so not having a community like we once did is very different…you learn a deeper way to press into God. But I’m looking forward to where He plants us next.

  • http://flourishingmother.blogspot.com Andrea@Flourishing Mother

    wow. you spoke my heart. thank you.

  • Michelle Cox

    Having friends in my community is what keeps me encouraged on a daily basis. It’s hard to be a stay-at-home mom, and I don’t think I would succeed if it weren’t for my friends and husband who have been there every step of the way to encourage me.

  • http://www.inspiredtoaction.com Kat @ Inspired To Action

    Simply beautiful. Thank you, Ann.

  • http://doubleblessings2.wordpress.com meghan

    This was so beautiful! It touched me deep in my soul.
    I am having such a tumultuous summer…one thing after another happening – my health, my father passed away last week, my marriage is rocky, and difficulties with my son, with my car and health insurance.
    I feel the Lord with me keeping me calm but I miss having friendships surrounding me.
    I have women acquaintances and some who are friends but I keep at a distance from pain caused by the past.
    Im reaching out today….

  • http://thewestraworld.blogspot.com/ Vicky

    Such elegant and poignant words that share a path and an experience that is all too familiar to me, to many of us. So beautifully written and achingly honest.
    Its easier now that I have learned to trust myself first. I feel a sisterhood through parenting, and being a stay at home mom, and being a hockey mom, and through being a blogger. And in faith, always a sisterhood in faith.
    Today I renew my friendship promise.

  • Ashley Haupt

    Ann,
    You don’t know me, but I am crying tears of mixed emotion over my computer after reading this post. How I long for this kind of sister-friend! How I long to be one! Thanks you for this. I loved hearing your voice giving it expression.

  • Brandi

    I thank you so much for this post. In the last few years God has blessed me with a great group of friends. We are always texting, calling, or getting together in some way. They have supported me so much. This post made me realize that I could be more transparent with them. I think God used this post to prompt me to do just that. Praise the Lord! Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.luidyfamily.blogspot.com Annie Luidhardt

    I’m not sure what I would do without my community of friends but I have been hurt too!! I think the key is to not give up on friends and relationships! It’s so easy to want to recoil and hide when we have been hurt but I really try and not do that! It’s a beautiful thing when you are with the right people!!

  • Marti

    this story could’ve been written by me. I’ve been there and felt the pain of rejection…and I, too, carry a book to the swimming pool each day. But I am trying to break out of it. Yesterday I sat and chatted and laughed with 4 other moms while our children played. It felt good. I came home at 6 pm refreshed and renewed.

  • http://www.darkchocolateisbest.blogspot.com Elaine Pool

    Oh, I would love to make someone a promise of friendship! I’ve been hurt so many times that I’ve given up, and it’s so LONELY here.

  • http://www.halfpinthouse.com Megan

    Bookmarking today. Cried myself to sleep last night because of a relational disaster. Woke up and read this.
    Going to be reading it again. And again. And again…

  • http://contented-sparrow.blogspot.com megan

    sigh, ann…
    what a gift you tenderly wrapped up for all of us to open…close our eyes and listen and be blessed.
    you are a daily gift to me.
    and i like hope’s cardboard. oh, how you show Christ’s love!
    hug, {{{{ann}}}
    megan

  • Michelle Cameron

    In Courage is such a safe, uplifting, rare gem. I am always amazed at how the writers know exactly what I am going through and how I feel. Too many times to mention I have felt at the end of my rope only to find the words that my precious Father wants me to see written here. Thank you to all the women who are honest and vulnerable enough to write about their real lives so that those of us on the other side can continue strongly in ours.

  • http://momincontext.wordpress.com Paula

    Hurt is an understatement. Friendship can be so fragile; just when you think you have found solidity, it shatters with one sentence spoken out of turn.
    I find I have done it to other women, and of course had it done to me. The safety of women is unpredictable.
    But, a promise of friendship–I can think of at least a few people in my life that I would like to make that to. A community of moms? It should be a safe place to take a sigh of relief.

  • http://teresaneal.blogspot.com/ Teresa

    THese words are so incredible. I feel so alone so many times and I know that it is because I have put my heart behind armor. I don’t want to live like that!
    I WILL build a sisterhood not just for me, but for so many others like me and I will make the first step.
    Thank you!

  • http://lindaspatchworkquilt.blogspot.com/ linda

    So good to hear the voice of your sweet, gentle heart Ann. You speak for all of us I think – for we all have known that kind of pain. Your words of healing minister.

  • http://www.myloveletter2god.blogspot.com Stephanie Clayton

    I agree with Pattie, this is a beautiful beautiful post. You write with such emotion, and I identify completely. Thank you for reminding of the beautiful friends I treasure, and how the small things we do like writing a card, really do have an effect. Love n Blessings!

  • http://randomreflectionsfromme.blogspot.com/ Sandy

    I don’t know how to answer the question of community. Friends have truly helped during dark days in my life. Blog friends’ comments have encouraged when I needed encouragement. I do long, however, for deep friendship, face to face. My family is my community. Your post was beautiful and thought provoking. It would take a risk on my part to offer such a pledge of friendship as you have received. What a blessing, though. I will continue to ask God what he is asking from me as a friend in His community.

  • Shelby

    This brought me to tears, and I am planning to write a promise of friendship to my dear sweet friend jayme and I cannot wait to do it.

  • http://medleyedthoughts.blogspot.com Freckles

    Thank you for your beautiful, encouraging words. They are such a reminder of the amazing way I am constantly being held up by a community of loving sisters. God has given me an authentic support system and I don’t know what I would do without it. Here’s to opening up that support system to new friends & sisters in Christ!

  • http://www.momssharpeningmoms.com Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms

    I am crying now, and not the pretty kind.
    I have old bruises from baseballs in my back, too. I guess many of us gals do. But then I met and married my wonderful military man. This nomadic lifestyle that keeps flesh and blood family far away also makes this once shy girl brave enough to reach out over and over in friendship. Sometimes I’m burned, yes, but more often I am blessed by my Sister Friends. They are a treasure.
    You are a treasure, too, Ann, and all things beautiful. Thank you for this gift today!

  • Shashi

    I have often found summer so isolating as my friends often leave for their vacations/holidays and some for the whole summer. When I too am on holiday, I am alright but it is the other 6 weeks that draw out the summer doldrums for me. And then someone texts from her cabin 5 hours away just to ask how I am; or calls to ask advice about a family situation; or another girlfriend takes me out to lunch in between her summer trips. In this manner, I am reminded that I am never alone! The Lord has me all linked up even in the summer.
    Thank you, Ann, for prompting and (in)couraging.

  • http://www.mymonavie.com/ZMateo Zaddia

    Sometimes it’s hard as women to trust other women because we feel that if we become transparent with someone they can use it against us to hurt us, been there, many times…it’s through Christ and my relationship with Him that I have found some women, sisters that I can be real with and them with me and I know that they are there for me through the good and the bad. I love reading all the emails from (in)courage, they always have an uplifting story of someone, just like me, keep up the great work, God Bless!

  • Allison Morrison

    I was hurt as a child/teenager by “friends” and I find, after reading this post, that I am still carrying that around. That is why I don’t want to be close to another female…even now years later.
    I do have a friend who I can make more of an effort to become closer to…thanks!

  • http://theunfocusedlife.blogspot.com/ Lee Ann L.

    I’ve been reading your regular blog and came on over here to finish reading…
    You have a way of writing, of expressing oneself, that is absolutely soul touching.
    Thanks for writing. And, I can only hope that I’d be brave like you one day and write from the depths of my own heart…

  • http://tiffluvslife.typepad.com Tiffany

    Oh Ann, this spoke to my heart in a million little ways. I did not have many girlfriends when I was younger. I encountered many mean girls in my life and my trust of women was non-existent. But praise God….I have encountered women who love me. Who pray for me. Who carry me at my weakest and ugliest. Who laugh with me at my silliest and happiest moments. I have seen the ugly side of distrust and heartbreak…but God has shown me the beauty of female friendships. They are precious and should be sought after. They are a gift from our Heavenly Father. Thank you for this post.

  • Trena

    Wow. I am blessed to have sister-friends…but I am challenged to make a friendship promise. To truly seal our hearts. Thank you Ann.

  • http://www.f4loved.wordpress.com Arielle

    I too feel that a community of women is vital. We are called to live life together and “one-another” each other through life. I need my sisters to help me get back to Jesus. Daily. When I was younger I did not have this in my life consistently, and now as the head of Women’s Ministry at church I want to make sure no one is ever left out.

  • http://Genalarson.blogspot.com Gena

    Trusting others is a big risk, but not opening up is a lonely and joyless life. Everyone’s been hurt, betrayed, and left-out at some point, but let’s be women of courage. Let’s risk being the includers, the loving, the joy-filled, the encouragers, and the safe-place for our sisters. We need one another to become all that we were meant to be. Thank you, Ann, for your words and vulnerability so that we can know we aren’t alone.

  • Kathy C.

    This describes me to a tee. Had it not been for me accepting God into my life, I would still be alone. Thank you for the wonderful story!

  • Christina

    so real…my wounds are fresh and this touched my heart in many ways. I loved listening to your post, thank you for the encouragement to move on and open my heart to new friendships! I love this beach house!

  • http://thecreatorspalette.com Melanie

    I am in that place of hurt – I finally opened my whole heart and it was torn in shreds.
    But recently, I have joined a small group of friends and no matter how cautious I might be, I can’t resist opening my heart again because I have such a deep longing for friendship.
    I have M.E./CFS which is a complicating factor. Friendship takes energy and time of investment and sometimes I just don’t have that energy. I am praying that God would show me how to love others even when at my worst.
    Thanks for the post.

  • http://mycrzylife.wordpress.com tzigane

    great words today! something that i struggle with greatly and with my husband being a pastor it is hard at times to have this community with other women. a little over 2 years ago we left our church that we had been at almost 10 years and friends that i thought were great friends, were not. it was hard and i still hurt over it at times. but the church we have been in has been so loving to us and it has been great to be “just a member” not a “pastors wife”! i have even built a couple of really close friendships that are real and will continue when we move to our new position and i am looking forward to that.

  • http://melinrn.blogspot.com/ Melinda

    I have only very recently felt like I was part of a community of women. I kept very few (none?) of my childhood/high school friends. I had always been very cautious of woman. I’ve felt judged and betrayed. I tended to be friends with boys; they always seemed to be more transparent and easy going. So because of all that, once I was married and had young kids i looked around and felt pretty alone. Then with homeschooling it seemed like I was even more isolated.
    It took time to meet a woman I could connect with. It took a while but through a Yahoo group and a local co-op I have met a group of like minded woman to connect with. I have become great friends with a select few and I see what I’ve been missing. Sisterhood.
    All those years of feeling alone and kind of crazy (being the only woman in a house full of boys can do that to you) weren’t necessary but they made me want these friendships i had always been wary of. I’m so thankful for that.

  • http://kathys-lifesong.blogspot.com/ Kathy Crumrine

    I am nearing 70 and can count on one hand the real, honest, close friendships I have had. Even after long absences, when we get together it is as if no more than a day has passed. Nothing beats this kind of sisterhood!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/amykiane amykiane

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful words. I am blessed to have such an amazing community of friends who love each other and have this promise of friendship. I am ever so thankful God didn’t allow me to close my heart off after some tumultous friendships through college.

  • Anonymous Too

    Drops of chocolate from heaven. This was my first time hearing Ann’s voice: Ann I could listen to you talk forever. You’re right up there with Rich Mullens singing!
    I was a happy child with a super-mom. Not that she smelled of bleach but the house was always clean, the meals organized and on a tight budget, we kids were clothed and sent to a Christian school (expensive) and then she set out to teach Special Ed kids every day, coming home to sew or lead a ladies Bible study and Dad did what odd jobs he could after his first year as a minister when the church told him it just wasn’t his gift and before Wycliffe Bible Translators told him come to Dallas because thinking through the Greek with them was. Anyway, there was pain but Mom had prayed that God would give her his love to show (because she was better at discipline than empathy) and he answered that prayer abundantly!
    At college people said I was “sheltered” and I had a big heart of love. I’d lost a best friend to cancer at 15 and I didn’t want to have another (because they die) so I became popular (having many but no one close) and when I met my husband and we were married I feared his death for about 7 years until our marriage had outlasted the span of my relationship with the friend who died.
    Lately we’ve had troubles, me and my man. How do I cope with rejection? Community. Of women; it can’t include a single man or my fickle heart will stray.
    First I learned of Holy Experience from a homeschool email, and after a while started following up on all Ann’s links…finding (In)Courage. Highs and lows…I’m starting to find my voice and the courage to write love, honoring God. I started some friends on gratitude journals with me (buying $1 journals at Michaels!) and this summer staring the simplest of blogs at livejournal. I don’t even know how to add a link! But grateful for those who have gone before and write and show the way.

  • Lori W

    I rely on my sisters and friends —or my “tribe”–for strength, support, encouuragement,prayer, laughter…yet how many times do i just say thanks? thanks for this reminder that a little note or call to say “hey, you’re important” can mean so much!

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.com Tiffany Stuart

    Powerful, heart grabbing, captivating truths of what friendship can be when and if we lay down our pain and enter into sisterhood. Thank you, Ann. You bless my life.

  • http://www.penn-fam.blogspot.com Missy June

    God has blessed me with THE BEST friends, and wisdom to discern when to set clear boundaries. Both are needed.

  • RubberChickenGirl

    Still making wide circles. Tulsa is an unsafe community. Especially the emergent leaning groups of hipper than thou women.
    I too have had 2 friends in the last five years write lovely letters of promise to be BFFs forever only to be betrayed and “dumped”. I have concluded some people never marry, some never have children, some live in isolation and obscurity. That’s just been plain true of my life for the last 16 years.

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.com Tiffany Stuart

    I posted this link on my blog today. I hope many come and read or listen to your heart.

  • KK

    Beautifully written and beautifully spoken, Ann. So lovingly heartfelt and so universally true.
    I love what Jesus has said on friendship too:
    John 15:12-15
    12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

  • http://www.walkingwithangels.wordpress.com sara

    I have been scared of friendship since being hurt, slowly i am begining to immerge from my fear. Yet i know i am still holding back. May i find courage in your beautiful words and find the strength to open my heart again xxx

  • http://www.crystalkrueger.blogspot.com Crystal

    Your opening struck me hard as I thought about other school-aged children and teens and their feelings and actions that affect them. A a teacher, I am witness to those actions and now I understand a tiny bit of how people are hurt.
    And then you went on to speak to my heart again! I have a few very good friends but I sometimes stick with tried and true and don’t extend that friendship to others. Thank you for encouraging me again – and even though we’ve never met, I consider you to be a friend of my heart – encouraging, uplifting, challenging, laughing and crying with me in each day’s circumstances. God has placed you right where you need to be, dear Ann! ((( HUGS )))

  • Jeanine Q.

    Thanks for your beautiful post. I wish I felt like I lived in a healing community. I feel like people are too busy or too preocccupied with their own things to try to assist someone else. Maybe sometime I will find that kind of friend.

  • http://www.butterflykissesntastydishes.blogspot.com Christina Burrell

    Community surrounded and healed me after my daughter died at 7 mths gestation…I felt wrapped in God’s love and it enabled me to open my heart to friendship, trusting more.

  • Aimee Pao

    Big Big tight hug-

  • http://madabella.typepad.com Melissa | Madabella: made beautiful

    this was so beautiful and powerful, Ann…

  • http://www.faithfamilyfibro.com Karen

    How did you see into my heart? I am this woman you talk about yet I have not yet broken the chains around my heart. Gradually I am. I think the friends I have met online have really been helping me on this journey. I am not close to real life women but hope to be after I meet dear online friends at the Relevant conference. I am scared but I know God wants me to meet fellow sisters in Christ and make true adult women friendships. Thank you for speaking for me. You touched my inner most heart!

  • FoxyMomma

    i definitely needed to hear this today. i’ve had a lot of issues lately with friendships.. and having a hard time making friends since i got married & moved away 3 years ago. i’ve dealt with the hurt of friendship..and i have finally reached the point where i’ve let go & tried to mend the friendships..but i want to be open to new friendships. thank you for your words.

  • http://crystalstine.blogspot.com Crystal

    A few years ago my husband and I prayed for mentors, and God has not stopped answering that prayer! He has given me sisterchicks who love me when I’m at my absolute strangest, He’s given me a blog/Twitter community that gives me warm fuzzies on daily basis, and He has given my husband men who have lifted him up when I just couldn’t do it. Friendships do not come easily for me, and God has given me friends I can sit in silence with, friends I can laugh with, friends I can be creative with – He is good, all the time!

  • Grace

    Tears are flowing as you read your words and touch my heart…
    Raising 3 girls and trying not to induce fear in them of friends and pain and hardships…we listened to you together and understood that Jesus really does want us to live in community..
    Thank you…
    Ann, you are a gift.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for the courage to give voice to what many of us feel so deeply.
    Somtimes the groanings of our heart need articulation. I am undone by your sensitive spirit and your ability to convey grace.
    Just what I needed today !!!!

  • http://www.wranglerdani.com Dani

    Community heals because it is honest and hard and challenging and we are blessed to walk together in love in a way that the World can never understand.
    Thanks for your wise words!

  • http://www.sojournershope.blogspot.com Shauna

    What a gentle revolution your words speak of, Ann. What a grace-filled body it speaks into creation. And as we link arms in quiet humility to serve and love each other, we will see sisters healed and built beyond our wildest imaginations.
    I am slowly becoming a part of a community that is surprising me on a regular basis, those Jesus-moves that come out of the blue, unexpected, life-building. It is challenging, vulnerable, scary, and yet freeing to be known in fullness with no fear.
    I love the promise of friendship, to know that unconditional love is offered, bringing Heaven to earth.
    Thank you for your honest and vulnerable words. Thank you for risking it. It is the beauty in you, the beauty of Christ, that builds into this community once again.

  • http://everlypleasant.blogspot.com Everly Pleasant

    I am eighteen and last year I joined the university ministry at our church. I went earlier than my peers because I simply would have withered away if I had stayed in that dry youth group any longer! Since then, I’ve gone from being awkward and nervous and feeling like a baby in the presence of college students (and my elders in general,) to finding acceptance, love, patience and guidance through their personal friendships. It has been a great big bucket of blessings becoming part of a new community!

  • http://www.mops.org SherreyM

    As someone else has said in a prior post, I was one of those little girls growing up in an emotionally and verbally charged homes where I never measured up to my mom’s expectations. I was too chubby, I combed my hair wrong, etc. She was the first woman to offer me rejection.
    So, as I began school, I had figured out that to avoid hurt one put forward a shy, nonwelcoming facade that kept everyone at arm’s length. And so it went on . . . and on . . . and on.
    After a failed marriage, I found my soulmate and a minister found my gift that I’d been hiding behind shy. He told me I had the gift to speak. Not me! No, never! And he nudged, and God nudged and I began speaking when asked to, then I did the Children’s Sermons in our church. By the time, this gift had grown on me we had moved on to another church home.
    In this new home, I found Mothers of Preschoolers. Unfortunately, I was also a grandma by now so I had to find a unique way to befriend these young women who came from so far away and needed a mom figure closer in their lives. MOPS began a mentoring leadership role, and I’ve been doing that now for three years. Each year I reach my hand out as other women have reached out to me, and I make one or more new friends. Surprisingly, although there are years between us these are some of the best friendships I’ll ever have.
    I can’t thank God enough for that community of women leading each other, welcoming all women needing support, and welcoming the older, “wiser” woman who’s been there done that. I love it!

  • Karen

    I have been on here on and off wanting to request prayer, but I always think that someone else has a greater need for prayer. When I read the posts it lifts me up briefly,but right now I feel alone….. I have had some friends that have really hurt me and I am afraid to reach out again. I want to don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to go through the hurt again. It has left me feeling not good enough, I have done everything wrong and I am learning to just talk to myself and everything will be okay, but deep down I know better. I need to take another step, maybe soon.

  • http://www.hiphiphubei.blogspot.com Patricia/nyc

    Wow…to hear these words read is so, so powerful!! This really touched my heart. I have been in this place for too long…I recently reached out to someone who had hurt me many times…she reached back…slowly, we build a friendship…it IS worth the risk!!
    This community here at (in)Courage is helping me see & feel what is important…it gives me time to reflect on my actions and my life.
    Thank you, ladies, this is wonderful! And thank you, Ann, for your words, both written & spoken.

  • RJB

    This sparked an idea for a little “girls gathering” with promises for dessert…I hope I will make myself follow through with it!! Maybe I’ll mention it to my husband so he can hold me to it. I’ve been missing in-town women friendships!

  • http://cevallosadoption.blogspot.com/ Danielle

    I love the promise of friendship! I am in my late 20’s and just learning what true community with other women is about! It is unbelievable how awesome it is to know that there are others around you who not only love and support you when life is going smoothly, but who are willing to stick around and get their hands dirty when it isn’t! It is so amazing how God can work through that kind of community that I pray everyone has the opportunity to find it!

  • Bonnie Buckingham

    I have tears Ann listening to you read
    My friends have done what you said: two bringing tea in a basket on Monday two weeks out from hip surgery. I find a long presence
    is a gift. I have some new letter writers and one is Tonia! Letters seem to have more love
    wrapped up, maybe because of the personal touches of handwriting, time put into to doing it, and the intimacy of one to one.
    The Lord is blessing your words to others.
    I pray for you and that beauty of Christ to be preeminent!

  • http://fromthestartofthealphabet.blogspot.com/ Ashley C.

    Community is healing me by holding me up while another creates fresh wounds. Old friendships can be beautiful, and old friendships can be incredibly painful. Luckily for me, I have the first in addition to the second. I am grateful for friends who value me for who I am, not just how convenient friendship with me can be.

  • http://www.themushroomgrove.com Rachel

    Beautiful story. I agree, the gift of a promise of friendship is not just beautiful but is needed, for all of us. We all need someone to come alongside of us to help us, carry burdens with us, love us genuinely and truly, listen, laugh, enjoy life…
    I’m not sure I’ve made a promise of friendship with anyone lately. I know that this is important for me to do… I have prayed for that “right one” to come along, in the way of a friend.
    Thank you for sharing your heart once again with us. We are richer because of your words.

  • http://simplysimonsisters.blogspot.com desiree

    Thank you for your encouraging words. They always, always, seem to speak directly to my soul. I have put up walls and distanced myself far too long. I long for friendships rich and deep with those who live near me but I always find an excuse not to dive in. Thank you again for the encouragement, maybe I will be brave soon and start to build with what is broken.

  • http://nhmommaof5.blogspot.com/ Krista

    After 6 years of chronic pain and depression, I’ve cut myself off, off from friends, off from family, off from God, off from my husband. Some because of hurt and pain, others as a protective measure.
    But I’m ready to step into the light again, rebuild, repair, ask forgiveness, seek My Father’s will.
    I have a story to tell and I need to tell it, even if it just helps one person.
    Thank you for your heart, your honesty, your kind and gentle soul and the prodding I needed to get moving!

  • http://www.thefarmerfiles.com thefarmerfiles

    So, so transparent. I have never made a promise of friendship. But I am sure I can. ;) By the time 2011 rolls around I will have moved every year since 2008, either in or out of a city. The best thing about online friendships is that I can take them with me to every city.

  • http://www.flowersinhisgarden.blogspot.com Camille

    Your heart is beautiful Ann and I feel as though I *know* you through the writing you do. I appreciate the ability to leave you a comment here…you are a treasure. “Holy Experience” is a favourite place to visit (notice the spelling?…I am Canadian too)…thank you for sharing your heart so honestly and your faith in God so abundantly there.
    Community? It is a surprising thing to find friends in this way, but it has been done and it is beautiful. I think, as with anything, we must FIRST find our ALL in the LORD and the “community” and friendship with others will follow. HE gives friends for a season…some long and some short and all for the GOOD ~ Romans 8:28.
    With Love to you today.
    In Him,
    Camille

  • http://www.sherri-dawn.blogspot.com/ Sherri-Dawn

    Ann – your writing (and now your voice) settles into my soul.
    Would it be okay if I read this post to our woman’s group bible study? I think rejection, especially when inflicted by other women, is a wound we all carry.
    You are God’s pen….
    Sherri-Dawn (Tall Tales)

  • http://nananors.blogspot.com Noreen

    Sweet sister, So a powerful,honest, open post today that touched the hearts of many. I have known the sting of so much rejection but that is what the Lord often uses to make us more like Him. I have been blessed beyond measure by community in blogland-you for one and others because I don’t have close sisters in the Lord here. So relationships are precious to me and I so cherish you.
    Hugs to you today.
    Noreen

  • http://www.deployedheart.com Meg

    This community encourages me to be real, both with myself and with others. It’s so easy to hide behind walls, but then we miss out on some of the blessings of friendship God has in store for us. For years I never allowed myself to open up. To this day it takes time for me to reveal the real me to those around me. But time and again God surprises me with the blessing of friendship when I do finally open up.

  • Holly

    Thank you so much for posting this…this is an encouragement to my heart.

  • sa

    beautiful post- thankyou so much. At this point in life I am starting over- a new life, hard to explain right now but it has been very sheltered and abusive and its a new beg and the words about trust hit hard

  • http://faithhopecherrytea.posterous.com/ Faith Hope & Cherrytea

    today i called a friend whom i know is on holiday – left a message inviting her to lunch out ‘on me’ –
    while i was mid-shopping at a thrift store, i thought i heard my phone. sure enough, she’d found the message & was open to the invite.
    too late for lunch, but boy did we enjoy dessert! timing was impeccable as God always is – the apple crumble and lemon meringue pie had just been removed from the over! and the timing for the conversation was just as impeccable…
    all around, a day of deepening my promise of friendship made ~

  • http://faithhopecherrytea.posterous.com/ Faith Hope & Cherrytea

    today i called a friend whom i know is on holiday – left a message inviting her to lunch out ‘on me’ –
    while i was mid-shopping at a thrift store, i thought i heard my phone. sure enough, she’d found the message & was open to the invite.
    too late for lunch, but boy did we enjoy dessert! timing was impeccable as God always is – the apple crumble and lemon meringue pie had just been removed from the over! and the timing for the conversation was just as impeccable…
    all around, a day of deepening my promise of friendship made ~

  • http://countrywingsinphoenix.blogspot.com Sherry

    Oh I so needed this post today. A friend of mine Laura @ Decore To Adore sent me this link and told me to come and read. What a wonderful blessing you are to my heart today. I was hit with a baseball so hard yesterday it ripped my heart in half. If you get the time please stop by my blog and read my story.
    I know why God sent me here. You are my safe haven from the storm. Thank you sweet friend for lifting my spirit this afternoon. God Bless you for sharing.
    Country hugs, Sherry

  • http://overweightsofjoy.blogspot.com/ Amy Danielle Smith

    I think this is common to so many of us women. I know it is very relevant in my own life. Old wounds have left their scars and I need this kind of friendship, and to be this kind of friend to others.

  • http://www.authordream.blogspot.com Beth Coulton

    Community, especially among us women, is huge, and we are designed by God for it to be that way. We are a soothing balm on one another’s hurts, a cheerleader for a friend’s successes, and a quiet shoulder to cry on for times when words just won’t suffice. I love the love and community I sense here at (In)Courage, and will boldly look for someone who I can reach my hand of friendship to.

  • http://www.hopefulleigh.blogspot.com Leigh

    That was absolutely beautiful. I’m in the process of creating a new community as I moved to a new state a few months ago. I am blessed to live 5 blocks away from my best friend and her family and to already know some of her friends. And I am blessed to be meeting kindred spirits at work and at church. Little by little, I’m being surrounded by this new circle of friends.

  • Debby A.

    Oh, Ann….what a treasure you are….such a lovely, loving vessel used by Jesus to pour out His lavishly intense love for us!! Your blog is a daily read and never fails to minister to me…whether to encourage or bring a needed nudge to right something a-kilter in my spirit. Pondering more deeply this concept of “Promise of Friendship”….feeling a stirring to make the heart-offer. Thank you!!!!

  • http://eliselo.blogspot.com/ Elise

    I love this. I would love to do this with my friends… Those whom I love. I love them, but I am always a little worried that they talk about me behind my back, or think badly of me. My husband is such an encouragement to me: He encourages me to love people so that they never question that I value my relationship with them. I think that is what a friendship promise is.

  • http://mommymonk.blogspot.com/ Heather Cox

    I think we often forget how fragile our hearts are and that if I’m feeling that way, my sister probably is too. I love the promises your friend made to you. I want to promise to be that kind of friend too.

  • http://shepherdsgrace.wordpress.com Sarah

    beautiful…as always…
    your words, yourself, feed me again and again..and I am grateful for all the girlfriends my Lord has placed in my life….
    some of them very hard won, some pure gifts of grace…some still works in progress…

  • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

    I finally noticed the tears running down my face when I felt them hit my shirt. Friend, I love you and I make you the same promise that Holley did. Thank you for the gift of you.

  • Vanessa Gooch

    Such a beautiful post in deed! I can say that we are in a wonderful community and I know that we are here for a reason, for some healing. It is taking us a bit to reach out and put those bars, those cages away, but I know it will come. God is working on me and my heart. I hope that our stay in this community will allow me to make a promise of friendship, I really, truly pray for this! Thank you for your beautiful words. God Bless

  • Kathryn

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. You have motivated me to pack up a box load of those “just because it made me think of you” presents I have for an amazing girlfriend. She and I have been each other’s community through a really rough year. We encourage each other, remind each other of God’s grace and love, and lift up the other whenever we need it! I know she will love getting a little “love” when I put this box in the mail tomorrow. Thanks!

  • Renee

    It’s tough to reach out, past experiences tend to make me cautious. I’m working on it a little each day, knowing I’m not alone, that God is with me helps ease the tension a little.

  • Megan

    Beautiful post! I love the encouraging community of (in)courage. It brings a ray of hope to my day. Thanks!

  • http://writingcanvas.wordpress.com/ Loni

    When I think of community I think of the verse, Romans 12:15 ~ “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Through different seasons of my life God has placed different women there who have rejoiced and who have wept with me ~ and I with them.
    I have a gift & special card from the Dayspring I plan on giving to a new friend, to encourage her as she is struggling, and let her know it’s not based on being strong or “spiritual” but being available.

  • http://hallelujahanyhow.blogspot.com/ Karen

    Well…I just can’t see the screen clearly for the tears in my eyes…this spoke to my heart…way down deep…so glad I clicked the link at Tiffany’s ….

  • http://www.tngrlintx.blogspot.com laura

    Ann-
    thank you ever so much for reading your words aloud. in the days when i read aloud to my three so much that my voice is weak, it was a lovely blessing to be read to tonight. i plan on letting my oldest listen to the words tomorrow while we drink tea together. consider yourself invited. true kindred friends are worth the effort it takes to develop, how often as a mother and wife i am tempted to neglect the area of sister/friends. partly because i am too busy skirting around instead of reaching in to grasp the hand of another. timely words, thank you for your friendship. if you listen closely, you might be able to hear me echoing your promise back into the night, and praying that it will stretch from Texas to a Canadian farm…love, laura

  • Jo

    Simply thank you.

  • http://bendedspoon.wordpress.com bendedspoon

    i feel that there is conspiracy for my well-being because of the wonderful beings out there, just like you, who inspires and cheer. i just feel so grateful and one of my post – Conspiracy Theory reflects that. you can take a peep here
    http://bendedspoon.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/conspiracy-theory/
    i love friendship and sisterhood — God’s awesome creations supporting each other :)

  • LM

    I posted early this morning while still half asleep and hadn’t noticed I could listen to you until I saw a comment. I could almost imagine hearing you read to your kids too. :) Thanks for allowing the reflection of Christ shine through you. The Lord protect you and your relationships in the days to come!

  • http://www.evenifiambeingpoured.blogspot.com Emily

    As always, thank you, Ann, for sharing your heart. I needed to hear these words tonight. Having recently left a beloved community of sisters, and having been transplanted to a new one, I need the (in)courage-ment to get out there and be forged in the heat to a new community. Welding is never easy, but it makes us stronger.

  • Kristen K.

    Mostly communtiy lets me know I’m not alone. I was not the first person to ever think that way. I was not the first person to ever do that horrible thing. In sharing within a community we find that we have quite a bit in common- beutiful and ugly, good and bad, secret and public, but mostly…forgiven. It’s the way that God designed us to learn more about Him by sharing what He’s doing in our lives. Communtiy is vital…

  • http://www.sonshinensmiles.com Kristi

    Wow. I’m sitting here in tears after reading this post, wondering how you saw my heart. Wondering how you could possibly know how I feel. I’ve been hurt in the past by women too, but in different ways. Sometimes I feel invisible. Sometimes it’s too much ‘work’ – always lopsided, with me always giving more, begging for something in return of people who don’t have a clue how to give. Or are just too busy to give or be a friend. I’ve not had a ‘close’ friend in nearly 7 years, when the best friend I’ve ever had (and I’m 40!) moved away. We’ve stayed in touch, but we both have since had kids, and she now lives in Germany, etc. so it’s just not the same. I thought having kids would open more doors to new friendships, but mostly all I’ve found is isolation & loneliness as one of the only SAHMs I know. I’ve prayed, and cried buckets of tears and have just accepted it as a season of life, hoping a spring of new friendships will bloom as I’m entering a new chapter in life of sending kids to school.
    All that said, this (in)Courage community has been a tremendous blessing to me, as I’ve been touched beyond description by all the different ‘hostesses’ in this house. Your welcome mat is encouraging and warm and full of grace and mercy that has helped guide me through this challenging season of life. I only hope to take what I’ve learned/experienced/been inspired by and use it to do the same to encourage other women in their journeys. Thanks, guys from a truly grateful, humbled, and inspired heart!

  • http://www.incourage.me/2010/08/the-real-sisterhood-friendship-of-women.html Faye

    I cried my eyes out reading this tonight. This has been me. Ugh, why is it soooo hard to trust? I don’t have women friends. It is lonely. I want to. I want to trust. I want to draw women in and not keep them at arm’s length. I think it’s kind of scary just figuring out how to do it. I love that “letter” from your friend. That is what I want in my life!!!

  • Mayte

    Beautiful and so inspiring. Words that heal, words that make us feel loved.
    Thank you so much for your sharing your precious heart, and thoughts.
    You are an amazing woman and I know God will bless you and your family. And will always give you courage to keep doing this labor of love.
    Again thank you for being a sister in Christ.

  • Tonya

    Ann,
    Thank-you for your words….. thank-you for your heart. I read your words almost every day and they encourage me to be real, to stay real. I love this that you wrote: “And our God is a love body and He hates amputations and He sutures our wounds together with the silver threads of community.”
    I’m a nurse and we use dressings that have silver in them to heal the worst of wounds…. I love the analogies! Silver kill germs that prevent wounds from healing.
    I love the way the mundane gives beauty to life all around us when we look. thanks again
    Tonya

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mama2ten Katrina Peterson

    Dearest Ann, Thanks for being a wise, comforting voice for us sisters. Thank you for reading your lovely words to “souls made saints” You are my chocolate from the Father’s heart (Borrowed from Anonymous above.)It was refreshing to “hear” your soft, soothing voice.
    My friends are women who are unseen, like you, Holley, Lisa-Jo and ALL who bless me through their typed words & comments.
    I made a promise of friendship to a dear midwife friend/sister. Community is healing when those accept you and have the time to invest and pray for you (get “dirty” in serving and blessing one another.)
    ~All’s grace.
    Unto Him be all Glory in the Church by Christ Jesus. ~K

  • http://mizmollye.blogspot.com/ mollye

    You have given a voice to so many women you’ll likely never meet but when the hearts were shattered and we reached down to retrieve our own we each grabbed a shard of someone elses and therefore we are all a part of one another. Thank you for sharing what will heal.

  • melissa

    I feel hopeful to make a promise of friendship today. If I can do it, so can others. I know I need it, so I will reach out today!

  • Heather McGinness

    The (In)Courage community has helped to nourish my heart… Knowing there are others who have felt what I’ve felt, been where I’ve been: in those places of doubt, fear, hurt, longing, loneliness–it reminds me that I’m not alone, that there’s not something lacking in me that I feel these emotions, and that God works through us to encourage one another and spread His love. Love that is unconditional, boundless, and true. I often hide behind protective walls I’ve built around myself. (In)Courage is helping me take them down, brick by brick. Thank you & God bless you all…

  • http://overthemoonwithjoy.blogspot.com Kimmie

    Thank you for sharing. deep stuff. stuff that makes water flow from those hurting places…
    hoping someday to have a friend like you have been blessed with…waiting in expectation, well the bit I can muster.
    thank you Ann-your gift of words is a blessing to me and so many.
    Kimmie
    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  • http://web.me.com/melissafed Melissa

    I am off to compose a letter to my sister friends…one of promise and of devotion and I will fight the urge to plagerize Amber…but that is such a BEAUTIFUL promise…

  • lost

    i have truly given up. truly i have tried to be a friend, but truly i give up.

  • HveHope

    Dear ‘Lost’ (8/20):
    You are ‘at the place’ that the Scriptures say the Lord will meet. ‘When I am weak, He is strong.’
    You wrote that you have tried, truly to be a friend. May your heavenly Friend truly meet you ~ where you are ~ with His love.
    This quote from Holley Gerth says it ever so much better than I can! She writes:
    “Hey you, in the middle of the busy, in search of quiet, looking for peace.
    You don’t have to go anywhere to find it. It’s here, right here.
    [He] has a name and a heart that beats with love for you.
    ‘Come to Me,’ He says, ‘I’ll lift that burden, carry that load, settle your soul.’
    He knows how to calm storms, quiet hearts, bring peace to our lives.
    I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother. (Psalm 131:2)
    ~ Holley Gerth”
    (sorry, Holley that I forgot which post I just quoted!)
    May the Lord carry your load, dear ‘Lost’, and quiet your soul with His love,
    HveHope *-:

  • HveHope

    ~::~ ~::~ Quote of the Note ~::~ ~::~
    By patience and fortitude in suffering, by dependence on the promises of God, and keeping to the word the Holy Spirit hath revealed, the Holy Spirit is glorified…
    The only way to keep the soul well, is, to commit it to God by prayer, and patient perseverance in well-doing. [“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” ~ James 1:12].
    He will overrule all to the final advantage of the believer.
    ~Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, about 1 Peter 4:12-19
    ~::~ ~::~ ~::~ ~::~ ~::~ ~::~ ~::~ ~::~

  • http://www.asfaIT Connie

    I have a friend who has been a friend since I was seventeen. She remains a surprise for me, but opened the door to friendship and keeps it open. Time passes between conversations and visits, but never seems to have passed when we talk or see each other again. It may be a promise we made when we were young, but I was not a promise keeper. She is, it is just who she is, open, loving, not afraid of disappointment. A gift.

  • http://inhisarmsagain.blogspot.com Beth Pederson

    Community has been healing me these days through travel with the community of one another, my husband and I … After 37 years of marriage we are on a road trip together.
    It has been a healing, of peace and calm as we visit his cousins and his aunt with an unhurried pace. As we travel the mountains, valleys, and oceans of His creation and wonder with awe how He did this in just 6 short days. I love that we have had this time with just the 2 of us after rasing 5 children and loving on our 5 grandchilidren. My husband, my most important friend and yet so often my own children, grandchildren, and girlfriends can get in the way of time for just the 2 of us. I am ready and have a heart desire to plan time for just the 2 of us as we return to the routine of Fall.

  • http://www.kristybeckendorf.blogspot.com Kristy Beckendorf

    As a teenager I always found it easier to talk with the boys and shy away from the girls. They were so hurtful and catty, and the boys so real. Entering marriage, I didn’t have many girlfriends – and being a military wife who moved around, I found it impossible to make a genuine friend. When I became a Christian at the age of 28, God began bringing these wonderful women into my life – like I had never known before. Now, 10 yrs. later, He has blessed me with many wonderfully dear sisters. He has shown me that there really are women who love wholeheartedly.
    Thank you for sharing with us Ann – everyday. Love to you :)

  • Kerryn

    Thank you Anne for sharing those wonderful words. I really needed to read this today, I have been feeling that I am always the giver in my friendships and when I need it now…noone seems to be there. Thank you for reminding me that I am loved. I will continue to be me knowing that I am loved. I am not there yet, but I to would love to make the promise of friendship…i will keep praying..xx

  • http://www.theknittygrittyhomestead.blogspot.com Homesteadgirl

    A dear friend and I recently conversed about the one detriment to our friendship: competition, comparison, and jealousy. It released a torrent of gentle and honest talk, and healed a lot. The best part of the promise was to not say a mean word to or against your friend…I think this is a real challenge for women. Thanks for this heartfelt and touching post.

  • http://apilgrimsproject.blogspot.com amy in peru

    mmmmmmmm. I can’t stop grinning, and my eyes are wet. I love you Ann. Thanks for writing my heart’s sigh. (it was fun to hear you too ;)
    This heart also has been stitched and mended over recent years through a most unexpectedly sweet friendship. a testimony to faithfulness, both His and hers.
    so grateful.
    amy in peru
    “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…”

  • http://lovelivingsimply.blogspot.com Catherine

    Lovely post, Ann.
    Thank you!

  • JP

    Thank you for the post. It seems you struck quite a chord with this one! For some reason, I can’t seem to get the music to turn off, even when I click on the pause button… so sad I did not get to hear you read this, especially after so many remarked so favorably upon it.

  • Vicki

    This post could have started “Dear Vicki”. This is me. I never use my first name to comment. Always the middle. Incognito. Being bold with the name by which people call me is frightening. Looking for courage to share this blog post on Facebook. Even more frightening. The wall that surrounds me is a tower of bricks. Sometimes I take one out, sometimes two, and take a peek to see if it’s safe. And I always put them back. I call women to gather with other women to help THEM find the Safe Sisterhood. But I can’t find it? It eludes me. Gets close, slips away, and add more bricks. The Sisterhood? A Safe Place? Is it really out there? Or just out of reach for me?

  • Pingback: What is Friendship? — Tea with Tiffany()

  • http://theshanahanclan.blogspot.com/ Kate

    I realize this is a somewhat old post, but I have only just discovered your blog, and I was wondering if I could share this post on my own blog? It spoke volumes to me, words that I have needed to hear for years, and I know others for whom it would do the same. Thank you.

  • Pingback: off the shelf: oldies but goodies()

  • Pingback: Real Friendship | Connections Women()

  • Karen

    Ann, I totally relate to everything you wrote…I want to be the woman who helps heal…as I myself heal. Thank you.

  • Pingback: New York Times Best-Selling Author, Ann Voskamp, Talks Women | Sarah Cunningham()

  • Pingback: In de nacht | Pachamama()