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We midwesterners have a fondness for breaking a particular grammar rule. We love to ask: Do you want to come with?

My word-nerd self knows that we should never utter a question that ends with a preposition. Every preposition needs a partner, an object of the preposition. We really should ask, “Do you want to come with me?”

For a long time I resisted this grammatically incorrect trend and completed my question properly in true, former-English-teacher style.

But, true confession, I’ve started to rethink my grammatically correct position. It all comes down to that little word with. I think I have developed a “thing” for it.

With calls to mind so many of my favorite moments of connection.

Bev and I walk with our dogs around our neighborhood every morning and talk about life — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I gather once a month with three long-time friends for dinner. We fight over cream, laugh about midlife craziness, and listen to each other’s unique journey.

I often sit down at my computer and discover a series of emails from long-ago college roommates. Several years ago we committed to each other that we would stay in touch electronically and that we would share with each other our struggles, joys, hopes, sorrows, and faith.

Every Wednesday morning I sit in a classroom on the second floor of our church and spend time with a group of women who have recently discovered Jesus. As we study the Bible together, I can almost see the Holy Spirit hopping around our room, speaking to hearts and opening eyes.

Yup, I have a “thing” for the word with.

For way too many years, however, I lived on my own steam, confident of my ability to cope with life and sure that Jesus would see me through everything.

Then I hit a series of storms, including my mother’s death and a crippling bout of depression. I cried. I prayed. I thrashed. I begged God to show up. I envisioned Him swooping in and dramatically altering the troubling circumstances of my life.

God had a different plan. He sent me some of my mother’s friends. He reconnected me with long-ago college roommates. He pointed me toward a neighbor right across the street.

They sat and listened to my grief. They pushed me to get out of my house and try some new things. They spoke truth to me about my need to get help. They reminded me of the strength and power of God’s Word:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed.” {Lamentations 3:22, NIV}

They showed me the joy and strength of connected living. I experienced firsthand the power of with, and I will never look back.

By breaking a grammar rule, we in the Midwest have accidentally done something profound. We have inadvertently reminded ourselves of the power of with and diminished the power of me.

Do you want to go with? I do.

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  • Linda W

    Love this post, Afton! Thank you for the reminder of that great passage from Lamentations!

    • Afton Rorvik

      Isn’t that a great passage?!

      • Linda W

        Yes! Very encouraging.

  • Martha

    Thank you for the encouragement. This sounds very much like my story. I am in the storms, and slowly seeking those who will “go with”. The Lord has gifted me with one sweet friend. Please pray the Lord brings more to me – and me to them.

    • Afton Rorvik

      Praying for you. And rejoicing with you that you have found a Storm Sister. I’m so glad you found the courage to share your storm with a friend. Cheering you on! Hebrews 12:1-3

  • UniqueDahl

    With…. what a profound concept. I’ve been so alone the last several years (even though CONSTANTLY surrounded by my three babies/toddlers)- rarely getting the chance to connect with my old friends or other moms. I feel so secluded, but unable to do anything about it- my husband doesn’t want to go to church, and I can’t get all three kids to church on my own (he can’t handle them alone for long). Most of my friends have moved to other towns, and the only one left has a husband who is bi-polar (he would never admit it) and we never know when he’s not going to want her to be with me. I long for the ability to be ‘with.’ Do you have any suggestions?

    • Afton Rorvik

      I’m so sad that you feel so alone. Those years with little ones are so hard. One of the things that most feeds my soul when I’m lonely is an email I have with four college friends. We are all honest there and share our ups and downs. I like email because I can do it late at night when I have some quiet. Perhaps you could start an email with a few friends. Maybe you could also find a local MOPS group. This would help you meet women at your stage of life, and you would get a break while your kids are cared for lovingly. Asking God to encourage you today and bring you ways to connect with friends.

      • UniqueDahl

        Thank you for your encouragement! Unfortunately, we live in a really small community that doesn’t have a MOPS group, but I will see what can be done as far as email :)

    • Beth Williams

      UniqueDahl,
      Prayers for God to end the loneliness. May God send one good friend to do life with–if even online! Find a small group that allows children and join them for quiet time and reflection! Prayers for encouragement and for God to open new ways to connect!
      Blessings :)

      • UniqueDahl

        Thank you for your prayers! Even from a stranger, they are greatly appreciated. A small group is a wonderful option! I will be lookin in to that :)

      • Afton Rorvik

        Joining you in that prayer for a friend. :)

  • Katie Scott Randolph

    Power if with! Love this. I don’t know if I could have made it and still going through so many trials and storms. Blow after blow keeps happening.

    • Afton Rorvik

      Storms can feel relentless, can’t they? But eventually the snow melts, the tornado lifts, the hail stops. Talking to a friend about it helps so much. So does talking to God. :) Praying you have strength and courage and friends for your stormy journey.

      • Katie Scott Randolph

        Thank you! I do have people that I am “with.” I have learned to be real. Eight years… and still going. As hard as they are I see God at every turn.

        • Afton Rorvik

          Isn’t real easier than trying to be perfect? Felt like such a relief to me.

      • Katie Scott Randolph

        Bonnie Grey has been one such long distance friend.

    • Beth Williams

      Katie,
      Storms will come–but I find comfort in talking to friends. Just telling them of the day to day stuff getting it off my chest! They don’t always offer a solution, but are there t pray for me. May God send you one good friend with whom you can do life and share these trials!

      blessings :)

      • Katie Scott Randolph

        Thank you

  • Beth Williams

    Afton,

    Friends come alongside the brokenhearted; they bring hope and comfort by their mere presence. That is ever so true! I have been going through some family trials for a few years. The ability to talk about it openly helps to alleviate some of the stress I feel. Beginning late last year a group of ex coworkers & I have gotten together once a month for dinner. We discuss our various trials, pray for each other and just do life together! We are blessed to have each other. This group feels safe talking about the intimate details of life–good, bad & ugly! We share life!! The encouragement we share is contagious! We got a card & gift for one member who just lost her dad. Being in small groups with great friends is important! This is what God calls us to do!!
    Blessings :)

    • Afton Rorvik

      I so agree!! I have a group of three women with whom I have dinner once a month to talk about real life–the good, the bad, and the ugly. How it feeds my soul. I too feel as if living connected is what God calls us to do. It is the way Jesus lived.

  • Susan

    Afton, I love everything about this. When we first moved to the NW mountains of NC, the colloquialisms humored me. How are you was answered with “Sorry, how bout you?” or, “I’m ill.” Never meaning they were apologizing or sick. When you visited folks in the evening and it was time to leave they’d say, “Stay the night.” I remember asking my husband if they really wanted us to have a sleepover??? It was all so foreign to me. Now I look back and smile, after 28 years of hearing these odd phrases. I’m all in and ready to go with…xo

    • Afton Rorvik

      I think you have blog material. I’d love to know what some of those phrases actually mean. :)

      • Susan

        I am a faith blogger but never wrote about these!!!Food for thought.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Afton,
    I had to smile…my husband makes fun of me when I correct the poor grammar of the sports commentators. I have been through the storms of depression and am oh so thankful that I have a God who will and has “gone with”. Knowing His presence is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Thank you for sharing here…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Afton Rorvik

      I once corrected a pastor’s grammar out loud during a sermon. Just popped out of my mouth. Eek! Hope you had friends on your depression journey. That is a tough one. I know it well. My faith sustained me, but I also needed people too–the hands and feet of God.
      Nice to connect with a sister word-nerd. :)

  • Lynda Prendergast

    Afton I really needed this message. I need to be with people who know the Lord and understand what I am going through. Afton you are sounderstaning. I have met people who know the Lord. I need a few close friends to share things with. I need a Storm Sister or two.

    • Afton Rorvik

      So nice to have you here at (in)courage, Lynda. You will like this blog. :) I love hearing how you are being a storm sister to a few women. Being that friend you want to have is the best way I know to develop good friends. Cheering you on!