Category Archives: Friendship

the windy city

Yes. This is about Chicago. But also, it’s not.

Five years ago I took my first summer trip to Chicago as an adult. I have to caveat that because I went as a teen for a softball tournament and fell in love with the city, but my parents were with me, so I was limited on the shenanigans I could get into.

I went with two dear friends and we had a fantastic time – 2 nights, 3 days right on Lake Shore Drive, eating pizza, seeing comedy shows, and delighting in the company of one another. It’s truly one of the dearest memories I have in traveling with friends.

This week, I went back for my first summer trip since then. I love Chi-town and have been many times, but for whatever reason I’ve chosen the cold months to visit throughout these five years. As I got off the train and started walking around, my mind began to wade through the last five years (which also happens to be the name of the saddest/best musical movie starring Anna Kendrick that my friend watched and told me I was horrible for recommending. Seriously. It’s sad.)

I digress.

The last five years.

I began to think about the friends I was with in 2014 and how we have since had a pretty major friend breakup.

I only have my side of the story, and I’m not going to share that with everyone. But the truth of the matter is, there was a tremendous ripping apart between us. We all played a role in the ripping. I will own my part in that hurt. But it was a breakup that I never saw coming because it was with friends. The ripping apart was hard. But that doesn’t take away what those friends meant to me in that season.

This past February, author and podcaster Annie F. Downs spoke at IF:Gathering on this exact topic. Her talk, What Happens When People Let You Down? (can be found on RightNow Media), spoke about the heartbreak of breakups – how when a breakup happens, you lose the future you thought you were going to have. But we don’t talk about losing the future with friends. So, in the way that only Annie can, she did.

And she gutted me with this line: “Losing a friendship feels like a ripping when that friend becomes and idol.”

And ultimately, that’s what I had let happen in my past friendships. They become my idol. The relationship itself became an idol. They were the thing that kept me safe and secure.

This time around, I went by myself.

I sent this picture to my mom so she knew I was safe, but as I looked at it – at me – I saw someone who is just way more settled into the fact that nothing outside of Jesus can satisfy, save, or secure her. 2014 Kayla was grasping for straws when it came to security, love, being known.

2019 Kayla knows she is secure, loved, and known in Christ.
I don’t have it all worked out, but I’m comfortable with knowing that God is working it out.

And now, as Annie also said, my friendships work because I don’t ask them to be my God. I just ask them to be my friend. With God as my closest friend, all other friends are a delightful gift.

And that they are. As I took inventory of my friends on Ohio Street Beach, I (surprise) got emotional. Overwhelmingly thankful that God has seen fit to give me Himself with flesh on in the form of my friends. And has given me the gift of Himself, so that I don’t have to grasp for and impress people that will let me down.

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“with Thee and with one another”

It has effectively been almost 5 months since I’ve last put pen (keyboard) to paper (screen).

It’s a weird thing to be able to put a timeline on. Mainly because, for 4 years I would write on a regular basis, not going more than a couple weeks without getting some thoughts down. It feels like a weird muscle I’ve forgotten how to flex. And if there’s anything I know about not using muscles for a long time, it’s that once you start again it can be awkward and hard. Which is why you don’t start doing it again. And then the longer you go, the more awkward and harder it gets. So you keep putting it off.

You aren’t as strong as you were before.
You aren’t able to go for as long as you once could.
You run out of breath faster.
And you’re going to be sore in a couple hours, if not immediately.

And it feels like all of those things will apply here. Especially shortness of breath.

But the thing that has kicked me back into workout mode (okay, I’m done with that analogy) is something my grandmother prayed at my sister’s birthday dinner.

As we do at family gatherings, the food was out, people were standing ready to get in line (yes, we have a line because it’s not abnormal for more than 12 people to be at these things and that amount of food doesn’t fit in the middle of a table…), and my dad asked his mom to pray for our meal and our time together.

As she prays, she says this phrase, “And Lord, we thank you for the fellowship we have with Thee and with one another…”

I’ve heard my grandma pray many times in my life, but that phrase really got me this time around. It struck me how she was so comfortable likening the relationship she has with the Lord to the one she has with the people around her. She is in fellowship with all parties.

Fellowship, to me, is companionship, mutual support, togetherness…..friendship.

And when I think about my friends, I think about joy, care, love, camaraderie, encouragement, rebuke, laughter, time together, Netflix binges, and movie quotes.
(Okay, so some of my thoughts aren’t as spiritual as others, but also have you ever seen Pride & Prejudice because that was a SPIRITUAL experience…)

But when I think about my relationship with the Lord – especially lately – I see it more authoritarian. I see Him as sovereign, holy, and just. All of those are good things, but those aren’t the only things He is. He is also caring, loving, encouraging, and a friend.

Sometimes our pendulum can swing too far toward that last one and we start wearing “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts, effectively forgetting that He is also the just, righteous God over all created things. But I think my pendulum has swung a smidge too far the other way. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have fellowship with the Lord. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to see Him as a friend to my soul that cares about the mundane details of my every day.

I’m so glad that the friends I have in this life are Kingdom people that make me better on a daily basis. But I need to remember that the King is also my friend whose Spirit was literally sent to this earth to make me better moment by moment.

I don’t know if this is a real thing, but I want to start practicing the discipline of friendship with the Lord. And, in the words of my grandmother, grow in fellowship with Thee and with one another.

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teamwork makes the dream work

teamwork makes the dream work.png

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

lovers.jpg

That’s all I have to contribute to the holiday.

Now.

I was at a conference this past weekend. Some of you may know about it. It’s called the if:Gathering. You can learn more about it here. I enjoyed the time I got to spend with some ladies from my church and came away with quite a bit to think about.

The structure of the conference was: listen to a teaching, talk about it at your table, eat some snacks, repeat. One of the questions that was asked at our table was, What is my dream for my people and my place?

The first thing that came to mind was: team.

Now, being the washed-up athlete that I am, that might not be surprising to most. But more importantly than what first came to mind was the images and feelings I got while I thought through it a little more.

My junior and senior year’s of high school basketball were some of the most fun I had as a player of the sports. It was so much fun to be on the court with my best friends, competing together and having the time of our lives.

One image that kept coming up over and over again this past weekend was our inbound plays – in particular, under-the-basket inbounds plays my senior year.

My friend Brandi and I had the best chemistry under the basket. As guard, I was responsible for getting the ball in play. If the play was busted, Brandi just knew where to cut and when to cut, and I knew she would always be there. I could no-look-bounce-pass Mr. Spaulding into the lane, Brandi would snatch that sucker up, and the LadyCats would have 2 more points added to their total. I never worried about a 5-second violation because I knew Brandi would be there.

We even played in a three-on-three tournament a few years later and did the same. dang. thang. My teammate was there for me.

Knowing each other that well didn’t just occur after one day of practice. We sweat together, bled together, went through hell week together. (side note: have you ever had 2 weeks of Christmas break practice with NO GAMES to play?! it’s the worst. you want to quit everything and just go home to eat Christmas candy.)

And that’s what I want from my people and my place.

I want my team.

I want us to be there for each other.
To anticipate one another’s moves.
To remind and ensure each other that, even if the play is busted, we’ve got each other’s backs. We don’t need to worry about hell week by ourselves because our teammates will be there in it with us.

A year ago I wrote about standing on holy ground with others. How there is something sacred about holding someone else’s story with them. And I’m so thankful that’s how my team has formed.

I know my team holds my story and I feel so thankful that they allow me to hold theirs.
I know we all stand on holy ground with and for one another.
I know that the sacredness we share in spiritual friendship is rare, and I hope I never take it for granted.

Whatever my dream is – or ends up being – I know it’ll be easier to chase because of the stellar team I’ve got on my sideline.

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cheers to the risk

Cheers to the Risk

“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”-Brené Brown

This past weekend I had the privilege of retreating with some ladies from my church. The whole premise of the retreat was to sit around a table, eat delicious foods, and tell stories of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we hope to go with Jesus. It was – hands down – my favorite women’s retreat I’ve ever been on.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit over the last few days about spiritual community – thoughts unfortunately spurned on by the great lack that most people seem to have. It seems as if so many of us that follow Jesus are trying to do it alone. Or, at bare minimum, we invite others into our lives to follow Him with one another, but it’s as if we’re walking on opposite sides of the road, unwilling to close the gap and truly journey together. There’s great risk in sharing our lives with people around us, and we’re too scared to take that step. So, instead, we do all the right things – Bible study, small group, women’s events, church clean-up days, dinner with a group of people once a month – we insert ourselves into all the right ‘communities’ thinking that at some point, magic will happen and we’ll be seen and known the way we desire. But here’s the catch – we won’t. We can show up and do all the right things and never get to the point where people know us – really know us.

We’re afraid of the vulnerability and risk it will take to really open our hearts up to others, trusting that the Lord has placed people in our lives to be God-with-flesh-on for us, to fill the intimate space of companionship that we all so desperately crave.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.”-Brené Brown

For me, the space never even came CLOSE to being filled until I came to the end of my do-ing, and let myself just be.

Be seen.
Be known.
Be open.
Be vulnerable.
Be ready for grace.
Be ready for God to show up.

Be present with Jesus and not expect anything but Him.

And then, be present with people – offering our story of where we’ve been with Jesus, where we are with Jesus, and where we hope to go with Jesus.
Opening up our lives, risking the potential rejection, hurt, and isolation that may come with the weight our stories carry.
But the other thing we risk – the beautiful thing that we risk – is actually having someone receive our story.

Because once someone receives it, they are in it with you. They are now a part of your story. And you can’t walk away from that the same person.

It. Will. Change. You.

I think we all wait around for that type of pivotal plot point, eager to step into that sacred space. But few of us are willing to open up our souls, standing naked and unashamed before one another (metaphorically naked, that is. Keep your clothes on if we’re hanging out…)

I guess that’s my point. Take the risk. Raise your glass to the unknown, to that which should scare the pants off of you (but again…keep your pants on). You’re life will be filled to the brim if you do.

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.”-Brené Brown

 

(sorry, not sorry for all the Brené Brown quotes. now, go read all her books and have your heart ripped out a little bit – in the best ways.)

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holy ground

holy-ground

There’s something holy and sacred about being asked to hold part of someone else’s story. Whether it is being asked to pray for a certain situation or relationship, or having someone share wonderful, life changing news, there is so much beauty in being invited in to another’s life.

Having experienced this invitation, I feel terribly inadequate in carrying the title of “friend” in other’s lives. To be honored in such a way that a person trusts me with their story – man…I just don’t know that I have the words.

I can’t just ignore it – I’m standing on holy ground. I’ve been invited into sacred space with another image bearer of the Most High God.

It’s really easy for me to sit in a day like today – Valentine’s Day – when my social media feed is flooded with posts of husbands and wives doting over one another and girls posting all about how their boyfriend is the best boyfriend in the whole-wide-world*, and feel oh so sorry for myself. To look at what they have and get really lonely, dwelling on what I don’t. Longing for someone to share a BOGO at Qdoba with, just because we kissed each other.

It’s easy to forget what I do have – to let the singular voice of ‘not-yet-married’ drown out the many voices of ‘you-are-so-loved.’

What I do have is this: people that invite me into their lives in ways that I don’t even have language to express. People that weep with me. People that rejoice with me. People that allow me rejoice with them; not only allow me, but ask me to! Man! What a freaking honor!!

It’s like they are eating their most favorite dish in the entire world and, without hesitation, they slide their plate over to me with the last bite on the fork and say, “Here, I want you to have this. I want you to share in the joy that is mine.”

I think too often we blow past the sacred space others invite us in to because we are afraid of what it calls us to. We are afraid that we’ll have to do something with it. And, guess what, we will. We’ll be called to open up our own lives, which risks hurt and heartache.

It’s much easier to keep people at a distance, never admitting our need for one another. But it’s also much less beautiful.

I would rather walk away from a conversation, my heart bursting with joy and love and, well, holiness I think, than never know the depth of connection I can have with another person.

The risk is worth it.
The friends are worth it.
The sacred connection we get to experience is worth it.
Every. Time.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I’m not going to be sad or bummed or lonely because I’m single.
Instead, I’m going to be ever so grateful for the ways in which God fills the sacred space in my heart – with Himself and with those that allow me to call them friend.

*can we talk about this for a second? Not everyone can have the best boyfriend in the entire world. They don’t all tie for first place. Some of them are kinda crappy.

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