I am a mentor to a group of young girls at Rebound, a local youth centre. We meet every two weeks for two hours. We eat, craft, talk, dance and laugh together. Our time is loosely structured. Sometimes the conversations are heavy but most of the time they are light and fluffy. After the first month I questioned if our time together was of any value to these girls. How could just four hours a month hanging out with peers and mentors make any difference in their lives?
One of the mentees I am paired with didn’t want to be part of the program. She was clearly anxious and disengaged the first couple of sessions. In fact, she ended up hiding under a table an hour into the first session. Flash forward five months. She is no long stuck to my side with her bulky coat on. She moves about the room chatting freely with everyone. She laughs and jokes. She takes her coat off.
This may seem like nothing. So what if a kid takes her coat off at girls mentoring group. But I know it’s a big deal. I know we have created a safe space for this young girl who has faced so much in her short life. We have created a space where she can trust, listen, share, cry and laugh – a space where she can be herself.
I feel the same way about my friend Lyn’s family room where women from our church gather every Thursday. There was no great plan when we started this women’s group over a year ago. A few months in, a couple of people suggested we share our life stories and get really vulnerable.
Since it was my big mouth that got the women’s group going I felt I should be the first to share my story. I was able to sort my forty-eight years into six cue cards. I’m not going to lie I was pretty impressed by that. It was a cool exercise for me. I saw patterns and themes emerge from my life that I had not seen or acknowledged or understood before which allowed me to connect some dots and gain understanding. Some areas of my life still ache and hurt but I felt safe enough to share those too.
One thing I know I need and that has always been a central part of my life is sisterhood. I don’t have a sister. But I have a strong, beautiful community of sisters. Some of these sisters have moved or passed away. Some have faded to the background while others have taken centre stage – all part of the ebb and flow of life.
These sisters know all the messy, crazy details of my life. They can cheer me on and call me on my shit all in one conversation. They are gold. So why do I need Thursday nights? Why this intentional sisterhood?
God. God is the answer for me. The majority of my sisters don’t know Jesus. And while this has never been a prerequisite for me, I know I need other Jesus followers. Before moving to Sarnia, I gathered with my small group in Hamilton every Wednesday night. It was there that I learned about Jesus, prayed for the first time out loud and understood why gathering with a group of Jesus followers is important. I’ll be even more specific – praying with women is really powerful for me. Throwing it all out there before God and each other brings me healing, connectedness and peace.
I need my Thursday night sisters. I need other Jesus followers to drag me back on the path when I stray. To help me wrestle with scripture that still doesn’t make sense to me. To show me God when I can’t see or hear Him. And to pray – pray for our church, community, city, partners, kids and families. All of it. Every last thing.
I was nervous before sharing my story. It was unknown territory with a slightly known audience. My vulnerability hangover was significant. I had no regrets but it was just an odd feeling – like over sharing at a party when you have had one glass of wine too many except I was sober and doing it intentionally. It was difficult to share everything as so much of the last twelve years has included my partner and daughters but I was vulnerable with what was mine.
This experience of sharing our stories has connected us with invisible threads. Threads of trust, hope, sadness, pain, worry, joy and love. I hope our threads get woven together to create a beautiful, strong fabric. One that we can hide under together with carton of ice cream and a giant bag of cookies when the going gets tough. And one that we can run up a flag pole and dance around on a warm summer night just because.
Our world demands big things. Little things are considered insignificant and unimportant. If it isn’t big enough to get shared or liked then it’s not a big deal. Four hours a month mentoring a group of young girls has made a difference. Two plus hours a week with my Thursday night sisters has been a beautiful gift. Little things count and a big thing has already happened. We have made time to time to talk, listen and be still with each other. We have woven a fabric.