Life is hard, which is every reason why you must find your people.
God's providence is extraordinary, friends. Let me tell you why. I have bi-weekly counseling appointments because there's been a whole lot of life thrown at me in a very short amount of time. At my last appointment, my counselor suggested I read the book, “Find your People,: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World,” While I haven't read it yet, I've been thinking a good bit about who "my people" are.
Losing both of my parents in a span of two years has caused me to think about life differently than I used to. Sometimes, it's easy to focus on the support system I've lost.
You see those faces in that photo? Those are the faces of many of the ladies from the church family I had while I was growing up. We went to a ladies conference in Sevierville, Tennessee, a little over a week ago, and it was my first trip with that group in over fifteen years. When the weekend was originally planned, my sweet dad had just passed away, and I desperately needed to feel a sense of "home." I knew my opportunities with this group would be more limited in the future than in times past, so I registered to go with them.
The faces in this photo are from my home congregation in Booneville, Mississippi. They went to the ladies conference, too, and I spent all weekend in between both groups, visiting with so many ladies I love—ladies who also love me back. I sat on the couch for a bit while chatting with someone who was very much like my adoptive mother when I was growing up. I was reminded of the many “surrogate” mothers God has given me.
I shared some personal struggles with another sister I didn't know had struggled with similar things—someone I now know I can trust with the "nitty-gritty" details of the parts of my life that aren't always picture perfect.
Throughout the weekend, I'd make my way over to where my Booneville girls were sitting, and they never once faulted me for going with another group. They understood, and they loved on me every time I stopped by to visit. I missed them immensely, too, and many times wished I had the ability to be in two places at once.
About that... After the trip and once we had all returned home, I made that same comment—that I wish I could be in two places at once. One of my Booneville sisters responded:
You were. Physically, you were with Leoma, but during the weekend, you were in our hearts.
I was reminded I have my people.
Why do we need others?
This post may be a little more raw than others, but I know no other way to express what I've felt. I miss my parents. I may have a blog on which I frequently post recipes, but I don't know half the things my mother knew about cooking, and there have been so many times I wish I could call her to ask her what she'd do for a certain recipe. Google just isn't the same as calling Mom.
I also miss my 8:30 p.m. conversations with my dad, and sometimes, I find myself longing to have the days back with him when just the two of us would ride to town for a milkshake, even if that meant going back to a time when Mom was no longer with us. I miss my mom, and at the same time, I miss having my one-on-one time with Dad.
Even more, questions run through my head quite often when something big happens. Who do I call when I need to vent? Who do I get to share the good news with? How will I have children of my own and raise them without grandparents? Who is my “A-team,” the team of people who know every detail of my life, who will listen to the good news, the bad news & all the ugly stuff without judgment?
My husband is the greatest friend I have on this entire planet, and still, he and I both need "our people," that group of people outside of one another who will tell us what we want to hear when we don't know we need it along with the things we need to hear when we don't want to hear it.
We still need "our people," that group of people outside of our spouses who will tell us what we want to hear when we don't know we need it along with the things we need to hear when we don't want to hear it.
So, how do you know if you have your people?
During the ladies conference, we were able to hear from several speakers on the topic of "Enough." In one of the sessions, we were reminded about the lies society tells women. One of the greatest is that we don't need anyone else. We are enough by ourselves.
I am here to tell you we all are one terrible phone call away from realizing how false that belief is. For me, it was multiple phone calls over the course of three weeks, with each new phone call presenting another piece of my sweet mama being lost. It started with her minor confusion of words. Then, she lost the ability speak. Then, she couldn't breathe on her own, and then she was gone. In 21 days, I went from planning Mother's Day with my mom to planning her funeral.
I was not enough on my own then.
But, as the chaos continued to unfold along with the reality of how serious the situation actually was, it was none other than a friend from church who asked if he and his wife could come pray with us. This was at the height of Covid before vaccines, when no one was supposed to be around anyone else, but they came anyways. They brought friends, too, and during one of the most terrifying moments of my life, I stood in my driveway with my soon-to-be-husband and our friends—our people—and I prayed. They prayed. We all petitioned God for guidance.
It was in the midst of that "begging place" when I began to realize I had my people, and that's the moment you will know you have yours too. We all have begging place moments, and if you haven't had yours yet, one day you will.
And when you do, when you're in the midst of your begging place and you find yourself surrounded by people who are begging for you and with you—seeing you at your lowest and being willing to get down into the very same trenches—that's when you know you have found your people.
How does this relate to you?
You need to find your people, too, and in my experience, the best place to start is within the Church.
In my ladies Bible class, we have women who have been married 60+ years, women who are divorced, and women well into their adult years who are still single. There are those who've never tasted a drop of alcohol and those well into recovery from drug addiction. We have mamas who have adopted, mamas who have fostered, mamas who have brand new babies, mamas with grown children and those still struggling to get pregnant with their first child.
There are women who have experience with nearly every burden a heart could bear: marital infidelity, the death of a spouse, parents and/or children; anger, depression or anxiety; chronic illness requiring the need to become a primary caregiver...and this list could continue.
The point is, I cannot imagine a better place to start than the Church, a place full of imperfect people with one common goal—people who are waiting to meet others in their begging places—and people who will go to war with you like you're in the middle of a firefight in Baghdad.
And, if you haven't yet found your people, or if you're already part of a church family and you still don't have those people, then the answer might be to look inward. Have you ever been the one to meet another person at their place of begging? You have to be part of the people for others in order for them to be the people for you.
What does this have to do with hospitality?
If you haven't read my post, "Entertaining vs. Genuine Hospitality," I believe it's a good place to start when it comes to learning what the motives behind our hospitality have to do with the access others allow us to have in their lives.
When the motives are about self, I can promise the relationships that come from that kind of hospitality will only be superficial. When the motives are about meeting the needs of others, community is the result.
And it is within that community, where you will begin to find your people.