Who's In Your Circle?
How a Huddle of Gals Became One of the Best Life Decisions I Ever Made
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Andy Stanley, an Atlanta pastor, famously said, “life change happens in circles not rows.” While he was talking about the church, this also works beautifully for life.
At the end of 2019, I was longing for more encouragers. I decided to be brave and join an online circle from a women’s faith magazine called She Loves. After I signed up, I immediately regretted my decision and asked myself, “what could I possibly enjoy with a group of random women from across the country?” To be real, when we first got started, our group felt sort of like a fishing expedition. We knew we were in for an adventure, but we weren’t sure what it would be.
The group only had one rule, show up. With no real expectations or defined outcomes, I wasn’t sure this was a good idea. I love structure. With no roadmap and format, I couldn’t see how this was going to be a good use of anyone’s time. Would we be a prayer group, a writer’s group, a creative group, Bible study, book club, girlfriend’s social, or an accountability group? It turns out, we were all of it.
During our monthly gathering, our group leader would bring a mix of poetry, prayers, scriptures, questions, and think-abouts during our time together. We usually had a theme for our jumping-off point for discussions. At first, our group felt clunky, as all groups do when getting started. But as our group became comfortable with each other, we were able to lean in and share from places of authenticity and love.
On the surface, our circle looks pretty ordinary. Just four women at different seasons of life. In fact, you might yawn as you read about us. A grandmother in New Jersey. A former homeschool mom from North Carolina. A retired non-profit mom from Florida. An academic in Canada. But what you wouldn’t see is the fierceness and the beauty of a little tribe of women who constantly reminded each other of their best selves.
Ultimately, our circle was what it needed to be in each moment and in each season. There is a beauty in not having hard lines and definitions. With the freedom and grace, we were able to allow the Holy Spirit to show up. We could come together, set down our heavy stuff, pray, laugh, and swap stories of recent adventures and life. We could simply rest in the comfort of each other’s company and let God lead.
When you think about it, that was exactly how Jesus’ circle worked. They also had a vibrant mix of things they did: debated ideas, told stories, prayed for each other, ate, and shared life together. They only had one rule too – follow. I’m not trying to compare our humble tribe to Jesus and His disciples, but you have to admit, it’s a pretty fantastic model and worth emulating.
If I had to sum up the greatest gift of our circle, it would be how we long to live out Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Throughout our times together, our circle has weathered the storms and the sacred. We huddled up over hard places like cancer, dealing with anxiety and depression, broken hearts, and losing loved ones. Our circle has also celebrated beautiful places like grandchildren’s success, overcoming crushing workplace situations, learning to surf, launching blogs and podcasts, and being brave in our ordinary lives. We gather to bear witness to the creativity, beauty, and unique offering each woman carries around in her heart.
I never imagined this tiny tribe would be a life-giving place for women who I have never even met in person. But through God, He has made stranger things happen. In my sweet circle, I have found sisters’ in Christ where we keep going and keep dreaming for Him.
What about you - who’s in your circle? My encouragement is to find a way to huddle up with those who only have one rule too. It doesn’t need to look like my circle -- make it a reflection of your heart. If you aren’t sure where to begin, pray for God to show you. Pray for God to stake others on your path where you can begin to shape your own tribe. We all need others to remind us of our best selves. We need others that can hold up the light for us to see our lives in the reflection of His love.
It doesn’t matter if your circle looks like your neighbors or complete strangers, you will never regret living out the goodness of a circle in Christ.
A Circle Poem by Theresa
The Body of Christ looks like
Four women connected
By pulses of Light
Fibre Optic Arteries
Up and down the continent
PS. If you are interested in learning more about Circles at She Loves, check them out here.
PSS. This post was put together with our circle members -- photography by Debby, poetry by Theresa, and leadership/editing by Sandy, our leader.