I grew up with 4 brothers and no sisters. I am pretty sure that it is a great atrocity of humanity to not have a sister. I would watch my friends wear their sister’s clothes, stay up late talking to their sisters, do hair, do nails, and talk about boys. I would imagine that having a sister would probably make all of my teen angst and misery just disappear. I was convinced that not having a sister was, in fact, ruining my life.
My friends with sisters tried convincing me that it wasn’t all that great. They would complain, “My sister is always around and borrowing my stuff and talking to me All. of. the. Time. It’s so annoying!” To me, that sounded a bit like heaven! I would LOVE someone to talk to me all of the time! At that point I didn’t even have stuff that any of my siblings remotely cared about. I’d love someone to tell me when my hair was messed up or how to do my makeup or navigate boyfriends. They were absolutely wrong. Having a sister must be perfect.
I had an amazing and supportive family growing up. I was rich with love, respect, kindness, and fun! It was a rather ideal upbringing. but as Mother Teresa says “Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.” My model childhood set me up for longing. I knew what it meant to belong, to matter, to have identity, and as an adult, I desperately needed it again!
“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own. – Mother Teresa
I have had a few wonderful girlfriends through the years. Women who have blessed my life and have spoken truth to me when it was hard, and celebrated joyously when goodness emerged. But 4 years after we moved to Kansas, those friends were geographically far away, and a phone call did not substitute for coffee and a hug. I found a Moms group that gave me a few hours of respite from an overwhelming day and I went to the park with a few friends here and there, but something was missing. The longing for real relationship with other women continued to call to my heart and it would not be satiated.
This fall, as the big kids were preparing to go back to school, I too was preparing for school, of sorts. I was going to be intentional about finding my tribe. I had spent many of my working years creating community, and matching people up with others of similar charism and interests. It was what I was good at, but I had never actually done it for myself.
The first came easily, I was asked to do leadership for our local MOPS group. The position of outreach for our group was exactly what my servant’s heart craved, and along with it came an immensely talented and kind group of women to share life and ministry with. It was a no-brainer. But it wasn’t easy to say yes. The vulnerability that lay right there at the surface of every gathering was an aching reminder of how badly I wanted a tribe. As time naturally does, it healed. Time with these women allowed me to relax into the comfort of my own skin. They push me to be better, but love me when I’m not. There were the beginning of my tribe.
A few months later, a new friend asked me to dinner. For the 3rd time that week I had to say no to an evening commitment, but I desperately wanted to say yes. The family sports, work, and church commitments were taking every ounce of time we could muster, and when we weren’t busy we wanted so desperately to spend time as a couple. It got me thinking about my tribe again.
There were women in my world that I knew fairly well, our children have been in school together and we have chatted at school and sports functions. But making mom friends is like dating, and I had been terrible at dating. I wanted to get to know these women; maybe they were part of my tribe and we didn’t know it yet! But I didn’t have time to “date” every woman that seemed interesting and gentle and kind and challenging–all requirements of my people.
So I started a(*nother) book club. I had been toying with the idea for years, but “do-ing” is often a struggle of mine. So I sent out an e-mail to these women that I kinda knew and I just asked in an awkward and timid way if they wanted to hang out with me and read books. It went something like this:
Hi Ladies – I am thinking … ummm… that I really like you… ummm …and I was wondering… umm… if you wanted to do a book club with me. Because well I like books and I like you, and I think you like books, so maybe we could get together and talk about books? But there will be other people there, so it won’t just be us, because that might be hard to talk about books with just us, so don’t worry there will be others there, I hope. Also I will have food, and wine. Do you want to come? If you can’t that’s ok, really, I just thought I’d ask. -Kristen
And guess what?! They all said yes! Secretly I think they were looking for their tribe too. So now, we meet to drink wine or margaritas and talk about a book for a few minutes and then talk about life and marriage and children and we snort with laughter and sometimes we cry and sometimes we hug. We stay up too late, we eat to much, we laugh too loud and we are sometimes irreverent. But every time, every single time, I leave at peace. Like my footprint in this world just got a little stronger, like I belong to something bigger and more than the lovely family I pour myself into everyday. To these ladies, where I am and who I am, is important. Not for what I do, or what thing or service I have to offer but because of who I am. They are beginning to be like family that way.
I imagine it’s what having 8 sisters is really like. Except these sisters don’t borrow my clothes, yet.
*I am a total nerd, so I must mention that I have a glorious book club that actually talks about books and they are also precious ladies to me.
*this post was originally written for AlmaBlog at Almadiem.com/blog. check out all my “Making it to Monday” posts as well as articles from a bunch of other talented ladies!