Where We Gather at the Table

There’s a movement rolling in from Austin, TX this Spring. I’ve seen it well-marketed all over social media these last couple months. But here in Marin, it turns out we’ve been part of it for years.

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With all my social media noise, We weren’t even lacking the marketing.

It’s called the IF: Gathering. (Christianity Today did an article about it, HERE)

They’ve made a key component of their movement gathering women around the table to make deep and authentic connection with one another.

I’ll admit, I am tempted to say, “Hey! I was doing that first, why do they get the marketing and the credit” but that’s silly for two reasons.

First, I’m too young to have done anything “first.”

Second, it doesn’t matter.

Worse, it works against the very spirit (and Spirit) of what we’re trying to do here: Bring women together in authentic, intimate connection for truth, love and encouragement. There’s no room in that vision for competition or catty-ness. That’s the old way of doing things.

As women, we have an incredible power to unify and build community. The people who connect first are usually women. (Then the men are friends because the women were friends.)

The trouble is, we also have an incredible power to sabotage that with our insecurity, resentment, jealousy, and fierce competition with one another. With our passive-agression and our comparisons. It’s a mess.

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Oddly, the 4 older girls in this group have always had more men for friends than women, because we had a low tolerance for the games that women play and the cycle of hyper-sensitivity and resentment. Guys were just easier.

So when we found ourselves together more with each other than with other men, we had the same rules in play: No games. Loyalty is what counts. Be tough. Keep it real. Get over it.

Being in this group of girls is a radically different experience.

But at the end of the day, we’re still girls.

And more than weakness, we see that’s where the power is.

We have a ministry that reaches 40 women shared by two churches, because two girls from two churches shared a home for two years. We didn’t set out for unity; it happened because we’re living together.

This is hilarious and messy and we love it. Laughter begets connection, connection begets deeper and wider connection. 

It started with, “Hey, I haven’t seen you at all in weeks, let’s meet.” We knew if we didn’t put time on the calendar, we wouldn’t see each other. Then we did it a few weeks later. And then a month after that.  We even had a special table, the big round one (from which we’ve even evicted other innocent customers.)

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We’ve called these Saturday mornings “Sisters breakfasts” for more than a year. We met once a month, at La Boulange Bakery to catch up, check in and encourage each other through a busy season. We talk about where God is working in our lives. And where we need Him to.

We laugh till we’re sore.

We’ve outgrown that special table at La Boulange, because we’ve doubled in size. There are 8 (or more) “sisters” now. For the last 6 months, we’ve been meeting at a house with a big table. Those mornings are so precious. We leave with full hearts having tasted the work and Grace of Jesus.

And that work continues beyond the reach of those mornings.

The thing is, the girls have boyfriends and friends and adopted brothers who are leaders in their churches.  After a couple of years of trying to keep up with the girls, those guys are now friends in their own right.  They’ve started Friday nights at The Pelicann Inn, a favorite pub. They return refreshed and encouraged. (and we try not to ask questions about what transpired).

Now, nearly 20 people–women AND men, from 2-3 churches, 5 states, (and even other countries)–are living differently, in life-changing community fueled by love for where we live, love for Jesus, and love for each other.

Because the girls love tea. And breakfast together. And clothes. And scarves. And books. And music. And lipgloss–All the little things that make us girls AND revolutionaries. 

The Table is Key. 

The revolution in our communities will begin here. 

Where the women bare their hearts and lay down their arms. And in doing that, they show the way.

Sisterhood

 

It’s women who show the way to Jesus with their vulnerability. Who are open. (Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, where the Catholic church celebrates Mary for her openness and willingness to say “Yes” to God).

It’s women who have an Annointed beauty and a unique capacity for celebration. We can wield that beauty and celebration as weapons against despair and loneliness. And we must live from these things. The joy and wholeness of the world depends on it.

It’s women who connect deeper and faster. We communicate and support and encourage in a way that has a powerful impact.

This power goes beyond our circle of girlfriends. It spills over into the wounds of the world around us. It transfers what we have to where we need it.

When we sit down together for tea, we live from that place of power. When we clink glasses, our people hear it for miles.

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To the work of Jesus and our chance to be part of it!

I am so excited to be part of the IF Movement. I am thrilled that women are starting to see how simple it is to unleash the love of God in the world.

Revolution begins at the table.

Resolve this month to eat one meal with someone who encourages you. Someone who you can encourage. Pray that God sends more.  Be the person who makes the space for Love and Celebration to win the day.

Be the women who change what it means to be women together. 

So bring a friend to your table. (Or six).

Don’t wait until you have the right recipe or until your house is clean. Don’t wait until the busyness wanes.  Don’t wait until you’re confident that you can measure up. This crisis of disconnection, isolation, shame, loneliness, displacement–it’s too great for that.

Opening your home is opening your heart. The vulnerability of going first gives way to new life. As women, we know that best.

Put on the kettle.

The world is waiting.

Tea and Sympathy

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