Last weekend I did something I would have never done a couple of years ago.
I took a flight by myself for the first time.
It wasn’t easy for me because I deal with a lot of anxiety about not being able to find where I need to go.
But I faced my fear (more about that later) because I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet this group of ladies I’ve been getting to know and pray with over the past few years on the internet.
It’s not always easy finding a group of women you feel safe with and whom you trust sharing life with. We laughed, shed tears and encouraged one another.
There was no competition or comparison.
Instead, I saw a beautiful, weaving-together of different spiritual gifts and personalities.
God made each individual like a unique puzzle piece with different grooves and shapes. Click To Tweet
When we partner together in life, that partnership deepens our understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ because we learn to see how individual pieces fit together to complete the puzzle.
The definition of fellowship is “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests: they valued fun and good fellowship as the cement of the community. A group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim.”
As Christians, we can have fellowship with each other because we have faith in common.
In Philemon 1:7 Paul is writing to Philemon about this very thing—friendship and fellowship.
I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. NIV 6-7
When we partner in faith and ministry, our understanding of spiritual gifts deepens. Click To Tweet
The Holy Spirit ministers through each person in a different way.
When I met with my writing friends, the Holy Spirit ministered to me through their unique gifts and personalities.
The truths found in Philemon 1:6-7 seemed to play out effortlessly before me.
Being with other Christians helps strengthen our faith. Click To Tweet
How does being with other believers strengthen our faith?
1. We begin to see the need for each person and how our gifts work together for the body of Christ.
We become grateful that one person is gifted in making a schedule and another is gifted in leading a meeting. We see how God uses the quiet one to shine peace and calmness to our hurried, anxious soul. How the bold person spurs us on to become more confident. And the encourager lifts our deflated spirit and makes us laugh.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NIV
The spiritual gift of a friend that we don’t ourselves possess can be a blessing to us when we’re in need of that specific ministry. If we will let each individual stand alone as a beautiful new creation in Christ, we will have an opportunity to worship God instead of comparing and envying other women. It’s only in taking this biblical perspective that we can have the true unity and deeper community we hope for. Christine Hoover: Messy Beautiful Friendship
2. We begin to see our own spiritual gift as something unique that completes the puzzle. There’s no need to compare. By seeing how useful someone else’s gift is, we can learn to appreciate and use our own gift for its unique function and value.
4. We each have our own story and path of brokenness that led us to the Lord. God works in each life in very individual and personal ways.
One evening we each shared about a defining time in our life that turned us to the Lord. There was laughter and a lot of tears as we supported and cared for one another. The blessing of community and friendship can bring healing and restoration.
5. We leave refreshed and encouraged. Paul told Philemon that he refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Before I left, the group prayed over each person to send them off.
As I wiped tears and said my goodbyes, there was no doubt I left with my faith strengthened and my spirit refreshed.
I know that community doesn’t always work out as well as this.
Close relationships will always require forgiveness because we are all sinners.
Even in this letter, Paul is writing Philemon to encourage him to forgive his former slave, Onesimus for running away. Paul led Onesimus to the Lord from his prison cell and was asking Philemon to not only forgive Onesimus but accept him as a new brother in Christ.
If you are looking for a safe community to share life with, pray that God would lead you to a small group where you can be real and share your heart.
Our host, Lori, wrote about our time together in her Moments of Hope. There we each shared our thoughts and takeaways from our Higher Ground retreat.
Marva also shared about our time here.
How inspiring! This post made me want to find a group of ladies to fellowship with regularly. I realize fellowship is something I don’t actively seek out (as an introvert) but I probably should. Thanks for the nudge in that direction with this post.
Valerie, I recognize so many of you wonderful bloggers in the photo. Praying I will be able to join you in 2018. Definitely keep me posted!
Oh Sarah, That would be so wonderful. I would love to meet you!
Valerie, This post is just. so. good! And not just because I was there and love you to pieces, but because it is so filled with TRUTH! As Christians we need to cultivate these kinds of relationships. We need to drop the comparison and competition, lower the walls of protection, and simply breath the love and hope of Christ into each other.
I love that! “We need to breathe the love and hope of Christ into each other.” Beautiful! You are a gem! Love you!
~1 Corinthians 12:12~ Great post! I agree, my faith has strengthen so much since engaging with other christians on a regular basis! Lovely, thank you for sharing.
I love being with other Christians and hearing how God has worked in their life. Thank you for commenting.
I’m so glad you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, Valerie, and got to meet these incredible friends and bloggers. I’m going to a conference in July and hoping to have some of the same kinds of inspirational and bonding experiences you’re sharing about today. What a great experience!
Oh, I can’t wait to hear about it Beth. It just makes me want to keep moving out of my comfort zone after seeing what a blessing it was to be around other Christian women who love writing too. God bless you!
What a beautiful meeting. I am so glad you pushed through your fear. I love what you said about each person bring unique gifts.
Hi Maree! I’m so glad I did too. I’m so thankful for God’s provision and protection.
Wow, this sounds amazing. It isn’t always easy to put ourselves out there and get to know new people. I’m glad you were able to go and share this encouragement with us all. ❤
Thank you Laura. You’re right, putting ourselves out there can be hard. Sometimes God has great blessings and friendships for us when we push through those feelings.
I’m so glad you went and had a great time! I was thinking about you while you were on the plane last week and praying for your peace of mind. So happy to hear it all went well.
Thank you so much for praying for me Stephanie. It’s been such a blessing getting to know you in our Hope Writer Circle!
Looks like an amazing time with some amazing women! I love that you all are cultivating intentional relationships. We women in Christ need that more often! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hi Nicole, Yes, we women need to get together more often. Thank you so much for visiting. Have a wonderful day.
What an amazing opportunity! Christian women definitely need one another.
So true Heather. Thank you for reading.
Valerie, you have no idea how much I appreciate the perspective you shared here. One of the great takeaways from our time together was a confirmation of my gift of leadership. For a very long time I thought it was a weakness, a negative quality and one that should be suppressed. But God used this time with you and the sisters to help me appreciate my gift and use it for God’s glory.
I walked away feeling empowered, understood and loved. Only God!
Thank you, sweet friend, for confirming once again how God uses our talents to glorify Him. Hugs and blessings!
I see that gift in you, and yes it is a gift and I loved seeing you use it. Your are such a blessing.
I love meeting people. But don’t often have opportunities to cultivate new friendships or feed current ones. I am so grateful that God gave us such a wonderful gift: friendship. Fellowship, time together and sharing with one another is so very precious. Retreats promote such a sister-hood. I envy you! Thanks for sharing your experience!