A few weeks ago, I had the incredible privilege of being the speaker at a middle school camp in Wisconsin.
The whole week was a fantastic blur of 600 giggling middle school girls, and hilarious middle school boys. I showed up armed with what I thought they needed to hear. But you know what we talked about most?
How we see ourselves.
You see we all—middle schoolers and adults alike—wrestle with how we see ourselves. We know this full well. We look in the mirror, instantly disappointed with the imperfection looking back at us. We look at the women around us feeling small because we aren't as good as them in a bazillion different ways.
We have thoughts that play in our heads like a scratched CD telling us we aren't good enough, that we don't measure up, and causing us to look at the women around us with skepticism and competition instead of community.
If you remember back to middle school, this was such a thing back then too.
And it was for these girls.
Carl and I walked into a particular youth group's debrief time after the day was over. They had invited us to come and spend time with them and we had no idea what we were going to find when we arrived.
What we found was a group of 12 and 13 year old girls who felt like they weren't good enough. They all reported not fitting in, being made fun of, feeling left out. They all felt like they weren't good enough, all felt insecure about something (usually a whole pile of things) and none of them knew what to do about it.
Carl and I answered questions for awhile, sharing our stories and experiences. But then I had an idea.
There's an activity we do in my friendship small group guide, and it's my favorite thing to do with a group of girls.
We take turns going around the circle and each girl gets a turn in the hot seat. And as she sits there, (usually blushing) each person in the room tells her what they see in her.
In the small group guide, we write down what everyone says in a gorgeous art print customized just for her, but that night we grabbed a notebook. (Whatever works right?)
Then, one by one, we went around the circle. Girls who had felt small and insecure, left out and unloved began to be showered in the love of the girls around her.
“You're so brave!” they told one, “You're a great friend. You take such wonderful care of the people you love,” another said.
They admired each other, using their words to build each other up, allowing the girls in the circle to really see them, and glowing in the love that was shared with them.
When we left, there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Every girl was crying with the vulnerability, the wave of love that had just crashed over her head, and a deep, deeper love for each of her now-sisters in the circle.
That group changed before our eyes.
They transformed from a group of middle school girls— competing and comparing, not sure what to do with each other, or if they fit, to a group of sisters—fiercely loyal teammates, hugging each other and wiping each other's tears.
The crazy thing is, this isn't only true of middle schoolers.
A few months ago I led a ministry's leadership team through the same exercise and it had the same result. Women in their 30's, 40's, and 50's, women with kids and a family and so much wisdom and experiences under their belts were crying and hugging each other—laid wide open for their sisters to pour life and love into their tenderest places.
And just like the middle schoolers, they looked different at the end. Their eyes were damp and their cheeks were glowing, and everyone seemed to be standing just a little bit taller.
We have tender places in our lives and our hearts. Women of all ages do. We have lies we've believed for years about ourselves, doubts we've had, insecurities. And most of the time we wrestle alone. We wrestle with our thoughts and our worth, trying to figure it out on our own.
But we don't have to.
One of the most impactful, life-changing things I've ever had were girlfriends to speak into my life. Best friends to bring me to the mirror and help me see the truth about who I am when I can't see it for myself.
We need that. And I've watched communities of women transform when they do that for each other.
It's this community, this group of fans and truth tellers that I so badly want you to have. I want you to have that because I know you need that.
You need backup, reinforcement, a team of best friends on your side in life.
I know you need that because we all do.
And so that's why I'm so excited to announce that my friendship small group guide is officially available! Right now, today!
The journey this guide will take you on will change the group of women you gather with, will change your community, and will change how you view yourself. I know because it's done that for me.
Good tears, great truth, and best friends are right around the corner.
Your community and the way you view yourself can change this fall. All it takes is one small step of bravery. You can do this! I can't wait for the friendship and community you're about to experience.
All my love,
P.S. If you're still needing help in this area, here are a few more resources you might like:
Girls Night #71: How to Overcome Insecurity and Embrace Your Identity in Christ
Girls Night #67: How to go Deeper in Your Friendships