I’ve found myself repeating this question to the few people I interact with these days, from a safe distance of course (how odd that we now have to qualify that our interactions with actual humans are safe and socially distanced). This question was brought into my life a few years ago as I dove deeply into Jen Hatmaker’s wonderful “For the Love” podcasts. She asks nearly every guest this question at the close of an episode. Many respond with quirky answers, like naps or tater tots, while others go deep—how the fresh air feels on their skin as sensual beings, reminding them that they are grateful to be alive, or how worship is saving their life, giving them a chance to praise the One who reigns over all.
Regardless if the response is silly or serious, the answers tend to move me with a force so fierce that I can’t help but to return to myself, return to my center, and return to God. The answers elicit me to think in that moment, “What actually is saving my life right now?” The question prompts me to stop in my tracks to be mindful of my present reality for a moment.
In this current moment, I feel like this question couldn’t be more relevant. We are undergoing a global crisis. My soul all at once has been in panic, fear, and desperation while still somehow claiming gratitude and whatever ounce of hopefulness I can muster. Everything feels off-center yet balanced all at the same time. How can that be?
In this season I find I’m being pulled back to center by something for which I feel eternally grateful. If you were to ask me, “What is saving your life right now?” I would respond by saying, “Female friendships. That is what is saving me. Even in this time when I am most isolated from my people, my friendships with the women in my life are keeping me afloat.”
I was completely bombarded by this reminder a few weeks ago when, all in one week, I received words over Marco Polo or Facetime from a college mentor, a former colleague, a current best friend, and two groups of women from different seasons in my past. They each gave me a piece of healing that I needed—a distraction, a good laugh, a vent session, a celebration for this tiny human growing in my body, a lesson on theology, and a moment to acknowledge my pain and dwell there with me. I felt so completely full.
It’s been these women, throughout the scope of many seasons, that have given me pieces of themselves that I carry in my heart. They’ve pushed me toward growth, whether by intention or not. They’ve reminded me who I am and loved me so well. The wisdom and presence of these women gave me strength to keep breathing when my dad died. Their voices tenderly and fiercely held me together as I navigated an identity crisis very early in my marriage. Their pastoring, their insights, and their giftings inspire my heart for the marginalized and my passion to minister to people. Because of their faithfulness, I think, “It’s no wonder the first people Jesus spoke to after he rose from the grave were his female friends! They loved him and cared for him so well throughout his entire life—even in his death.”
These friends have shown me who God is in an image we rarely see—God as female.
God has been revealed to me through these women in ways I never knew I could discover, proving that “women’s friendships can become sacred spaces where we reveal God to each other.”*
I am grateful to be in a season where I get to receive words from these women. They minister to my soul. By these interactions and relationships, I’m pulled with what feels like all of the gravitational pull in the universe back to myself, back to center, and back to God. They make me laugh and cry all at once. How can that be?
This is what is saving my life right now.
*Kim Ott, “Why We Need Besties,” Encountering the Sacred: Feminist Reflections on Women’s Lives