About four years ago, we moved to Florida. I had been through a move before, leaving my whole family in Texas, about seven years prior, to move to Iowa. I’d gone through the not-knowing-a-soul and looking-for-a-church; I knew the ins and outs of such a transition. However, just before I left Iowa for Florida, I went through a very painful “break-up” with a close girlfriend. In a sense, the move seemed to come at a good time, allowing me a fresh start and a break from all things painful.
We all know that it really doesn’t work that way. Along with all your household possessions, you pack up your broken heart, too, and carry it right along with you to your new location. To be really honest, my heart was not only broken; to a degree, the whole thing made me withdraw from just about every other friendship I had. I found that I just didn’t trust my own judgment anymore and that I really didn’t want to get too close or vulnerable. For the first year in Florida, under the guise of making sure my girls were getting adjusted to their new schools (one in college out of state) and my husband was integrating into his new job, I remained without close ties to any women. Although I did attend a bible study at the church we’d chosen, and even went to lunch with a woman there, I never made attempts to go deeper than surface pleasantries. Eventually, my husband noticed.
“Why are you not making any friends?”, he asked one day.
“I am,” I replied. “I’m going to that bible study.”
“Honey, you were made for friendships with women. You need them. Right now, I appear to be your only friend, and you know that I love your friendship. But, your girlfriends give you something I can’t. You need to quit punishing yourself over all that mess in the past and allow yourself some friends again.”
Have I mentioned lately that my husband not only knows me very well, but is also very wise? That conversation struck a chord deep within me, and I began to pray about it.
I had come from a church in Iowa where I served as the Women’s Ministry director and taught a bible study. As I prayed, the Lord impressed upon me that I wasn’t to continue to attend a study, but I was to lead one, in my home. The thing about a home study verses a study that meets in a church building is the level of intimacy. The lack of space automatically dictates a smaller group, plus the warmth of a home environment encourages the feeling of safety for vulnerability. No longer could I remain comfortably detached in a large gym or Sunday School room; God was making sure that I would be drawn into the lives of other women.
One year after I’d lived there, I “hung out my shingle” and began a Wednesday morning study in my home. That first semester, we had four women, including myself. Talk about intimate! As I led the discussion and began a Prayer Partner program for us, I felt the Lord beginning to chip away at the walls I’d put up and found myself drawn more and more into their lives. Amazingly, I began to allow them into my own, and it not only felt good, but right. We continued to grow a little more each semester, to our current size of 14.
Last Friday, my “Wednesday Girls” had a brunch for me, as I passed the “baton” to my co-leader Vicki. They will be going on to the next study without me at the helm, as I step back to prepare for yet another move. It was one of the most precious times, as they gave me a wonderful recipe holder with their favorite recipes (many included in the brunch menu) and sweet sentiments from their hearts to mine. They also surprised me with the awesome gift of Walvoord and Zuck Old and New Testament Commentaries, which they all signed on the inside covers. They laid hands on me and commissioned me on to this next chapter in my life. And, of course, I bawled like a baby.
What started with four separate women on a Wednesday almost three years ago, has grown into a group of intertwined hearts – the Wednesday Girls – a family of girlfriends who through their own vulnerability, trust and love, graciously gave me the gift of allowing myself to give the same. Oh, how I love them!
Through them, God brought me back into the wonderful world of women, and, just as the girls commissioned on Friday, I know that with this move, my heart is completely prepared to embrace the next group of Wednesday Girls He has prepared for me.
Not in a small group? Just like my husband said, women are made for relationship with other women! Check with your church for groups that are available, or better yet, start your own! Blessings await!
I can’t imagine Wednesday’s without you! You are going to be missed so much. God is going to bless you with new Wednesday girls!! And, you will be seeing this old Wednesday girl in Texas (with Michelle of course). Love you so. Thank you for EVERYTHING!!!
I am so blessed to have been able to be one of your Wednesday Girls! I will miss you so much when our group moves on without you there. It hasn’t hit me yet. The reality of you not leading us will hit me hard that first Wednesday back without you. I’m envious of the new Wednesday girls you will surely befriend and lead to great things. I’m so glad you blog so I can keep being with you and learning from you, Melinda.
that is awesome!!! i love women small groups.
A beautiful post….but after reading the first few lines, realized you were telling my story of a broken friendship with my dearest friend about 15 years ago. I did everything I knew to do, to restore it…. we moved away but I still feared getting close to anyone again. …..and still do sometimes…but feel encouraged after reading your post.
Thanks for sharing…
That is so wonderful….all becuase you put out the shingle and God picked the attendees. Love it!
What a beautiful post and testimony of what God can do when we follow in obedience to His call! God is so good, isn’t He! May the Lord richly bless you and your family as you transition to your new place.
Melinda – Oh how I would have loved being one of your Wednesday girls…I know God is going to bless your journey back to Texas! When do you move?
What a blessing you are and I know you were to those women in FL.
Because He Lives,
Melinda, May God continue to pour out his favor on your life,your ministry. I see you, Melinda, not only having one small group in Texas, but many small groups and speaking God’s Word to thousands of women. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Phil.1:6. We will miss you dearly. Your Wednesday girl, Penny
Can you imagine life without our Girlfriends? I’ve been there and done that as well, had my heart stepped on, chewed up and spit right out. Made me with drawal, but God is GOOD and I’ve found out that when I ALLOW HIM to pick my Girlfriends, it generally is just the sweetest.
Looking forward to watching who God puts in your path, soon.
How blessed am I to be counted among your Wednesday Girls! I have loved every laugh and treasured every tear we’ve shared together. I so appreciate how we’ve grown closer to each other as we’ve grown closer to our Father. I so love and appreciate you and that sweet spirit of yours.
You don’t know how encouraging this is to me. We are potentially going to relocate with a new job for my husband and I would be leaving a church I love, but also a situation that just occurred that has been very painful and has caused me to pull away from some friendships as well. I think I needed to be reminded that whether we move or not, I need to focus on God and make sure I am not isolated myself for fear of getting hurt again.
Good luck in your move! I am sure God will present you with many more opportunities to bless a new group of ladies!
This is beautiful. I am thankful that you were able to be led by the Holy Spirit to do this in spite of your hurtful experience. GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME!
Oh sweet Melinda, you made me cry.
What an amazing blessing that God brought you to Tampa.
To think of your leaving just gets me going. Although I have not been part of the Wednesday girls, I am going to miss every other day!!
Of course we know, Texas is just a few hours away and God has set our courses to be connected!!
Thanks for being such a wonderful example to all of us! I know how much you treasure your Wednesday girls and am so excited to see how God uses and blesses you in Texas I(as well as being THRILLED to have you home!) Praise God for this great ministry- He’s truly blessing your harvest 30, 60, 100 fold.
Love you! Lisa
I totally relate to this post
I too have had the “girl friend break-up”
And it is so hard and frustrating!
So glad that God gave you such a wise husband that gave you such words of wisdom!
Your Bible study group looks amazing!!
You are such a wonderful person
I’m so glad you opened up and let girlfriends back in your life again. Bless you, blogging buddy, as you say goodbye to dear ones and prepare for the new and wonderful relationships God has in store for you next. Hugs to you!
What a lovely group of ladies..sisters in Christ. No doubt, God has another group ready and waiting for you! They may be established or not, but just know that God is leading you in a mighty way to Texas. Blessings to you this day.
Lovely. Sounds kind of like our group. Our leader is leaving the group and passing the baton to me and another gal as co-leaders.
So glad God opened your heart and broke the walls to envelope His blessings through female friendships.
What a great story, Melinda! I love how you listened to the LORD and invited the “girls” into your home, especially since that wasn’t easy for you. And, look at all the blessings that followed. Your Wednesday Girls look like such a great group! I’ll be anxious to hear about the next group of girls you get to bless in Texas.
That was beautiful. I will just miss you so. Simply. xoxo mich
Ohh Melinda, this post hit me so hard. I walked away a couple of times just to get my bearings.
I’m still dealing with a girlfriend betrayal. Painful, hurtful and messy. Took me so off guard. Anyway, as I read your post I knew the Lord had a word for me.
Thank you for sharing. I’m praying for you as you make this move. I’m honored to be your friend and I wish I were one of your Wednesday girls!
I so love your husband’s comment to you!! How we do NEED our girlfriends!!!
We need those woman to woman connections!! I very much love my husband of 42yr. and even though we agree on many things, he doesn’t think like I do, he’s not relational as I am!! You know it’s just not his job!! It’s mine and I am usually the one who keeps him involved in the lives of others, by my connections and relationships!!
I’m sending your husband’s comment to my youngest daughter who is getting married in a couple of months to remind her, though her soon to be husband is wonderful, she still needs to be with her girlfriends!!
That is such a precious post, Melinda. I’m a little teary over here. I feel the same way about my Bible study gals, although I don’t think we share the deeper intimacy that you talk about here. Today I was thinking about how much I miss having kindred friends close by. I have plenty of friendships, but not nearly enough intimate relationships.
I know that you will miss your girls and that transition won’t be all smoothe sailing, but I pray you remember this season and that you quickly find your rooting in your next.
Happy Easter, friend.
Melinda, you know how I relate. i thank God for your willingness to put yourself out there – your authentic self and willingness to tell it like it is (with all of us if we were honest).
Praying for you, hubs and your next ‘girls’.
love you dear,
Crying. Seriously…praying that God gives you a new group of Wednesday girls. 🙂
What a man you have to gently push you to make those friendships.
Love you girl,