2 b : to mark (as an anniversary) by festivities or other deviation from routine
Yesterday, the Ish Girls (my bible study group) celebrated the birthday of one of our own. It was a surprise to her and she was a bit taken aback, but pleased, I think. It was especially fitting that we celebrate her because she opens her home to us each week and does such a sweet job of celebrating our birthdays.
One thing I love about this group of women is that we regularly celebrate each other for who we are and for our differences. We're a motley group. Together we have twenty children, attend five different churches and are four different Enneagram numbers.
We've talked about ourselves with great vulnerability and authenticity. I was a bit slow to warm to this group of women. I knew only one of them going in and joined in part because I longed to soak up her wisdom and experience and in part because we were transitioning from one church to another and I thought a group that wasn't based on the church you attend would be a good place for me. It has, indeed, been a good and safe place for me.
I just finished reading Quiet, a book about introverts and the author does a great job of explaining that introverts don't dislike people. It's being overly stimulating that we dislike. Most introverts enjoy other people very much, but prefer relationships that run deep rather than shallow. That is what this group has provided for me - depth of relationship. These aren't the women I call to join me for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine because they all live across town from me. But they are the women that I e-mail with a prayer request, whom I intercede for, who I trust with my greatest fears and frustrations.
Last summer I reconnected with my high school girlfriends for a weekend. It was a time of fun, laughter and healing. One big thing I realized was that those women aren't friends with me because of anything I offer them. They are my friends because they always have been. I haven't known the Ish Girls for nearly as long as my childhood friends. But I feel some of the same safety with them. I don't feel like I have to put my best foot forward. I don't have to hide my hurts. I don't have to act like I have it all together because I clearly don't.
Yet these women not only know me, they celebrate the little things that make me who I am. I think our differences are the very things that make up enjoy each other and grow. Before we studied the Enneagram as a group, one of our members who had already studied it said something in exasperation about how lazy 9's are and that she didn't have much interest in exploring that wing (she is a 1). We found out this fall that three of our members are 9's. I'd like to think that knowing us gave her a different take on how she might grow in a 9 direction. I know that studying, praying with and sharing life with some 1s, a 7 and a 3 have made me understand these numbers in ways I never could have alone. Even more, it has enabled me to celebrate the ways we are different. For me, that's a lot of what friendship is about.