There is absolutely nothing quite like the sound of a marching band. Nothing like it. I love me some jazz band, for sure, and I’ve enjoyed watching my high school son perform an improv solo on the trombone at concerts, but a marching band coming at me is so ceremonious. I always choke up when I hear and see it. I had about five seconds of fame in my high school marching band. I played a xylophone, which proved a bit much for this 5 foot 2 girl to carry, at least at the time, but I loved being part of the march, the formation, the celebration.
So, I sit here in my van outside the high school band entrance delighting in the fading sounds of practicing percussionists with a few trumpets and trombones hanging in there—and a tuba. The rest of them have already gone inside to pack up. And even though this blog is way behind schedule, and I truly have no idea what I’m going to write about (God usually gives me an image or story, and I pray and go from there), I’m transported back to school days, pep rallies, peer pressure, and pimples. My own high school stories are not phenomenal. They didn’t leave lasting impressions on my life (people did, but not necessarily experiences), nor did they scar me. I still have some great friends from that time, although I’ve never made a high school reunion yet. But the truest friends from my high school years have remained in my middle decades, and that is awesome.
After a few interruptions (ages 8, 11, 14, and 43), I finally returned to finish this blog, and it’s amazing because I asked God: “Okay, I’m a little late here on the inspiration…what are we going to write about today?” He already wrote an entire book that continues to be a best seller, so there’s really nothing to add to that. I just try to talk about what I discover in His Great Big Book of Truth (the Bible, of course!).
And then I quickly caught up on a private message on social media with a few people (four) to whom I sometimes call out for prayer. We call ourselves the “Warrior Princesses” because we war against the rough stuff of life in prayer for each other. And there was something heartfelt and deeply personal that I shared earlier in the day, which was followed by several amazingly poignant observations about either my own wrong thinking or where I wasn’t seeing with clarity or fullness of the situation. But it was said with deep love, compassion, and care. It spoke directly into the inner turmoil I had. I didn’t have to share more than a few sentences. These prayer friends just knew my silent torment. And because God made them individuals, they each had different wisdom to bring to the table. One of them speaks with a sweetness, one with blunt and delightful wit, one with practical wisdom, and the other with maternal compassion. They each have something unique but true to say—and it blends in beautiful harmony.
I believe it sounds like a triumphant march of praying, warrior chicks who won’t give up helping each other to look up to God. As one of them put it when I asked permission to reveal our group name (Warrior Princesses) on public forum:
“Yes, you can say that, Bonnie. We are very Xena with our swords, and I want a horse, too, please.”
She’s absolutely right. When one of us hurts, doubts, can’t see Jesus through the clouds of our own chaos or confusion, the other four ride in on horses cutting out the untruths and reminding the limping one of God’s truth. Sometimes two or more of us have multiple “Oh, Jesus, please help us!” moments going on at the same time. Somehow, we all, in private message format, get it taken care of. And we’re not all on at the same time. But Bible verses are typed, e-prayers are written, and some fun emoji (topic for another blog, for sure!) are shared.
Another group of praying moms sits around my table every other week for a few hours. An hour of coffee, a half-hour or more of sharing, and 30-45 minutes of prayer for our children, schools, communities, teachers, bus drivers, you name it! And tears have been shed as well as peals of laughter heard—sometimes even in the middle of prayer—because life is messy, muddy, sticky, gooey, and if we aren’t real about that, why on earth do we gather in the first place?
And of course there are my precious one-on-one friends who read my three-sentence angst in a text and know exactly how to reply. They, too, know my history and where exactly my heart is in certain moments without me saying much.
There are some dear ones with whom I simply exchange a meaningful hug at church, or elsewhere, and the embrace says so much while we say almost nothing. It’s an exchange of pain and encouragement—an “I love you, and I understand.”
This blog isn’t about how awesome I am to have these friends. It’s to encourage us all to enjoy the variety God gives us. To not rule someone out just because they’re a bit blunt, and you are more sugary. (In my case, my oldest child tells me I am not “sweet,” but rather “spicy kind” in personality. Yeah, I probably have to agree with him there.)
I have felt badly lately because I haven’t been very good at holding anyone else up in this particular season of my life. My strength only went so far, and I hate that. I like it when I can extend it beyond our family. I certainly pray for people and send out an encouraging word here and there. I respond. But I haven’t been able to carry others. My arms and heart have been weak. I have felt my limitations, and they have been humbling. I want to do more, but in this season, God brought my focus back home for a while. He narrowed it, and I am learning to be okay with it, because I trust Him to broaden it again when it is time.
And this is where we need people to come alongside us and say: “It’s your turn. It’s okay that you need us right now without an immediate return on investment.” As one Warrior Princess put it:
“There is no tally being kept.”
What? There’s not? Most of the world out there doesn’t tell us that. People who don’t keep tally are rare gems.
But this cycles me back around to that resounding boom of the marching band. One instrument, or even five of the same instrument, cannot bring the same music to our ears as multiple instruments playing different parts. If I surround myself with only funny people, I miss the beautiful music of the more serious ones. We need all of the personalities in our lives to blend and teach us something.
I love what the Apostle Peter has to say about this in the 1 Peter passage about different gifts. What do you think? What does your band sound like? Does it have both speaker and servant personalities* in it?
1 Peter 4:10-11, Apostle Peter speaking
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
*A more thorough discussion of personality differences represented by this Scripture can be found in Not Just on Sundays.