I was desperate. A difficult marriage, never enough money, two young children who came to me not just from their birth mother, but with their birth mother (it’s complicated….), pregnant with another child and all the emotional upheaval that comes with that experience, and did I mention there was never enough money? Not one to admit weakness or need, I would put on my smile when others were around and I genuinely tried to make the best of it, determined that things would get better.
I remember one day in particular when I lay on my bed, flat on my back with this humongous belly before me and all I could do was cry. Overwhelmed with everything, I had come to a breaking point. I so clearly remember thinking “I want to see my baby born, then God, just please take me home.” We didn’t have cell phones (they had not progressed much further than the brick phone at this time) so texting wasn’t an option. I reached for the land line and made a quick call to a friend. All I said was “Pray!”. I hung up and cried some more. I was confident that my friend was praying for me when I couldn’t pray for myself. Before long, peace began to settle back in and I pulled myself (literally) out of bed to re-engage with the family and life went on.
My friend’s prayers that day did not solve all my problems. There were still many difficult things to confront and endure. I didn’t call her everyday, although I’m quite sure I considered it, but I was confident that she was keeping me before our Father on a regular basis. I trusted her to help me in this life journey with her faithful prayers and every time I felt I couldn’t pray for myself, I knew that someone else was. This brought me tremendous strength and hope. She had struggles of her own and I committed to do the same for her. We each had others in this small circle with us. Women whom we could call at a moment’s notice and they would pray with us or encourage us or cry with us. It was one of the greatest blessings of my life.
It wasn’t easy to let anyone into my inner circle. For a long time, I was the only one there. My fear of rejection and disapproval caused me to keep everyone at arm’s length. My own choices had gotten me in this situation and I had the “you made your bed now lie in it” mentality. I felt I deserved the difficulty because of my previous sin. But God in His goodness had orchestrated my path and placed me in a young women’s bible study offering an atmosphere of genuine love and acceptance. This is where I found my inner circle friends. They varied widely in age and personality but all shared a common characteristic – they loved God and allowed His love to flow through them to me.
We all need inner circle friends. Jesus had them. He loved His disciples and had wonderful fellowship and relationship with each of them, but out of the twelve there were three with which He shared very unique experiences. They knew Him at a deeper level than the others. They certainly weren’t perfect, but He chose to allow them into a more intimate relationship with Himself than any others.
It’s hard to share our deepest needs, our scars, and our failures. Especially if we have ever poured our hearts out to the wrong person. This is even more painful than having no one. To bare our souls and then experience rejection or gossip or judgement is excruciating. And if we are not careful, this pain will prevent us from finding those who were meant to be our armor bearers. In bible times, armor bearers were selected for their bravery. They would not only carry the king’s or general’s armor but would also stand by them in times of danger. We need armor bearers. Armor bearers cannot help us from a distance. They must be close.
As life goes, these women in my life are no longer a part of my weekly worship experience. We had our children, relocated, took jobs, and made new friends. But no geography or activity can take someone out of my inner circle. These women are still to be trusted and are still faithful to stand with me anytime I need them. They remain only a phone call away.
Bear – endure, carry – one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ and complete what is lacking. For if any person thinks himself to be somebody too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load when he is nobody of superiority except in his own estimation, he deceives and deludes and cheats himself. Galatians 6:2-3
So my prayer for you today is twofold. First, that you find trusted armor bearers and allow them into your inner circle. There is strength to be found in allowing another to help you carry your load. And second, that you choose today to be an armor bearer for someone else. To not help another carry their burdens is to cheat yourself. Being invited into another’s inner circle is an honor. Take it seriously – it is a position to protect them and stand with them, faithful to fight for them in prayer and available to them for encouragement and strength. It is how we fulfill and observe the law of Christ. It is love.