GNO

We piled into one Honda civic; all five of us happily squished and feeling like we were back in college as we made our way to a favorite restaurant in Dallas. We chatted about nothing and everything and eventually made it though the perilous pot-holes despite our self-proclaimed “terrible” driver who was an angel for not losing her mind while we told her to turn into an alleyway as wide as a ball-point pen and “oops make a U-turn” etc. She’s fearless and not at all terrible, unlike yours truly who loses all hope for mankind when she’s behind a steering wheel.

When we arrived we were told it would be a 45-minute wait, which is only OK because their Chicken Cobb Salad is the closest thing to perfection. As we waited outside I got someone to take our group photo (because I’m *that* lady, minus the fanny pack) and we continued chit-chatting while reading a billboard about mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus. It was fabulous but eventually we were swayed by the doomsday billboard to retreat indoors where we would be out of reach from the disease-spreading ankle-biters.

Once we finally sat down at our table and ordered our individual plates of perfection, something awesome happened.

It began with one girl talking about her life, and then our future plans came into the conversation and sprinkled into all of this was an open admission to our fears and imperfections and insecurities. We laughed at the absurdity of our fears while acknowledging that we had them. I had failed to notice I was wearing a mask of “it must just be me” until these girls gently began to peel it away. They didn’t know what they were doing or how our conversation affected me but I began to see it.

When one girl shared, the others listened. It was simple but it left an impression on me and I found myself thinking, “Why don’t we do this more often?” I knew the biggest obstacle was busyness. Life was in a hurry so relationships had to wait. But that philosophy lost all reasonableness when I was in the company of these women. I need these moments — these people. We all do. It doesn’t have to be while eating tasty food at a snazzy restaurant. I observed the same phenomenon while sitting around a coffee table in my sweatpants later that night, munching on brownies.

Between the five of us we wear the hats of wife, mom, nurse, nanny, and 8-to-5-er. All of us are busy with 1,000 responsibilities that make up our days and occupy our hours. We were all looking forward to this night but I didn’t really realize why until now.

I thought having a Girl’s Night Out would leave me feeling happy and girly (success!), but it did more than that — it revealed to me the remarkable people around me who I might not always live 15 minutes away from. I was reminded that I need to fight for this, not just be pleasantly surprised when it happens. I need to tell people that they matter, pray for them, and change my list from “things to do” to “people to love.” Not because I’m an extrovert who loves people but because I’m a person who can’t do it alone and the same God who created me to thrive in authentic community also gave me the means to find it and contribute to it.

If you haven’t made time to connect with “your peeps” in a while start planning a night out, a lunch date, a phone call, a skype session TODAY. It may be a few weeks down the road, with 2 people or 10 people, but guard it like your life depended on it because it kind of does. And take note: my intent in sharing this isn’t to encourage you to over-commit and burn out (been there, done that, no thanks) — it’s to make time for the people who will make sure that you won’t.

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