In the past few years, I have found myself in the middle of some beautiful friendships with women from all over the world. Right here in the red-neck, rough-neck, oil patch of West Texas, people are coming from far and wide to work in the petroleum industry, bringing spouses and children and diversity right to us on an exquisite silver platter of opportunity. I’ll be honest: these women and their families are my very favorite part of Midland right now.
Relationships born in loose acquaintanceship a couple of years ago have developed with international women into genuine heart-level fellowship that is reciprocal and deep. They have taught me so much about real community and about the necessary tenacity of pursuing connection and time together, even when schedules and calendars get in the way. They have taught me that mamas in every culture worry and agonize over their children, wanting to make the very best decisions every.single.day. My friends have taught me that women can overcome unspeakable hardship and loss, holding their heads up with dignity and joy in the Texas desert where a few conservative local people are sometimes more inhospitable to outsiders than even our harsh, arid climate.
These beautiful women represent diversity of age, culture, ethnicity, religion, educational level and global exposure. To the eye of an outside observer, it appears we don’t even have much in common beyond gender and place. But in the midst of our diversity, we have found true connection and respect for one another, using our unique stories and perspectives of the world to be the tie that draws us together, rather than the wedge that separates us.
In years past, I have written publicly about the Big Things happening in my life. Nothing was really off limits for me in blogging, as I over-shared about dirty diaper explosions in Walmart and deep personal grief and private medical conversations. Over these recent days of introspection, I have spent time evaluating where the future trajectory of my life will go and have realized that I quit writing regularly, in large part, because I didn’t know how to respectfully tell the story of this Big Thing happening in my life with international women and so I just fell silent.
I’ve avoided writing publicly about these relationships because they are my actual friends and I like them and I need them in my life. I would absolutely never want them to feel like a project or a case study because of the way I write of them. I know the tendency of people in some of my circles to read about diversity and see it as an opportunity to criticize or draw harsh lines between the “us” and the “other” in a way that is destructive to everyone. I cannot knowingly invite that sort of reaction towards my friends.
And I’ve also avoided writing about any biblical topics or the lessons I’m learning in life, completely separate and apart from my international friends, because I am an outspoken and unapologetic Jesus-follower and I worried that my writing would push away these women I love who have different faith than mine. But it has recently become clear to me that that’s ridiculous, frankly. My friends know I’m a Christian, that I believe the Bible is absolutely true, and I know they are Muslim or Hindu or Christian or Sikh or agnostic, etc. It’s not news to any of us…we discuss it together…and we choose to love each other.
I am, by nature, a writer. There are words that are forcibly rising up and tripping over themselves, in an effort to get out of me. I have got to write them down. It is wrong for me to be inhibited by fear. And by now, I know these women well enough to know that we will all cheer each other on to pursue personal and professional excellence. They want me to work hard on something that is important to me.
And so I’ve decided that I am going to return to posting blogs and essays, to be true to the giftings and callings within me, to be honest about my convictions and my identity as I attempt to write coherently about the things I’m learning in the Bible and in my life. Not in spite of my diverse friendships…but because of them.
After all, one of the main things my Bible and my international friends have taught me is that honesty, love and kindness win the day every single time. I am not expected to agree with everyone…but I am expected to live and act in a way that is consistent with my convictions and beliefs. And, far above all my worries about these precious friendships, I am ultimately accountable to God for worshiping Him with my mind and writing down the words He has given me.