Last July I casually began a little accountability group of women to help us begin or finish the books we wanted to write.
The casual experience rapidly grew into something much more motivating and powerful than any of us had imagined. It spawned a group name, websites, speaking events, workshops, a new book written collectively, and finally a small publishing company. That was in a matter of six months.
None of us would have ever guessed what could develop so quickly. Those results are similar to so many other groups of like-minded women, who collaborate consistently.
However, that’s not what this narrative is about.
What has been one of the greatest blessings for me has been the window it has afforded me into the lives of other faith-filled women. Don’t worry, this doesn’t turn creepy or intrusive, it’s just the result of meeting every Monday morning for an hour of face-to-face video conferencing.
You would think, with as busy as we all are, that this appointment would have become a burden, one where we would have to rush to start our week by sitting down in front of the computer monitor to report on the list of goals we had emailed to one another.
But being accountable felt just the opposite. We couldn’t wait to gather round and find a curious and helpful audience ready to listen to what we had learned and how we were moving things forward.
Sometimes things weren’t moving forward though. Sometimes a kitchen remodel, the holiday parties, an ailing aged parent, the flu, travel, or overwhelm kept us from accomplishing much on our books.
There was never any judgement found there. Only empathy, compassion, and offers to help. Chicken soup and bread that would magically appear on a kitchen counter, or an offer to pray for someone, or a scripture used to find peace and strength, or even a cash donation were regular miracles.
Being offered listening ears and encouragement didn’t make us even softer and less effective, it had the opposite effect of giving us strength to rise up, double our efforts, and have something to share the next go round.
For me, having a weekly peek into three other women’s lives took away my excuses for any self-pity. By knowing them and their challenges I knew, beyond theory, that everyone faces obstacles and no one is consistently productive, cheerful, or brilliant. Sometimes we are slow, pensive, or stuck.
With so much ground to cover each week, we didn’t take time for a lot of chit chat, instead we shared how things were coming along and where we could use help. Everyone would be given a chance to comment, offer suggestions or resources, and send a little virtual hug of congratulations or support. Then we’d move on to the next woman to hear her report.
There are smiles, silent clapping, thumbs up, and a lot of nodding going on during these calls.
What I’ve come to appreciate the most is that window into their worlds.
I see their bookshelves behind them. I can make out the family photos on the walls or tables nearby. I see their children interrupt, or their husbands pass through the room. I see them get up from the computer to run grab something they want to “show” rather than describe. I see them on days when they haven’t quite made it to the shower yet and on days when they are all dressed up and ready to take on the world . . . as soon as our call ends.
This isn’t a marketing piece for video conferencing services, or for the power of accountability groups, or even for friendship.
I suppose it’s a commentary on the peace that comes when I can literally see that I am not alone. My struggles are no harder than another’s. My gifts are no greater than another’s.
Everyone’s energy ebbs and flows. We will each have our turn to carry more than our fair share.
Our interests drive us. Our experiences shape us. Our faith in a loving Heavenly Father unites us.
Marjorie Hinckley explained it this way, “It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other.”
I think we need to witness other women living their own faith-filled lives to know how to live our own even better.
Delighted to be in your company!