I believe God started me off with great seeds for a Tribe while I was in high school and I had no clue that they were “it”! There was only 3 of us in our Tribe at that time. It was an interesting start for a Tribe - as one of the Tribe members and I did very little socializing back then due to the nature of our lives at that time. However, we had the common thread of our mutual friend, Kim, and she was the anchor. Kim was solid in her relationship with Jesus while the other two of us were not. While we floated all over the place during those crazy days in high school, Kim stayed grounded to God; prayed for us; and was a faithful friend. The kind of friend that I didn’t realize I needed. The kind of friend I took for granted. The kind of friend I could not love back in the way she loved me – at least not back then. Kim was faithful and God used her to keep our Tribe together.
And because she was and still is faithful, patient and kind we are still friends today and I know we’ll be friends until Jesus returns. I am grateful that God has grown me and helped me realize how important it is to invest in people and I am a better friend to Kim now. Now I know she is a part of my Tribe – she gets me; she loves me; she cheers me on; and I can always trust her to give me great advice. Kim loves me all the time – even from a distance. The three of us have all gone our separate ways since those high school days (one of us is in Cali; one is in Idaho; and I am in Texas) and yet the thread is still strong – actually even stronger today then way back in the day when we wore more hairspray than was physically even possible.
I have added to my Tribe since 1987 but it has been a long and bumpy road. I didn’t start adding new and true Tribe members until after I was married in 1993. Those 6 years I was stumbling around unaware that I was missing my Tribe or that I should be adding to it – or that I even needed one. Don’t get me wrong – I made a lot of friends during that time span – I just didn’t have a Tribe to call my own.
Things started to change when I married my Marine. I started slowly understanding the Tribe concept. Part of that concept is that not everyone will stay a part of your Tribe, or even your friend, for that matter. And you can have many friends but not all of them become Tribe members. This is just a natural process that works itself out if you let it. There are benefits to being a Tribe member. In this day and age that means communicating a lot in a variety of ways. You spend more time together and deeper community is created. Deeper = loving them hard!!!
Tribe membership has great benefits! Because of my Tribe I got to be in the labor and delivery room twice. As someone who is not a mom to two-legged peeps, on purpose, getting to witness a live birth is a cherished memory. One that I wouldn’t have had if I had not LOVED MY TRIBE hard!!!! More benefits are late night access to me because I love you unconditionally and no amount of sleep is worth leaving a Tribe member on their own during a challenging time. Tribe members make plans 7 months in advance to vacation together. We start talking about the next vacation while still on the current vacation because we want to be intentional about seeing each other. Sometimes we talk daily. We plan times to intentionally talk weekly. We set up monthly Face Time appointments. We get GREAT news first! And so on.
Your Tribe will shift and change over the years. You’ll have Tribe members who come and go. And that is OK. There is always something to learn, and hopefully enjoy, about each Tribe member. But your intentional Tribe members are your lifelong members. They don’t have to renew their membership yearly because they are “in” for life. They have proven themselves loyal to the Tribe. They agree with you fundamentally. These members secure their spot in the Tribe through many different avenues. They pick up the phone when they think of you. They still send snail mail (guaranteed life-long membership right there). They are your biggest cheerleaders! Bottom line: They are intentional about your relationship and add value to the Tribe.
I have thought about actually taking applications and interviewing my Tribe members before letting them in after I recently figured out that some of my Tribe members don’t like chocolate. How can that be? You don’t even have to like dark chocolate but how can I have Tribe members who don’t have a stash of chocolate in their house at all times? Or, that don’t love animals as much as I do. Or who love vegetables and actually eat them at every meal – on purpose. Side note: I don’t do veggies. I like to believe I am allergic to them but there is really no scientific proof of that. I digress. The bottom line is that your Tribe will be filled with a diverse group of people, that if embraced for their diversity, will stay along for the journey no matter how bumpy the ride gets and they make you a better Tribe member as well.
I have learned over the years that just because people are in your Tribe doesn’t mean they are going to like chocolate; or love my God; or think that bulldog slobber is just an ordinary part of everyday life. And that is ok! I have learned to embrace the diversity of my Tribe and I am better for it. My diverse Tribe knows how to love me well. They actually like me and embrace my uniqueness. We trust each other. We have fun together. We love each other deeply and we put each other first. And even when we think differently about certain things or aren’t interested in something like each other’s hobbies, we still support each other and get excited for each other!
We all need at least one Tribe where we can be ourselves.
Where we know we will be loved for who we are and not what we do or can give.
God created us for community and the right Tribe does community well!!