Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?
Someone you can call when life caves in on you, who will help you dig out from under the mess? I really DO get by with a little help from my friends. They inspire me. Their stories inspire me. This little story about sea turtles inspires me, too:
I’m not a big animal lover but I am captivated by turtles, especially sea turtles. Sadly, even though I live fairly close to the coast in North Carolina, I’ve never witnessed them hatching, but I’ve read a lot about the nesting process.
Turtles are largely solitary, but there is a group phenomenon that has to do with how the turtles emerge from their shells.
It’s called hatchling frenzy. Once a group of hatchlings escape their eggs they begin to crawl about, climbing and bumping into one another. The ones at the top scratch at the ceiling of the nest and the sand begins to trickle down.
Those on the bottom stomp the sand onto the floor of the nest. As the scratching and stomping continues, the ceiling falls, the floor rises slowly, and like an elevator, the roomful of collaborating hatchlings is carried toward the surface.
Don’t miss the significance of this process; hatchlings make the trek to the safety of the sea in groups of 20-120 individuals. Stragglers are more susceptible to predators and rarely make it to the safety of the sea.
Moral of this story: We Need Each Other!
I witnessed this first-hand at a women’s retreat this past weekend. Twelve women told their hard stories, testifying to how God had set them free, some from alcohol, others from guilt, shame, grief, bitterness or loneliness. It was powerful. But what happened around the tables during the discussion times was even more powerful. Chins quivered and tears flowed as total strangers opened up and shared their own hard stories… stories that weren’t yet resolved. There was healing just in the telling.
Amy Lynn and Kelly Lynn Michael
That’s where healing begins
Has YOUR ceiling ever fallen? When it did, was there someone there to trample the wreckage to the ground and help you rise again?
What a powerful picture of friendship! When my ceiling falls what I really need is a friend to direct my eyes away from the mess on the floor to the glorious light of hope and possibility that is shining through that new opening.
But it’s not easy to be that kind of friend, what Anne of Green Gables called a ‘bosom friend,’ because frankly we’re so preoccupied with our own messes. I’m grateful to a good friend who recently risked offending by gently telling me to stop fixating on myself and start helping others. Friends help us to be better friends.
When a friend is immobilized with grief or sadness, depression or anger, the weight of their burden can easily render me just as passive.
What should I say? How can I possibly help? Precious hours and days slip by while I ponder the perfect actions or words and the opportunity to help lift another heart from darkness to light is lost. I have done this so many times.
Just Do Something
Maybe what and how we help is not as important as just doing something. Just squirm under the weight of the burden, like the turtle at the bottom of the heap. Squirm in prayer, squirm an encouraging text, a cup of tea, a bloom from your garden. A squirmingly honest, “I don’t know what to say or do but I care. I’m here for you when you’re ready to talk about it,” could be exactly whey they need to hear.
“But ask the animals and they will teach you” Job 12:7
The Great Turtle Escape story seems like a group survival lesson but turtle expert Archie Carr in his book, “A Natural History of Sea Turtles,” is quick to point out that the hatchlings aren’t consciously working toward any common end.
“It is just a lot of baby turtles getting restless and becoming annoyed with one another, but in useful ways. Their petulance at being crowded, jostled, and trod upon makes them flail about aimlessly. It is the aimless flailing that takes them steadily up to the surface of the ground.”
Does this excite you like it does me?
It’s going to be messy
We’re never going to do this friendship thing perfectly. But all that jostling and flailing around that we do, as irritating as it may seem, actually serves to strengthen us as we take the journey.
I am restless and I am going to annoy you and you are going to annoy me but what if we annoyed each other in useful ways? In ways that would help us to break out of our shells?
A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity. Prov 17:17 AMPC
You are my sister in Christ and I am born for your troubles. When you’re flailing around, your fists pounding the walls, your legs lashing out and feet kicking at the goads and I’m getting bruised in the process, I’m supposed to say, “Hallelujah! This is what I was born for!”
You build your faith muscles by helping me climb over my discarded shells. I build mine by stomping down the ceiling dust for you. We NEED each other to find our ways out of our shells, out of our nests and to encourage each other on in our journeys.
That’s what friends are for
Stephanie Fortunato, Deborah Welch Warren, and me
“Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it. Never tell your neighbor to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now.” Proverbs 3:27 GNT
Sticking Your Neck Out:
~ in prayer:
- Lord, help me to remember that you laid down your life for me. And give me a heart willing to lay my life down for others
- Help me to become an encourager, and to make it a daily practice
- Holy Spirit, show me what my spiritual gifts are, so that I might help others
~ in praise
- Thank you for making it so clear that above all else, you value love
- You are a relational God. Thank you for choosing me to be a part of the body of Christ and to find my meaning and function in your family
~ in practice
- Is there a woman in your life that you sense you’re to “stomp down some sand” for? Ask the Spirit to show you how you can come alongside her on her path to freedom.
- Take some time to think about and thank God for the women in your life. Write them a note and tell them how much they mean to you.
This post is a re-mix of a chapter from the book I’m writing called “Leaving the Safety and Security of Your Shell (working title).
Leaving the Safety and Security of Your Shell invites the reader to view life’s journey through the lens of one of God’s most unique creatures, the turtle. Brief chapter intros highlight a turtle characteristic, which acts as a muse for the telling of the author’s personal meanderings from darkness to light.
The book is comprised of a series of soul-searching essays divided into three sections: Hiding, Deciding, and Abiding, designed to accompany the reader on an adventurous, but often slow, journey towards freedom.
Your feedback would be so appreciated!