Why You Need A Tribe

If you've been on the internets in last couple of years, you've heard the word tribe. Most well known from popular author Seth Godin in his book Tribes, the ideas is that your tribe is your people. 

Lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a group of people connected to each other.
— Seth Godin

I don't know about you - but I want to keep changing my life for the better. While Seth writes to people in business, the idea of tribes works well for you and I as well. No matter what you're journey - you need a tribe. As Jen Hatmaker likes to say - you need a group of "ride or die" friends (I have no idea where we are riding to or why we need to die together - so I really can't pull this one off)  who can see you at your worst and at your best and push you a little along the way. 

My own tribe journey

This hasn't always been the case, but God has blessed me with a variety of friends - my tribe. Some have been spiritual encouragers. Some have been supporters of my dreams. Some have believed in me when no one else has. Some have been those people who make me laugh. 

No one person has been all those things to me. I've needed them all. 

But to be honest, I'm not always comfortable developing the part of my tribe that sees me at my ugliest. As a somewhat only child (my two half-sisters grew up in another home) and a perfectionist in denial - I like to appear like I have it together.  

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Anybody relating to this at all? 

I don't like you to see me crying, out of money, or without an answer. I know what you're thinking - that sounds stressful.  So I try to cry in my room or the bathroom or possibly even my car. 

Except on Saturday.  Saturday my assignment was to pick up one of my closest friends and join another of our close friends for a little birthday celebration.  The only problem - I had become a bit unraveled by the state of the union over here at One Foot. 

Running a business can be hard and challenging and there are days that you just need to unravel. Maybe you're not running a business but are unraveling over that job promotion that seems elusive.  Or that kiddo that keeps shutting you out. Or a spouse that you haven't been connecting with. Or your finances. Or your health. Or...you fill in the blank. 

You get the picture...we all unravel. 

Now Beth loves her birthday.  She gives her friends gifts on her birthday. Our custom isn't to start it out with me crying as we head off to celebrate. But as we drove to Kim's house, I cried, Beth listened and reminded me that it's going to be okay.  God wanted my faith and was asking me to trust. She patiently put celebrating her birthday on hold to remind me of my status as God's child. 

Once we met up with Kim, it was more of the same - encouragement as I talked through my business and ideas. But I didn't get there by keeping it in or having it all together. I got there by falling apart. 

The Truth About Community

The fact is that we're told we need community. I'm betting your church encourages you to get in some kind of small group. Get to know others who share your faith. Do life with others. 

If we're honest, sometimes those groups are over promising and under delivering, aren't they? We get together for Bible study - but somehow leave with more Bible knowledge but no heart connection about what it means to struggle and doubt - and well, unravel. 

The truth is that not everyone in your small group will end up being your "ride or die" friends. Some of them will be - well, just friends. People you go to church with and pray for - but not the people you unravel with. You need those people too!  To challenge you. To remind you of your faith. To talk to in the church lobby between services. 

Finding Vulnerability

But every once in a while - those friends in that small group or in your walking group (I think they have those) or in your pottery class - they become the people you feel free to unravel with. 

Unraveling friendships take time. When I first met Beth - I instantly liked her. She is everything I am not. But I didn't unravel with her for several years. Why? Because unravelling takes trust. It takes building a foundation of this is a safe place for me not to have it all together. 

Building Trust

We have this model in life coaching - it's conveniently titled the building trust coaching model. There are levels of trust that each of us have. We start with acquaintance and end with those people we are real with. The people we don't hide from. The people we have nothing to prove with. 

How do we get there? The bottom line of the coaching model is that you can't rush trust. You can't choose to trust someone with vulnerability on day 1. You build trust by shared stories. Sharing stories of your life. Sharing stories of your fears. Sharing stories of your hopes. Until one day - you know that you know that it doesn't matter that you unravel. You know these friends don't love you for having it together - they love you for all of you - for who you are and that is enough. 

Healing Through Being Vulnerable

There is healing when we can be vulnerable and unravel and see that we are loved not because of what we do but of who we are becoming. 

I've written about this before. My friend Becky has been part of my "tribe" since my early days in Minnesota. At one time, we were struggling to get along and quite honestly, I was letting all my emotional ick hang out for her to see. In short - I was unintentionally being vulnerable with her. 

I'll never forget what she said to me. "I'm not going anywhere." That short sentence didn't solve our problems in that moment. But it brought healing to know I could let all the things I was trying to keep inside out and she would not leave. To this day, she is one of those friends I trust with my crazy self talk and emotional stuff. 

The secret isn't necessarily in the act of being vulnerable as it is in the act of hearing that we are not loved for having it all together. Or for performing. Or for being emotionally stable 100% of the time. The secret in the healing is to hear God's love for you through your tribe.  

God loves you just as you are. 

We all need to hear this - and yet I'm afraid that few of us do. 

Getting started

Maybe you already have your tribe. There are people you can regularly unravel with when you need to. You are blessed beyond measure. 

But what if you don't? What if you struggle to find someone you can trust with your crazy? What if you've been keeping that overwhelmed feeling inside? What if you don't know where to start when it comes to developing this kind of friendship? 

You start just where your church told you to start. For everyone of my unraveling friends - I met them in some kind of group. Bible study. Ministry team. Mission trip. And as I got to know them, we shared our stories and eventually we shared our hopes and our fears. And before I knew it - I was free to unravel with a few. 

You'll get there. But first, you have to start with a step. 

If you have a community you love, invest there. Identify one person you want to get to know better and invite them to coffee or lunch or out for a walk. 

If you don't have a community already, I have fallen in love with our One Foot Community. Our women gather here to learn how to make baby steps in changing their lives and I love how they speak into each others lives. Join us for Group Coaching once a month on Saturdays or Life Coaching Bible study during the week. Take a step and start sharing stories with those who could become your unraveling friends. 

Thank you for reading!  For those of you with unraveling friends already, I'd love to know how you met them and what they mean to you! Share with the One Foot Community by commenting here so we can encourage one other to unravel and share our stories.