This weeks post is a little different. It’s not a new pattern, it’s one I’ve made many times but instead of a new project, I have a story for you.
Late in the evening they gathered. One of them was in pain and quietly they circled the table and gathered round. She spilled her heart and her heartache. Slowly at first, held back by shame and fear. Once she saw her story didn’t bring judgment or shame from them, the story poured out faster. In the place she expected condemnation she found nothing but compassion and interest. A group of women gathered but quickly transformed as she talked. No one saw it, it was subtle but the role of motherhood melted away as warriors took their place. None of them knew in the moment what the future held, but the quiet warrior women began to take their ranks. They flanked their hurting sister. The prayer warrior quickly took to her post, making sure days did not pass that she did not fight for her wounded sister on her knees. Meals were made to feed her when she couldn’t and the wisdom of past battles was laid out to guide their steps. They drew on the knowledge of their leader, and they stood firmly in both His promises and His love.
They walked in that room a group of women but they emerged a tribe. They were united in one very deep understanding that we are here for one purpose alone, and that is to care for one another.
Months have past since that night, since THE night. Many battles have been waged since then but one thing has been clear, with each attack they draw nearer to one another.
They call themselves the elephant tribe. After reading a story by Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman about how elephants behave when one is giving birth or when lions attack. They circle up, they have each others backs and the story has become part of theirs.
Do you wish you had an elephant tribe? Can I tell you a secret?
Elephant tribes don’t just happen. We weren’t lucky, but we were like-minded. Each of us had a goal, to build something, a community. We didn’t sit around waiting, we went out and found it.
I’m about to move again for the 4th time in the last six years. Each move drops me off in the middle of nowhere, knowing no one. I have to create my community in this age of social media, texting and enormous cities. Intimacy in relationships has never been harder to come by, and it doesn’t happen by accident. You have to put yourself out there in big ways, you have to walk into rooms prepared to give more than you’ll ever receive. You have to change your mindset to a serve-focused mindset and look for who needs a friend, not ask the question, “who will want to be my friend.”
If you haven’t found your elephant tribe, your group of women that supports, doesn’t gossip, that lifts one another up without competition or comparrision believe me, you can create it.
For a while now I wanted to do something special for this tribe of women before I leave. I love making aprons and I thought I could make aprons that have elephants for them, something to leave behind as tribute. Finding elephant fabric proved to be rather difficult, it’s mostly babyish prints and I searched in vane to find one that met my standard. In Minnesota, I told my mom of my plan. She searched the aisles pulling out options but all were just babyish or ugly. I wasn’t going to settle for just anything, it had to be right. Then, as I was cutting fabric she walked up with these fabrics and I said “YES”. I hadn’t envisioned anything so tribal, but there it was, better than my plan, perfect. I spent two days cutting and sewing these for my tribe. I thought about them, prayed for them and hoped that they would continue to cultivate more tribes of women. Woman that support each other, lift each other up and pour into each others lives.
My tribe in Illinios, in Georgia, in Minnesota and now my very dear tribe in Utah, they all give me hope in each city I’m placed in. They are the treasures that I know are waiting, but just like gold, silver and precious stones they are not harvested from the earth without effort. You must pour out effort, time, self-improvement and love.
If I can find it again and again in each place, so can you.
I made 10 tribal aprons with elephants for my dear elephant tribe and here they are. Love to each of you!
Here’s the original story that inspired the Elephant tribe by Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman.
In the wild, when a mama elephant is giving birth, all the other female elephants in the herd back around her in formation. They close ranks so that the delivering mama cannot even be seen in the middle. They stomp and kick up dirt and soil to throw attackers off the scent and basically act like a pack of badasses.They surround the mama and incoming baby in protection, sending a clear signal to predators that if they want to attack their friend while she is vulnerable, they’ll have to get through 40 tons of female aggression first.When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life, of sisterhood, of something beautiful being born in a harsh, wild world despite enemies and attackers and predators and odds.Scientists tell us this: They normally take this formation in only two cases – under attack by predators like lions, or during the birth of a new elephant.This is what we do, girls. When our sisters are vulnerable, when they are giving birth to new life, new ideas, new ministries, new spaces, when they are under attack, when they need their people to surround them so they can create, deliver, heal, recover…we get in formation. We close ranks and literally have each others’ backs. You want to mess with our sis? Come through us first. Good luck.And when delivery comes, when new life makes its entrance, when healing finally begins, when the night has passed and our sister is ready to rise back up, we sound our trumpets because we saw it through together. We celebrate! We cheer! We raise our glasses and give thanks.Maybe you need this too. If you are closing ranks around a vulnerable sister, or if your girls have you surrounded while you are tender, this is how we do it.There is no community like a community of women.