I sat with a fellow Miami University Alum and told him about why I was at this particular event. It was not just my friend’s 40th birthday, but my sister’s 40th birthday. We had been doing life together for 20 years so that def qualifies her as a sister.

Wow. 20 freaking years. Where does the time go?

I hold vivid memories of blanketing our college campus with passion and zeal and a faith that was ignited out of nowhere but seemed to be spreading everywhere. I told all this to my associate who, after that evening, I will now call a friend. I told him how we, and others, formed a bond that surpassed any superficial friendship that dissipates over just a few years.

We formed what some would call covenants.

I’ve struggled greatly with the things I don’t have over the years, especially as the holidays approach. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you dear reader, know how I detest commercialized, family-oriented holidays. But oh how the gift of what I have been given rang evident to me as I shared my story of us young adults banding together, high off God’s love and revealed eternal identity. I talked about the ministry groups we started, the faith messages we unabashedly exclaimed, and the fact that so many of us are still close today.

My sister’s 40th birthday was today. Over the last 20 years, we’ve been in the trenches together, walking out extended singleness. We laid down our desires and lives together. We buried our mothers in the same year together. 

People marveled that I made the 3.5 hr trip to attend the event but I told them she will be there for me when it’s my turn. This is what we do. We’re there for each other. 

In telling my story of what I’ve been given, these people who magically appeared in my life in my 19th year, who loved me through an eating disorder, a breakup, mental health struggles, broken parent relationships, and the list goes on and on, well, for possibly the first time ever, I realized what I had been given.

I talked to a brother today who was a part of that “Jesus Movement” that swept us up in college. He and I don’t talk often but there is a strong love whenever we do. The conversation was more evidence of what I have been gifted: covenant relationships.

The theme of my sister’s birthday was Hope. It was fitting. Her name is Hope and her counseling practice is called “Hope is Here”. In addition to celebrating 40 years of success on the planet, she celebrated 5 years of success with her business. She is goals.

At the party, we filled out a worksheet that asked certain questions like, “What has given you hope?” 

At the time I struggled with answering, but while talking to one of my BFFs of 20+ years today, I knew the answer.

My friends have given me hope.

I told my BFF that if I hadn’t met them at that time in my life I don’t know where I would be. Before them, I had no friends. I lost the love of my life in college and I had such a rocky relationship with my mom back then. Additionally, I struggled so greatly academically that I felt like my Accounting and Finance classes were countries I had fought in someone’s war and had given me PTSD. At 20 years old, the things I used to define myself were suddenly gone: my man and my intellect. 

But I had friends.

My friends saved me. 

It wasn’t until sharing all of this with my bestie that I understood. The journey is never what we think it will be and very rarely is it what society tells us. The gifts we are given will hardly replace the things we are lacking, but they can enable us to stay the course. 

My friend Hope is an example of this truth. She has walked out an unlikely path that she never could have imagined. At her party, she shared about an experience she had where God showed her that if she would have known the rocky path ahead she would not have agreed to go. But if she had not agreed to go, she would have missed the glory on the other side.

I can’t wait to see the glory.

We were setting up decorations and getting the venue ready for Hope’s party when Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It” popped on. I said to my bestie of 20+ years, “Did you know he wrote this when his mom passed?” to which she shook her head, “No.”

I then said to her, “Isn’t it amazing that the most powerful things are birthed out of suffering?”

When I said it I was thinking about us. I was thinking about the long-suffering we’ve had. The waiting. And I was thinking about what is being birthed out as a result.

For me, I know the primary thing being birthed out is my book, “When Love Wins.” I couldn’t have written this book without the suffering. I couldn’t have written about grief recovery, mental health struggles, and broken friendships for others who have suffered similarly.

And for Hope, well, I think of all of her clients who have been the beneficiaries of her staying the course. The employees she now has under her belt. The many hearts that are healed by her saying “yes” to purpose.

Because 20 years ago she said “yes”, this generation now knows that regardless of the tests and trials, regardless of the darkness that ensues, regardless of the difficulties of this life, Hope is Here.

And we are here.

20 years later.

And I am grateful.

In other news, the book cover reveal pre-sale kick-off for When Love Wins is nearing! If you haven’t done so already, please mosey on over to this link and get your FREE ticket. I’m so excited to share the story of my book, the cover design, and more! After such a long journey of writing, marketing, and web design, we are here. Whew. Now all I need is for you to be there 🙂

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  1. R Taylor

    It’s so amazing how God crafts us into the stories of one another’s lives.

    Building bonds we don’t know we need until much later. A true example of How God provides all we need prior to us knowing we need it as well as before us asking for it.

    • Nicole

      Agreed! He knows what we need even before we know!