You have me in your hearts, here in prison as I am, working to defend and bolster up the gospel. You are my partners in grace, all of you! Yes: God can bear witness how much I’m longing for all of you with the deep love of King Jesus. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 1:7-8)
This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone. Brené Brown.
When people were put in prison in Paul’s day, the prison didn’t provide food or blankets. Prisoners had to rely on friends to help them survive. When Paul was in prison in Ephesus, the story goes that his friends in Philippi raised money and sent a messenger on a long, dangerous journey to bring it to their imprisoned friend. This explains the phrase: partners in grace. The Philippians were ‘in the arena’ with Paul– face down, risking their lives to spread the Good News that all people are welcome in God’s family of grace.
Over and over in this prison letter, Paul speaks of this ‘partnership’. Some Bibles translate it as ‘fellowship’. But here, there is an element of financial support that goes beyond ‘fellowship’. To Paul, these friends are gospel of grace partners. In the rising strong process, we call these people our marble jar friends. Check out this story about the marble jar.
In Rising Strong Chapter 1, Paul’s type of partnership shows up in the #3 rule of engagement, which says…
This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone. Since the beginning of time, people have found a way to rise after falling, yet there is no well-worn path leading the way. All of us must make our own way, exploring some of the most universally shared experiences while also navigating a solitude that makes us feel as if we are the first to set foot in uncharted regions. And to add to the complexity, in lieu of the sense of safety to be found in a well-traveled path or a constant companion, we must learn to depend for brief moments on fellow travelers for sanctuary, support, and an occasional willingness to walk side by side. For those of us who fear being alone, coping with the solitude inherent in this process is a daunting challenge. For those of us who prefer to cordon ourselves off from the world and heal alone, the requirement for connection—of asking for and receiving help—becomes the challenge. Brené Brown.
So, who are your marble jar friends? Who has earned the right to hear your story and give support? Whom do your trust? Remember, vulnerability is not about oversharing, and simply a few marble jar friends will do. In the coming days, we will explore the importance of boundaries in the rising strong process. But for now, call to mind those marble jar friends. What are the qualities that make someone a good friend and partner in grace?
God, help me call to mind and cherish my marble jar friends. Help me create and nurture these friendships in my life.
Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown
(Try to get through this much reading/listening by your first group session; but if not, no stress.)
Chapter One: The Physics of Vulnerability (Also known as the 10 Rules of Engagement for Rising Strong.)
Chapter 3 (A very short bit of good stuff)