“Authentic Relationships”

By: Laura Wilson

Growing up I didn't have a lot of “girlfriends.” I always felt more comfortable around the boys. They didn't seem to have as much drama as the girls, and they didn't really talk about each other in the hateful ways the girls I knew did.

As I got older, the fact that I was always just hanging out with guys started to look a certain way. People thought I was promiscuous because I would always surround myself with guys. I was even told once that just because a boy talked to me didn't mean he wanted to be my  boyfriend. That's not even what I wanted! But in that moment, it became what I wanted. It suddenly felt like there was something wrong with me if every guy I knew didn't want to date me. Not only did I not have many close relationships with girls, I was looking for the wrong attention from boys. This made girls liking me and creating real friendships even harder, at least in my mind.

When I met and married Bryan, I thought he would fix everything. I finally had a man who vowed to love me forever. He even loved God and felt a call on his life to be a pastor.

But my insecurities were pulling me away from God. I still only had a couple of close girlfriends, and I had no desire to make any more.Bryan and I tried out a few different churches here and there, but we always felt like we were being judged. People claimed to love us, but it definitely felt like they loved us out of duty, and nobody really cared to get to know us. So we decided church wasn't for us. We could love God and praise Him without other people in a church setting. But our lives never really showed that. We spent years partying, we struggled, we fought, we felt lost and alone.

But once we had our second daughter, we decided it was time for our lives to change. We heard about Your Place Church before and didn't think it was for us. Some of our friends from our party days invited us, and we had seen a change in their lives. So we decided to try it out. After attending for a few months, I was invited to a life group called “Virtue.” I had never attended a church with life groups, and I was so nervous to go! According to my friend’s description, the life group was going to be a room full of women at THE PASTORS HOUSE talking about how women should act.

Based of that description, Virtue did not sound like it was for me. Women were not my thing. I thought they were going to judge me, ridicule me, and make me feel small like the women in my past had.

Funny enough, when I showed up to the Virtue life group, I never even saw the pastor. The life group was being led by Rachel Strange, who I had only ever seen on stage at church. There were maybe four or fiver other women there, and I didn't think I would ever become friends with any of them. I kept think things like, “I wasn't good enough” and “They don't understand what I've been through” and “None of them had been through what I had been through or felt the same shame I had felt.” Those were all lies from the devil!

I was believing so many lies about myself and all the “irreversible” damage I thought I had caused. But I eventually became pretty vulnerable with those women about my past and the lies I was letting the enemy tell me. These women became my closest friends, even to this day. They taught me how to be vulnerable, create authentic relationships, and put God first in everything! It's been six years since I attended my first Virtue life group, and I have attended three similar life groups since where I have created even more authentic relationships.

The best thing about these girls is that they don’t hold your past over you. Instead, theY help you put your past behind you and see all the wonderful things God says about you.

The women I met at Virtue have helped me see not all women are full of drama, only saying hateful things about each other. Women are more than capable of helping each other get past those hateful things we often say about ourselves! When I first started my journey at Your Place Church, I never would have thought it was possible for 150 women to be in the same room without tearing each other down, but last Saturday at Virtue Night, I got to witness and be a part of a room of 150 women lifting each other up and cheering each other on!

I have more girlfriends now than I ever thought I would want or need. And I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without a single one of them in it!

Laura is married to her high school sweetheart, Bryan, and together they have two beautiful girls! Laura and her husband serve as the Junior High pastors at Your Place Church, as well as volunteering on the worship team and Virtue team. If you meet Laura, you will see how kind and how much fun she really is!