Written by Dcs. Heidi Goehmann One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 Returning from the National Youth Gathering this week, I have like 400 post ideas in my head. I was blessed to spend the week with four of the most precious girls I’ve ever met. I’m missing them already. We went to sessions and heard speakers on a zillion different topics, from purity to Islam to body image. We ate a lot of nachos and considered how in the world beniges could be so much better than donuts. We talked about identity, humility, and community until the cows came home, or rather, we came home to the cows. (Literally, some of us have actual cows, They were very much missed, right Sarah?) One conversation rises up above the rest. It keeps surfacing on my mind and demands attention. The topic – who is your squad, who is your crew, what is community? The girls’ immediate answer to this question was a list of people they hang out with. “My softball team.” “My agriculture people.” “My church youth group.” “My lunch table.” I had a list too. But as I started to give my list, I realized that my list sounded a lot like individuals and a lot less like groups of stuff I did. I glanced around at my girls, “Who would you go to if you really needed help. If you were sad, if you were hurting, if you needed a good cry, or if you really needed good advice.” One by one they began to name people that mattered more to them than softball, than band, than youth group and lunch tables. I watched as light bulbs went off in their heads. The Disney channel gives us one idea of friendship. It looks like slumber parties and besties and shared interests. This idea isn’t invalid, but it certainly isn’t enough. It’s time to call out the Disney channel version of friendship. We were made for more and our youth were made for more. Let’s be honest….Sports, music, clubs and activities are great. Authentic relationships develop in these arenas, but we have to seek it. It doesn’t happen without work. If doesn’t happen without gut wrenching self-discover of what matters most to us, which is also work. It doesn’t happen naturally and it doesn’t happen overnight. We need good parents and mentors showing us what to look for. Community is sharing burdens, not just having fun. Community is people who put marbles in our jar, as Brene Brown would say. It’s people who love us for us and not an idea of what an idea of what we might be for them. It’s people who help you ask the hard questions of whether you are living the life God intended you to, helping you determine whether your hopes and dreams are congruent with what you do with your day in and day out. I hear from pastor’s wives all the time that genuine friendship is their greatest desire. Someone who sees them as a real person, not an outsider, not a pious woman, and not a facade of I-have-it-all-together. What I have discovered in my own journey is that there are hundreds of women, thousands of women, millions of women across cultural groups, economic statuses, and geographic regions that want the same thing.