By Jenny Rae Armstrong
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
I don’t remember where I heard that nugget of pop psychology, and I don’t fully subscribe to it, but the words stuck with me. I was heading into a season of change and transition: the youngest of my four children had been weaned, the economy had taken a turn that made it difficult for our family to live off my husband’s income, and the thoughts and words that had spent years simmering in my brain had hit boiling pitch. I felt like a pressure cooker banging and whistling on the stove, about to blow pea soup all over the confines of my very domestic life if I didn’t find some release. It was time for me to move into the next phase of the adventure God had for me, but I wasn’t sure how.
That’s when I heard the quote, and decided to become more intentional about surrounding myself with women I admired, women who were moving in the direction God was calling me, and were further down that path than I was. It was the best thing I could have done. These women never knew they were mentoring me, but I watched them closely, soaking in their wisdom and shadowing their moves. How did they balance work and family? How did they present themselves to the world? How did their attitudes and outlook on life differ from mine, and how did it affect their choices?
Still, I struggled to find mentors for writing and ministry. When I heard about the Redbud Writer’s Guild, I was awed, and more than a little intimidated. Here was a group of incredibly accomplished women, women who were doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, and whose passion mirrored mine. It took me over a year to pluck up the courage to apply, and when I was accepted, I still felt intimidated. These were some of the smartest, well-educated, influential women I had ever met. It would have been easy to draw back in insecurity, but instead, I remembered the quote and pressed in, immersing myself in their wisdom. Doing so has proven to be one of the greatest blessings of my life, and certainly the best thing I could have done for my writing career.
I feel incredibly honored to be joining the board of the Redbud Writer’s Guild, and as the new blog manager, I look forward to “fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities and culture” in partnership with my beloved “Buds.” Perhaps you would like to join us? I would encourage you not to draw back in insecurity. Press in! We may not be the average of the five people we spend the most time with, but there’s no denying that God works powerfully in and through community, growing us and shaping us into the people God created us to be. That’s certainly proved true in my life.
If you’re interested in joining the Redbud community, you can find information here.
Jenny Rae Armstrong is an award-winning freelance journalist who blogs about faith, social justice and women’s issues at www.jennyraearmstrong.com. She is passionate about building up the body of Christ by building up women, in her rural community and around the world. She loves making new friends, so drop by her blog and say hi, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.