Last weekend I was the proud recipient of every Mama’s dream: a hot cup of coffee and some down time at a hotel for the weekend. Now, to be fair, I was there for a writer’s conference with books, note pads, pens, business cards and high heels in hand. I hadn’t been sure of what to be more excited for – the possibility of sleeping past 7, the alone time with my thoughts (not just in the bathroom) or perhaps the writing and speaking tips I would pick up along the way.

As expected, my time was filled with learning, inspiration, “God moments”…all the things I’d hoped for. All the things I’d busily cleaned and cooked and prepared my home for while I’d be gone. All the things I’d pumped bottles and prepped my husband for in regards to his taking on both our three year old as well as our energetic eight month old, for the weekend.  All the things that would be worth it in my anticipation of that solid, magical alone time.

The old me, meaning the person I’ve been for all thirty-five years of my life, loved alone time. Craved it. I’ve always said that I’m an extroverted introvert. As much as I love the energy of being around people and making connections, afterwards, I need a break. Knowing this about myself, I’d never fill a trip with a sidekick to talk to on the plane, or a roommate; There is no better way to zap my energy. And now with the added layer of being a Mom, alone time had certainly become an even greater necessity… Right?

As I eagerly pulled my suitcase through the windy, sliding doors of the airport, I noticed…quickly…that something had drastically changed. The airport had been remodeled, yes, but the change was in me. No longer the confident, even cocky, twenty-something I’d been, I noticed that there wasn’t as much pep in my step. I wandered over to check in for my departure, unsure of whether I was in the right place. I asked twice before hopping into the wrong security line. I was physically nervous about whether I had removed all of the correct items from my carry-on as it went through the metal detector, and I sighed with relief once on the other side of it. I kept thinking about the people, older than I was, who maybe hadn’t been to the airport for even longer. How nervous they must have been! When did this place become so intimidating? When did the uber drivers become so terrifying? When did the hotel become so cold and lonely? Is there a lock on that door? A bug in my bed? Someone I could call to talk me through these foreign feelings? What was all of this?

I’m not sure if it’s aging or children or both. But I’ve changed. I’m so much more comfortable with my own life and the people in it, that I no longer need as much time away from them (I talk about this more in my first podcast: I’m a Recovering People-Pleaser). Being a mother has turned me into a nurturer. Sounds like a given, but let me explain. At first, it was out of necessity. I’m a mom, so therefore I nurture. But now it’s become my lifeblood. I nurture and I love, not because I need or want it in return but because of how loved I am. By God. He loves me so much and now I know it. Or maybe I’m just beginning to tap into the extent of it. Either way, I love his people so much. I think I’m starting to see them as He does. Perfectly imperfect and beautiful and loveable, just as they are. It isn’t my job to change them or to judge them. I can certainly help them, but there is no responsibility. No weight on my part. And in that way, I’m simply…free to love.

I grabbed a seat in back at a giant table, and took a look around. To my joy, the lights went out as the 700 women who were in the room took a moment to sing to God. I’ll preface by saying this: I don’t cry in public. Ever. But at a certain point, I was overcome with tears and had to sit down. We had been journaling about things we were grateful for, and as I glanced down at my page, I saw the names of every woman God has carefully and intentionally placed into my life. Each carrying her own strength. Each carrying her own story. Virtuous. Brave. Confident. Trustworthy women, brought into my life at just at the right time. I was completely overcome, completely undone. What had I done to deserve this greatness?

God saw my needs before I did. He knew exactly when I would become a mother, and exactly what would change. He saw what would happen once the walls of my once bulletproofed heart fell down. Saw the love that was about to flow out of it once He entered in. And the love I would receive in return. Blessed is the woman who has Godly friends. Is there anything greater in the world than to be seen, understood and received? I think Heaven will consist of this feeling and nothing else.

I don’t like traveling alone any more so I don’t think I’ll be doing it again any time soon. I know there’s a time and a place for alone time. But I’m not going to take for granted the next time a friend wants to fill her down time with me and a coffee, or me and a run, or when I run into her on the street or the store; I won’t have anxiety about what else I should be getting done. Because I think time with a friend is time consisting of exactly what we were made for, and that is to love.

To my sweet friends who lovingly listen, hold me accountable, love on my children, inspire me, speak truth into my life and make me want to be beautiful, just like you…..know that you will always have someone in your corner celebrating the uniqueness that makes you YOU, praying for you, hoping for you, happy when you’re happy, sad when you’re sad, and loving you with everything that I’ve got. Cheers to my next trip being one with the girls.

Photo: Naomi Goff