Find Your Tribe, Love Them Hard

Proskartereo.  I think it is my favorite word in the Bible.  I love it so much that I painted a sign with this Greek treasure on it and hung it above our bed.  Proskatereo.  Here is Strong’s Concordance’s definition:

  1. to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one
  2. to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing
  3. to continue all the time in a place
  4. to persevere and not to faint
  5. to show one’s self courageous for
  6. to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly
Basically- DEVOTED.  When my pastor preached on Acts 2, where we see a beautiful picture of Proskatereo, he gave this meaning: to continue to do something with intense effort with possible implications of and despite difficulty.  Proskatereo.  Devoted.  I mean I want to have a pep rally for this little verb!  Our best example of this devotion in action in the Bible is in Acts 2:42-47:  “They devoted (proskatereo) themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
All of this Proskartereo begs the question: WHAT AM I DEVOTED TO?  If I am totally honest and transparent I would have to say that I am pretty devoted to my phone.  It is rarely out of hand much less out of sight.  I glance at it countless times an hour.  I depend on it for communication, entertainment, information, weather, time, music, etc.  We are devoted to one another.  I would also have to confess that I have been devoted to certain shows for years.  They will remain nameless but lets just say we have been through a lot together… post-it note weddings, plane crashes, the death of a McDreamy husband, (“you are my person”).  Don’t judge. Also let me say to Coach Taylor, “clear eyes, full hearts can’t lose.”  And don’t even get me started on the Bravermans. All my love forever. I am also devoted to carbs.  Even when others have left them in the name of Atkins, or gluten free fads, or let’s say the ability to fit into their jeans, I have remained steadfast in my devotion to all things bread.  I have continued with intense effort and much expense in my devotion to staying a blonde.  Let’s be real.
But, I am also devoted to my husband.  That is why Proskartereo will always be above our marriage bed.  We have pressed on towards obedience and each other when it has been difficult.  Even if we haven’t always looked past or overcome our differences, we have steadfastly chosen each other above them. Devoted.  I am devoted to my children and in this season a huge part of my life means being devoted to educational choices that certainly could cause one to faint if they were not persevering.  If you looked at my schedule you would see that evidently I am devoted to a t-ball team by the name of the River Dogs, a baseball team that go by the Reds, a soccer team called The Heroes, and a spring production of the ballet “A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream.”  I am devoted remaining close to my family even though several states separate us.  It takes intention and attention (and a million rapid rewards points)  to cultivate relationships that span generations, especially long distance.  Proskartereo.
What was the Acts 2 Church devoted to?  We read that they were devoted to the apostle’s teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread (carbs are biblical!!!), and to prayer.  Basically, they were devoted to God and to each other.  Devotion.  It’s  a serious thing.  We have to work to make the things we say we are devoted to match the things our schedule, bank accounts, and conversations show we are devoted to.  I am always astounded when people tell me that they don’t have time to study the Word of God, read a book, or cultivate a meaningful prayer life, but if you look at hours in a day they seem to be devoted to twitter, or a workout schedule, or a sports team. They were also devoted to each other; to living life on life, sharing meals, meeting needs, bearing burdens, lifting prayers. TOGETHER.
 Your tribe.  Your peeps.  Your girls. Your community.  Your friends. I am loving this little mantra right now:
Yes.  This.  A thousand times this.  I really love that Jesus had a “tribe.”  They were called disciples.  Even though He was sent to save all of humanity, He had His tribe.  He had a close group of guys that He did life with, traveled with, broke bread with, spent His days and nights with.  Jesus loved His tribe of 12 hard.  He loved them hard when they were hard to love.  He loved them when they were ignorant, He loved them when they went off the rails (hello Peter cutting off an ear), He loved them when they failed Him (like napping in the garden while He was praying blood), He loved them when they didn’t understand or believe Him, He loved them when they ran and denied Him.  He loved His tribe hard.  Even within His tribe of 12, Jesus had a closer tribe of 3.   Matthew 17:1 says, “After six days, Jesus took with Him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.”  These three were the inner circle in the tribe.  Jesus, the author of community and relationships, one-third of the trinity, was DEVOTED to this rag-tag, grungy, incredibly flawed tribe of fishermen, tax-collectors, and sinners.  He got away with them.
He knew that though He knew every hair on all the heads that would ever walk the earth, while walking on the planet He needed His tribe.  He gathered them and was unapologetically devoted to them until He returned to heaven.  Proskartereo.
Maybe in this culture of inclusion yet independence, we fear wholly devoting ourselves to one tribe.  We may have our feet in so many groups that we forget which one we belong to, or worse, we never belong to any.  We have continual access to newfeeds and perfectly filtered pictures of what all 500 of our “friends” are doing all of the time and who they are with… This has produced the relatively new disorder called FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.  If we truly devote ourselves to one tribe, won’t we miss out on what all the other tribes are doing? The answer is yes.    But if we are not careful we will end up with friendships a mile wide and an inch deep.  Those are called acquaintances.  That is not your tribe.  I’m not talking the people you host baby showers with, or have perfectly planned dinner parties for (although I am a huge advocate of both).  If you have to get cleaned up before they come over, or apply lipstick, or tell your children to behave, they are not your tribe.  I’ll go a step further and say if they have not seen you cry, watched you fight with your husband, witnessed you yell at your kids, or seen you in a bathing suit, they are not your tribe.    If they don’t know your kids’ middle names and don’t have permission to spank them, they are not your tribe.  Proskartereo.
How do you “find your tribe”?  I know that it is certainly not as simple as a cute saying.  I have found that the journey to a real tribe is both organic and intentional.  It cannot be forced.  There is not sign-up sheet for real community.  You may have to step into several circles before you find the one that works for you. You may get hurt, or left out, or stretched.  But in the process, you must be intentional.  If you only ever present your shiny self you will not find a real tribe.  Tribes take time to really form.  Tribes take sacrifice… a sacrifice of schedule, of agenda, of service, of sleep.  Tribes take devotion.  Once you have found your tribe, love them hard.  Love them hard when they are hard to love, when they go off the rails, when they get funky, when they become needy, when their kids are hard to have around. Pursue them when they go radio silent, when they get depressed, when they are sick, when they are sad.  Love them when your paths look different, when your marriages look different, when your days look different, when your bank accounts look different.  Be devoted to your tribe because they will in turn love you when you are hard to love, or when you need to go to the ER in the middle of the night, or your feelings are hurt, or your marriage takes 2 steps back.  Never underestimate the power of a tribe.
I have found my tribe of women and I love them hard.  They love me hard right back.  We are devoted to meeting together every Wednesday night to hang out, pray for each other, talk about Jesus, and grow in our knowledge and faith.  We are devoted to doing this in our PJ’s.  We are devoted to doing real even when it is messy and demanding and inconvenient.  We are devoted to helping raise each other’s kids.  (We may also be devoted to arranged marriages. Whatever.)  We are devoted to speaking the truth in love and calling each other to the best versions of ourselves.  We are devoted to weeping together and celebrating together and supporting each other’s dreams and families.  We are really just devoted to together.  I have my 12, I have my 6, I have my 3.  I will be unapologetically devoted to this tribe just as Jesus was unapologetically devoted to His. So here is a shout out to my tribe, past and present.  I love you. I need you.  I couldn’t do it without you.  Thanks for all the Proskartereo.
What about you?  I would love to hear about your tribe and how you love each other hard.  Comment below or on my Facebook page “A Word That Matters” and let’s discuss devotion to your tribe. Give your own tribe a shout out right here…. tag them, let me see pictures and hear stories; a little virtual pep rally for Proskartereo.  Let’s encourage each other on our journey!  #findyourtribelovethemhard

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