I stumbled across a beautiful Instagram feed by accident almost two years ago. It was The Simply Beloved, and it was still small, still new. But there was something about it that I couldn’t stop coming back to, especially at night when I would lie propped up on my body pillow, staring into the fluorescent glow of my iPhone, searching for something I knew I needed. Some quote or some inspiration.The Simply Beloved wasn’t yet the wonderful community of women it is today,but the hope for such a thing was there. And, at that time, I desperately needed that kind of hope in my life.
I didn’t know what I was looking for, exactly, but I found it.
I was pregnant, working freelance from home, and feeling not a little frightened about the future that was stretched out in front of me. In many ways, I was tripping along joyfully, feeling my way into this new world – one without a regular 9-5 job and with a growing belly – with gladness and excitement. But on the other side of that coin was the ever-present reality that life was about to change. I was hurtling towards that change with no way to put on the brakes to tell the world that I was not ready.
Motherhood is not the kind of thing that people like to describe as anything other than a gift. And that is true. But sometimes gifts don’t come wrapped in shiny bows. Sometimes they come wrapped in blood and tears and pain. And in the early months of my pregnancy, that is what I had been experiencing: refinement in the form of anxiety, growth in the form of uncertainty. And grace in the form of new life. It was a gift. But it was very heavy to carry.
So when I sent my first email to Deb in response to a TSB post searching for writers, I did it with the hope that God would bring some relief into my life. Not the superficial relief that comes from an hour spent looking at pretty pictures on Pinterest, but the real, lasting relief that is found in purpose and community.
And like He always does, God answered my hope with one that was even bigger than I imagined.
I used to write full-time for a faith-based media-buying agency. In essence, I scripted television shows for pastors. If you’ve ever stayed up late at night to watch a televangelist talk at your screen, you’ve probably heard my words. Sometimes I still write freelance for these pastors. But, in my opinion, there is a big difference between ministry and ministering. Ministry is an organization. An entity. Something that people often get involved with because they believe it’s the right thing, even if it’s not the best thing. Unfortunately, ministry can succeed if it’s got a pretty filter and some well-written words. It doesn’t have to have Spirit.
But ministering to people can only succeed with Spirit because it’s soul business. There’s nothing wrong with pretty pictures, but when you take them away, what are you left with? That’s the question we should always ask ourselves. And if The Simply Beloved disappeared tomorrow, the bonds that have been formed because of its existence would still remain.
Christ has made Himself known through TSB because Christ is the reason it ever started in the first place.
Friendships have taken root in the messy stuff that builds up around us and hope has been found in our shared stories. And that is what ministering looks like, my friends.
At first glance, The Simply Beloved might seem to be just another beautiful website. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a story that was written quite some time ago. A story that was written on a cross when Jesus made us new and gave us the ability to reach out across backgrounds and age differences and miles and take each other’s hands. I have never met a single woman from TSB in person. But every last one of them is my friend.
And only God could have done that