Friendship As Liberation


“We cannot say that in the process of revolution someone liberates someone else, nor yet that someone liberates him or herself, but rather that people in communion liberate each other.” –Paulo Freire, Communion as Liberation (via Inward/Outward)

We were sitting around the dinner table in Bujumbura. At the Marquee, an outdoor restaurant which reminds of a treehouse, with live music and the sound of crickets and cars in the African night. We found a wooden table on the second floor and I remember the warm, tropical air and the even warmer feeling pashmina’d around my heart.

Four very special girlfriends were sitting around that table together. Kelley, Tina, Rene and I–all from different corners of the world. Tina and I from Vancouver (but from all over the world), Kelley from the US in Burundi for the summer, Rene from Cape Town. Claude from Burundi.

We ordered food—fresh fish from Lake Tanganyika for Rene and I, local “bread” and dipping dishes. A large Primus beer to share.

Kelley ordered her favourite brochettes.

Then Claude asked, So, tell me about this SheLoves.

He really wanted to know.

Because then he said something so sacred: It’s made Kelley alive again.

It was an intimate confession. From a husband who loves and who knows. The kind—if Scott had made it, would have meant he would have gotten a good talking-to after the meal or a fat kick in the shins. Because I would have felt vulnerable … naked … my heart a little too exposed. But that’s me–still learning to take my “in” more “out.”

And exactly because Claude said that, I could echo in my heart: O, it wasn’t just me.

To my heart, this connection–of Kelley and Tina and I and a growing circle of SheLoves sisters–has been liberation.

I, too, have become alive—liberated–in this community of women and friends.

Sitting around that table, the lemony fish—perfectly salted—scooped up with hand and savoured on tongue, became more deep communion.

This liberation not necessarily growing out of the daily posts (although that too), but out of an intimacy that has come with sharing our hearts in our words. Conversations that have flowed out of facebook updates and tweets.

The life that has flowed out of friends standing together, running together, cheering each other on. Watching a friend catapulted and taking her right place, more aligned with her gifts and talents. Roadtrips–first with Tina last year to Donald Miller’s Storyline conference. Then, this year in February, with a whole carload of us on our way to the Justice conference.

Phone calls and texts and Skype calls to check in and talk. Sometimes about the vision of SheLoves, other times just to talk and be together and pray. Making comments on heart-shared posts and then sharing it with our world. Expanding and growing our individual worlds.

I’d like to think this intimacy we’ve grown hasn’t been something exclusive, but has in its essence a knowing, a conviction that there is an abundance … room for many.

For me, the intimacy has said, I fit in here. I’m not that crazy.

I belong on this earth.

It’s said, It’s ok to like brainiac stuff. And be a mama. And love a big flippin’ global existence. And be from all over the place. And not know all the answers. And not always have it together. And love my phone. And be wrong. And some days not quite myself. And sometimes brilliant. And PMS. And love books and TED Talks and even Theology.

And sometimes all in the same day.

Like Kelley, I have a husband who speaks heart.

Since early on in our marriage, he’s challenged me to not listen to his exact words, but to listen for what he’s saying. To listen to his heart behind the words. He’s stretched me over nearly 13 years of marriage to open my heart and trust … to allow in. And to speak out.

To share what’s on my heart.

This tasting of communion is beautiful liberation. Something I want more of in this body of Christ’s, broken and beautiful on our earth.


 You may not have sat around that table in Bujumbura, but many of you who read here, is part of this sacred circle–this communion of friends–that is growing and expanding. 

  • I’d love to hear how friendship has liberated you.
  • Or not.
  • Where are you at on this journey?
  • Daniela

    So beautiful idelette, the sisterhood of SheLoves has freed places in me I did not even know existed. Your friendship and mentors hip has pushed me through doors I would have never seen. I love walking through life with you. And I’m so excited that after 4 weeks you will be walking through my door in 30 minutes!!!! Happy clappy dance!!!!!

  • Tina/@teenbug

    GLORY BE! You are writing again. Your words have “pashmina’d* around my heart” today. They feel like medicine on this much-needed self-care day. Deeply grateful for a seat at that sacred table of friends.

    *I LOVE that visual.

  • Stefanie

    LOVE this. Love the picture you paint, and love that you had this trip and got to share with sacred friends. Your words inspired this, my version:

    For me, the intimacy has said, I fit in here. I’m not that crazy.

    I belong on this earth.

    It’s said, it’s okay to like non-brainiac stuff. And be single. And have no kids. Yet (hopefully). And to love being connected to others in big and small ways. And to love my alone time, quiet time. Puttering. And not always have it together. And avoid the phone. And be wrong. And be afraid. And some days not quite myself. Which is being myself, if I don’t judge any particular mood, feeling, thought, then I am always just Being Me. And sometimes brilliant. And love TV and movies and music and pop culture stuff that could easily be called useless or silly. And sometimes all in the same day.


    • idelette

      Stef, you are brilliant! That’s exactly IT–we get to bring our own unique selves to the table. I love your version. Haha–you avoid the phone and love TV. And all the other beautiful ways that make you wonderful you. This made me go, Kwaaaaaaaaa! (A South African way to go LOL, apparently.) Isn’t it yummy?! xo

  • Sherry Naron

    Dear Idelette,
    The sisterhood of Sheloves has been a refuge for me at times. As an introvert I can exist in a world for a long time and not be fully known. Often people aren’t patient enough for me to get through my fumbling of words to actually hear what I have to say, or to understand me. A lot of the time I feel as if I’m trying to convince them to understand me, with very little success.

    The crazy thing about the Sheloves friends is most of the time I find I don’t have to say much at all. It’s a place where I find people who are already like me, so there’s no need to convince them. For instance these women understand that to stand up for women around the world doesn’t make you an angry feminist, it just means you have compassion for your sisters around the world. The words from Sheloves friends often jump off the page and feel like home. They’re comfortable. (And as an introvert home is my sanctuary). And even if we aren’t completely alike or believe the same way on certain points, there seems to be a sense of acceptance and respect and appreciation for each person. It’s a gift to each of us who have connected.

    Quite often I read posts and think, I need to move to Canada! :)

    • idelette

      Sherry! I would love for you to move to Canada–Vancouver side, please–haha–but I do hope we have the global flavour … so that you belong whether you’re from Texas, Taipei or Lake Tanganyika.

      It makes me sad that people don’t want to wait around to hear what you have to say … From what I’ve experienced from you via facebook and twitter and SheLoves, you have such a rich offering for the world. I am just uber thankful for Social Media. It allows us introverts to express the stuff inside and connect … It’s an important revolution.

      O, and I’d like to frame this: “The crazy thing about the Sheloves friends is most of the time I find I don’t have to say much at all. It’s a place where I find people who are already like me, so there’s no need to convince them.” Wow. Thank you. YESSSSSSS!

  • neritia

    Ai, ek is so bly jy skryf weer!!!

    I love your words – spoken & written. It’s great, glorious, fabulous that your’re writing again over here….on this blog. Since the “big run” you’ve never been here and i use to check in weekly so see whether maybe you’re back.

    Your “out” is visible. I saw it in your eyes the other day….and it’s beautiful!

    • idelette

      Hier gaat ons! Skryf, skryf, skryf!

      Ek kan nie glo jy’t so gereeld kom loer nie … Jammer ek was nie by die “huis” nie! :) Die deur is weer oop, gordyne oopgetrek, ligte is aan, kerse brand … Ek het selfs piesangbrood gebak!