“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” – Henri Nouwen
A couple years ago, I read Shauna Niequist’s book, Bittersweet. It was the second book she wrote, but it was the first one I read. I think I bought it one sale from a Borders store after they went bankrupt and had closeout sales. (Of course I made sure to visit all the surrounding Borders because even though I miss the store, I love sales and books and sales on books.)
I know I have quoted this book before, but it is so good. She writes with this kind of raw honesty making you feel like you are best friends. Only she wrote this chapter titled “Home Team” so I guess she lets you know you aren’t really best friends because this home team idea is about knowing the core group of people you (hopefully) have in your life that you know have your back. All the same, her words in this book and her first book are welcoming in a way that makes you feel like she would paint “Hello” on her front door.
“Everybody has a home team,” Shauna writes:
“It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyway. The home team people are the ones you can text with five minutes’ notice, saying, I’m on my way, and I’m bringing tacos.”
There are times when I have a bad day, and I know who I can text. I know how my friends will respond. I know who will suggest getting ice cream from Costco. I know who will hear me out when I am being ridiculous and will tell me I’m being ridiculous but will still listen. Sometimes it feels like my life is falling apart, but really I just can’t pack everything I own in my car to drive home for the summer and then one of my friends helps me completely reorganize and repack my car so I was able to fit more in my car than is physically possible. Those friends are my home team.
My mom is also on my home team. She gave me life, and so you’d think maybe she’s a home team shoe in, but I know plenty of people who rarely even speak to their mothers. I’ve recently felt very far away from home. My hometown is in the middle of a blizzard, so I do not really want to be stuck in a sixteen-inch high snow pile. I was watching a two-year-old last week, and he had to poop. I know, everyone poops. (Am I entering the Too-Much-Information realm? Stay with me here.) But if you are a two-year-old boy, sometimes it is hard. Anyway, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I am not the best babysitter, but I was overwhelmed and just wanted to call my mom.
I had this awful realization. I realized that my mom will not always be around. (Gee, Mom, sorry this is taking such a depressing tone.) I love my mom so much. She is my biggest supporter and encourager. If my home team were a literal team, she’d be the captain and biggest cheer leader. Only without the pom-poms, because I don’t think she is the rah-rah-rah type. So it is important to let those on your home team know you love and value them because life is fragile.
She continues to describe the importance of knowing who is on your home team:
“…You need to know who they are because they need you. These are the people you visit in the hospital no matter what. These are the people whose weddings you attend, no matter how far the destination is or what terrible thing they’ve chosen for you to wear. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”
Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the worst days ever recorded in the history of ever. My best guy friend lost his wife two years ago in a car accident. It was such an awful day, it is branded into my memory. It was this huge multiple state event hosted on my college campus, so my youth pastor was in town. We were walking to another building after just finishing lunch when we were met by someone from my church. She was in tears. She told us what happened. I instantly called my mom, but was quickly paralyzed by the news I couldn’t tell her so I handed the phone to my youth pastor.
My best guy friend doesn’t remember it, but I went with a couple of my friends to see him in the hospital. We had an entirely random conversation, so it probably better he doesn’t even remember it. That’s what you do when you have a home team. You drive miles and miles just to hug. You offer grace when there are no words.
When something happens, you call your home team. When you’re facing a decision that feels too big, you call your home team. When you don’t know where else to turn, you call your home team. We all need a home team.
You also celebrate with your home team. They are the first ones on your wedding invite list. They are the ones who call when you find out you are pregnant. They are the ones with whom you celebrate your birthday. You celebrate life together. You experience the deepest intimacy community has to offer together.
Shauna writes that when you know who is on your home team, you then also know who isn’t on your home team and thus, who you aren’t responsible for. The people on your home team can change; changing friendships is a painful reality I have had to come to terms with, especially the past couple years. Knowing who isn’t on your home team frees you up from having to constantly say yes. It reminds you who to invest in, who you spend money on plane fights to visit, and who you need and who needs you. It’s really more freeing than anything else.
Sometimes I feel like I am a pretty broken person, so it isn’t easy for me to let people in. And, honestly, it probably isn’t all that easy being on my home team because I am no doubt a handful. Really, my home team should all get jerseys. Except that’s probably dorky and no one would ever wear them because I’d put sequins on them. Just kidding, I don’t even like sequins. Now rhinestones, that’s an entirely different story.
So, thank you, home team. Thank you.