I want to introduce you to my friend Kim Broniman because I just want to celebrate our relationship because, in many ways, she is helping me get this Vegan Ecovillage started.
She is helping me by just being a good friend and accountability partner in helping me with my spiritual, emotional and physical health.
She is also supporting me in so many ways to be the servant leader and team member I need to be. Her friendship has come at an important time in my life, and I value her contribution to me so much.
First, here is how we met.
In some ways, the past 9 months feels like the most difficult and intense time of my entire life.
Believe me, I have had some intense times! I have suffered immensely mainly when I felt alone and could not find one friend that I could really trust.
I wanted to run away from all of my dreams just a month ago. I was in so much pain. The pain I felt from rejection and betrayal from people who I thought were supportive of me felt so overwhelming. I had similar feelings during childbirth at the point of transition when many women feel a sensation like they just want to leave their bodies because the pain is so unbearable.
I was persuading myself that this action of running away would alleviate my pain.
I am grateful to Robert and a dear friend who helped me see how running away would not help. They kept me from the immediate action I wanted to take. Cliff, my other former husband supported me in important ways during this last bout of challenges.
Yet I need to give most of the credit for me moving through this tough time of my life to Kim. I have been able to heal those parts of me that wanted to run away.
I was helping Doreen Virtue, a famous new age teacher turned Christian. She wanted me to help her moderate a Facebook group for new agers who were drawn to Jesus.
I am glad now that I poured my energy into doing my best to nurture the seekers in that group. I felt honored and grateful to be recommended by Doreen as being a person who could be trusted to be a kind of spiritual director to these people. They had so many questions about how to connect with Jesus. Most did not want to give up all of the new age teachings because they saw a lot of good in them.
The group ended abruptly when Doreen decided to shut it down because of reasons that were unclear. I saw the desperate need of these spiritual seekers. So many had expressed with great emotion how grateful they were to have a safe space where they could explore what they really believed about Jesus without being judged.
I felt compelled to start a new group to meet the needs of these seekers.
Kim really wanted to help steer the new group and eventually, I trusted her enough to take her on as an equal partner. Getting to this point was not easy. I am forever grateful to Elizabeth Ristow, another member of our group for helping facilitate a very intense conflict that Kim and I went through.
I am overjoyed that Kim was willing, even though it was painful, to go through a process of healing with me by continuing to communicate her feelings, observations, needs, wants, and evaluations.
I felt hurt at times during these times where we were in conflict. Yet we had an unspoken commitment to each other be honest with each other and to keep talking about things until we cleared them up. Our mutual respect was building slowly but surely.
I saw how she was helping me look at my shadow. Not many people have the courage and persistence to help me do that. I can be rather resistant if I am not feeling safe with someone. Creating a safe space is definitely one of Kim’s strengths.
Kim has a rare quality of gently helping me to look at what was really going on inside of me for two reasons. One, because I believed that she would still love me even if I did admit my fault, and two, because she didn’t act like she knew for sure what was going on.
When I started doing spiritual practices regularly on Facebook live, about 6 months ago, Kim regularly joined me at the 9pm evening reflection time. Every single evening she would show up to this session, and we would do things like pray, reflect on our day, meditate on scripture (Lectio Devina) and do healing work with Jesus (Immanuel Prayer).
I got to know Kim and feel her gentle, loving support. Her steadiness in showing up every single time inspired me to be consistent as well.
Reflecting on that time, I see now that I was going slow. I had been hurt by a lot of friends. In the past, I would dive in head first into friendships partly because I was so hungry to have a good friend whom I could count on. Usually, I got hurt very badly because of rejection or betrayal.
I do have a growing number of friends who I can trust and with whom I am growing with. My relationships with them, in some ways, have been strengthened because of how I am growing and learning with Kim. I now have a new confidence about my ability to be a friend.
We have some tools that we use to keep our friendship close and free of conflict.
For example, every evening when we meet, we start with a prayer, appreciation and incompletions. These three things really help us to make sure that we are nurturing our relationship with positive things, and then clearing away even the smallest things that could lead to tension.
Something I value about us is that even though Kim didn’t fit a description I had in my head of that friend who I was looking for would be, we demonstrated true acceptance.
Her lifestyle was so different in many ways. Although she wanted to be a vegan, circumstances in her life made it too difficult for her to make that lifestyle choice. Other issues seemed like obstacles, but as time progressed, I saw that these things did not hurt our friendship.
For example, Kim is so much quieter than I am. “How could I be friends with someone who is so quiet,” I thought. Even though we were doing all our spiritual work by writing, and even though I really appreciated and felt inspired our connection, the evaluating, logical part of me couldn’t see her as being that friend I had been searching for all my life.
I realize now that I have some prejudice against quiet people. In our society, flashy, charismatic, persuasive people (like me!) are valued. I’m not valued quite so much since I so often am going against the grain and challenging people with my flashiness!
As I saw Kim’s loyalty, and how much she valued our time together. I could see that we needed to explore going deeper. So I suggested that we talk on the phone once a week to be accountability partners, offer each other empathy and do other things that could help our spiritual growth and deepen our connection.
After we talked on the phone, we very quickly realized that we were enjoying the phone connection more than doing the spiritual practices online. Plus, we could now share more in a more vulnerable way because our interactions were not on live Facebook!
We thought our online time was special, but when we talked every single night at 9PM (now going on for about three months) the spiritual practice time became even more powerful. We developed a structure that really fit our needs for structure and spontaneity. You can see that structure here.
At first, we were rather spontaneous about how we proceeded. Sometimes, one of us really needed some listening time. Kim had by now learned how to listen to me empathically in ways that were really nurturing to me.
Then Kim was receptive to the idea that we could have a regular structure that would also give great flexibility depending on our needs. I love how we continually flow together. Yes, there have been times where we challenged each other about things. In the beginning, the challenges hurt each of us because we were still building trust, and still afraid the other would leave the relationship because we were being so honest.
And that is the main reason I love Kim–she has had the courage to be completely honest with me even though she thinks she might lose my friendship. I keep reassuring her that I am not going to withdraw or even get mad at her if she disagrees with me about something I am doing.
And she has such commitment to our relationship that if I am honest with her, she is willing to work through things until we both felt complete.
Here is a partial list of what I enjoy about her: She:
- Has handled my intensity and my willingness to challenge her constructively.
- Prioritizes our relationship.
- She is fiercely dedicated to really working things out.
- There are so many qualities that come along with this commitment:
- Has courage and a willingness to take risks
- Exhibits vulnerability and feels safe sharing things that I could potentially reject her for
- Is an excellent listener with good comprehension and ability to empathize with reflective listening
- Has deep compassion for me and others who I am upset with –so she doesn’t condemn other people or fuel my anger at them
- Was willing to read my values and she is in alignment with them
- Laughs easily and takes joy in little things
- Works well with me in a team setting–doing the Freethinking Friends of Jesus group together
- Loves to do all the spiritual practices with me
- Delights in me and appreciates even my foibles
- Brings out the best in other people including myself
- Understands that we are living in a matrix. She thinks outside the box, and has critical creative thinking skills
- Loves Jesus but doesn’t need to me to believe the same things she does about him
- Willing to learn and grow every single day
- Able to draw boundaries lovingly
- Loves to sing and be playful
- Is practical and down to earth
- Loves celebration and socializing
- is a fantastic listener using empathic listening skills really well
- Asks important questions that help me to think through what I am doing
I feel really happy to know Kim. I think we have both grown immensely because of our connection.
Something that is really wonderful is that we pray very specifically for two things for each other every night. We write down the prayers and then the next evening we check to see if the prayers were answered. Our faith has increased so much as we see most of our prayers answered!
Most of our prayers are answered. Or if the prayers aren’t answered, then we see the progress being made at inner levels of our being so that they can be answered. We keep praying more specifically for things as they come up.
I love sharing my day with her and hearing how her day went. We debrief in such a way that we can see how God is working in our lives while at the same time knowing more clearly how we can help each other.
Some might think it is crazy that we spend from 90 minutes to 2 hours ever evening doing our spiritual routine, yet time stands still and I am never bored. I love hearing Kim’s insights about the scripture we meditate on as well as sharing mine with her.
Kim is the friend I have been wanting all my life, and I cherish our friendship. She came to me at a time when I ended up letting go of a lot of friendships because I saw that those friendships did not support my values.
I really don’t know how I would have made it through my faith shift without Kim. I also went through a very intense time at the final church I tried to become a part of, and her support was invaluable.
We also have beautiful experiences doing the Immanuel Approach where we help facilitate a process where Jesus helps us to heal our childhood wounds.
Kim is one of the most appreciative and encouraging persons I have ever met.
I love our friendship! You might want to get to know her better at her blog: http://www.giftsonthejourney.com