This story starts two years ago, when I joined a critique group through ACFW. Back then, you signed up and they matched you with people who write in your genre. My crit group (lucky number 13) was one of the last to be formed that way. But I’ll tell you something… no human hand formed our group. God alone did that. We were a group of women scattered all over the country from a variety of backgrounds and with varied interests. Without this critique group and ACFW, we probably never would have met. When we began, we had six active members. We are now four active members (though our quiet ones are still in our number and our hearts).
I’ve met one of my crit partners before. We had lunch together earlier this year when business brought her to my town. It was awesome to see her in person. See, this group has done more than read each other’s work. We’ve prayed each other through major life decisions. We’ve cried with each other when one of us grieves. We’ve supported each other, laughed with (and at) each other. I honestly think we share more with each other than we realize.
And last Friday, for the first time, our four active members were all together in the same room. It was amazing, and that word is not enough. I know for a fact two of us dropped bags and ran across a hotel lobby to get to each other. (I was one of them…) We spent the weekend at ACFW conference talking, laughing til we cried, and sometimes just plain crying. We ate Chick-fil-a (some for the first time, if you can believe that) and laughed some more and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly of agent and editor appointments. We got to celebrate together and pray together. And all of it was in person. I realized a couple of days ago what God had done. When we all laid eyes on one another as a group for the first time, it was like we’d always shared the same space. There was no awkwardness. No worries about being accepted.
And that’s when I realized we had something special. We accept each other. We know the good of each other and the bad of each other. (And now we’ve seen how obnoxious some of us–me–can be in person…) Yet we love each other. I looked around that circle of faces and realized I have God-given sisters. It amazes me the geographic and personality differences among us, but look what God did. He created something beautiful.