Who’s in your five? A mentor of mine asked me that question, and I honestly couldn’t answer. He was saying that when you have a challenge in life, lean into the five closest people in your community.
Over the years, I’ve developed a tribe of very positive, inspiring people. I have a church home, lead a small group for young married couples, live on a street where everyone knows everybody, teach an acting class, take an acting class, participate in a group chat and keep up with family. My tribe looks great on paper; it consists of people I look up to, people I mentor, people I do life with, people that make me laugh, people that show up when asked. On the outside, I’m surrounded by good folks. But my mentor made me realize something: I hadn’t really let any of them “in.”
Here’s a perfect example. On my wedding day, I handed out three plaques to the women in my life who have stepped up as “mothers” in my life after my mom passed. In essence, I was telling saying, “Tag, you’re it. When I need a mom, I trust you will show up and support. In turn, I will show up as a daughter and love your family as my own.” It was a beautiful gesture, and I’ve been in contact with all of these women. But overall, I’ve only really talked to them about how life is going when life was too hard for me to handle alone. That’s not relationship. If my mom was still here, I would show up for dinner and check in just because. The reason I haven’t really done this with these ladies is because I don’t want to be a bother.
So, back to my “aha” moment with my mentor. “Who’s in your five?” I decided for the first time to conduct an experiment. Typically, I go through challenging times in private and celebrate the victory with my tribe after I’ve gone through it . . . alone. I know that’s crazy, but what can I say? It’s learned behavior. So, here’s the experiment. The last time I was in the middle of a challenge, I decided to reach out to my tribe. I mean everybody. I wanted to know what it felt like to be supported; I texted/called my substitute moms, messaged my small group, texted my friends in the group chat and called my dad.
The result was interesting. Some people didn’t respond at all. Some people didn’t know how to respond. Some gave me the basic, “love you, praying for you” response, and they kind of disappeared into the business of their own lives. (I’ve done this before SOOOO many times, so I’m not judging.) I had hour-long conversations with others: people I hadn’t really talked to in years. Some people LITERALLY showed up, which surprised me.
Now that I’m better and on the other side of the challenge, I learned something about my squad. Not every relationship is created equal. Some people, I’m there to serve. Some people are clutch when I’m in a bind and need good advice. Some people are great at just being there. Some people support me well and are safe to lean on. I learned that in order to have true relationships, I have to let some people in. I don’t have to let everyone in, but I need in “inner circle.” They can’t just orbit around my life, they have to be invited into the messiness of it, and in turn, I need to jump into theirs.
So, I chose my five. They’ve always been there, but I’m proud to say that over the last week, I’ve contacted all of them and intentionally let them in. They may change over time, and that’s okay. The point is that I started a journey of vulnerability in my closest relationships, and I’m elated! I’ve had some “just because” conversations. I’ve also had some long, hardy belly-laughs. I’ve had some deeper conversations, with awesome exchanges of wisdom. It’s been amazing. I feel supported. I feel loved. I’m not doing life alone, and it has been life-giving to my soul and body. My friend, I hope and pray that I maintain this practice because it’s just so healthy. I feel a difference already. I also pray that your squad supports you well and that you “belong” somewhere. If not, take the risk and start letting someone in. We were made for that kind of thing.
We were helping my in-laws move. Well, my husband was helping my in-laws move. I was sitting around and catching up with family. I’d just gotten off bedrest and didn’t want to overdo it, so I was just kind of there, hanging out.
On our way back home, I was deep in thought as I watched the trees go by. My thoughts: why do certain areas of my life seem to just fall into place, but other areas feel like a constant struggle? My recent health issues were overall non-threatening but seemed to go on much longer than necessary. What was the hold up? I thought about it, had some light conversation with my husband, realized it was late, and let my musings go.
I woke up at 5:30am the next morning for quiet time and did some reading, praying and meditating. While reading, something popped out at me in a different way. I was reading a Bible passage in Matthew. In the story, someone approaches Jesus, asking him to cast out a demon that his disciples couldn’t. His disciples struggled, but Jesus was able to do it with ease. When his disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus said, “Because you have so little faith.” Then he went on to teach them that if they have faith, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” I felt like God was whispering the answer I needed to my spirit.
The reason why I struggle with certain areas of my life is my lack of belief in those areas. The reason I win with ease in other areas in my rock-hard confidence.
For example, I never worry about making rent or paying the mortgage. My husband is a contractor, and I’m self-employed. It’s been that way our entire marriage. Before I married him, I was self-employed, so we technically don’t always know where our next check is coming from. We are responsible adults who work, budget, pay bills, save. But sometimes life happens. When it does, I don’t worry. I trust that we will have a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food to eat, and a way to get back and forth to work. For whatever reason, I’ve always felt like those things would just work themselves out. God will provide. And he does. Every. Single. Time.
I’ve also always believed I was worthy of healthy romantic love, so I’ve never been pressed. When I was single, I repelled romantic drama and attracted healthy relationships. Meeting, dating, marrying and living with my husband has been a simple and beautiful process. And I’m STILL not pressed. If he changes his mind and wants to leave, he’s free to go. I don’t own him. He doesn’t own me. We’re both here because we WANT to be. If he did decide to leave, I’m sure that someone else amazing would come along. I don’t worry about it. I almost never think about. There’s so much ease in this department of my life because there’s ease in my heart.
The recent struggle with my health was a result of my mental back and forth. I would have one symptom, then worry for weeks as my body healed. Then, I’d get another symptom, and the worry cycle would start all over again. I was holding the issue too tightly, trying to control something that I ultimately couldn’t. What I learned is that the way I believe really does affect the outcome of my situations. The key to my victory is a sense of ease: releasing the issue and trusting that it will all work out in time.
Where am I with this now? Mentally, I’m in a good place. I finally stopped worrying. I still have some symptoms that I don’t understand, but they are minor, and I’ve prayed for wisdom. While I’m waiting on the answer, I’ve let the issue go. I’m now clear that manhandling my problems doesn’t work, so I’ve chosen to release my problems and just stay on the healing path, no matter how long it takes.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.