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{Podcast S2 E7} BPG: Godly Friendships with Johnna Nichelle & Tsciena Town

Welcome back to the Bonnet Prayer Gang!

We are back with Shekinah, Johnna Nichelle, and Tsciena Town as they talk about godly friendships, discerning when friendships are coming to an end, and the blessing of having friends who hold you to godly accountability.

Get ready to be inspired and challenged to take inventory of your friendships.

Visit our Podcast page to listen online, Google Podcast Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.

Show Notes:

Get To Know Our Guests:

Johnna Nichelle: Instagram & Website

Tsciena Town: Instagram & Website

Proverbs 17:17: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."

Get Caught Up with Season 2 Episode 6: Hearing God's Voice: A Journey Story w/ Ramel Moore

BPG: Godly Friendships with JohnnaNichelle & TscienaT - Transcription


Shekinah: Hey everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the Truths and Promises podcast. I am super excited, as usual, but today, extra excited because I have the Bonnet Prayer Gang here with me. You all have met them in season one, it's Tsciena and Johnna and I'm going to let them sort of re-introduce themselves, but if you really want to hear the detailed version, of course, go back and listen to our first Bonnet Prayer Gang conversation from season one. So, Johnna, do you want to kick us off and let the people know who you are?

Johnna: Sure. Well, first off, thank you for having us back on. It's always fun to get, to have these conversations together and share some of what we're sharing behind the scenes with the world.

But for those of y'all who don't know, my name is Johnna. I am a digital creator and business owner, based out of Dallas, Texas. I live here with my husband, our dog, and now our little baby boy who is on the way

Shekinah: So excited for that! Tsciena, go ahead.

Tsciena: Okay, well, hi everyone. Hopefully you listened last time, but I'm Tsciena. I'm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'm happy to be on the podcast again and talking with my girls. I guess during the day I'm a product marketer. Now I recently started a new job and super grateful for it. And in my free time, I'm just exploring creatively. We'll see what that'll look like, but I'm happy to be here today.

Shekinah: I love that. It's the year of flow and exploration and take it easy. I mean, for some of us, it's the year of applying pressure. It all works together. I love it. For those of you who might be listening for the first time, I'm Shekinah, I'm the host of this 1140 Glory podcast, called the Truths and Promises podcast.

I am based in Minneapolis and I work as an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. And I do 1140, I won't even say on the side, but it is really a passion project that I've had for many, many years, and so it's lovely to see it come to life in this form, the second season of the Truths and Promises podcast.

So, the Bonnet Prayer Gang conversations, are conversations that we have and it used to be every Monday, then it became every Wednesday, and it just sort of shifts with time. But these are conversations that we have in the midst of our prayer time together. So we started praying back in May of 2020. So happy friendiversary prayerversary, Bonnet-Prayer-Gang-aversary to us. And so now we are here, two years strong, still together, still praying and still having these sort of random conversations in the middle of our prayer time. And of course, as Johnna said, we like to bring these conversations to the open to you all as well. So I sort of wanted to start this episode out by really honoring my friends and where we've been in this journey of friendship and in this journey of prayer together. If you didn't catch it in the first episode we are known, well, I don't know, I, I don't know that we're known as the Bonnet Prayer Gang but I one day named our group chat, the Bonnet Prayer Gang, because we would wake up early in the morning with our bonnets on and FaceTime and pray. So that's where the name of Bonnet Prayer Gang came from. And like I said, that started back in May of 2020, but I originally met, Tsciena, is like one of my eldest friends. I won't age us, but we met back in college and in our freshman year. So we've been together a nice bit of time now, but I will say that I feel like our friendship has really taken an evolutionary experience and really has grown over the years from just being, you know, my SBPAC partner, like someone I hung out with an SGA to being a real prayer sister and just someone that's been by my side the past few years in and through everything. So that's kind of where we started. And then Johnna and I met through another friend of mine and started kind of building out 1140, as she was building, what was it, The Hidden Promise back then?

Johnna: Oh my gosh.

Shekinah: So yeah. And you know, Johnna had a lot of expertise back then, even in like the branding marketing and she could see the 1140 vision and was maybe the first person to hear me ever say the words, 1140 Glory. If I'm not mistaken, like woke up from a dream and was like, this is what I want to call it. So we've been in this thing for a long time as well. And when it was time for me to just, I don't know what I was going through, but there was something that God had just placed on my heart to start praying with women more and connecting consistently. And to be real, I think I just needed the accountability. And so Johnna was there for that. And the next thing I know, Tsciena was down and hence was Born the bonnet Prayer Gang, and we started praying together.

So. Yeah. That's sort of my recount, and my recollection, of how this friendship has come together. And I don't know if there's anything y'all want to add from sort of your perspective.

Tsciena: I mean, I'll say Shekinah, you just sent me a picture recently with what was it? Like some black X's on our hands or like that they put on the clubs and like, Johnna, we'll have to show you the picture. We're like holding them up. And she's like...

Shekinah: It was my 21st birthday.

Tsciena: And yeah, it's been a minute. We met in 2011. And I think, well, I was just thinking on this topic of friendship, I'm just in awe of how intentional God has been about people who I cross paths with and how those relationships have grown and what they look like today because, He's really moved ,and I wasn't saved back then.

So it's just really interesting who would have known that we would be walking with God and with each other now. So.

Johnna: Oh, man. That's so crazy because you know, I didn't know y'all when I was a heathen back in my days.

Shekinah: I saw you one time when you were still a heathen.

Johnna: Oh yeah, you did. You did. Okay. So we, we had some passing connections, but you know, when I think about it for me, when I think about the three of us, everything goes back to 1140. Like I always think of 1140. From planning the conference, you know, being on the Power Team together to that, then turning into a prayer call, that prayer call, turning into the conversations before and after, and just kind of blossoming into that friendship. So I think every time I think of like the BPG I just go straight back to 1140, which I think is so cool because all of us grew so much through that experience.

Shekinah: Yeah, that's for sure. That was definitely a part of the journey. And I couldn't be happier that God brought us together the way that he did. And if I'm not mistaken, most of our time outside of the 1140 conference and my wedding last May, everything has been virtual. I think we've always talked about like, oh, we should do like a little retreat, a little women's get away. And yeah, we failed at that, but...

Tsciena: I still want to, it will happen.

Shekinah: It's going to happen. It's going to be great. It's going to be great.

All right. So the topic of today is what do godly friendships look like? And so I want to hear from y'all on what does godly community, what do godly friendships look like? What do you value in those friendships and that community? What are you looking for? What do you think others should look for in godly friends and community?

I don't know who wants to start this one?

Johnna: I can start us out. So, I mean, gosh, I feel like this could go on for so long. There are just so many traits of godly friendship and so many things to look for in godly community. When I think about friendship specifically, I think first and foremost, a godly friend is someone you can be yourself with. If you don't feel like you can authentically be yourself with the person than it's not to say, maybe they're just nothing to you, but maybe that person isn't a friend, maybe that's more of an acquaintance, or just the connection you have. But when I think about what a true friend is, it's someone I can be myself with because at the end of the day, especially in godly friendships, those are going to be the people who walk with you through some really tough seasons, vulnerable seasons in your life. Those are gonna be the people that you trust to speak life into you, to pray over you, to speak truth into you, even when the truth might not be what we want to hear. I think that's definitely a separating factor of a godly friend is someone who is speaking the truth and not just their truth, but the truth of God into your life.

It just makes such a huge difference. So I think just, yeah, that being authentic with the person you're in the relationship with. And also someone who brings out the best in you. I think, you know, we can all probably attest to times where we've been around people and we reflect, and we're like, I don't really like who I am or how I am around that person.

I think it's really good to reflect when you're around people to say, what are these people bringing out in me? Are they bringing out the best or, you know, is every time I get around them, all we do is gossip and talk about what other people are doing. You know, you really have to look at those things and ask yourself, is this someone who is a godly friend?

So those are just a couple things that I look for.

Tsciena: Yeah. I love that you mentioned, I hear you saying, like, what are the fruits of that relationship? What are the activities we're doing and who do I become and what activities am I mirroring, you know? Cause if you get together, gossip, drink together, you know, it's like, you know, you're all going to do similar things.

So, I did think of fruits of the spirit when I saw this question, I think I experienced periods, I'm kind of in a period now where I am reassessing some of my relationships and I think we're all have, like, we have likable personalities, right? Like we can connect with a lot of people. And in my experience has been kind of hard to differentiate, like who is someone that I walk closely with?

Like, who are those, those true friends that I can, you know, just. Through life and every season. And I think godly friendship, it can stand all seasons of life. I think that's kind of what I come to. Like when I think about our conversations I feel emotionally, spiritually, psychologically safe to talk about anything, you know, but I also think that's because of where you are. You both are spiritually. And your walk with God like that spiritual maturity. So I think there has to be some alignment, there, spiritually, and then also a level of intimacy. And I don't think that comes easily, you know, I think that comes with time and I think you know, we were talking about how we kind of cross paths and how I met you. Shekinah and you Johnna, like I think God was planting seeds like those few years back so that we could develop relationships and develop intimacy over time. And It's like, it seems like a small thing, but committing to hop on those calls, that shows like devotion and commitment. And I think that fosters intimacy as well. So I think spiritual alignment, intimacy, and like just looking at the fruit.

Shekinah: Those are all so good. I know when you talk about spiritual and alignment. One of the things that I think about is like, you can't yoke an ox to a donkey, right? Like there has to be some alignment. Spiritually, I think also mentally, emotionally, there has to be a level of alignment between you and your community, you and your friends, so that when you all are all plowing, you all are all plowing.

There's not one that's being drug. You know, like the Bible also talks about how iron sharpens iron, right? Like if you consider yourself iron, you need to find some other iron pieces to be around, to grow sharper. And I think in those moments where, and I think we all had this experience at different moments where it's like, I don't feel like reading my Bible right now, or I don't feel like praying right now.

Or like I knew there was a time where I was like, I just can't pray y'all. And the two of you set on that phone and prayed until I felt comfortable enough to be like, okay, I can at least say, thank you Jesus, in this moment. You know? And, and that is just so important that when you start to feel dull or you start to feel like a donkey, but you have people around you, a community around you that can really shift and change and pull out of you the fruits of the spirit. Pull out of you, who God has really called you and created you to be. And I think also about how you say, you know, it's about, both of you are mentioning how it's about what you all do when you're together. I know their relationships I've cut off because of gossip. You know, I told my friend then like gossip is a sin and I'm not going to sit here and keep gossiping with you. And she continued to gossip and I slowly just had to move away from that relationship because it was not healthy for me at that time. But, you know, as Tsciena mentioned at the very beginning, there's a picture I just sent her a couple of weeks ago where we were celebrating my 21st birthday in college, and the background was dark. So like that gives you enough of an image of where we were and what we were up to that night. But like this isn't someone that I cut off and she didn't cut me off because at that time we were doing this thing, so it's like, God can still create and bring good fruits out of things that at one period or point in time might've been spoiled. Does that make sense? Is that thought coming across? I don't know.

Johnna: Okay. No, that totally makes sense. And I love that you talk about the scripture about being equally yoked, because I think, you know, that's a common scripture, a lot of us know it, but a lot of times we're not thinking about friendships when we think about things like that. We're thinking about relationships, maybe, you know, being equally yoked maybe with your boyfriend or your girlfriend or whoever, but those same principles apply to friendships. So yeah, I mean, it definitely makes sense. There are seasons where it's like, y'all are both walking, and Lord knows what kind of mess, but you're, you're technically equally yoked.

I mean, you're in the same sort of season, but I am thankful that God can plant those seeds and you guys can evolve through that to get to a place where being equally yoked is actually a good thing.

Shekinah: Yeah.

Tsciena: Yeah. I liked that. You mentioned the comparison between like, or maybe like the separation between friendships and like romantic relationships, because I think, I don't know if it's in the broader community or in the church community. There's kind of a hyper-focus on marriage and dating and as it should be, that's one of the most important relationships, but friendship also holds some weight too. I think, I don't know. I'm curious, like maybe what are your thoughts on your marital relationship and your friendships and like, what are some of the, I don't know the differences or what are some things you appreciate out of your friendships?

Shekinah: That's a real good and also tough question. Man, because I definitely see like my marriage, my marital relationship, very similar to my friendships, but I don't know. They're also just differences in what I think men understand versus what my girlfriends are going to understand. And when I get on in the morning to pray and say, y'all pray for me and Justin and lift us up, I felt like there isn't much, I have to say, but if I were to be like, we need prayer, he would probably be like, why, what is wrong? Well, what is going on? You know, like I feel like there's just an unspoken level of intimacy between us as women. That it's just not the same in marriage. And obviously marriage has a whole nother level of intimacy. That's not the same as friendship, but I dunno, I would say there's an openness and a vulnerability that is shared between both of those types of relationships.

And also, also like a reverence, and a reminder of who God is, you know, I oftentimes say like, yeah, I think marriage is there so that your husband, your wife, is a reflection of how God loves you. Right. It should be unconditional, but there's also just a reminder of God, even in my godly friendships, you know, like praying with y'all having our prayer journals, seeing these prayers come to life. Seeing you live out all the dreams that God has placed on the inside of your heart.

It's just a reminder of, He is real. He is present. He is here. He is moving. He cares about every single detail of our lives. And so, I guess it's hard for me to find differences between marriage and friendship. Johnna, I'd be interested in hearing what, what you think the differences might be. I just think there's like a gender difference that I can pinpoint right now.

Johnna: I mean, a thousand percent there's gender difference. Sometimes guys just don't get it like girls. It just, it is what it is. But I mean, honestly, when I think about like friendships versus relationships, in the marital sense. I feel like my friendships strengthen my marriage so much. I think if I, when I'm just looking in the eyes of marriage, I can be really self focused because it is just me and the other person. And it can be really easy to fall into kind of selfishness and only seeing things from my point of view. Whereas in friendships, especially where you have more than one friend, like we have a circle of us. You get to hear different perspectives and see things outside of yourself. That actually strengthened your marriage.

So like, I know there's so many times where I've come to you all, same thing, right? We need prayer. I don't know what's going on, but you know, you don't even have to go into all of the details of, you know, the intimate parts of your marriage, but just bringing those things to your friends and giving them an idea of what's going on.

A lot of times y'all will help me see, like, okay, maybe I need to sit with this a little more. Maybe I need to come to God with this instead of just pointing the finger at my husband. So I definitely feel like there's a connection in that way, but at the same time, I can come to you all and ask for that advice and hear from you objectively in a way where if those conversations are just happening between my husband and I. We're both really looking from the lens of self rather than seeing the bigger picture, you know?

Tsciena: Yeah.

Shekinah: Yeah.

Tsciena: I think that's really interesting as you were both speaking, it kind of reminded me how, like God is referred to as a father in the Bible sometimes, as a husband, as a friend, and it's like, it's kind of like y'all are pointing out some of those different traits or like benefits, honestly, that you can pull from different aspects of God. So that's cool.

Shekinah: Yeah. I love that. Yeah. And I, I really, I definitely identify with what you said, Johnna, about friendships, strengthening marriage. You know, I think about, I remember the time I forget what was going on with Dmitri, but then you told me, you were like, yeah, I just told him, you just prayed for him like never before. And I remember just like, God placing him on my heart really heavy. And it, you know, a lot of that is, and I've heard the moments that y'all have prayed for Justin. Like that was your best friend, your brother, like you known him your entire life. And you know, I just, I know that that's because when God has brought you together with someone is one that, that friendship, that bond, that love that we have one for one another blends into the love that we then have for one another's marriages and that relationship. And it really is a strengthening, you know, it's not, my mom will always text from time to time she'll text and she'll say, all right, don't y'all go gossiping about your husbands and complaining. Y'all just need to pray about it. And it's always a friendly reminder that I'm not about to just hop on this prayer line and be like, okay, this is what happened this week. Am I crazy? Or is he crazy? But no, it's like, all right y'all we really need to pray because there is something happening here that is beyond flesh and blood, right?

Like we know that this is spiritual. And so it's not just me praying for my marriage. It's not just my pastors or my parents praying for my marriage, but I have friends that legit go in for my marriage once a week, I know, right there by my side. And that in itself is like, nope, we're not going to give up. We're not going to give in, like, I've got warriors praying for this. Right. We've got accountability in this. So I really do identify with that. Friendships building the marriage.

Johnna: That's so good. And that's that too, that's such a huge differentiator in a godly friendship. You're not just bringing your problems just to vent and then just dump on your friend and leave. Like when we're bringing things to each other that we're struggling with or just seasons that we're going through that are tough. It's because we know someone's going to war for us. Someone's going to bring that before God, not just when we're together on the call, but all throughout the week, we know like, okay, I have warriors and I'm not tackling this thing alone. And I think that's just, that's like a key component of a godly friendship. Like, can this person go to war for me in this spirit?

Tsciena: Yeah.

Shekinah: That's good. Yeah. And I, you know, I've also heard of the opposite, where friendships get in the way of marriage. So I hope that this rings loud with our listeners, that if your friendship is not strengthening or supporting your marriage or the type of relationships that you are pursuing, if you are pursuing celibate, godly relationships, and courting and your friendships, aren't supporting that.

There needs to be a readjustment in the types of things maybe you talk about or what your friendship is based on, you know? I think friendships all developed from different spaces and have different seasons. You know, I have my friends that I pray with. I have my friends that I write with and I co-work with, as it relates to academia and perhaps we don't pray together, but they are that support system in that way. So I think it's really important to know those boundaries and what you can share. I don't think everyone's a friend for every season or for every part of your life. Right? I think at one point when we started out together, like, yeah, we had that 1140 roots. So we always had like that godly center, but there were also calls that we had that were legit about business and productivity.

Right. And that was like the season we were in the moment and the time that we were in. And then of course we supplemented that with prayer, but, you know, I think, I think every friendship has its place, its season, it's purpose, and we have to try not to, I think, expand a friendship beyond the boundaries that God might be setting for that friendship.

Johnna: That's real, honestly, that's something that personally for me I have struggled with is, you know, kind of letting things go past maybe where God has tried to already put an end to it. And, you know, there's, there's quite a few friends that I've had for a really long time in my life. And some of those have kind of dissipated over time just to our lives being so completely different or our core values growing so differently as we've grown into adults. But it's, it's hard to let go sometimes. I just, I just want to keep everybody so close and just be best friends with everyone forever. But the reality is that's not always God's intention. And so I kind of wrestle with that, honestly.

Tsciena: Yeah. I feel like there's several