Three weeks ago I took a step in faith, and God has so blessed me from it.
I spent two years “church hopping” or “church shopping.” I went from place to place, always the new face. It’s hard to put yourself out there when everyone else already has friends and someone to sit next to.
I gave up for a while. I believed the church was out there, but I was just tired of the trying. I needed a church family, a church community, but just wanted a break. I listened to podcasts and I went to bible studies – I even lead a bible study with a friend! But most Sunday mornings found me doing homework in my bedroom listening to a message online. Sometimes? Sometimes I slept instead.
And that’s not wrong. It’s okay, really. But not for a long period of time. We need community, it’s like oxygen.
This semester I began again, this time with a friend in the same boat. We stumbled across a small church by word-of-mouth and the first week I went by myself. My friend was sick and couldn’t make it – oh, did I want to use that in my favor. I didn’t want to go by myself once again, but I refused the excuse and simply went.
It was different, so different. Not what I was expecting, a pretty casual atmosphere, a Passover area, and not the exact denomination I’ve grown up in.
But the people, oh they love each other! When you’re alone in a new (or sometimes not-so-new) place, it’s easy to shrink back and just watch people.
I learned so much by watching. When the service was over barely anyone left the building. They stood around talking with each other, catching up on their week and life and how are you today?
I brought my friend with me the next time and we were both sold – hooked on community.
Then, on my 2nd Sunday there, they announced that the following day the woman’s bible study would begin a new series. As we were leaving after the service, my two friends and I all looked at each other and at about the same time, we all said how we want to go even though it’s crazy and technically we shouldn’t.
We’re newbies, still guests. We aren’t even women, really.
But like I said, three weeks ago I took a step of faith. I walked into the foyer a minute or two before 7pm and on that Monday night I discovered a brand new (to me) community of women who just love Jesus and each other.
We sat in a big circle, about 25 of us in chairs and on comfy couches. After an hour of learning about Sarah (the wife of Abraham) we split up into groups of about 9.
I totally had the best group.
The self-proclaimed shy woman next to me introduced herself and the sweet lady next to her jumped in and suddenly it clicked.
We were the youngest in the room by about 10 years. There were many pregnant ladies and mommas and woman in their 70s. It was a room of woman of all ages, bound together by love and Jesus.
As we began to discuss the Scripture passage, one woman realized my friend and I obviously didn’t know anyone, so they went around the circle and introduced themselves. But first, we spoke. I was the first to introduce myself and they asked questions – truly caring about the questions. I rambled and gushed and they loved in spite of it all.
Woman after woman shared a piece of herself with the group. But it quickly became apparent, it was all for the sake of me and my friend. These women already knew each other. They’ve been doing life with each other for years. They knew of the heart struggles and the joys, and asked for an update on each when it was someone’s turn to share.
These women aren’t just in community with each other, they are community. They do life together, the good and the hard and the messy.
From the outside looking in, my friend and I were out of place – but I felt so welcome. I’ve gone back every Monday since – I enter expectant and hopeful and I leave encouraged and full.
That first Monday my friend looked at me afterwards and said, “This is what I’ve been wanting. I’ve been looking for this and I am so glad we’ve found it! They are all so wonderful!”
I thought for a second and then replied, “That room is so full of wisdom. It’s important to have peer mentors but it’s equally important to have older women in our lives as well. Girl, I didn’t realize I was searching. I didn’t realize how much I was wanting this without knowing I was even missing it – but this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.“