It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in our stuffy church conference room filled with anticipation and feeling incredibly vulnerable. I looked around at the 7 ladies sitting at the table and wondered, “Will they like me? Will I like them? Can I trust them? Will they understand me? Can they handle the pain I am carrying? Will they judge me?”
You see, I had kind of snuck in on this group lead by one of our pastor’s wives. She casually mentioned that she was starting a women’s study on the book of James when I popped the question, “Can I come?” She kindly said yes, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t give her much choice. Really, I’m a pretty passionate person so people have trouble telling me no. And when you add the fact that I was pretty desperate for community, you see, she really had no choice.
As our first session began, we went around the table, introduced ourselves and shared our stories. Immediately, we found ourselves looking through purses (or pockets in my case) to find tissues as our tears began to uncontrollably flow with the occasional “I hear ya sister” type laughter mixed in. As I looked around at the mascara-streaked faces, I knew I’d found a rare treasure. A group of women who have hit the edges of ourselves, desire more of Him and want to break free of shame and live in honest community.
The last year has been an adventure with my faithful friends. We are, as our preggers gal
says, “A Lifetime Movie”. We are women; going through divorce following betrayal, grieving the unexpected death of a spouse, suffering the loss of an adult child, dealing with chronic/debilitating illness, trying to get pregnant, caring for chronically ill children, estranged from family, and adopting children. Not to mention the fact that we are all trying to just make it through everyday mom life without looking or acting like a zombie — CPS tends to look down on eating our young. We honestly could be the Christian mom Bible study version of “Sex In The City”. Yeah, we look that good too. Well, maybe just in our imaginations. But we are pretty great.
Why are we so great? We are the definition of community. We celebrate when one of us is in a season of Joy and mourn during times of sorrow or pain. Sometimes we sit in both joy and pain at the same time. Last week alone we supported one friend with a chronic illness by visiting her in the hospital, we threw our first time, expectant mother a baby shower and then sat shiva with one of our ladies mourning the death of her marriage. We don’t judge, we don’t compare or gossip. We just honor and love. It seriously doesn’t get better than this.
I wish our nation could experience this joy called community. I imagine it would restore our churches, reduce suicide rates, improve our country’s overall physical and mental health and decrease dependence on government-provided social services. Like Chris Sonksen says in his book “Quit Church”, “The problem is that God did not wire us to be alone. We are truly better together. It’s in community that we grow, are challenged, stretched, and inspired to truly live for Jesus. It’s messy, difficult, and at times frustrating…but it’s so worth it.“