I wasn’t supposed to make it to the small group meeting this week. Well, actually, I was supposed to be able to go, but then somehow my “last day” at a twice-a-week side job that I’ve been working the past couple of months turned into, “I guess I can do another week if you don’t have anybody else and since I’m scheduled to work my new job during the time I usually come, I’ll come even later than usual and miss my weekly Bible study meeting.” #pushoverproblems
So I texted our group leader early that afternoon and put off finishing this week’s Armor of God lessons because on my schedule for the day “BSTUD” had been scratched out and also because, honestly, I was just tired.
But then I got a text around 5pm from the family I was supposed to work for that they didn’t need me after all, and suddenly I could technically make it to the meeting. It was a sweet and undeserved answer to my half-hearted prayers (read: grumpy complaints) of, “Lord, I just don’t think I can handle another job today. I am tired. I am lonely. I am just going to let myself wallow in self-pity and not actually do or think or ask for anything to change.” (Okay, I didn’t actually pray that last line. I was too busy wallowing in self pity to even realize that’s what I was doing.)
Honestly, the day hadn’t started off that great – I’d walked out the door once only to realize that I’d left my lunch in the fridge. So I’d wrestled with the finicky locks and retrieved it, only to realize after shutting and locking the door (for the second time) that I’d also completely forgotten to put on any makeup and there was no time to do anything about because I was already running late. And, as frazzled mornings tend to do, that had pretty much set the tone for my entire day. The icing on the cake was when I was walking out the door of my last client’s house and heard “Oh, by the way, one of the dogs chewed your shoe…”
So by the time I was shuffling to my car in half-eaten shoes at 7:05pm, I had decided that I definitely was not going to small group. As I made the turn toward home, I started justifying the decision – I’m already late anyway, and I don’t have the book we’re studying or even my Bible with me. I didn’t even finish this week’s lessons. I’m exhausted and grumpy and I have literally nothing to offer them tonight. I’m lonely, but….
Wait. I am lonely. I am feeling especially sad and discouraged because I am lonely, and what do I need when I’m lonely?
People. Meaningful connection. Community.
I literally turned the car around. (Don’t worry, I pulled off into a parking lot first.) And I started to examine the real reasons why I almost said no to the thing my heart knew it needed.
First, I felt that I had nothing to offer in the context of a small group discussion or Bible study that night. Emotionally, and even spiritually, I was feeling drained and empty and dry. If anything, I was going to walk into that room cracked open and needy – having no choice but draw on the strength and joy and wisdom of these women that I’m still learning how to trust. And this wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve walked into that group broken and weary. But, of course, community means that we all need each other. No one is expected to always be the strong one, not even the new girl. No man is an island and all that.
But the thing that was really getting to me that night was the unavoidable fact that I don’t really know these girls all that well yet, and they don’t really know me. At least, not in the way that I know and am known by that precious crowd that are “my people.” What I really wanted was to collapse into the arms of the ones who know me best and love me most, and the reality is that even after seven months, there isn’t really anyone in Arkansas that falls into that category.
And then the Lord graciously reminded me of how those friends-that-feel-more-like-family became “my people” in the first place. I remembered that you have to choose community. Even on your worst days. Especially on the days when you feel like you have nothing to offer. You find people and you choose them and you keep choosing them over and over and over again, and you let them choose you, too, and then one day you look around and realize that you belong. They have become your people.
You know what else “your people” do? They let you interrupt their Bible study to ramble about your almost-decision to not come to said Bible study because of a ridiculous fear of having “nothing to offer them.” And they respond by saying “We are so glad that you came.” And then? Then they agree to your still-more-ridiculous request to take a group selfie so you can remember this night. The night when you chose to make them your people.
This is it, folks – the uncomfortable, stumbling, imperfect process of choosing community.
If you’re reading this and there is a particular group of people that you just can’t seem to get out of your head – whether it’s a small group, a book club, or that couples group that plays badminton together every Tuesday night (is that a thing that couples do together? Maybe! You’re asking the wrong girl.) – I encourage you to buy in. Choose to make them your people. Even when it’s inconvenient and a little awkward and you feel like you have nothing to offer. Choose them anyway. You might be surprised to find that they’re eagerly waiting to choose you too.
with love and wanderlust,