She could not meet another brand new group of mothers. She’d found socializing with the school mums difficult enough when her life was in perfect order. The chat, chat, chat, the swirls of laughter, the warmth, the friendliness (most mums were so very nice) and the gentle hint of bitchiness that ran beneath it all. She’d done it other places. She’d made a few friends on the outskirts of the inner social circle, but she couldn’t do it again. Not now. She didn’t have the strength. It was like someone had cheerfully suggested she run a marathon when she’d just dragged herself out of bed after suffering from the flu. ~Liane Moriarty, The Husbands Secret
It’s not often that I run across a profound excerpt from a popular fiction book where I can emphatically say, “Yes! This! This is me. This is how I’ve felt, and this author captured me so well.”
I don’t often post quotes or excerpts from a piece of popular fiction that really have no spiritual basis at all, but since we’re friends, you should know that I enjoy reading. And I read all kinds of genres—even edgy things. I have come to realize that I can learn something from many different someones.
Sometimes I learn that I absolutely disagree with something once I filter it through scripture and prayer. Sometimes I learn that I need to yank the log out of my own eye and not be so quick to judge. And sometimes, in this case, the book I’m reading gives me great insight to some personal truths about myself.
The above excerpt is something that, Tess, a young mom, is realizing about herself. She’s going through a rough season, and even if it weren’t a rough season, her introverted self struggles with building relationships in a new setting. It’s exhausting for her, even in the best seasons of life.
I can relate to this. I remember when we moved to Arizona, just over a year ago, and a couple of my close friends from Colorado asked me if we had found a good church community, and if I had made some new friends yet. I tentatively would answer, “Well, yes, kind of. I mean, I’m not really looking for a lot of friends right now, and I’m just trying to figure out where I want to get involved in church ministry again. But I’m fine with this. Really, I am.”
And I was. At least I thought I was.
It was late last year when I began to realize that maybe I wasn’t so fine. Maybe I was a little lonely. Maybe it was time to pull up my big girls pants, put aside the past hurts, and get involved in a church community again.
So, I tried. I tried out some volunteer opportunities at the church we were attending. I remember walking out of one volunteer meeting for this particular ministry team and trying to stifle my tears. I couldn’t leave the building fast enough to get to my car for a good ugly cry over the steering wheel. I pounded and gripped the wheel wondering what was wrong with me, and how come I felt like such an outsider with this team of people. I felt God gently whisper, “You are not ready yet. This is not the place and the time for you yet. Wait.” The “W” word—WAIT. Ugh, I strongly dislike that word.
But I complied. I waited. And then, through a series of some pretty amazing events, I found my people. My family found our people. It turns out they attend this church that meets in an elementary school about 10 minutes from our house. They are genuine, accepting, hungry to know God and study His Word. They are eager to know and love others well. And I figured out, just from a few visits, that they will have my back. If crisis were to enter my life tomorrow, I would have a crowd of people in my living room, loving on me and holding me up. It actually gives me goose bumps when I think about it.
I’ve been pretty open about my story with ministry and church on this blog site. You’ve read about my ups and downs and hurts and joys that I’ve faced inside the fours walls of church. It’s been three years since this journey began, but I can say with confidence, I’m on the other side of that challenging time. I’m ready to build relationships again. I’m ready to be vulnerable, and let people in. I’m ready to serve, no matter the cost. I’m ready. I’m just ready.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
During the last three years, I’ve avoided this particular scripture at any cost. I knew I was neglecting church, and giving up on the body of Christ. I was the “some people” this verse refers to. But I also believe, as with many biblical truths, there is space and margin and grace in these words. There is an aspect of God’s timing in these words that we don’t understand. I don’t regret this last season. God had to teach me something. In His way. In His time.