For the last few months we've been on the search for the new church home that we know God has for us. We are pretty sure we've found it. It took a good while for this gal to actually start visiting churches because, you know, it's easier to stay with what is familiar even if it isn't what is right anymore. Well guess what? Easy isn't in the job description. After much prayer & conversation, Drew & I began visiting churches a couple months ago and feel like we may have found the right place for our family. It's big. Really big. Even I am surprised that the place we have chosen is so large. I'm not a big crowd kind of girl, but this place just feels right. God is there. There are tons of kiddos of all ages, so there is plenty of opportunity for Eleanor. The worship service we have been attending seems a good fit for us, so far we've really enjoyed the pastor(s) and each week we have walked away feeling convicted, like we have gained a lesson God needed us to learn, and that we want to go back. Heck, we're even really digging the worship music that we weren't so sure we would be in to (it's hard to go from a life time of traditional worship to a more contemporary worship). So, that's all good. But, like I said, it's big. That means there are plenty of programs and opportunity and outreach, but it also means that it would be quite easy to just show up and Sunday mornings and "fly under the radar". That isn't what we set out to find. We are/were looking for a place to be plugged in. We aren't new to Christianity, but we have lots to learn, plenty of growing to do, untapped talents to discover & offer, and we very much desire fellowship with other people in our stage of life to do those things with. So... we've known from the beginning that we weren't looking to just do an hour on Sunday mornings. Honestly, I prefer to take things a bit slower and ease my way in to new situations, but sometimes God says, "Hey, it's time." Enter Community Group. Some churches call them small groups, ours calls them Community Groups. They meet in different locations & homes in our area and create a place of Bible study & fellowship in smaller & more intimate settings. It's the nitty gritty. The meat & potatoes. The fall community group kick off started yesterday. Of course you can join in anytime, but we felt God nudging and saying, "Do it now." Heck, if you're going to be the new kids at school then you may as well start on the first day of school so at least you are with the other new kids. Know what I mean? So last week we signed up online (perks to a big church that is tech savvy, they are able to make it more convenient & less intimidating to check things out and take the first steps to getting involved). When presented with our options we ultimately chose the group that described itself as composed of young families with kids ranging from 1-12 years old, that kids were welcome to come along and that with that many little ones it could get sometimes get a little crazy. That sounded about right for us and seemed like as good a place as any to start. Honestly? Hitting the button just to sign up took some courage. More honesty? The closer we got to Sunday evening, the more I was anxious over it. If I actually had one of these shirts, it would have been the most truthful thing I could have worn to last night's group.
The report: There are a total of 13 adults, all about our age. (Actually, according to the group membership roster that lists all of our birthdays, I am the oldest, but only by a year.) 6 of us were new to the group, the other 7 have been together for a while. There were 6 kiddos present and quite a few others that will be there in the future. We had dinner and then a Bible study. Everyone was nice and I think it will all be okay. I am hopeful that it will not just be okay, but that it will be awesome. I'm hopeful that these people will become our people and that we will encourage each other in our walks with Christ. Right now they are still just strangers and we are just trying to remember names with faces. It seems like there is a cliché quote that I could share here to represent the situation. How about one of these?
One big thing weighing on me & Drew is Alex & Emma. The girls were a huge part of our lives, our marriage, and our walk with Christ. They still are. They are part of our fabric, but not everyone knows that and it's not exactly an appropriate conversation starter. There wasn't the proper scenario to bring that up last night (which makes the anticipation of when it will come up seem daunting), but we know it will come up when the time is right. It's not a fear that it will ever be a problem, it's just not something that most people know how to handle and sometimes things get awkward and weird when people realize our history. Three cheers for being uncomfortable.
So did I leave feeling awesome and renewed? Nope. I left feeling like I had taken the first step and I was exhausted. Completely worn out. I'm glad we went and we will go again next week. Every person there was there for the same reason we were... fellowship with other believers, because God didn't call us to do life alone. They could be our people. We'll see. That doesn't change the fact that I feel wiped out even today. Yep, it's that pesky introvert hangover. It's a real thing. How can I wrap this up? Oh, I know, how about another inspirational quote. You know you want one.
Nope, that's not the right one. This is the right one.
Amen to that.