Why is it so hard for most of us? Even walking into a small crowd makes you feel self-conscious. You are thinking about who you are going to talk to or if anyone will be friendly towards you. Even when you are invited. Even if you are all there for a common reason. Group gatherings make me feel a little nervous.
Just this week, my sweetie girlfriend Susie D. invited me to a back to school coffee fellowship. I was bound to know a few of the ladies. My friend Susie D. could not have been kinder introducing me to the few who I didn’t know . . . but no one I actually knew was on the left or right of me. That feeling . . . time to strike up conversation . . . be charming . . . smile big. Make a friend? Group gatherings make me feel a little nervous.
My friend Cindy R. is an extremely Godly, perfect example of being a friend. I joined a group where I didn’t know anyone. She grabbed me on the very first day. Even though she already had a lot of friends in this group, she decided to get to know me. That certainly changed everything about being part of this group. She gave me an invisible sticker right over my heart that spells BELONG.
Just because I love the leaders and girls in this group so much, I have to say more. At the door leading to this group, there is some sort of symbolic garbage can. Girls throw out their pride, tendency to compete, compare or judge and put on plain old friendliness. The girls in this group make you feel so okay, so BELONG, that on my worst day, my very worst day, God reached out to me through them.
It was one of those days where all the prayer and faith in the world can’t stop the tremor shaking your core and stealing your very well-being. I sat in my car weeping to my mother with no hope. I was fighting depression, my broken marriage and experiencing the kind of pressure that can pop your brain. I walked into where my group was gathering, told a friend that I needed a friend and fell apart into 1000 pieces in her arms. Thank you, Lynn O.
Really girls, I don’t know why it means so much to BELONG. I don’t know why fellowship sometimes feels so scary. But I do know that fellowship is supposed to be about joy in your sisterhood. Even if she’s not your best friend, you can stamp her with BELONG. You can give her the freedom to come to you when she’s falling apart. You can be Christ to her and hold her 1000 pieces together.
As is our human custom, we get things discombobulated in our imperfection. We confuse fellowship with the requirements for joining a sorority or becoming a member of the Ocean Reef Club. Then we act like the elite ladies in the dining room of the Titanic and give the cold shoulder to down to earth Molly Brown. I think each of us knows what it feels like to be nervous in a group. I think each of us knows what it feels like to want to make a friend. To want a BELONG stamp. Think about that. You can do that for someone. Forget what you know about fellowship and be a friend.