Friday, November 16, 2012

Why I Ran Out of Bible Study (part 2)

So I was finishing up telling you why I ran out of Bible Study. Basically, I panicked.

Remember, I was supposed to pick my own small group. Well, I didn’t want to pick my own small group. I know that sounds childish, but hear me out on this one. There were to be two groups of about 35 women each; yeah, really large small groups. Kind of seems like an oxymoron to me. But anyways, I didn’t want to pick. I just wanted to be told which group to be in. To me, it just makes everyone on equal playing grounds. It keeps the woman that doesn’t know anyone (that would be me) from feeling like she is crashing the party of a group of friends sitting around a table. It keeps the woman that feels like she just doesn’t quite belong, even though she may know some other women, from feeling like she has to try to fit in as she contemplates which group would be more welcoming. It keeps the women from automatically going with their group of friends, resulting in no one really meeting new people. It keeps the women from staying with their own age group to where you look up and you have a small group of one generation in one room and another generation in another room.

Now, I’m not talking about a woman that might come with a friend for the first time, thus knowing no one in the room. I’m talking about women that pretty much know each other, because they go to church together and interact with each other enough to at least know most of the women by name.
I’m sure it probably seems like I have thought about this way too much and way too hard. Maybe I have. I honestly don’t think this long thought process is from deep seeded insecurities, although we all know I have insecurities. Again, it is out of habit. These were questions that we constantly were asking as we decided certain things for our ministry. We were constantly trying to find things, walls or barriers I guess you could say that might make a woman feel uncomfortable and not come back. We saw deciding the small groups for the women as one way to take away any barrier that might come up for a woman, because we all know how intimidating it can be for the “new girl” to have to walk into a room of other women that appear to already know one another and hope that you are accepted.

As I am typing this, I realize it might seem like I think the way we ran our ministry back home was completely right and perfect. I’m not trying to convey that at all-there were always ways we could improve it. These thoughts are just born out of things that we did, because we saw benefits for our ladies. These are simply things that we did that worked for us as a group. Picking your own small group in this church I am going to might totally work for them, but it was a new experience for me which totally resulted in panic. Maybe all of those women come wearing their big girl panties. And just maybe one day when I’m all grown up, I can pick my own small group like nobody’s business and rock it.
But not right now.

When it came time to get up and go to your small group, my eyes started seeing groups of women getting up and walking together to whatever small group they picked. It was as if my mind was watching women holding hands and skipping together out the door-BFF’s forever all around me!
I was sitting at my table with mostly the same women from the first week, and I was hoping beyond all hope that one of them would say “hey, would you like to come with me? I know you don’t know any of these ladies so I can help you get settled.”

And one by one, they got up and walked out together, heading to a small group.

And there I sat, alone.

I don’t know; maybe it had something to do with my “I don’t really want to be here” answer. Or maybe it was just my blank stare that scared people off. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because a lot of women are a little shy and don’t feel comfortable themselves asking someone to come with them to a small group. I know it is hard to reach out to someone, new or old, because we can face rejection. Maybe someone did want to ask me, because she knew I was the “new girl” but that was way out of her comfort zone as well (which is another reason why I go back to whole "decide the small groups for them" model).
When I realized that I was the only one left, I moved at the speed of light. I shoved everything into my bag as fast as my little hands could move, stood up, and darted out of there so fast I probably almost knocked someone over. I, of course, didn’t notice because I was too focused on getting out of there. I actually ended up tripping right next to my van as I was digging for my keys.

And then I stopped to get a really big diet coke (thank you Sonic) and cried all the way home.
I cried, because of my frustrations over me not being big enough to pick my own stupid small group. I cried, because I missed so badly what I had lost back home. I cried, because my very core missed teaching the Bible so much, I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. And I cried, because I realized how unknown I was.
And as a woman, I long to be known. Not for awards or accolades; but, simply for the relationships that are born out of being known. There is power in feeling that you are known; for to be known says that you are important to someone.

When I got home, I put my pajamas on and cried quite a bit that day. (Hey, just being honest here.)
And as I put on my pajamas, I did, in fact, realize that I had forgotten to wear my big girl panties that day. But that’s okay. I’m learning to give myself the same type of grace I always wanted to extend to the women that I ministered too-we don’t always have to be in a place where we confidently put on our big girl panties.

Some moments in life all we can muster up is the courage to even put on panties, even if they are our little girl panties.

Hopefully, when we are in those moments, we realize that there is Someone right there, ready to take hold of our hand and say “come on, you can do this, because with Me, you are known. Now let's work together to put those big girl panties on!” 

p.s. Oh, and I never went back. I guess I'm still wearing my little girl panties.  

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