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just write {83}

April 30th, 2013 | 9 Comments »

Warm sun quickly filled my bedroom that morning, and I was struggling to put on clothing that felt right for the sudden jump in to Spring. What if the church where I was going would be air-conditioned and cold? What if I looked like I’d spent too much time on this? It was only a short conference, only a group of women, immersed in faith, coming together in the flesh to adhere as a body, to understand community and relationships and trust in one another.

It wasn’t that big of a deal, really. I kept telling myself that. My bare legs felt odd. My shoes felt odd. I felt odd. I wanted to shrug off the skirt, the clothing that wasn’t yet right, the feeling in my chest of my heart jumping in anxiety and just stay home. Stay safe.

The smiling faces of two dear friends greeted me in the parking lot, making my anxiety less acute. I knew a dear friend waited inside. Why did I feel apprehensive? All of us that day live our lives in faith and attempt to seek grace on a daily basis. We are not so different.

But we were the one thing that most of us fear; we were strangers.

I thought I would be safe, seated with people I knew and trusted, who’s faces gave me comfort, smiles that made my heartbeats calm. I could breathe among their energy, feel safe and secure there but the dreaded icebreaker came along and everyone started talking. The room closed in immediately and heat rose within me, breaking beads of sweat on my face that made me want to cry. I wanted to flee, run as fast as I can away from the fear and into the safety of myself.

I hate feeling so uncomfortable, so vulnerable and wide-open and yet so closed off and insignificant all at once. What did I have to offer them? What could they possibly gain from me? Who did I think I was bringing myself among strangers, to try and let down my guard and climb over my walls and in to another garden to see what life is growing there?

I wanted to run, to withdraw and disappear and not smile and talk and exchange knowledge and information or anything that would remove the bricks I had placed, one by one. Among friends I am at ease. I am soothing and comfort, hugs all around. Among strangers I become the old and broken, the one left behind too many times, the one forsaken. I won’t extend myself or reach out. I will stay shrouded in my own broken self.

I listened when the words began to flow, when the voices spoke out from the screen about community and relationships. I listened when the voices spoke of staying through the turmoil and hardships, through the dark valleys and tears that don’t stop and time that feels sluggish and muddy. Through times of hurt and misunderstanding. Through days that aren’t crystal clear, bright, and perfect. When we commit to one another in friendship, in marriage, in God and hope, we commit to stay, regardless. We have time to heal ourselves and others; time to build and understand, time to grow and accept and appreciate. We don’t have to be in the same places as those we choose to sit with on our friendship benches. We don’t have to have children the same age, be at the same stage of life, or live within the same neighborhood.

We don’t even have to be the same age.

And I have lamented endlessly that I seem to be the grand dame of my friends, the oldest one, sometimes by far and away over what feels like too many years. How can I relate to them when ages make them young enough to be my children? But the words spoke clearly to my heart that God draws those together who can most learn from one another and age, time and distance means nothing when the heartstrings are bound with His love. I’ve crashed around on rough seas and been thrown, tumbling heels over and over, sandpaper roughed up with life’s cruelest touches and maybe, just maybe I have something to say that they need to hear.

The room was stuffy and the coffee was good. There were cupcakes so delicious that I may have eaten more than one. I may have stayed in my chair and not ventured around the room to meet many others, but my heart was filled with words that spoke with razor-sharp truth to exactly what I needed. I’m home, in this world, with the people God has placed in my life, just for me. And I needed to climb over that fence of apprehension, drive across miles of concrete, greet friends I’ve never met, sisters in Christ and stay, regardless.

Just for us. We’ve found our bench where we can gather. And all we have to do is show up.

This is the 83rd installment of Just Write, hosted by Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary.

{{sponsored by (in)courage- home for the hearts of women, on Saturday April 27th, 6,000 women met in 590 places in 20 countries around the globe to connect beyond the computer screen and embrace community and friendship. This is the 2nd year I’ve gone and despite my anxiety, it was clearly the place I needed to be.}}