On Thursday afternoons my mom would pile all of us kids into the van and drive fifteen minutes to the North side of Charleston. We would all jump out of the car and run up the concrete steps. I can still see the big blue steel door and smell the mixture of chalk and sweat as we walked into the gymnastic’s building.
Every Thursday the homeschooling group in our area gathered we could take gymnastics lesson. The little kids were first. So my little sisters, ages 4 and 6, in their bright pinks and leopard print leotards, bounded onto the spring-floor. They would tumble and jump and swing for an hour until it was time for the older kids.
During the first hour, the older siblings would gather and play together. One of my best friends (who we went to church with) and I would play in a corner of a big room where the other children played. Only we never did talk to anyone else. I was content to sit and play with my close friend. I remember when I turned 11 or 12, my mom would chide me for not being friendly. She would encourage me to make more friends and be nice. I just couldn’t do it.
One of my biggest regrets in college was all of the friendships I let slip out of my hands because I was too afraid. I was comfortable with my one or two friends and felt no need to branch out. Now, looking back, I realize I missed out on so many things because I didn’t open myself up.
I love hanging out with people, getting together, and hospitality is something I’d love to cultivate more in our home….however I’m sort of a hard-to-get-to-know-you person. I can be a little distant. Maybe a little cold and unfriendly when I meet new people. Developing community is hard for me.
One of the places I’ve learned how to develop real, Christian fellowship has been my Bible study. Our group has been meeting four almost five years. We’ve completed three Bible studies a year, so that’s almost fifteen different books we’ve read through and studied God’s Word.
If you are like me, community can be hard. But even it is – the benefits FAR out way the possible fears. I’ve had my heart hurt plenty of times with friends. Almost ten years ago I was hurt by two childhood friends. It was a tough lesson, and it took me years to open up again. But when I did, I found myself even more loved and even more connected than before.
The best way I’ve been able to connect is through Bible study. Our church’s Bible study changed the day of the week they were meeting, so I no longer could attend. For a few months I prayed and asked the Lord to guide me to another Bible study. Instead, He lead me to start my own in-home Bible study.
Through my Bible study I’ve been able to build a safe, loving community. We meet every other Thursday and it is one of the sweetest gatherings I am a part of.
Friend, if you are struggling to find connection and community, consider a Bible study. It doesn’t have to be in a church (but that would be ideal). When I started, I barely knew any of the girls who attended. Now, we all are close friends. Start somewhere. Maybe you can meet at your work or home. Ask the Lord to give you direction.
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