Small (Group) Wonders
- Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I switched off the happy song on my radio and said to God, "Well, I tried. Do I get credit for that?" A few more tears fell. "I'm sorry I'm such a wuss."
And then my cell phone rang. It was my friend Margaret. A doctor of psychology, a fellow singleton, a Christian sister who would totally get my emotional response. A friend who hardly ever called and who wanted to see if I was free for coffee right then.
Of course I was.
Ten minutes later we were chatting over warm drinks. I spilled my tangle of emotions, she listened and sympathized and asked good questions. Nothing profound was said, but something profound was taking place. I got the sense that God was saying, I know. I know it's difficult and uncomfortable. But trust me. I just might be up to something here.
So, I went back the next week. I put on my brave face as I pulled in the driveway and prayed for the spirit to match it. After the small talk and snackage portion of the evening, we settled in for a new ice breaker: an emotional check-in. Using the acronym SASHET—which stands for sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, and tender—we were to tell which emotion(s) we were feeling.
As soon as this exercise was introduced I knew my brave cover was blown. I was the second person to share, and I kept it brief. "I feel tender," I announced. "It's just not easy being here, being the odd one out. But I'm trying." There's so much more I wanted to say. That I know marriage isn't everything and that yes, it's better to be single and wanting to be married than the other way around. That I'm not being too picky in my dating experiences. That I do believe in marriage, that I'm not a commitment-phobe, that I haven't chosen my career over a family. That my discomfort is probably a cumulative effect of feeling like the odd one out in Christian circles for years. That I'm not as self-conscious and weird as I might be appearing to them all. That I know God should be enough for me in my singleness, but for some reason he just doesn't feel that way right now. That I'm apparently just in a tough singleness season and I know this will eventually give way to something better.
Instead I simply said I felt tender.
A few heads nodded knowingly, sympathetically. And I felt something inside me unclench a bit. I wasn't carrying all this discomfort inside me anymore, I'd just distributed some of this weight to these new brothers and sisters. Enlightening them and lightening my own burden. The rest of the evening was somehow easier.
Good one-on-one conversations about singleness followed our meeting. One of the men was in the middle of clearing our odd April snow off my car when I finally walked outside. One of the women called me later that week to see if I wanted to get together with her and her kids when they had dinner at the Einstein's down the block from my apartment. And I prayed for these new friends throughout the week.
Week three of our study was even better. I felt less weird walking alone into this gathering. The conversations flowed easier, the sharing was even more honest and vulnerable. We were becoming a community.
I still don't know what God's got in store for me in this new group. This could be the latest arena for me to arm-wrestle with him over my singleness. There could be lessons in getting over my pride or the importance of showing up. It could simply be a reminder that we aren't called to comfort and that the body of Christ is wondrously diverse. Or he could do something I can't even foresee.
What I do know is that I intend to keep showing up to find out what he's up to. And that this expectant attitude toward God is a new and welcome blessing. And that it, all by itself, just might be enough.
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