Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Tribute to our Community Group

This week was our last week as a part of the community group that we've been in for the last four years.  This has been a hard change for me, met with many tears.  It was definitely bittersweet.  I feel so blessed and thankful for the last 4 years, and the chance to have been a part of our little family.  But also sad and scared that this season is over.  And still, at the same time, excited for the new season that is beginning.

Four years ago, four couples who barely knew each other started a community group.  We had no idea the journey that we were starting.  That within four years that same group would grow and swell to over 20 people, and then multiply out to new groups 3 different times.  We had no idea the depth of relationships that would be forged here, and the memories that we would make.  That what started out as all young adults, would soon become a group of families with kids as many of us became pregnant and had children.  We didn't know that we would spend four years celebrating, mourning, praying, laughing, loving, serving, encouraging, and becoming a family.

We've had the privilege of hosting this group for the last two years.  Every Wednesday evening around 5 pm I would start my routine of setting out napkins, silverware, plates, glasses, iced tea, a salad, and plugging in our white Christmas lights that lined our kitchen (Jeremy and I enjoy dim lighting, for an intimate setting).  Each Wednesday, when I plugged in the lights, Noah would joyfully say "our friends are coming over!".  He knew those lights meant a houseful of people were coming; and that there would be food, laughter, children playing, prayer, Bible study and more.

Last night, knowing that it was our last in attendance, I was able to sit back and observe as friends flooded our home.  I watched people walk in without knocking, tossing their stuff on couches, the floor, and bookshelves.  I watched Sarah comfortably turn on my oven and slide her casserole dishes into it, as if it were her own home.  I watched Jill place a bottle of breast milk in my fridge, you know you're friends when you have someone else's breast milk in your fridge.  I watched Noah and Myles excitedly run back and forth through the house as self proclaimed best friends.  I watched Melissa hold my baby almost the entire evening, sticking it out through his fussiness, and finally bouncing him to sleep in her arms.  I watched Ruby notice that Noah had had an accident in his pants, and without saying a word, she went into his drawers, found dry clothes for him, took him to the bathroom and changed him.  I watched Nick respond to the shrills of kids playing in the back room, and diffuse whatever disputes had arisen.  I watched Jeremy wash the feet of each one of us, with a bowl of water and two towels.  I watched almost everyone cry.  I felt the most loved and encouraged I ever have, listening to person after person share ways that Jeremy, I, and our home have impacted their lives.

I'm completely sure that we have been a part of something deeply special.  That we have become a family.  That we are comfortable with each other, know each other, and serve each other without even thinking about it.  That we can anticipate each others needs and desires and meet them without words.  That we are united, with a common love and purpose, found only in Christ.

While I feel honored to have experienced something so magical, I also grow sad at the thought of us being in it coming to an end.  The relationships won't end, but Wednesday evenings together will no longer be a part of our lives.  I wonder if we'll ever experience family and community like this again.  It was so special, that I don't know if it can exist multiple times in a lifetime.  I wonder if I'm closing the door on what may have been a miracle, as the love of Christ transcended barriers of our differing backgrounds and brought a motley crew of individuals together into something beautiful.

Our group wasn't perfect.  And neither were the people in it.  We have hurt some people's feelings over the years.  We have been tired, selfish, shut down, and not emotionally present at times.  But the beautiful part is the grace found in that... the imperfectness of it all, yet still the commitment to extend grace, to let love reign over it all.

I love each and every person who has come through our doors and been a part of this journey and this group.  These people will always hold a special place in my heart.  You have each shaped me, challenged me, encouraged me, and stood by me through the ups and downs of life.  You have each contributed to the woman I am today, and for that I am deeply thankful!

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