For about the past 10 years, my Friday mornings have been spent with an amazing sisterhood studying God’s word. We’re not-so-creatively named Friday Morning Bible Study. Our time together is spent catching up on life, discussing our study, sharing our struggles and victories as followers of Jesus and doing life together.
We’ve studied a wide array of topics from Genesis to Revelation and a vast variety of topics concerning living as a follower of Christ. There have been some studies that weren’t really up my alley, but I stuck them out because I loved the community and relationships in that group. We have watched Beth Moore’s wardrobe evolve through the years, heard new voices like Priscilla Shirer and Kelly Minter, listened to old guys who speak Truth, and searched the scriptures for guidance in following our Savior.
Through the years, the group has changed. Some women come and go depending on their schedule or the study. Some dear women have moved away with their families. Some drop in for a study that sounds intriguing. There’s a mix of women who attend Fishers UMC and who do not. Anyone is welcome.
One blessing about this group has been the ability to be real. It’s sometimes hard for someone on church staff to be open and honest in groups. There are some conversations where I excuse myself for more coffee or step in to clarify if needed. I’ve felt safe there. Except for one season.
For reasons beyond my understanding, the small group code of not sharing what is said was broken. Someone took a conversation as part of the small group—my own opinion and understanding and misrepresented it to another party. It was painful. I felt betrayed. Because I was betrayed. A place where I thought I was safe was not safe. I had to step out of the group for a while.
Friday mornings were really hard during that time because I missed the community. Because I was unsure of who had betrayed the confidence, I could not really explain why I was taking a break. A couple of women pursued me--they sought out answers, they offered compassion and understanding, they prayed for my hurt heart. It was their reaching out and assurance of love and reminder of the need to forgive that helped me return. They understood and provided a smaller circle of trust to help in the healing process.
It’s been almost 5 years since that happened. I was cautious for a long time. I am probably still more cautious that I was before, but I learned to trust again which is a valuable gift. I share this because I believe this is a good picture of community. The members don’t have to be constant. The study changes. The beautiful part is when the group continues to work together toward a common goal—here that is the ongoing sanctification as followers of Jesus.
Community isn’t perfect—forgiveness and healing have to be a part of it. As does trust. I am grateful for my Friday Morning Friends; those from the current community and those who have been a part of it at some point through the years. The learning experience for me was that I know I need community. I need relationships with other followers of Christ, with other believing wives, with other mamas who need support, with women who desire a deeper understanding of faith. I’m grateful for the painful experience now. It helped me to grow as a believer. It helped me understand groups. It helped me know that forgiveness is real and necessary. It helped me see my own shortcomings as a part of the body of believers. It helped me learn what a healthy community does when someone steps away.
Being a part of a small group has been instrumental for my faith development. I started out in Disciple Bible studies and a variety of Sunday school classes. I continue to be a part of a Sunday school class when being with Junior Highers doesn’t take priority. I look forward to the women on Friday mornings. I have a small group of like-minded youth workers who connect from all over the country online.
I need the community. My guess is that everyone does in some form—hoping you’ll give a small group a try if you aren’t a part of one already. There are a lot of options. Small groups aren’t always perfect. But neither am I.
Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the wellspring of life.