A friend of mine commented the other day, “I love your Friendship Project. I remember when you felt the same way after you moved to Boston.” Which got me thinking, ‘Yeah, I’ve been here before. I don’t know why I’m stressing out about making new friends…I managed to build life-giving and beautiful friendships in Boston, I can do the same in LA.’ Then I remembered a post I wrote four years ago when I started my blog about friendships and women and the when God asks you do something scary. It’s oddly appropriate for this season, since I’m making new friendship, with women, and at Allume, God asked me to do something scarier than starting a women’s ministry at a new church. Enjoy today’s post from the “Shalom in the City” archives.
I was crying when it happened. Laying prostrate on the floor in my living room, letting the tears soak my hair and the dust bunnies I missed under the couch, I wept for the first time since we evacuated New Orleans. Oh sure, I’ve cried many times in the two years since we moved to Cambridge. Cue the violins, send in the dog, make the toddler say something cute and I’m a mess with a Kleenex. I’m just that sensitive. But, this was the first time I’ve sobbed from a deep, broken, confused place because I was lonely and I felt it. My best friend who I prayed for for years moved from a short five minute drive to forty-five seemingly endless minutes away. The women at my church were spread out geographically and in life stage and I just couldn’t find my niche. My seminarian husband was lost to me. Boyd, Pinnock, Bonhoeffer, Paul and Jesus commanded his attention. My children, ages 5, 2, and 1 weren’t any help. Unless you consider their demands for justice and juice as great conversation- which I did not. No, I was lonely in a cold city, with no family, and I blamed God for it.
“Why did you give me a friend only to take her away? ” I moaned in between sobs.
“Why did you move us here” I complained.
“I’m just so lonely” I whispered.
Then the room went still. The gears in my head began to creak back to life. Soon they were whirring as sparks of inspiration flew. I had an idea to cure my loneliness! More accurately, God gave me an idea. I know it was Him because the idea was too bold, too crazy to be all mine and the voices in my head aren’t that creative. I began to see candles, decorations, and chairs arranged in a circle. I heard soft music– probably Christy Nockels–, women laughing, and my voice encouraging them from the Bible. The interesting scent combinations of Lady Just From the Gym, with a floral Bath and Body Works number, combined with the top note of Thierry Mugler’s popular perfume, Angel all played under my nose. I saw women gathering, eating ice cream (or chocolate– you know, they are interchangeable), while building deeper friendships and feeling loved. In my messy living-room, on a cold spring day, I saw a women’s ministry and more importantly I saw women just like me finding a safe place to be herself. I said yes to becoming a women’s ministry leader.
In my days as a women’s ministry newbie I scoured the internet for secrets and tips to successfully gather women. Sweets? Check! Laughter? Check! Relevant topics or Chick Flicks? Check! Fun games and icebreakers?
The first time I read the word “ice breaker” my mind filled with images. Dark, scary images. I saw women in coo-lot pants with fanny packs in various hot colors. Hot pink, hot green, hot green and purple stripes… you get the picture. These sweet, but clueless women were headed up by me rocking a super stylish multi-colored fanny pack of hot pink and turquoise (that’s right- be jealous). I’m lined up with the women in a gauntlet with our arms out front. On the stage, stands a poor lone soul with her back to us. This dear girl, let’s call her Lucy, pulls her trembling arms up across her chest. She clears her throat and tentatively calls out, ” Sisters, I’m ready to trust you.”
Then we all say in a creepy monotone, “Trust in Lord, Sister,”
“and also in us.”
I shook my head of the disturbing vision, not waiting to see Lucy’s fate with the fanny pack brigade.
I had to get two women’s events (none of which involved a trust fall) under my belt before my prejudices against ice breaker were disarmed. I realized that ice breakers are more than gouda cheesy games and antics. They are vehicles to move the lonely woman into a loving community.
I had a similar misgiving about blogs and bloggers until my husband began having meaningful dialog and building affirming friendships with his followers. A beautiful community followed to his blog to talk about life and share perspectives. A blog became a vehicle to gather people and gathering people…is what I do.
So, welcome to my blog! Please comment below to let me know you’re here. You are a vital part of this community-heck-you are this community!
No longer afraid of icebreakers, but deathly afraid of fanny packs,