When I moved to Washington, D.C. in January 2016, I knew I needed to find a community of believers who would pour truth into me and love me well. Coming off of the heels of a really hard and lonely yet fruitful season, I wasn’t sure what adventures and challenges this new city would hold. I knew the old demons would try to rear their ugly heads, demanding that I put my worth in my career and my performance, or my relationships and my status. I knew they would do anything to persuade me to take my eyes off of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith. I began to pray that God would point me in that direction of the life-giving community he had in mind for me.
After visiting MPC a couple of times, I mentioned to a friend of a friend that I was looking for a Bible study to join. She put me in touch with my now small group leader, and that first night I showed up at her house by myself, expecting not to know anyone. Several of the girls welcomed me with big smiles and made me feel like they truly wanted to get to know me. “We’re so excited you’re here,” they told me, and I believed them.
Since that night, our small group has consistently blessed me and has been such an anchor in my life. Our conversations lead me to face tough questions head on, like, “What does it mean to be a Christian in the workplace and love my coworkers well?” and “What does the Bible have to say about loving my parents as an adult?” and “How does Jesus love me in the fullness of all of my emotions – the sad ones, the happy ones, and everything else in between?” Over the past year and a half, we have shared our stories with one another and have had the opportunity to get to know one another on a deeper level. We’ve talked about where we’ve come from and how we see ourselves. We’ve named our insecurities and struggles, our brokenness and our doubts. And most importantly, we’ve shared how the Lord has been so gracious and faithful to us through it all.
I’m so thankful that the Lord led me to attend our small group that first night, and that by His grace, I chose to prioritize regularly attending our study since then. I think that post-college almost everyone comes to the realization that it is so much harder to experience true friendship in the real world. Living in community looks different than it used to, and it takes a lot more sacrifice in terms of the decisions I make about my time and the risks I have to take to be honest and vulnerable with people who don’t know me that well. And yet, I’ve learned that the process of building community is made up a bunch of seemingly small decisions. I’m building community every time I choose to go to small group, every time I speak up and share what I have been thinking about and praying about, every time I listen to the wisdom and perspective of the people around me, and every time I dig into the book that we are studying together in the morning before work. I believe it’s these “small” decisions that lead to the creation of real friendships, and that enable us to grow to look more like Christ and to learn how to love one another well.
Last week, my group sat around the table celebrating and drinking wine as I told the story of my engagement to the man I love. Looking around the room, I felt so happy and so loved, surrounded by people that have become dear friends and that are the hands and feet of God in my life. And I knew that this was a picture of the joy God that designed us for, in relationship with each other. I’m so thankful for the ways that my friends have challenged me and cared for me, how we’ve cried with each other and prayed for each other and been honest with each other. The Lord really does do immeasurably more than I could have ever asked or imagined.
If interested in leading a Community Group, please contact Caroline Cross.