When I wrote that, we were only 2 meetings into our small group. I was nervous about whether I would be able to trust any of the people in the group and complained about how no one else was ever on time and how that made me think they didn’t care about the group. I also complained about how everyone spent too much time chit-chatting so that we had barely any time left to get down to what we were there to do.
I’ve realized something today, that I guess I was pretty clueless about nearly 2 months ago.
The chit-chatting, which I certainly take part in now, is as much a part of fellowship as is going through the questions or discussing the scripture we read.
Yes. I can be a complete bonehead sometimes. Fear does that to me. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of being judged or mocked.
Chatting about what’s going on in your life, with your work, with your children, is something friends do with each other. And friendships are a result of fellowship.
Well…most of the time.
Personalities sometimes clash. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all very different, genetically and experientially. No one is going to be able to be friends with everybody.
It can also be a bit harder to develop friendships when you’re a decade older than the rest of the group. Or if you have a large number of children and the rest of the group don’t have any. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Couples with children and couples without children live in very different worlds. I remember, when I had my first, I had absolutely nothing to talk about with my friends that I had at the time because they tired of hearing me talk about the baby very quickly. Of course, I don’t mean that couples with children and couples without can’t be friends. But it does make it harder to find things in common. (Maybe this is why my sister & I never hang out anymore.) There was also the fact, with our first small group, that almost everybody in it were in a group together before and had all known each other for a while. It can be difficult (through no fault, really, of theirs) to incorporate new people, especially when the new people are pretty different (as in, much older and with a pile of kids).
But, to get back to the point, I realize now that all that has gone on in our small group has had the nine characteristics that I wrote about in my previous blog, which were:
- authenticity (sharing true feelings)
- mutuality (encouraging each other)
- sympathy (supporting each other),
- mercy (forgiving each other)
- honesty (speaking the truth in love)
- humility (admitting our weaknesses)
- courtesy (respecting differences)
- confidentiality (not gossiping)
- frequency (making the group a priority)
And it was in the “small talk” that happened at the beginning and the end as well as during the biblical discussions. Quite honestly, it was the honesty and humility of the others that really made all the difference.
I went into that group with my usual expectations – they are all going to be perfect followers and imitators of Christ and I will be the one who pollutes everything with everything I say and do and they will hate me because I am unworthy and sinful and unclean. To my surprise, some of them even admitted “character flaws” about themselves which allowed me to realize they were fallible humans just like I was. That made me able to open up myself a little more and even talk about things I had no intentions of talking about but did because topics came up that I had experience in and I had something to offer about it. I never felt judged for it either.
This small group, which is just about to end, has been a wonderful experience for me. I have made some friends and gained some insight into the Word of God. I don’t know if I made a difference for any of them, and I guess it doesn’t matter if I did, but they did make a difference for me.
What more could you ask for?