I went to Bible study for the first time in a while today. We were masked up and social distanced, but it was still so good to be together in a room with other ladies seeking a word from the Lord. I don’t think I’ll ever take “gatherings” for granted again. The group was a decent size, maybe eleven of us, and the group leader used the first few minutes to give each of us the chance to share our name and a little bit about ourselves.
“Hi, I’m Sandi. My husband and I moved here about a year and a half ago for his job. We were in ministry for a number of years and took for granted what it was like to have a church family. This is the first time in our married lives we’ve moved to a place where we didn’t already have a church home. My dad was a pastor, so attending his church was an easy choice. Early in our marriage my husband and I were in ministry so we attended the church where we were employed. So to come here, where we have no family and not employed by a church has proven to be more challenging than we thought. So, I’m very thankful to be here this morning to study with you ladies, thankful we think we’ve found a new church after all these months and thankful for fellowship.”
My intro went something like that. I’ve never introduced myself in a group setting where I wasn’t one of the charter members. And I’ve never felt so starved for fellowship as I have lately. After being surrounded with sickness and bad news all over the place, to sit in a room with moms of all ages and open up God’s word, felt like sunshine after the rain. I’m sure I sounded overly enthusiastic, but I don’t even care. I was so glad to be there I would’ve hugged each and every one of them if the circumstances were different.
I brought my own cup of coffee and sipped as the ladies around the room shared different opinions about the chapter they’d read in our study book. I signed up at the last minute because I was nervous, of all things, so I hadn’t gotten the book in time to read the first chapter. You know, let’s talk for a minute about my nerves. I’ve never been one to shy away from meeting new people, I enjoy it. But, with all the quarantining and being so new to this place I found myself staying home more because it was comfortable. So when I was confronted with this study opportunity week after week in church, I kept telling myself I would sign up “later.” Then “later” would come and I would find reasons to not sign up. But, finally, when I could no longer come up with believable reasons to avoid it, I put my name on the list. And then I doubted myself. Signing up for this study should not have been a complicated thing, but it was. But, once I paid for the book, I knew I was on the hook. I wasn’t going to waste my fifteen dollars, I would definitely show up. Even if I was quaking in my shoes.
And that’s where I was while sipping coffee this morning; sipping and listening to ladies share their perspectives and convictions. It was so refreshing. It’s interesting to me when I am isolated for too long I start to feel like there’s less goodness in the world and I start struggling to find the bright side of a situation. Life seems bleaker and less hopeful when I’ve been deprived of community. I felt the beauty of the moment wash over me and was fully engaged in the conversation when my watch thumped my arm. I say thumped because it’s on vibrate, I didn’t want it to ding and interrupt the meeting. Normally I would ignore it but for some reason I looked down. It was a news outlet notifying me of a new article on their site. The title was something about politics and I suddenly felt the weight of all that is wrong in the world descend upon me. The title actually started with the words, “What If?” My mood went from sunny to cloudy in a matter of seconds. I have struggled with that phrase since I can remember. What if something bad happens? What if? (fill in the blank). I’ve lost sleep over that simple question many a night.
Today, it was suddenly so clear as I sat with a group of ladies surrounding me, bringing hope and joy into my isolated world, that at any moment news can come that changes everything. I was again confronted by the uncertainty of it all. I had a choice to make. It’s a choice I have to make daily, sometimes a hundred times a day. Do I worry about the “what if” or focus on reality. You see, my reality was a group of women who loved Jesus and want to serve him through life’s ups and downs; these women were sitting around me sharing and thriving. My “what if” was the fear something terrible was going to happen any minute. The feeling that the other shoe is about to drop. This terrible something might never come, but it might. Maybe. Possibly. Or maybe not. Who knows?
So why think about it?
I was telling my husband later that moment pretty much summed up the whole of the last decade of my life. Looking around at my reality, what IS happening, but being distracted by the possibility of what COULD happen; the “what if.” I cleared the screen of my watch and recentered my attention on the group in front of me and decided to enjoy the moment. One small decision that will hopefully lead to many more just like it. I want to live in the REALITY of my circumstances not the POSSIBILITY of everything that could go wrong.
Because that’s truly living your best life.
Oh, and I turned off the notifications on my watch. No more dooms day headlines for me!