I don’t know if it is engrained in me from all my school years including the ones where I was the teacher, but I still view every August as a beginning to something new. It is almost like I have a second January 1st where I set new goals, schedules, or even workout habits. Sitting in church this past Sunday, I allowed myself to reflect on where I was a year ago at this time. A year ago, I was in such a place of limbo and uncertainty. Cody and I had been working towards finalizing all our adoption paperwork which had taken up most of my summer, and Henry Todd was about to go to school for the first time. I felt like everything that I knew that was true and our previous way of life was about to change.
While I have been in a small group with Portico for the past 12 years, this time joining a small group felt overwhelming to even think about adding another thing to my plate, much a group that Cody would lead and prepare for each week. I also remember wrestling with our decision to be a part of a group in which we weren’t really that close to anyone in the group. Thoughts like “There are no small children in this group, so what will Henry do?” and “No single person is in the same life place as us right now, so what will we have in common?” made me dread our first time meeting. It felt like I was jumping into the deep end with no plan!
Even looking back on that makes me feel so ridiculous for worrying about things that seem so petty now, because truly, our life group became our second family this past year. They were the second family that we would desperately need to keep us a float. I had no clue that God was up to BIG things for all of us in the group (which appears to be his MO) so I don’t know why I am still at age 32 still surprised by that. We were a group that saw: job changes, family members battling cancer, eviction notices, loved ones pass away, adoption fails, tough family dynamics, depression and anxiety, miscarriage, and on and on. While that list looks scary typed out and placed together, when I look back all I can see is how my small group changed my perspective and became the church to me as we walked through this season together.
When Cody and I went to Utah this past December to adopt a little girl, our life group helped prepare and pray for this quick trip. BUT that doesn’t even touch what they did for us when our adoption did not go through. Instead of coming home to a decorated nursery and Christmas décor that would be hard to face, we came home to a clean house, baby things quietly put away, and verses that covered our home with reminders of God’s provision and faithfulness to our family. I do not know if I have ever been so grateful in my entire life.
I could have the absolute worst week, go to our life group on Wednesdays, and come home a changed momma. I saw people in our group who genuinely cared for each other and would drop their own agenda to help each other weekly. It wasn’t just one more night of something to do. It became my night that filled me so I could live on faith for the rest. Our life group, time and time again, helped me to choose joy despite our circumstance.
ALL this to say, take the time this week to decide on joining a small group! It is a decision you will never regret. Don’t do it with dread or anxiety, but with excitement of who God is going to weave into your quilt of life for this season. This type of relationship building is hard to accomplish just on Sunday gatherings, but it easily done in the intentional settings of Portico’s small groups. Just jump into the deep end because it might just be the best decision you make!