A few months after we got married, Steve and I decided it was time to start meeting some other married couples. At the time we were attending a gigantic church, so intentional church-sponsored get-togethers was the only way to meet people.
Our church was sponsoring a small group launch and we decided to check it out. We sat at a round table with a place card that read “Married, No kids”. We waited alone for a bit watching couples funnel to tables that fit their life stage. Before long our table filled and I remember looking around, irritated, at this forced method of “facilitating” friendships.
Three Sundays we sat at a table with these strangers, attempting to get to know each other through cliché icebreakers and prompted socialization. I had never made friends this way and thought for sure this group would be people we crossed paths with one night a week, sharing Bible stories, and maybe if we got really cozy, we would sit together at church.
During the last meeting, we had to decide if we would like to start a small group and meet regularly for Bible Study. The Christianise phrase “doing life together” made my skin crawl, but frankly, Steven and I needed friends. We had only lived in Colorado a few months and we were starting to realize our friends living hours away wouldn’t fill the community hole in our hearts.
It didn’t take long for this group of people to prove my pessimism a waste of time. Had we sat in a circle each week sharing nice stories about our lives, I don’t think our group would have lasted long. But instead, something beautiful happened in our first evening together—people opened up. This wasn’t any one’s first small group rodeo and some made it pretty clear they didn’t want small group just to be a time of fellowship they could check off their weekly to-do list. If we were going to meet together and really grow, we needed to be authentic, open, vulnerable.
Needless to say, our time in Colorado Springs was deeply enriched by these 5 young couples. They became our family in a city where we had none, and friends much deeper than Bible study cronies. I doubted friendships could form that quickly— that authentic relationships could blossom out of structured friend formation, but I was wrong. So wrong.
We started as 6 couples seeking God’s will in our lives; all at very different stages in our marriages, lives and walks with the Lord. But we came together and formed a family of people pursuing how to serve Christ best in our present circumstances. So much has changed since that first meeting—babies, moves, and career changes. Our time of physically meeting together, due to proximity and life changes, has come to a close, but the relationships and impact will last forever.
This past Sunday the entire service at our new church in Fort Collins was centered around inspiring people to sign up for a small group. My heart broke a little as I felt the pessimism crawl up my spine. Instead of not believing in “forced” community, I was having a hard time believing we could find another community like we had in Springs. Again, I think fear is holding me back.
Honestly, making friends out of college in hard. In college you live with your friends, see them regularly, watch each other grow up and make classic college mistakes side by side. In college we accept our flawed states and vulnerability is much easier.
But when you are adult, it is expected that you have life pulled together. This creates a veil of fear and false confidence we tend to hide behind, waiting to see if anyone out there will open up first. As a result, making true friendships and going deep as adults takes more effort and genuine openness. The Wolfpack (the cheesy, but awesome, name we gave our small group) taught me that authentic adult relationships can be made when people open up, unafraid to be real about who they are and what they are struggling with.
Our year in the Wolfpack, we communed over the fact that really none of us had anything figured out. We were an unstable group of people seeking stability in Christ.This experience taught me that to make authentic, genuine community—it involves risks, laying down pride, and being vulnerable. It isn’t easy, but it is more than worth it.
I have also learned that this does not need to take place in a small group setting. I believe I can build community with other friends outside of church and work. The key is being true to yourself and to others, stepping out from behind the mask of pride and fear and simply opening up.
Challenge: Open up to someone– let them see who you really are and watch them open up in return. Life is truly a beautiful place when you have people to support and encourage you, and vise versa. Living in community allows us to engage with life in a way that is much more meaningful that getting by on our own.