As I stood on one leg with the other foot propped up on the toilet, like a clumsy, backwards flamingo, I chuckled thinking about how early on in relationships you worry about shaved legs. Eight years into my marriage, I hardly notice unshaved legs until I realize strangers might notice. Since I was invited to a pool party playdate and was already too late to shower, I opted for to dry shave my legs. Not a comfortable move, but typical last-minute mom grooming.
Anxiety-fueled thoughts crossed my mind, “You could just stay home. It is easier. What if going isn’t even worth the trouble of getting packed and out of the house? Since we’re new to this group, people would probably not notice if we weren’t there. Seriously, just stay home. The Price Is Right is about to start!”
In spite of all that, I packed up and went.
As I’ve been reading the Bible lately, I noticed how often concepts like community and meeting together come up. Specifically, I think of Hebrews 10, as the author talks about holding on to our faith and continuing to draw near to God, he says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
Psychologists know that the quality of our relationships has a profound impact on our quality of life. Likewise, the Bible says the quality and depth of our community makes a huge impact on our faith. We can’t cut out community and continue to grow in our faith. Neither can we cut out community and have the kind of faith that will carry us through really hard times. Most people “know” this, so why does the command to meet together even come up repeatedly in the Bible?
Community is hard. It takes effort to make time in our schedules and deviate from our routines. It’s awkward to find common ground with people you don’t know well, especially if you’re the new person in the group. People are messy, difficult, and disappointing. And I’m just talking about me. There’s so much uncertainty when you’re starting and discomfort as you get close enough to reflect one another’s flaws. When I’m surrounded by close friends, I can’t hide from myself anymore.
Staying home from the playdate would have certainly saved me from razor bumps and the risk of someone seeing my saggy, post-baby body in a bathing suit. I also would have missed the chance to sit around pool side and laugh with other moms about our kids’ quirks and the crazy things we did in order to get bathing suit ready that day (apparently, I’m not the only one with odd last-minute grooming habits). Not everyone becomes a bestie, but we can stir each other up towards love and good works as we continue to meet together. We can encourage one another and speak wisdom into each other’s lives. We can grow as we embrace life as God called us to live: in community.
I’m still learning how to do this well and I have a long way to go. But the more I show up in spite of my fears, the more I see God’s hand at work in community. That alone is worth the risk and razor bumps.