You could hear my first car (truck?) rumbling from down the street, so it always made an entrance. I took dance for nearly twenty years, complete with fake eyelashes and weekends spent at competitions. I was captain of the cheerleading squad, and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I’m currently the welcome wagon for my unit at the hospital, and I teach classes online and in real life. I guess you could say that I don’t mind being in front of people. But scheduling a coffee date? Getting recognized at the grocery store? Carving out time and getting childcare for a small group through church? I’m a mess. I literally squirm when I’m out with my mom and she recognizes an old friend. It means she’ll catch her up to speed on everyone and then the topic of kids comes up and then the big eyes and how did you carry twins?!
Community makes me sweaty. Always has, always will. I can’t help that I’m an introvert. I’d rather be at home on the couch with my family than anywhere else, forever and always. This means that when I do show up, when I do put forth the effort, I usually walk away emotionally exhausted. I know people (my husband) who are energized and fueled by a good party, but there are some of us who could hibernate for days afterward.
This is an explanation. It’s why I might retreat to a corner for a few minutes during a get-together, or why I don’t volunteer information that might extend my conversation with the lady checking me out at a store. Community makes me sweaty. It’s an explanation.
But it’s not an excuse. Because y’all, I was called to live in community. I was created for it. It doesn’t matter how much work or sweat it takes, community is vital to living life abundantly, to its fullest. There might be things I’d rather be doing (read above – couch), but it doesn’t matter come Tuesday night. I will show up and do life with a few other couples, couples from all walks of life, couples who are different from me and love me unconditionally. Joining and staying in a small group is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Seriously.
But you know what? These are the people who show up when it hurts. The people who send you on a date night, and figure out how to heat up the milk for the baby without calling you because you forgot to instruct them. The people who actually pray and then follow up on the request lists. The people who cook to your preferences because they listened when you talked. The people who speak the truth in love to you. They’re able to exercise this kind of authority because they’ve invested in you, and you in them.
I might end my Tuesday nights exhausted, but that might not ever change. It doesn’t have to. I was created for it, and called to it. The people in my community are the hands and feet of Jesus, and He shows up when they do. Sweaty or not, here I come.
Not unrelated… Influence Network members, we launched community groups this past weekend! Get on it!