By Alisha Bauman-Farley (Indianapolis, Indiana)
I have a three year old daughter who loves making friends. Every day she asks to go play on the playground so she can see her “friends”. When she says this, she means anyone who might be walking around outside. She simply wants to be around people. The other day she sat on the top of the slide all alone. Nearby a group of kids, who I assume were siblings, were chasing the oldest that was riding a bike. My daughter sat in silence, her eyes locked on their every movement. Not one of them came over to play. My daughter will be an only child because of my health.
This made me think about how community is important. We all have a desire to belong and be accepted with a group of others. my daughter probably will be more active engaging with classmates and others during her childhood then I ever was. I was extremely shy at her age. Some people have no problem walking up to a new group of people and start a conversation. I envy those people. I need a running start, a couple weeks or months of mental preparation) and one other person with me for encouragement.
It is one thing to enter a personal relationship with God. It is another thing to enter into relationship with a group of strangers who you hope have the same desire for God’s love that you do. So there you are, sitting at the top of the slide wondering how to get their attention to interact with you, hoping they will see you and invite you to join them. Anxiety and past shame holds us back from the community and belonging we yearn for in our lives. Will that community accept my life style choices? will they be patient with the pace I am exploring my faith? Will they be gentle with the broken pieces inside me? Will they see me as human or will judgement cause them to be blind? Will this be a safe place?
You never know until you reach out. You never know until you make yourself vulnerable to where God is leading you.
My daughter will stand between me and whoever she is wanting to play with; she looks back and forth, confounded and unsure how to start the friendship conversation. I encourage her by letting her know it’s ok and that she’s “got it” and then off she goes to practice making new friends.
Just as she feels the urge; allow your true self to have the courage it takes to enter into new relationships founded on God’s love. Your eternal parent is nudging you “You’ve got this. You are loved. You are worthy.” Never forget it.
“God, where will your Spirit lead today? … “