I think it is important to note that I am strongly introverted. Opening myself up wide for everyone to see is not generally my idea of a good time and if I happen to be surrounded with a plethora of people I will always take some time to find an uninhabited room where I can hang out by myself. It's not that I don't enjoy company, it's just that company is exhausting and sooner or later I'll have to recharge my batteries by escaping your endless supply of jokes and stories.
Operating this way makes it difficult for me to feel like I can trust people with all the things that go on in my head and my heart. At small group, I found myself rarely talking or communicating because I didn't feel a deep sense of connection to the people I was surrounded with. Also, I didn't really like them all that much because I never felt important or part of the group. Always an outsider, I felt like I was never on anyone's mind outside of our meeting time Monday nights. Which, to me, is very sad. Especially because my cousin and her husband were the ones hosting our small group anyway.
Our church doesn't put an emphasis on college and young adult aged people. We are low on the priority list. Our small group lasts for a couple of months and then goes on a long break. There is nothing offered for us, and every time I have tried to step up and say I wanted to be involved with leadership to set something up I have been shut down and rudely blown off. So when I heard about another church who had a really good college program I jumped on that bandwagon like there was no tomorrow.
Immediately I felt loved and accepted and important. I started off sitting by myself in one of the back rows. Three guys came up and introduced themselves to me and one girl made me come sit with her and her friends. After worship was over I spotted someone I knew from my previous small group and I moved to sit by him. I liked the familiarity of being next to a person who already knew me, so I was actually able to relax and enjoy the sermon.
And let me just tell you about this boy for a second, okay? Because, you guys, he amazes me.
First it should be noted that I'm not someone who assumes that I hold any sort of importance to people. I can blend in with the walls and just skate around without causing any wakes with my motions. So when this boy told me something last night it caught me completely off guard.
I've only spoken to him a handful of times. One of those times was after I found out some really bad news about my dad right before I had to leave for small group. I brought it up as a prayer request and then spent probably a half hour afterwards crying while conversing with this boy. His words were exactly what I needed to hear and I'm convinced it was God speaking through him. He told me I was worth it and to never let any person tell me that I wasn't worth it or that I wasn't important or that I wasn't loved or forgiven. Because I am. I was a little embarrassed by how I was acting and feeling, but those words were so comforting. I kept apologizing for my tears, but I couldn't stop them from coming. He was a great sport about it though, so kudos to him for being a champ.
Fast forward to last night and this same boy told me something that caught me completely off guard.
Like, you could have knocked me over with a feather probably.
I don't remember his exact words, although I wish I could, but it was along the lines of how my openness about how I'm feeling is inspiring to him.
Inspiring? My openness? What? This boy.
That night at small group, I was lost and uncomfortable and in a moment of sobbing desperation for someone to help me, I confided some feelings to this guy. It was a rare moment, but obviously the impact it produced was one I could have never imagined. In that moment when he said he'd felt inspired, I was reminded how absolutely important it is to be yourself and to be honest and authentic with everyone because you never know how your actions and words are going to affect them.
A couple of months ago I was wondering if God was even real. What did I really believe? How could there be some being out there who created everything in the universe and still loved me and wanted a relationship with me? How could I be so screwed up and terrible and yet this being wanted to wash me in His grace and set me free? It just seemed impossible, and yet being raised in the family I was, I knew deep down that He had to be real. But still, doubt.
So I prayed that God would somehow make me aware that not only was He there, but also that He cared deeply about me. I was so tired of feeling miserable and not feeling like myself. I was tired of feeling hopeless and overwhelmed with my life. And then, you guys, this church. These people. Not just this boy, but there is also a group of girls who are genuinely happy to see me show up on Thursday nights. One girl in particular who, the more I converse with, the more I realize it's like meeting myself as someone else. We have so much in common it's incredible, and I am so thankful that God has placed her in my life.
I came home from church last night feeling refreshed and happy and the most like myself I've felt in really long time. And can I just tell you, dudes, it is so good to have me back.