On Tuesday mornings, you can find me at my church hosting (leading/facilitating) one of the tables at the Ladies' Bible Study. It has been an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know the ladies around my table.
For the Christmas season, our study is on break. But I wanted to meet with these ladies one more time until January. So, I invited them over for Girl Talk and Holiday Munchies. A little lunch, some lit candles, Christmas music and a beautiful raspberry cake brought by one of the gals. Oh, yes, and of course, coffee! with cream and sugar (er, Splenda), please! These women are such a joy to me. Unassuming. Grateful. Kind. We sat and ate and talked. What a wonderful thing... to get together for the pure enjoyment of friendship.
And so this leads us on to Chapters 2 & 3 of The Friendships of Women....
This particular Bible Study was the first time in about nine years that I have led or helped to lead a table. So, my table was already assigned, but during those nine or so years when I was not leading a table, I always dreaded the first day of Bible Study. At which table would I sit? Since, as we have already discovered, I do not have a "best" (read: one and only) friend... I would search the room seeing many ladies I know... But... Where would I feel "comfortable"? Will this table talk more or review the lesson more? (I'm more of the review-the-lesson type of girl.) What is the "age group" of this table? Do I know all of these ladies? Will I fit in? God, help me to sit at the right table! I don't want to be all alone at a table with seven other ladies.
I realize I am not alone in this feeling. Recently, I had spoken with one lady who was completely new to the Bible Study and does not attend our church. When she would come on Tuesday mornings, she thought all the ladies at her table attended our church. She was hurt when one gal didn't reach out to her. When I shared with her that the "one gal" didn't attend our church and had been brought by a friend and had still felt a little out of place, well, that changed her perspective... her expectations... her feeling of being branded "an outsider."
But it is not always the one looking in that needs the adjustment... sometimes when we are having our own needs for intimacy met, it is easy to slide into complacency about the needs of others. We think... well, I'm new, too. I've just begun to fit in... so we don't even look around and see that sitting next to us is someone who is just trying to fit in, too.
I encourage the ladies at my Bible Study table to create bonds of friendship. But in creating that bond, will a newcomer sense our intimacy and "feel" immediately that she is an outsider... and does not fit in... No matter how much we reassure her that she is welcome into our circle... she feels just a few steps behind... she doesn't share all that we have shared.... and so, does not return back.
Well, I wonder to myself how I can reconcile all of this... it seems so complicated!
Perhaps each woman needs to:
- Realize that there is a void that God has created within each person
- Realize only God can fill that void
- Depend daily upon God to fill that need through prayer and the study of His Word
- Establish friendships wisely; and
- Be aware of those women God has placed around us.