I stood behind the heavy, dark doors wondering what awaited me on the other side. Tossing up a silent prayer, I sheepishly stepped into the crowded room. Would I recognize any of the faces staring back at me? Would I be offered a seat? Would conversations come easily or would they feel staged and awkward? These anxious thoughts and more grappled at my heart.
Inhaling deeply, I fought against the battle brewing within. I longed to escape. To thrust myself from this incommodious setting back into one of familiarity. Yet I desired to experience this place, to be a part of this sisterhood. I ached for confidence. I craved bravery. But the question rising in my mind was one of belonging.
Did I belong here? Would I ever belong? Me, the fearful one. Me, the uncertain one. Me, the not–enough one. Could a person like me belong in a community such as this?
Isn’t this the question we mull over time and again? This question of belonging. Of feeling at home though we are not. Of somehow connecting with others. Of knowing and being known. Of investing in others and having others invest in us. Of building lifelong friendships. Of living a life of belonging.
I revisit the image of that crowded room. Many ladies pushed their way through those weighty doors that morning. Most of them alone, like me. Some timid. Others more sure of themselves. How did they capture this sureness? Where could I uncover some of my own?
Seeking to understand, I scouted out an unsuspecting lady and studied her movements closely. Her brown eyes scanned one row of chairs after another, landing on what she had known was there all along. Over in the corner, waving excitedly, stood her saving grace – the sweet, familiar face of a trusted friend. One who had gone before her, securing her place, cheerfully awaiting her arrival. Smiles and laughter spilled into the air as they locked arms, sliding into side-by-side padded metal chairs.
Two ordinary women. One undeniable bond. Beautiful friendship.
As I observed the connection between these friends, I thought of the special ladies in my own life. How I wish I could bottle them up and carry them with me into all my scary places! Sadly, it doesn’t work this way. My dear friends have families of their own with obligations to meet and promises to keep. Though they are always for me, they cannot always be with me.
Just as I’m beginning to lament over this, a gentle whisper reaches my ears and settles into the crevices of my heart – I am never truly alone. There is one special friend who goes with me everywhere. Oh, how I forget! How often, in my fear and overwhelm, I need these simple reminders. Perhaps you do as well, my friend.
Though He isn’t tangibly present, He is very much here.
Jesus. The friend who goes before us, securing our place, lovingly awaiting our arrival.
When we’re alone. When we feel invisible. When our confidence is lacking. When fear gets the best of us. When we wonder if we’re capable of another step. He is here.
And because He is here, we find our place.
In Him. With Him. Because of Him.