I’m a solitary gal. I like my own company, and am never afraid of time alone. I fill it with things for me, sometimes selfish things (last week’s pedicure), other times more altruistic things (having trouble thinking of one of those at the moment). Time alone for me is glorious, restful, rejuvenating.
But, God never intended for us to be lone creatures. He expects us to be part of the world, to live in it and shine His light in all the dark corners. So, while my comfort zone is definitely a carefully drawn perimeter around my sole being, I continue to try to push myself towards others, looking for those connections and trying to maintain the ones I’ve already made.
Towards that end, I joined a ladies’ growth group at my church this spring. It met all my criteria: meets during the day (lunch), is led by a wonderful friend who excels in logistics and bringing women together, and is held at a neutral location (not someone’s home, not the church). I could explain why I have these criteria, but you already know how weird I am if you’ve followed this blog any length of time, so I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I need places/events where I can connect with other women, but don’t feel pressured in any way. Perfect scenario.
We’ve been meeting for a couple of months, and the women in our group are absolutely delightful. We run the gamut of ages and stages of life, and I confess, that’s one of the things that I’ve loved most about this group. Each of us has something to offer, and God, in His usual way, brings us together with those who can lift us up, or whose lives we can encourage in some way. I’ve enjoyed meeting and getting to know some of them, and connecting with them on a closer level outside of our group sessions. I’ve been inspired by the giving spirit of these women, and how so many of them live their lives in service to others. Sometimes, our leader brings a sweet devotion, other times, we are led by members of our group, as our leader is savvy enough to know that there is a lot of talent to be mined there.
Today was led by one of the women in the group who is in my stage of life. I won’t call her an Old Broad, although that (in my opinion) is the ultimate compliment, but I will say that she would certainly qualify, were she so inclined. I’ve connected with her before today; because, wouldn’t you know it, she’s an exercise buff. She teaches classes at a local Wellness Center, and she’s fit, fabulous, and full of life. Today, she reminded me of a very important truth (although it may not have been her intent).
She began by reminding us of the importance of movement and nutrition. She emphasized that we are called to be spiritually fit, but we’re also called to take care of ourselves. This body of ours is actually a little temple, designed perfectly and profoundly by God to accomplish His will in our lives and glorify His name. It’s hard to be concerned about God’s will if you aren’t able to walk to the mailbox and back. Then, Joni led us in a short line dance. She had us all (or all those who were willing) gather around her, and she taught us some simple steps, then turned on the music, and away we went. There was much laughter and little self consciousness, and the lunch was concluded with fun and frivolity. I was blessed indeed.
I have two left feet. My mind won’t retain even the simplest dance steps long enough to finish an entire song. I am uncoordinated in the extreme and have been known to trip walking across a perfect level floor. Still, I move. I run. There’s not a lot of coordination required, just remember to make sure both feet head in the same direction and don’t get entangled with each other. And, keep your eyes on the road ahead. Running helps define who I am and how I feel, it influences my daily life, physical and spiritual. It keeps my dark clouds at bay.
The truth that Joni reminded me of was simple, but profound. We’re all different, yet the same. We all have different ways of achieving the same goals, whether they’re fitness, nutritional, or spiritual goals. One size does not fit all. We only hurt ourselves when we compare ourselves (favorably or unfavorably) to others. We’re meant to walk our own path, not veer into someone else’s lane. We can enjoy sharing the path with others, but it’s necessary to find our own way, and not be envious of another’s. We must learn to rejoice in each other’s accomplishments and achievements. Dance with them when you’re offered the chance, and don’t dwell on the fact that your clumsy feet will never enable you to move as gracefully as they do, or, that they seem to have wings on their feet that propel them at speeds you can never hope to achieve.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a