My small group started two weeks ago. I was surprised—really surprised—to feel excited about that.
When I joined the group at the beginning of last year, I didn’t expect to stay more than a few months. I had my arms crossed rather tightly across my chest during the first meeting. And the second meeting. And the tenth.
Even weirder is this: For years, I was a poster-child/small group leader/cheerleader for our church’s program.
Yeah, I’m getting whiplash, too. Apparently, I can’t make up my mind whether I like small groups or not.
My church started its small group ministry not long after I got married, fifteen years ago. I signed my husband and I up to host a group, and within a year, we had dozens of twenty-something adults gathering at our house for two “small” groups.
The sudden growth astonished me. It’s the only time in my life I’ve felt like the hub of a movement. It felt really good, like I was Jack planting magic beans.
But remember how the beanstalk gets felled by an axe?
In my case, it was a few axes. The group outgrew our two-bedroom house. So, we split up, losing energy in the process. Also, twenty-something people transition a lot—within just a few years, most of our close friends had moved away or left for other reasons.
Then, I had a baby. It wasn’t fun to host a bunch of people at my house after 9pm when I knew I would get woken four times that night.
There was another thing eating away at my tether to the beanstalk: I’d experienced spiritual abuse at this church in high school because of a toxic youth leader. He and the other leaders responsible were gone, so I assumed I’d healed.
But I hadn’t. I didn’t realize it, but I was quite bitter under my cheerful participation.
Having that small group crumble to pieces around my feet hurt. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but it felt personal. And my bitterness surfaced. Big time.
I did what I usually do when I’m limping, which is soldier on cheerfully, telling myself I wasn’t actually injured. I signed my husband and I up for other small groups. We put in time with lovely people we did not know, over and over and over, expecting another beanstalk to sprout.
Then I lowered my expectations, and hoped for a flower. Then just for a bit of greenery.
The ground stayed stubbornly bare.
I was over at SheLoves Magazine yesterday confessing my love-hate relationship to small groups. Join me there?