A week ago, there was a snake in my garage. It was a big snake. It wasn’t like anaconda-sized or anything, but it was ew-ew-ew-ew-get-out-of-my-garage-sized. It wasn’t venomous, but it was gross. I know. Bull snakes are harmless, blah blah blah…I still don’t want it in my garage. I don’t want to be surprised by it anywhere, and I really don’t want it to slither into my house. Most of all, I don’t want to carry around the fear that the snake is in my house/garage/basement/yard/car.
Because every time I go in the garage now, I am afraid I’m going to step on that snake. I’m afraid it’s going to slither over my feet. I’m afraid it’s going to wrap itself around something on the bottom of my car and slither in through the air vents like what happened to that one lady in Virginia. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/06/06/snake-slithers-out-of-cars-air-vent-as-virginia-woman-is-driving/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0669facb9e65)
I’m afraid the snake is going to get in through the doggie door or through the back door when my kids leave it wide open again. I’m afraid I’m going to walk through the dark house at night on my way to the bathroom and step on it.
About six years ago, I made a super terrific awesome bestie best friend. We have always happened upon the same stages of life at almost exactly the same time. We share struggles. We share failures. We celebrate together. We bounce ideas off of each other. We call each other freaking out about whatever big life thing has us freaking out. When I’m alone and afraid and isolated for a while, I call her or go over to her house, and within minutes, she has encouraged and reminded me of who God says I am. She has been such a gift to me.
She is moving across the country in two weeks, and I am heartbroken. I am hurt. I am lonely, and I am afraid of what this life is going to look like without her living in the next town over.
I’m also over-the-moon excited for her because she has wanted this move for a long time. She is so ready for this move. I can’t wait to hear about her new adventures and new friends. I can’t wait to see her big beautiful smile on the beach with her kids. I am so thrilled that she is doing this thing she’s dreamt of for so long. I am weeping and rejoicing over the same solitary action. (Mamas who have sent/are sending your kids off to college know this feeling all too well, I’m sure.)
What’s your point, Em? You’re talking about snakes and friends moving and fear, hurt, and rejoicing… Why are you telling us this?
I’m telling you this because Flatirons is starting this Groups thing where we sign up to hang out with people we don’t know once a week for 12 weeks. And people are scary. Going into a stranger’s home for the first time is terrifying. Signing up to commit to hanging out with people I don’t know for 12 weeks is… uncomfortable.
Thinking about signing up for a group for weeks and weeks is a lot like walking into your garage and wondering if a snake is in there.
Knowing the pain of a friend leaving you behind is a very real deterrent for putting yourself out there again.
What happens if I show up to these groups and take out the trash that clutters up my head? What happens if I’m vulnerable and open myself up and care about the lives of other people? What happens if I listen and someone listens to me? What happens if my feelings get validated and I learn more about Jesus? What happens if I show up?
I might make friends?
I might become less selfish?
I might learn how to love and serve without being bitter?
I might grow and learn?
I might be more like Jesus?
I might learn that other people care about me?
I might become a part of something bigger than my own wants and desires?
I might be better able to love God and others well?
But what if I get hurt, rejected, judged, criticized?
Well, the staff has prepared leaders to do their best to make these groups safe, welcoming places, but… there will be other humans who have lived on this planet making mistakes and getting hurt for years in these groups, so… you might get hurt.
But there’s probably not a snake in your garage. So, go ahead and sign up here for a group.
Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time.