I remember JD preached about on a Sunday about how we grow in circles, not rows. Without any context, that might not make sense to you. Essentially, your potential to grow increases when you are sitting in a circle with people, rather than sitting in a row on a Sunday morning and listening to a Pastor. Granted, there are a lot of Pastors I love to listen to and truly learn from. Sometimes when we focus too much on checking off the box on a Sunday morning, we only learn bits and pieces about God, and nothing about ourselves. There’s no true accountability. Zack and I took on the challenge of leading a Young Adults couples Life Group. Those are a lot of words- I know. Zack and I have sat in many life groups in our lives, but it was usually a circle of teenagers(and we love them), and that’s a lot different than sitting in a circle of peers who are your age.
And here began this little journey… in a circle.
Our life group consists of so many different personalities and all of those personalities have a story. At first, it took awkward introductions and cheesy ice breakers. After a few weeks, it was like we knew each other for years. We opened up about our pasts and our hopes and dreams for the future. We asked hard questions about our faith and what it means. We didn’t always agree with each other on certain topics,
but the point wasn’t to agree- it was to learn.
Our life group was supposed to run from 7-8:30 on Thursday nights, but everyone stayed to 9:30… talking about our work weeks, goofing off, and just being together. I sat there and looked around, realizing that this was the circle JD was talking about. This circle held a standard for me, not a standard that was impossible to reach, but a standard they knew I could live up to. We prayed for each other and our friends- We ate way too many snacks- And we learned that there is value in circles where we can learn about ourselves and a God that loves community.
For a short year, this group became more than just a circle- it became my home.
When I found out we were moving, I realized that this group would no longer be my weekly pick me up. I was devastated. I spent a lot of time praying about it, and realized that this was all part of God’s plan. I’m going to have to meet a lot of new people in California, make a lot of new friends, and dive into the unknown. I don’t think I would have the courage and confidence to do that if it weren’t for this Life Group. I also wouldn’t know the value of a circle if we didn’t say yes to this amazing circle a year ago.
So here is a short letter to my Life Group…
Dear Life Group,
This group has been everything. Your willingness to open up your hearts and your lives to each other and to me is a courage that is unparalleled. Not many people are so eager to be an open book because there’s the possibility of getting hurt or being judged. In our year together, I never felted judged- I felt loved an accepted. I sometimes didn’t understand what we were studying, but you never made me feel dumb. Our group was a safe place, but a place that still challenged me. Each of you are so different, but it never mattered because we all had one thing in common- we were eager to learn more about God and about ourselves. Jessie, for the brief time you were in our Life Group I saw a side of you I have never seen. You are so smart and carry so much wisdom for your age. I loved getting to know you in the thick of your wedding planning and beginning your new journey as Mrs. Shickel. Timo, you are seriously the craziest and most down to earth person I have ever met. Your zest for life is refreshing to be around and your hard questions during Life Group always made me think deeper about the topic we were on. Sam and Nick- you guys are seriously cool and I can’t believe we didn’t become friends sooner. Hearing about your journey as newlyweds was so cool for Zack and I to hear. You are two of the nicest people I know and I know that we will miss your friendship when we are in California. Andrew and Hannah… oh you guys. I love you. You are so genuine and hilarious. You were made for each other, and calling you our friends is an honor. Joe and Lindsay, I remember meeting you and just wanting to know more about you, where you came from, how God is using you… and it’s been so cool to see how much you love each other and how much you mean to this life group. You both are insanely smart and well spoken- something that I think this Life Group always needed- no offense to the rest of you * wink wink. Erin, you were my safe place when we started this Life Group because I already knew you so well. You could also call me out when I was being sassy or just completely out of line. Again, that accountability is everything. Our friendship is so unique and something I will never take for granted.
My prayer for this Life Group is that you will continue to stay together and challenge each other. I’ve seen you all grow so much since we started this group. I’ve seen friendships blossom. This circle is so valuable. It was so valuable to me and Zack. When Zack and I find a new circle in California, I will try not to compare them to this totally goofy and totally awesome group. It will be hard. I love you all so much and will never forget the late nights we spent together. God has huge plans for this group and for you all as individuals. I will continue to pray for you all.
God’s fingerprint on my life will always hold a little piece of this group.
It’s been a joy and a pleasure,