We were all sitting there in a semicircle on sandy beach towels, dressed to the nines in our "mom" bathing suits and sunglasses, with our conversation constantly interrupted with sprinkles of “stop hitting your friend or you WILL get out of the water!”, and “Mommy, where's my snack?” It was a perfectly imperfect day, full of sunshine and laughs. If anyone was eyeing us and questioning our parenting while we passed sandy bags of chips to our kids and let them chase the seagulls, we didn't notice. During one of the fleeting moments of calm, my friend Danielle spoke up, “I wish we could do this more often. I mean, even after summer is over, you know?” Little did we know, at the time, how much that question was going to change all of our stories.
The words struck me. Why not? We were mostly stay at home or part-time working moms, and I mean, it would be slightly insane, but my house could hold us all. It couldn't hurt to try it once, right? After some brainstorming and discussion, we decided to make it a regular thing. That fall, we started what we so affectionately called our “Momtourage”, where we met twice a month for coffee and sack lunches while our children dumped every blessed toy within reach, or made mud pies in the backyard. That was over three years ago, and while the dynamic has changed a bit, the structure is still the same. What has changed, though, is our community. I wish I could tell you about all the cookbooks we could compile from easy dinner ideas, the laughter we've shared over horrifying potty training stories and mom brain mistakes; and the tears that have been shed as we've shared in the griefs of miscarriage, marriage struggles, and infertility.
I love what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4, that "two are better off than one, because they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up..." That's what has happened as we have intentionally made time to share life with each other. I like to think that we've become the cord Solomon mentions in verse twelve of the same chapter: stronger together.
What started as a spur-of-the-moment idea, on a pretty ordinary day, has grown into a small community of women who are making a difference in each others' lives, one day at a time. The world is clamoring for the biggest and the best, but we don't have to be world renowned authors, or have ten thousand followers on Instagram, to make an impact. It's more often the simple kind of everyday brave that says "yes" to the little things, like brewing a pot of coffee for a friend and offering a listening ear, that can change lives, which in turn can change communities, which have the power to change the world.
Community. It's such a lifeline in a world of busy schedules filled with sports, work obligations, and ministry opportunities. Finding the time to gather in a judgment-free zone full of friends that are in the same stage of life seems rather euphoric, yet impossible. I wish I could invite you to join us on a Friday morning-- to show up in yoga pants and a messy bun, with a bag stuffed full of the remnants from your fridge to eat for lunch. I'd offer you a cup of coffee while your kids ditch their shoes and run off to find their friends; and then we'd all sit in a semicircle much like the one on the beach that day (minus the sand, hopefully), and chat about anything and everything, from ministry, to "mom" life, to self care.
While distance or schedule may make it impossible for you to come, what isn't impossible is creating time and space for community right where you are. You don't need money to feed the masses or an immaculate house; the only thing that is ever promised around here is a place to sit and a clean toilet!
Sometimes all it takes is one person being brave enough to say, “Hey, why not?” Maybe that person is you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of community. Help me not to take for granted the friends that You have placed in my life to walk with, encourage, and lean on. I pray for the one that desperately wants community, but is struggling to find it. Place people in her path that she can relate to, who also point her to You. May she be brave enough to step out of her comfort zone and invite others in. Thank You for being the very best friend I could ever have, and help me not to place my relationships with others above my relationship with You. Amen.