Not Alone

The pizza sat forgotten, refills on waters often, the sun streaming in the window as it lowered deeper and deeper toward the horizon. We talked babies and potty-training, they leaned close if I so much as mentioned any male's name, eager for information and possibility, we peppered one another with questions and answers and opinions, and eyes welled up with gratitude and transparency.

You are not alone, laying in the light, put out the fire in your head, the song goes. And I can't help but think about the text messages that have flown back and forth in the past few days. These women I love so much and who love me so much.

I was nervous a year ago. I clutched the roster, reading the names of yet faceless women who would share their deepest pains and darkest struggles in only a few hours with me and one another.

I've led so many groups, home-groups, cell groups, small groups, family groups, whatever the catch phrase for what Church really is, but this group was different. It was filed with raw confessions and admissions of not being okay. It was the nature of the group and we were there because we were not okay. But I was still nervous because what if I came across like I was okay—then how would it go?

So it's a surprise to me that when I think of some of the richest relationships in my life, I think of these women. It's a surprise because we see each other rarely. But when I see their face in the crowd at church, or get a text message from one, or feel a tap on my shoulder while I sit in the back row, oh my heart. Oh, my happy heart.

The other night, four of those women, all young mamas, two carrying November babies, the youngest one of us bearing four boys, the oldest one bearing singleness, we sat in a corner booth for four hours. And we could have done it for four hours more.

There have been seasons of my life rich with fellowship, social engagements often and easy. And there have been other times when I have wept in my bed from loneliness. There have been times when the people who brought the most joy to my heart were merely around the block and other times when I have lived 17 hours from those I love most.

The season I am in, and felt in since I moved here, has felt lonely in some deep ways. Kinship, the knitting of the soul sort, tumbling over one another's words sort, has felt like something from another decade, another life. I have gladly counted that cost and considered it a loss I would take for the sake of the gospel.

But sometimes I will think of that corner booth, put out the fires in my head, and remember that I am okay to not be okay, and that I am not alone.