September 1st and the sun shone bright and warm when I walked through those clear glass doors with my three-year-old son in tow.
What am I doing? My heart thrummed in my chest. This is stupid. I don’t need a “mom group”.
Mom group. Insert <gag>.
Her hair was cut in a cute brown bob that framed her face and she was wearing yellow shorts. Her face was bright and her eyes were warm. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said, as I fumbled my way into the church, “I’m Dez. Let me tell you about MOPS.”
Stacy walked me to the classroom for Leo’s age group and Kristin reassured me when I left my kid with people I didn’t know – for the first time ever. “They’re so great back here,” She said. “They will call you if he needs you. He’s going to have fun and make friends! I know it’s hard. Do you want to sit with me?”
What am I doing here?
I poured myself coffee and I sat down with a table of women I didn’t know. The morning flew by, I got Leo from his classroom and I went home, feeling more hope in my heart than I had in a long time. I wrote,
“Today there was MOPS and new friends, meeting up with 35 strangers and being met by 35 kind and genuine smiles and being encouraged by a whole lot of authenticity and talk of this one, next year, being a year to LOOK UP and SEE.”
The six months leading up to that sunny September 1st, I had been begging God to open my eyes wide to see.
And when the woman with shoulder-length brown hair and quiet eyes got up and talked about seeing, I had my answer.
I knew it down deep why I was there.
There was a man in the Bible who was born blind so that the power of God could be seen. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said, and he spit on the ground and made mud to cover the man’s eyes. “Go wash it off,” he said, and the man came back seeing.
Jesus restored the blind man’s sight by smearing mud over his eyes.
Sometimes God uses the unexpected to work redemption in our lives.
When I walked into that mom group, I needed to see again. There were things in my heart crying out for redemption.
There were forsaken places in my journey and spaces in my heart.
And the journey through the wilderness that landed me at a moms group full of strangers, has only made me more convinced that Satan wants us to feel abandoned. Forsaken. Alone.
“Be watchful,” 1 Peter 5:8 says, “…the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”, and Peter continues, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
That you are not alone.
CBS News reported that 72% of Americans experience loneliness and 33% say they feel lonely once a week.
It’s late. The house is quiet, minus the soft, persistent tick of the bedroom clock. The smoke alarm in the basement beeps and I remember that we need to buy new batteries for it.
Keep your eyes wide open.
The Enemy of your soul wants nothing more than to destroy you.
Be watchful and stand firm.
Stand firm in the knowledge that you are not alone.
And you resist.
These words are profound to me.
Everywhere I go, I hear it, I see it, I feel it – this deep yearning for authenticity, transparency and connection.
Because at the root of every jealous thought or misunderstanding, argument or rejection –
is really just a yearning to be loved.
And this is why you should go first and say hello.
“Hi, I’m Renee, and…”
And your transparency might just be the key –
the key that lets another caged heart find freedom.
That says, “me too”, “you’re not alone”.
And together –
we resist the wily snares of the devil and step deeper into the water of His love.
When I walked into Meadville MOPS on a sunny, September Thursday, expecting to never want to go back – I left with a glimmer of hope that I never expected.
Together is why you you should go first.
Because underneath all the layers of politeness and pleasantries and behind every mask?
There’s really just a yearning to be loved and to belong.
Find your tribe and love them well, for better or for worse, and you will stand firm and resist.
And you will see.