As a freshman at Carolina (Go Heels!), I was surrounded by friends from high school and new friends in my dorm. My college roommate was (and is) one of my best friends and her boyfriend at the time (now husband) was a senior at Carolina. [side note: their four kids are some of my most favorite little people ever!] Needless to say, there was no lack of social life. But I still wanted to join a sorority. It just all sounded so fun…live in a house together, mixers, sisters for life, etc. But…..the thought of going through sorority rush froze me in my tracks. Rush sounded like hell – even for an extrovert (that’s ME!). Making small talk with a bunch of people you just met, judging them and worst of all, getting judged by them. Ick! I was NOT down for that. So….first semester, while many friends were rushing and pledging, I kept my tush out of it all and figured it wasn’t meant to be. (Not to mention that my parents had told me that they would not be paying for a sorority – that it would be ALL on my own…..pretty sure that’s not what happened for my brother and his fraternity, but that’s a totally different blog post….;)
Spring semester came along and one of my friends from high school (sort of…she went to a different school) called me and told me all about her sorority and how I could join it without having to go through a formal rush, etc. After talking to her on the phone for hours and thinking about it, I said, sign me up! I pledged and then went through all of the stuff you do to join a sorority. And so, I became a Phi Mu. God found a path for me even though I wouldn’t go through that anxiety-driven sorority rush. And He knew what he was doing because that friend who talked me into joining Phi Mu is my very best friend in the whole.wide.world. [side note: she and her husband just made a little human and while all he does right now is sleep and eat, he is also one of my favorite little people ever.]
Fast-forward quite a few years and I found myself in another anxiety-driven sorority rush situation…..this time, at church!
At Forest Hill, where I attend church in Charlotte, the way they go about putting together LifeGroups (small groups) is VERY akin to a sorority rush. You….and hundreds of other people (mostly women, in my case), go into this really big room and interview each other about who you are and decide in a matter of minutes if you want to expose the deepest yearnings of your heart and your past with these people. They call it LifeGroup Connect. Needless to say, the idea of it provoked some crazy anxiety and reminded me of the rush that I was able to avoid as a freshman in college.
I moved back to Charlotte about four and a half years ago and didn’t come back to the social scene that I knew at Carolina as a freshman. God provided some amazing friends when I lived abroad….and, I played my part in meeting them and developing relationships. I knew I was going to have to do the same in Charlotte….get out, meet people and develop relationships. Church seemed like the most logical place to start to meet some like-minded friends. But really? I had to go through a sorority rush to meet these girls??? ?
At first I was in denial that this was the way that I was going to have to go about meeting friends. So I skipped the first LifeGroup Connect that was held after I moved back to Charlotte. But then a few months went by and I still hadn’t gotten plugged into a small group, so I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to do a LifeGroup Connect. So, I did. With butterflies and all in my stomach, I walked into the room we call the Exploratorium with hundreds of other people and started mingling. [sometimes I think I’m a fake extrovert because I do not always love having to mingle with a bunch of people I do not know.]
Ok, so here’s the kicker…..all of that anxiety went out the door in a matter of moments. Right away I realized that the Holy Spirit was all up in LifeGroup Connect. [Not so sure he was all up in the Carolina sorority rush…actually, maybe he was, but in a different way. I did end up in the perfect sorority for me and I am still besties with my sisters.]
The Holy Spirit directed me to a LifeGroup leader who had just returned from living in China and was looking to put together a group of women who were passionate about the needs in our inner-city and preferably lived in/around uptown. (ummmmm…..that’s ME!!….not to mention this woman had lived abroad and knew what it was like to live in a developing country….I was immediately so grateful for her and her like-minded heart.)
So….I joined a LifeGroup.
Over the past four-plus years, these women have become a lifeline for me and each other to celebrate life, comfort heartbreak, pray for healing, laugh and just live in relationship with one another. We do life together. We study the Bible together. We have fun together. We travel together. And, we serve together.
And y’all, I can’t even tell you the magnitude of the Holy Spirit being ALL up in this.
One of those women that night who ended up joining the same LG had just moved to Charlotte too and lived/lives three floors above me! In the same building! God knows who we need, what we need and when we need it. And, He provides. Her friendship was what I needed. I have since spent innumerable nights on her couch and floor, lamenting… crying… laughing… eating… making a mess (I’ll blame the messes on my dog)…. She is one of my best friends and it’s all because of that LG rush that I didn’t want to attend.
But, our LifeGroup is not perfect. The day that the photo below was taken, I think we all nearly lost our patience with each other. (See, what had happened was that some texts were sent that were not received as intended…..I’m not sure about your life, but in mine, this happens ALL of the time.)
Conflict creates opportunities for people to grow and come together. (For those who know me, y’all know I do not shy away from managing conflict….I fully believe it’s a good thing.) And, after a day of conflict, we all (hopefully) forgave each other for assumed slights and we had the BEST.night.ever. (For real! Fleming’s is awesome – thank you Lauren!) The conflict strengthened us. The Holy Spirit was all up in it.
Every second Sunday of the month, we love on the kids at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center. The growth that I’ve witnessed in the women who are involved in this ministry has been immeasurable. The conflict that we’ve had as a group has helped us manage the conflict that we encounter when we are with these kids and in their neighborhoods with their parents. We’ve spent time in these kids’ neighborhoods, homes and in their schools. With their parents. And with their friends. And, it’s not easy. We are surrounded by demons who are attacking us and these families, but the Lord has equipped us as a team and with each other. And…. the Holy Spirit is all up in this.
We might not be together as a LifeGroup for forever, or we might morph into a group that looks different, and that’s ok. God provided as He saw fit for this season of our lives and I have faith that He will continue to provide the Christian friendships that I need, right when I need them. That’s been my prayer for myself and for others and God always comes through.
God knows who you need. He knows what you need. Follow His lead to direct you to those people, the experience, the service opportunity, the scripture, etc…. whatever he is is putting in front of you. Even if it’s an anxiety-driven sorority rush. Go. Say YES to Him. And know that the Holy Spirit will be all up in it.