Tuesday, November 16, 2010

grateful for: book club.

{from here}

Last night, our book club gathered for its monthly meeting, a time I greatly treasure. I like to say book club is my only "drama-free" activity: eight to 10 girls with varying jobs, relationship statuses, and literary tastes all gather to eat and talk and share in each other's lives.

Perhaps my loyalty to book club stems from the fact that it is perhaps the sole New Year's resolution I've ever solidly kept. I have countless unfilled diaries. Weights go unlifted in the closet. Running shoes are untouched. Weekly menus are thrown out. But book club? Book club has been going strong for two years. Some girls have moved; others simply grew busy or uninterested. At one point, our group was as little as three.

But we didn't give up. We kept meeting. Rarely rescheduled, never cancelled. Some books go unread. Others are finished ravenously. Meetings last an hour; some people stay longer, most don't. We stay mostly on topic, which, as any girl well knows, is nothing if not a miracle. After we've planned our next meeting, we ask the questions we always do: How are you? How's the job? How's the husband? How's dating? How's life?

The answers, like the girls that give them, are varied, but they are honest, and this is what I love most of all. There is no drama here, but there is life. The husband is sick; the job isn't great. Life is wonderful, or maybe it's not. There are teachers and students and social workers and law school wives and wives whose husbands work overtime more times than they'd like.

Differences, though, don't seem to matter.

And last night, as we shared in the blessings of a couple of our members, I looked around the room, and I realized what a joy this group of women has been in my life.

My girl friends in college were few. Precious, but few.

In adulthood, things have fared a little better, but not without some serious work and some minor heartbreak.

A couple of months ago, I was reading a woman's blog post about a group of friends that has met for breakfast every week for the past 11 years. As I read, I was in awe, and maybe a little jealous. 11 years? Who knows if I'll even live in one place for that long! And every week? People my age have trouble committing to once-in-a-lifetime events, much less weekly practices.

Sometimes, our vision is so limited.

I don't know how, in that moment, I forgot about this precious group of women that meets, consistently, month after month, to discuss books and life and love.

The blessing I had asked God to give me -- a group of girls where I felt like I belonged -- was right in front of me. It has been for two years.

When I got home from last night's meeting (which, on a rare occasion, ran a little long... good news makes girls a little giddy), I sat down on the couch with Jordan, and I told him that for me, book club is a little bit like church.

I think our view of church can be kind of limited, much like Christianity can be limited. Some people see Christianity as a two-to-three hour time commitment just like some see church as a building full of people who are dressed similarly and think similarly and act similarly, a place to gather at the start of each week.

But that's not the church I see in Scripture.

The church I see in Scripture is good food and shared belongings and hours spent just talking with people who are very, very different from you.

I know, of course, the importance of coming together on a weekly basis with people who believe in the saving power of Christ's blood and resurrection.

I also know, though, the importance of gathering in people's homes, and swapping silly stories, and sharing in engagements and broken dates and favorite movies and promotions and pets.

And as I watched girls giggle and maybe get a little teary and share bridesmaids-from-you-know-where stories, I couldn't help but think that this group -- this group of very different girls with very different backgrounds and very different interests (our monthly book choices alone prove that) -- is part of my church experience.

Maybe that sounds silly to you.

But it doesn't to me.

I've been to countless Bible studies and participated in more than my fair share of clubs and civic activities and church committees. This simple act of gathering together and sharing in each other's lives is one of the closest things I've seen to a body of believers living and functioning in the way God designed His church to live and function.

We eat.

We meet regularly.

We discuss.

We share (books and clothes and party ideas and lunch dates and DVDs).

We put aside our differences for the sake of something greater.

I pray for these women, and, even though I may not always say it out loud, I love them.

I love their quirks and their homes and their books and their stories.

Mostly, I love that I get to be a part of it.

I love that God reveals Himself in the unlikeliest of places. That He sneaks up on me in book club and reminds me of just how good I have it. How good He's made it.


Today marks the beginning of a series of posts on gratitude. I know we've reached the halfway mark to November, but better late than never, I always say, so for the remainder of the month, I'm dedicating my time to the things that fill my life with joy. You can find more posts on gratitude through the month of November here


Sabrina said...

Book Club is amazing:) I miss it SO much but I am so glad it is growing strong! I remember the first night at your old house and The Shack...oh how the group has changed and the books have changed. I loved this post!!!

Mandy said...

Your thoughts are so well put. I agree - God shows himself in so many different ways, and often being a part of something like book club reminds us of that.

wilybrunette said...

i've beeen wanting to start a book club for years and then you go and write this and now i know i simply must.