Every morning when the alarm goes off I take some time to mentally prepare myself for the day. Creating a space where I focus on the harder or easier moments ahead and how best to conquer them. This morning I rolled out of bed not sure how the events would unfold. Like most mornings, I leave myself maybe ten minutes too short for how long it will actually take me to get ready. My hair probably should have been washed--- but dry shampoo will just have to do. Turning on my morning playlist to slowly get me out of my non-morning person, grouchy mood. And alas lipstick--sidenote, if ever you see me wearing lipstick it is actually a dead giveaway that I needed some distraction from the outfit I am not too keen on.
As I headed to this morning's activity, I slowly woke up to silence. My directions lead me to the house at exactly 10 A.M. where a group of gals were all gathering.
The quaint South Pasadena house looked like it stepped out of a West Elm catalog and carried an aroma of coffee cake and fresh flowers. Mimosas, breakfast casseroles, fresh fruit, and papers of questions made up the space on the brown rustic table. Five women were invited to the table. We all didn't know each other and came from different seasons of life. This was a space for conversation, good food, and vulnerability. This was anif:gathering.
At the table we each had a slip of paper placed near our mimosa glass. The paper had a prompt that would serve as a question for the group to reflect and process individually and collectively. The questions covered the spectrum from where we see God in our lives right now, who we are loving in full detail at the moment, what our friends would categorize as a turning point or characteristic in our story, and what is a harder season we have gone through. The purpose of the table is to keep it with few women and create a space to have intentional conversation.
As of late, I have been brought back to a season that I thought I said goodbye to. I didn't welcome it with open arms, and if I were to be honest, I have done everything in my power to try and ignore it's existence. It comes in the dead of the night as I am laying my head on my pillow. It beckons to me as I am in the mundane routine of answering emails. It even sneakily reaches my grasps when I am in the presence of others that I love. It whispers and it taunts and it continues to boldly say, that I am not enough.
If I were to look at who I am and the gifts I have been given in this season I would have never guessed that loneliness or fear or even anxiety would be among the list of my thoughts. And yet, they are there because I forget the fragility in my identity. So as I pushed and pulled at the thoughts that were starring me in the face I started to become someone I am not too fond of. In fear of letting others down, I isolated myself or only let them in with boundaries. I anxiously created goals and expectations, knowing all too well that I wouldn't live up to them. Needless to say, being an adult and having adult responsibilities can become exhausting after a while.
So here I am at this table of women being prompted to share what is on my heart. I could have easily avoided the mess and fear that were yelling from inside. Yet, one by one the other women started to share the burdens that weighed them down and the depths of who they are. We bounced back and forth with "me too's" or "I understand's" and tears and laughs sprinkled in between. The phrase that pin-pricked my soul was when someone said, "come as you are." This phrase isn't new and I've heard it countless times. But in that hour and in this season is exactly how Jesus would victoriously ooze back into my life.
Whoever you are and wherever you are, I want you to come to a group of men or women and boldly come as you are. Make this group small and with intention. Don't leave the mess at home, but bring it proudly with you. Sure you may have smudged mascara at the end or cluttered thoughts scattered in between--- but I promise you those feelings that have been plaguing you for weeks, months, or years will finally be said out loud.
You are enough. You are alive. You are loved. You are kind. You are bold. You are fought for.
We all have our messes, our triggers, or our unfinished business. Believe that other's are fighting for you this very minute. They are only a phone call or a hipster coffee shop date away. We can't keep those thoughts nestled and buried deep into the barrows of our hearts and minds. If we do, they will victoriously hold power beyond imagine. If we slowly say them out loud and often, we create space for Jesus to hold them captive.
You have a future worth investing in, and beyond that, you are have a Jesus worth resting in. I guarantee in the end what you are striving for is not checklists that are checked or greener grasses. You, in fact, are yearning for a moment when you can take a deep breath and you feel the tension ease as you rest in the beauty of who Jesus is in all the little and big moments in between. That is why we keep fighting and moving forward.
Come to the table as you are. We are happy to have all of who YOU are here.