Pretty often, I’ve heard pastors talk about the importance of fellowship. Which has typically made me think of old men standing in a circle, or women in floor length, shapeless dresses staring at their bibles. Now, there is nothing wrong with old men or shapeless dresses, the problem is I don’t relate to it. With my ripped jeans, leather jackets, and full make up, sometimes I feel a disconnect.
In fact, before attending my home church, I thought “fellowship” was an archaic term with undefinable guidelines. I didn’t really understand what “fellowship” meant and how it applied to my daily life. But the more I attended church, and the more I heard my Pastor talk about the importance of being in a small group of believers, I began to understand how community was essential in order to find meaningful relationships. I remember when my best friend and I first started our small group, we weren’t really sure how to operate. How much did we share? Did we pray together? Did we share our prayer requests out loud? For the first couple of months, we stumbled through our meetings trying to find our way. But after two years, I can honestly say I have come to understand the true meaning of fellowship. To me, fellowship is rooted in one word; honesty.
You see, we started our small group two months before I found out about my ex’s first affair. Words can not express my utter devastation when I found out. It was just a regular day, until it wasn’t. I picked up his phone to look for a phone number, and just like that, everything changed. Even now looking back at the horrific day, I feel like it was someone else’s life. Someone else’s heartbreak.
A couple of days after it all happened, we were supposed to have a small group meeting and I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to tell everyone. Although my best friend was extremely supportive, the truth was I was terrified. Not only am I NOT a sharer, but I was embarrassed, ashamed, and scared to death of what these other women might think of me. I was scared of their judgement and the pity I might see in their eyes. Worst of all, I was scared to see the unasked question, “I wonder what she did?”
But the biggest label I didn’t want was pathetic. My entire life I have worked extremely hard to become the intelligent and self-sufficient person I am today. I’ve always valued strong, independent women and being labeled as pathetic was devastating to me. Even if no one thought it, I labeled myself. I reaffirmed my biggest insecurity. That I wasn’t important or valuable.
Telling the women in my small group that my husband had not only cheated on me, but had engaged in a four-month affair was a huge hit to my pride and self-worth. But I cannot begin to tell you the rewards that vulnerability has reaped. Confiding in fellow Christian women who were genuine in their compassion has forever changed my views on fellowship and the important part it plays in our growth as Christians. I’ve often said that God created a safety net of people for when I fell.
In hindsight, I can see how He started to put the pieces into place six months prior to finding out about my ex’s first affair. I had started attending my home church, we had just found an amazing marriage counselor, and I had started a small group of Christian women. If these three things hadn’t been in place when my world fell apart, I can guarantee you I would not be the person I am today. Yes, being honest and vulnerable with another person can be terrifying and uncomfortable.
But I believe we can find comfort when we make ourselves uncomfortable.
Vulnerability is not easy, but is necessary to find real connection. When you are in fellowship with another person, you can reach a deeper level of compassion and human understanding than you ever could on your own. As I once heard a Pastor say, “we are all slaves to our own perspective.” But by being in fellowship with these other women, I have gained unmeasurable understanding and perspective through sharing stories and watching their journeys.
With social media, cell phones and television, our culture has made it incredibly easy to self-isolate. To hide behind the walls of our houses and our computer screens. But fellowship with others not only frees you from the burden of loneliness, it saves you from having to walk this world alone.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.'”-Genesis 2:18.