Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why I Love Being In A Small Group with Married Couples.

(Technically, I'm in a small group with one married couple and one engaged couple, but that makes for a clunkier title :-)).

Lately I've been thinking about what a blessing and joy it is for me that I am in close community with lots of couples. Maybe most notably, my weekly small group, which is probably my most "primary" social/faith group this year, consists of Josh and Meghan, who have been married just over a year, Luke and Christine, who are getting married in November, Dawson, and me (we are, as Dawson puts it, "the coolest fifth and sixth wheels ever!" :-)).

Maybe this is a random reason to do a blog post, but it's been turning over in my head a lot. I know a lot of churches have small groups which are separated by marital status. I also have heard some of my single friends talk about it being difficult for them to spend a ton of time with couples. There are great reasons to do small groups "demographically"; and I certainly can't speak to anyone else's pain. But for me it has been so, so great to be a part of this group- in some real ways that would have been lost were it less "coupled off".

So here is a summary of the biggest blessings, for me, of being in a small group with couples.

1. I get to know my friends' significant others.
Christine and Meghan are my true heart friends. Luke and Josh are a part of who they are. Getting to know those men, (besides just the fact that they rock too), means I get to know Christine and Meg better, and love people who are important to them. Being in a small group together, sharing burdens and joys and praying for each other, means that I get to know their husbands on a way deeper level than I would from an occasional game night.

2. I get to know my friends' relationships.
In a Christian wedding ceremony, the officiant asks the congregation: "Will you who are witnessing these vows do everything in your power to uphold and support this couple in their marriage?" And the couple's friends and family answer, "We will".
I vowed that at Josh and Meghan's wedding a year ago. I will stand with Christine and Luke and vow it at theirs in November. This small group helps me to really do it. I get to see their marriages in action- see them interact as a couple, hear what they are going through and how to pray for them. I know their relationships better because of the commitment we have to meeting with each other weekly and the ways we do life together. I learn better how to encourage them. And I am therefore better able to "do everything in my power to uphold and support them in their vows" they make to each other.

3. I get to see more of God's love and His beauty.
"All created beauty, all beauty of nature, the beauty of the sunset, of the sea lying like a mirror beneath the blue sky... all these beauties are but the palest reflection of Yours, my God. All that has ever charmed my eyes in this world is but the poorest, the humblest reflection of Your infinite beauty."
This quote by Charles de Foucauld has been one of my favorites for several years. I think of it practically daily- when I drive past long grasses waving in the wind, when I see my families at work love on their babies; I remind my heart of it when I rejoice in the million immense pieces of beauty in my own life. And this truth comes to my mind often, with great joy, as I watch Josh and Meg and Luke and Christine interact. The way Josh and Meghan love each other, is a reflection of Christ's love. The way Luke and Christine love each other, is a reflection of Christ's love. I get to see the beauty of their love for each other and it is one way I get to know one more bit of Christ's beauty.

And this might be the one that has most significantly changed for me this year:
4. I learn that we are more alike than we are different.
A majority of my close friends, especially in the area, are in serious relationships or married. And not often, but sometimes, I can feel like that means I am Different. That they couldn't understand my struggles and I couldn't understand their joys.
Of course there are joys to marriage I don't get. But through cultivating close relationships with couples, I learn over, and over, and over, that we are so much more alike than we are different. And isn't that such an important part of the Christian life, in general?

In some ways this has just been humbling. It kills off some of my absurd ability to self-pity. It's made me (hopefully) a better friend. I had a great conversation with a friend in a serious relationship recently where she shared some ways she was struggling with insecurity. I was wondering why on earth I hadn't been trying harder to affirm her- she's amazing, and I think that, but I realized I'd been way less intentional with trying to encourage her than I had some other people. Why? Because I assumed because she's in love, she didn't need that from me. Ummm, duh! I felt (deservedly) kind of ridiculous. And am trying to change that thought/action pattern, so I can do a better job loving the people God has put in my life for me to love.

But most importantly, we are the same:
We share with each other what we long for and it is the same: intimacy with Jesus.

We share the ways He shows us His love, and we all have ways. They may be different, but as we talk them out, it seems kind of irrelevant. They are all means to the same end: knowing Christ.

I would have said that before this year, but it's such a blessing to me to get to experience it in a deeper way.

Being in a small group with couples:
a huge source of joy in my year.

1 comment:

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Holy cow, I've enjoyed getting caught up with you! And me, just out there being a bad blog-aunt, not even knowing all you'd been through this year, and with your mom (I think I'll go call mine right now!). So glad to hear she is doing will. Will add her to my prayer list.

I loved all your thoughts about small groups. If you keep in mind that the first couple of years of marriage are much like breaking in a new roommate, you realize you have even more in common =).

Miss reading your thoughts - hopefully I will be better about that this summer...

Love to you!

Human Needs Global Resources Covenant, 2009

As fellow travelers on this journey, we commit to this covenant before God. Lord, in Your mercy, hear these our prayers:

When confronted with scarcity, need, and inadequacy, may we be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Abundance overflows from Your table, sustaining all who come in faith. Father, help us.

When monotony blurs our vision and dulls our senses, may we encounter others as Christ did, through intentional presence in daily life, submitting as clay to be formed into vessels filled with the Spirit. Christ, guide us.

When wounded by the fractured condition of Your people, may we be united by Your Lordship in faith, hope, and love; seeing, as through the facets of a diamond, the beautiful spectrum of Your light reflected onto Your holy Church joined in praise. Spirit, empower us.

When all Creation groans, afflicted by injustice and driven to despair, may the promise of redemption root us in the hope of Your Kingdom: "Behold, I am making all things new!"

Holy Trinity, send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve You with gladness and singleness of heart.