I grew up the daughter of a Naval Master Chief and we moved quite a bit. I got used to being the new kid at school. The worst on that first day was lunch, who would I sit with? Would anyone want to sit with me? Ugh, the pressure! As an adult, I have never forgotten what it was like to be new or not with a “group.” To overcompensate for this feeling, I tend to invite EVERYONE to everything.
As I’ve matured, I’ve learned to find a healthy balance of inclusion, but there are a few places I never reach a cap on the amount of invites I have to give out. Church, after church group social activities, and serving in church are a few areas I’ve never gotten slack in inviting people. Women, in general, are nice – too nice sometimes. We want everyone to feel included, we want everyone to be happy, and we work hard to make all those things happen. It’s taken me a long time to learn the right boundaries with friends, but I have learned that I can’t be best friends with everyone. The pressure to make them feel like they had a real friend was a lot for me, for a long time. Now, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, but I can be a bridge for a person to meet their next new best friend.
I’ve been a part of Wave Church for 17 years and in that time, I’ve met swarms of people. Most of the time, I don’t remember them from our first meeting. In time, I to get to know them more and more until they are a staple in church. After years of meeting people, I have had on more than one occasion, a testimony that I was one of the first people they met in church and I was so friendly it helped them get planted and thrive. The terrible part is I rarely, if ever remember these stories, but I’m always so blessed to hear them. If there is something I’m going to be oblivious to doing in my natural comings and goings; I’m glad it’s that I was friendly and inclusive.
My best friend Angie, is extremely introverted; I, on the other hand am not. Together, we balance each other and strengthen the other’s weakness. For years, I watched Angie push her comfort zone to invite women to church when it came so easily to me. She used my boldness to find her own bravery. She has gotten bolder and bolder in inviting, and convicts me from time-to-time to ask myself “when was the last time I invited someone to church”? We’ve come to a place where we sharpen each other. As it says in Proverbs 27:17 NLT “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Together, we empower each other to do what we are called, and we are called to be those who include.
Inviting is scary. Including others sometimes is a burden; in fact, sometimes loving people into church is downright hard. We aren’t perfect, we get annoyed, and make mistakes. Sometimes, I’ve ruined a relationship not meaning to; simply because I was overwhelmed with the responsibility. I’ve had to work those out, but I’m never disappointed in the invite and knowing I gave people the chance to know there was a place for them in the local church. In Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT it says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
There are lots of things and places trying to drag attention away from light and life. There is darkness and heaviness in the times we live in, but we are here to be light in darkness. Devoted is a beacon to women across the world as a time to gather together and seek Jesus. It’s a wonderful time to refresh the light that lives inside of us, to include and share with women in our world, and seek Jesus for the opportunity to expand what He’s called us to. The gathering together is power. It’s what establishes iron friendships in our lives, sets our feet in a community of believers who are focused on knowing Jesus and being more like him, and encourages each of us to know we are all in this together!
Devoted Devotional By Ginny Paynter