For almost two years, I’ve had the honor of being a part of something remarkable. Something that God formed in beauty, and something that He continues to sculpt, revealing new joy and depth and loveliness with every passing season.
It’s a circle, if you will. Small group. Life group. Community Group. A weekly gathering where we come as a group of 20-something women to share our lives, our hearts, and our pursuit of Jesus.
We sit reclined on couches and cross-legged on the floor, leaning against one another literally and figuratively for shelter from life’s busyness and stormy days.
We snack and laugh and listen to 90’s music. We celebrate birthdays and ordinary days. We hold hands and catch tears.
Our group has seen friends come and go, our circle changing size with the seasons. We have known hardship and heartbreak, together and individually. We’ve fought and disagreed and waded the uncomfortable but crucial waters of conflict, always coming out on the other side closer to each other and to God, albeit a little weary from the challenge.
We practice being imperfect and letting each other know that imperfect is okay. And that it might even be where God does some amazing and beautiful things.
There is a constant and consistent nature about this circle of hearts that has brought such wonderful peace to me and to each of us, especially during this time of life when just about everything else can and will change. Jobs. Relationships. Zip Codes.
In the change, this place remains.
In this place, the darkness of difficulty doesn’t last long without someone speaking hope, someone bringing light to a scary place.
A few weeks ago during group, circled in our familiar way around someone’s living room, I was reminded of the truth in a very real and sweet way.
We were talking about weakness, and I shared a scary piece of my heart.
“I’m afraid of being too much and not enough, all at the same time.”
My statement was so real I was surprised I voiced it.
I harbor a quiet but deep fear that my personality, my zeal, my quirks, and my words are either too overpowering or not powerful enough, and that either my dominance or lack thereof will cause friends to walk away. I fear that my efforts and dreams are either too in-your-face, or too weak. I fear that, when I walk into a room, my presence changes the atmosphere either too much, or not enough.
I think that this is a pressure felt by many of us, especially when our culture constantly tells us how to either deflate or elevate ourselves to gain acceptance.
But I think I feel this pretty acutely. Stings from the past get a little sore again when this topic comes up.
What mercy though. That this circle of women – my church, my community – was a place where I could speak my fear, and still feel safe.
“I’m afraid of being too much and not enough, all at the same time.”
There was a minute of silence, of acceptance, as my words sank in around the circle.
And then, one of my dear, sweet friends spoke up, with a raw honesty and authenticity that I have come to know and love in her.
“Each week at work…” she said, referring to her job at an after school program for young women, “…we have the girls fill out reading logs. Next to each book they’ve read, they have a choice of three descriptors – they can indicate whether the book was too easy, too hard, or just right.”
She looked at me and, in a single moment, broke into my harbor of fear with waves of bravery and truth.
“I think the same is true for you,” she said.
“What if you’re not too much or not enough, but just right?”
Cue the tears, you guys.
What if you are just right.
Her words carried light to my dark place. Her words fought my anxiety with audacious peace.
Her words actively walked up to my fear, acknowledged its realness, heard what it had to say…but then pushed it out of that secret corner in my heart and straight into the middle of our circle.
See, when fear is revealed, when it’s thrust into the spotlight, it looses its power.
When my fear was thrust into the center of our Wednesday night circle, it lost power.
Something vital happened in my heart in that moment. A vital and beautiful pattern that has become a norm for our group. Yes, my friend and my circle of support helped me work through something by listening to my shaky words. My community helped me feel accepted and whole and just right. And that was incredibly beautiful.
But you know what was even cooler?
In that moment, my circle reminded me of a crucial truth: It isn’t about me.
In that moment, I went from being self-focused to community-focused. In that moment, I realized how much my fear of being too much/not enough is actually fueled by my pride. My fear of what others think.
When my friend spoke the words ‘just right’ over me, I was freed from the need to focus on myself. Instead, I could focus outwardly.
This, friends, is what Jesus makes possible for you and for me.
On a stormy day oh so many years ago, He walked the devastating walk to Calvary to face fear and death for us. To acknowledge the realness of our struggles in this world, but then to speak them gone in His truth and life.
And He’s still speaking, still moving. With increasing speed and beauty.
He declares that you are just right.
You are just right because the work of Jesus is your perfection, freeing you from the need to perform or please or earn approval.
You are just right because Christ is alive in you and has equipped you with gifts to bless and encourage a weary world. He is using you. Stay the course. Run with endurance.
You are just right because God declared it so on Calvary. Do not worry whether you are enough. Do not worry about being replaced with something or someone better. What God has given you, nothing can take away. Rest in the knowledge that the sacrifice of your Savior is enough, and that you are free to live abundantly in service to others and God’s kingdom.
In being just right, we are free.
To my life group ladies:
It’s been an honor to fight fear with faith alongside you, each of you so beautiful and unique, as different as different can be.
Thank you for being my place of belonging. Thank you for being my church on Wednesday nights, on your couches, in your homes. Thank you for teaching me new wisdom, new depth and new zeal for this life. Thank you for loving me well.
Thanks for reminding me how very real and possible it is for each and every thing to be redeemed in the presence of our Savior.
Never too much, nor too little.
But just right.
Your words speak so wonderfully to my heart! I’m sad that I have missed a lot of those Wednesday’s recently, due to the “zipcode” gap, but I feel so blessed and honored to be apart of this amazing group and all that comes with it and all that it teaches me!
These words that you said spoke out to me most:
“Do not worry about being replaced with something or someone better. What God has given you, nothing can take away.”
The fear of being replaced is one that holds me captive a lot. I am glad that with you guys it will not happen! Love you guys!
You are such a special member of our group, Kaitlin. I am so grateful for the things we’ve learned together so far, and look forward to many more experiences to come! Thanks for being a part of this 🙂