I must have changed clothes five times. I loaded my youngest girl into the car for a trip to her friend’s house (where she would stay while I was out) and then I ran back inside to change again. How many times do I have to hear that God looks at the inner me and really doesn’t care what I wear on the outside? Clearly it hasn’t “taken” yet. You know, I wanted to look “nice” but not like I was trying too hard. (A nice top and denim capris. I know you were wondering. 🙂 I mentally composed my blog post as I drove said daughter to her friend’s house (30 minutes in the opposite direction from my meetup), which is ridiculous because how could I know what I’d want to capture in words when I hadn’t even arrived yet?
I got there 10 minutes late, carrying my chocolate chip poundcake – same offering as last year, and also had the same “stuck to the pan and had to be pieced together and then glazed to hide the flaws” problem. I knew the hostess and one other attendee slightly from this wild rumpus called Allume that happens every year, so I wasn’t even that nervous about meeting people. Once I walked in, I felt instantly at home.
We had a great time sharing our stories. We talked about our kids, our hometowns (no one there was a native), gardening, and whatever else came to mind. We watched some of the videos, but honestly we were having so much fun talking that we finally had to turn the videos off.
One of the highlights for me came as we worked on a craft project. Our hostess had graciously provided each of us with a cardboard covered journal that we could decorate. Something happened as we sat together in the floor in a circle, working on our journals. Our hands were engaged in a creative activity and there was no pressure to look in each other’s eyes, so it was very easy to carry on conversations. I imagine it must have been the same way in old fashioned quilting bees. I know I’ve had the same experience when scrapbooking with friends. And you learn a bit about other people when you witness their creative process. Some of us were swift and sure, finished with our design in a few minutes, and others were deliberate and thoughtful, taking much longer to perfect their creations.
In addition, I loved the (in)RL videos – loved knowing that I am not the only one who feels inadequate sometimes, who wonders if reaching out is going to end in rejection, who feels like her story doesn’t really matter. I think of all the stories I’ve heard in my lifetime and how so many of them were just the thing I needed to hear at just the right time. I believe that every experience we have in life matters somehow – nothing is wasted. Our God has a plan for all of it. There IS purpose in the pain. When I went through a divorce in my 20s, struggled with infertility, and mourned babies lost through miscarriage, those were not punishments or tests. We live in a sinful world, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. If telling my story can help someone out there who is walking through the same struggle, I need to be sharing it.
I’ve already decided that next year I will host an (in)RL meetup at my home. That’s a huge thing for me, considering that I’ll be living in a new state in just six weeks. Who knows if I’ll even have any friends up there by next year’s (in)RL? But I’m going to step out now and trust God for the rest. He’s got it all under control, I just know it.