High school wasn’t cute on me.
I was an introvert with some major social anxieties that stopped me from wanting to participate in a lot of school and church activities growing up. I believed in God, I had Christian parents, and I regularly attended church. But—no matter what I did—I couldn’t get over the paralyzing fear of being the weird, strange, shy, dorky, awkward, ________, one. I was ready for a change and I was ready to not be the odd-one-out—the stranger who didn’t fit in.
Then college happened.
This awkward teenager embarked upon a world of total freedom to express whatever she wanted, to create, and to embrace independence.
I began my freshman year in art school in downtown Indianapolis with a new sense of confidence and a drive to not be that odd stranger anymore. I could be a whole new me. I could fit in.
A few weeks after classes started, I received a phone call from Belinda inviting me to a group that she was starting for college-aged women in her home. As much as I didn’t feel like small groups were my thing, I laid down my fears, listened to God, and joined this group of women who were just as nervous as me.
God changed my life that day.
As He always does, God put me in the right place at the right time. I was loved and welcomed, I grew deeper spiritually, and I poured myself into studying who God was. They helped me get out of my shell and loved me through my insecurities. These girls became my tribe. They were there for me. They helped shape me. They became my best friends (and still are!).
Praise God for that group meeting during the years I was in college. I was the only believer in most of my classes and I only knew of one of my professors, Earl Snellenberger, who was open about his faith (check out his illustrated children's books in our church library!). You see, I attended a school that didn’t believe in guardrails, that taught to embrace what the world says is right, and to create the shocking. I was immersed in this culture. But, because of how God worked through that small group of believers in Belinda’s home, I didn’t embrace it.
Over those four developmental years, I grew to realize that being a stranger was something that I wanted, not something that I regretted. I started to see that my life should look different as a follower of Jesus. I was a stranger, but meeting with this group of believers created an unshakable foundation that was essential in growing towards Christ.
We are going to be strangers, to be exiles in a world that is not our home and we need real community, such as a Home Group, to learn from and be encouraged in our walk toward becoming more like Jesus.