Last night was my first time at the small group that I joined at the new (is it still "new" after 4 1/2 months? As compared to 35 years in the Catholic church...yes) church. I didn't know anyone in the group, though the friend who dragged me to the church assured me I'd like the leader.
It was very different. As I've mentioned here more than once, I'm not one who's really comfortable talking about God to other people except one or two certain people. In addition, the vocabulary/terminology in this church is very different from the way I grew up. I think everything in quotes still..."saved", "the enemy", etc. It's not a natural way of thinking or talking for me. And praying--or listening to--prayers that aren't rote prayers is a big change, too.
Don't get the idea that I don't like it. I do. I get much more out of the services and feel closer to God (or, at least, closer to being closer to God, if that makes any sense), but I'm definitely out of my zone of comfort. Add that to the fact that all of these people were strangers...well, it was a little unsettling.
The leader did some talking and we did some talking. I am really making an effort to listen to other people rather than always thinking about and jumping in with what I have to say, but I did have some things to contribute. One of the men talked about having been almost immediately delivered from some pretty big things and how his wife hadn't really liked it because he didn't want to watch the same types of movies and do the same types of things as before. I commented that the change is so hard for the people around us to deal with and shared how Jeff is less than thrilled with my new church attendance...and laughingly added that his name was Jeff, and there I was sitting between two men named Jeff!
The end is what really made an impression on me, though. The leader passed around a notebook for us to write our prayer intentions on. I wrote what was strongest in my heart, which was increase my faith. After the notebook got back to Marcy, she said that she was going to pray over each intention. She went around the room, did mine, continued through the circle. Then, at the end, she prayed for Jeff and for our marriage. I don't remember everything she said, but she talked about increasing the communication between us and him growing closer to God rather than this coming between us.
I hadn't talked about "problems" between us at all other than his discomfort with the change, but some do exist. Nothing earth-shattering, but the everyday cracks and crevices that seem to erode further every day. And everything she prayed about for us is something that we really need; it was much more than what I had mentioned to the group. I was in tears as she prayed. I just really felt like it was revealed to her what we needed. So, while I truly hope her second prayer for me is answered, my prayer to increase my faith was definitely heard.
In the end, I was SO glad I had gone. I just felt happy afterwards. I did feel a sense of community, one that has been somewhat lacking there for me. I've mostly gone with the friends who initially invited me, and I've met one other couple I've felt like have become at least friendly acquaintences, but that was it. I think, through this group, I will definitely become more a part of the church.