I walk from my suburban towards the red double doors of our church suddenly aware of what I am here to do. It is one of the great things about my life: I am usually too busy to contemplate any plunges I am taking until the step into abyss is upon me. And since I am well programmed for completing tasks–because my life is a series of tasks that Just. Need. To Get. Done–I tend to jump right in, only to realize mid-air that I am diving head first into the middle of the Pacific without a life preserver or escape plan in place.
So, here I am. Walking towards the doors—they are beautiful doors at least—imagining how dumb I will sound, how immature my simple prayers will be. I don’t even know these women, I think. What am I doing here? Coming to church when I should be home teaching a history lesson—we’ve been stuck in the Civil War since the end of LAST year for pete-sake!—I haven’t prayed with women since we lived in Maryland….
When my children were the age of being under my feet, leaving baby-sized handprints at the bottom of my walls (they still leave handprints on my walls—only higher and more visible), spilling toy boxes at random because that was more fun than playing with the contents within, I met regularly with a group of friends for prayer. We prayed for our children under the umbrella of Moms In Touch. There was an order to our praying—a time of praise, thanksgiving, confession, and request. We prayed as a group, then in pairs, lifting our children up to their Father by name; and it was good.
They would come on Monday afternoons; between 5-8 moms with their own hand-print wall decorators in tow filing into my house at the end of Brucar Court. We’d let the kids run helter-skelter for a bit while we waited for their Spanish teacher to set up her supplies in my partially-finished basement. Then we’d herd them inside, brush dead grass and dirt off their back sides, wipe their noses and send them down to learn another language so we could listen to the language of the Spirit.
Yes, it was very good.
But then my family moved to North Carolina and for reasons I still don’t fully understand, I could never gain traction in pulling women together for consistent prayer. Maybe I was looking in all the wrong places, maybe I needed to spend some time in the wilderness…but that is another discussion entirely.
Six years later, here I am, walking towards the big wooden doors of our new church home acting as though I’m just here for Sunday morning service or pretending I’m coming with my writing bag and travel mug filled with hot coffee ready to spend an hour or two writing in the library.
But I’m not. I’m getting ready to pray with women I don’t yet know, and—more personally distressing—who don’t know me.
It’s the thing I dislike the most about moving–not being known. I was having coffee with a new Roanoke friend—also not from this place where everyone but a few seem to be born and bred. She is the one who voiced so well what I have been feeling for nearly six months now…
I want to be known.
Yes. I want to be known, too. And I’ve done this thing—this uncomfortable, uprooting, re-rooting mess of moving—enough times now, to recognize that the only way to be known is to be willing to be known. To risk the embarrassment, the possible rejection. To risk inviting others into the process of my living, only to discover my living is more than they care to accept.
So, I walk towards my meeting place into a room with women who don’t know me, who are about to hear my sometimes clumsy, sometimes rambling, oftentimes tearful praying. I tell myself I am here to pray for Bible study to be birthed in the Southwest corner of Roanoke County. And this is true, I am.
But somewhere deep within, I know I am praying so I can be known.