Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It takes a village...or a circle

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: My job rocks. The work is interesting, the people are friendly and intelligent, the flexibile schedule is amazing. Today I was reminded once more why I'm so fortunate.

Because I work from home on Tuesdays, I can now attend the Elizabeth Circle meetings at my church. For those of you who aren't familiar with Presbyterian Women's Circles (as I was until this morning), Circles are intended for groups of women of similar interests, lifestyles, age, etc. to get together once a month to talk, work for the community, pray, support one another. I have always been a tentative joiner of all things churchy -- it took us almost 5 years just to join this church, even though I attended fairly regularly -- and now that I'm a deacon, I'm counting the days until that particular service is over. So, I was skeptical about getting involved in the Elizabeth Circle: Are they going to be asking me to devote time every week to one cause or another? Will I have to donate money to some mission or another each time? Is this going to be all about Bible study?

However, in about 3 minutes this morning, all my skepticism melted away. I felt as accepted and cared for and supported by a group of people as I have ever felt in my life. No exaggeration. I have met these women before, but didn't really know them until this morning, yet after just an hour and a half with them, I realized that this is what I've been missing.

It's always been hard for me to make new friends; I wait for people to come to me, I tend to feel awkward starting conversations and finding connections. I don't have many true friends like Amy S., Marcia, and Amy B. who know me well an understand my heart and head. I do have a lot of acquaintances in our home area now -- neighbors, coworkers, people in my book group -- all people I like to chat with and drink wine with and laugh with -- but not anyone I've really felt I could count on in a tight spot, or someone I could call for parenting advice, or someone I could trust with "hey, this particular thing is really bothering me lately, and I don't know how to pray about it" knowing that she would not only pray with me, but would hold my hand or hug me because she knows that's what I need most. I've been looking for that kind of a connection with other women, and I thought I'd found it earlier this spring and summer...but that hasn't worked out so well.

Not that I feel I'm instantly BFF with this group; they've known each other for 10-20+ years and I know it will take time for me to feel totally part of the group. That said, it's hard for me to describe the feeling of belonging that I felt this morning.

Throughout the last couple years, as I've moved into this crazy adventure called parenting, I've learned that the old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is definitely true. But it also may be true that it takes a village to raise a woman, and today I'm feeling hopeful and grateful that perhaps I've found my village. My circle.

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