Not Christmas (though I was baffled last night to see a Christmas Vacation marathon playing on CMTV last night). No, it's the quarterly sign up for small groups at church. And there is absolutely nothing that stresses me out about church more than this.
This has nothing to do with my church. They do everything possible to make this experience as low-stress as it can be. There's a nice luncheon where you get to hang out with people, talk, get to know them a little and decide if you want to be in a group. No pressure, just lunch.
But I get stressed out anyway. Because I'm not sure what box I should check so I can find the right table to sit at.
Do I check the married box? I mean, I'm definitely married and I should fit in the "married with kids" demographic. Of course, I'm definitely going to this small group study alone. Between my husband's travel schedule and the fact that he doesn't share my beliefs, we're not going to be doing this as a couple.
When it comes to going to church, this is not a big deal. I go, I sit in my seat alone or with some friends, I sing, I listen to the sermon and take notes (or, if I'm with friends, talk about the notes I'm taking with them and disrupt their ability to listen to the sermon). I've been doing this for a couple of years now, and for the most part, it doesn't bother me.
But the same thing when we're circled up in small group? What happens then?
If I go to a women's only group, that's okay, but I'm not single. And I miss the perspective that men have. And I miss the ability to meet other couples that I might want to hang out with. And if Jason wants to join me occasionally, he can't go.
On the other hand, if I go with the married couples, I have to go alone most of the time. I don't know if I have the strength to do that.
The really crazy thing is that I think this dilemma is indicative of the larger problem of me not really knowing if I want to be in a small group at all.
Of course I want to be in one. It's been a few years since I've been a part of a home group and I miss it. I miss the relationships, the discussions, the give and take, the laughter, the tears. My small group experiences have been almost exclusively positive and I want to be a part of that again.
But a lot has changed in the past two years. Being in an interfaith marriage has changed not just which box I check, but it's changed a lot about how I feel when I step into any church-y event. I can hide that when I'm in a corporate setting, but with just a few other people? That's not so easy. I used to have answers, now I have almost exclusively questions. I used to have advice to give, now I feel like I need it. I used to have some level of certainty, now that's mostly doubt.
What scares me the most is that they don't have a box to check for those things.
Are you a part of a home group at your church? If so, what is your favorite part about it? If not, what's stopping you from joining one?
Today I'm linking up with Joy In This Journey as a part of the Life: Unmasked series. Stop by Joy's blog to read more or to share your own story.