Be the Invitation
Eleven years ago I sat in our local bakery meeting a new a friend. Over raspberry scones and coffee I worked up the nerve to ask her if she wanted to start meeting on a regular basis. Getting a glimpse to how guys must feel when asking a girl on a date, I was nervous I might be rejected. I had moved to this small town four years prior and was still struggling to make deep friendships. I was newly married and fresh out of ministry. My life had been wrapped up in camping with high schoolers, falling in love and planning a wedding. I needed solid girlfriends my own age. My new friend looked at me and said “I met with you this morning because I wanted to ask you the same exact thing!” Whew! Not rejected. Accepted. We thought of a few other woman who might want to meet with us. Because it is a small town the women I knew kind of knew the women Heidi knew. We gave the invitation and they were in.
We had started a bible study. Kind of. It was more of a let’s figure this out as we go and study what sounds interesting group. We finished some books, put down others, or just met for happy hour when we could. What started with six women and two kids grew to us now having fifteen kids. Some years we met every week, hiring different sitters along the way to watch our brood, and other years it was only texts that saw us through our weeks. We've walked each other through miscarriages, foster children returning to birth parents, caring for sick parents and losing one. Job changes, husbands being gone for weeks on end, sickness, cranky kids and surgeries. There has been so much good as well. Laughter, always laughter, good food, nights out, sleepovers at the cabin, prayers, encouragement, cheering each other on, floating on the lake, stories, good conversations, baby showers, picnics, park days and more laughter.
Eleven years of meeting together started with an invitation. It started with Heidi and I stepping outside of ourselves and deciding to BE the invitation. We were both tired of waiting for an invitation. We were tired of waiting for something to fall in our laps. We took the brave step toward connection. We had no idea what it would turn into. And not all invites turn into eleven years of friendship. Some invites may be for one cup of coffee. Some may be for only a season. Some invites may not work out at all (remember the couple my husband and I invited over that didn't talk the whole night? Awkward!)
Hannah Brechner says in her book Come Matter Here "People want to get the invite as much as I do. Instead of worrying about missing out, I remind myself to continually just be that invite. I'm learning it's that simple. You can create an event. You can host a movie night. You don't have to worry about everyone in the room knowing one another. People don't have to become best friends by the end of it. Just say one big prayer over the whole shindig: that hearts will connect, that prayers will be answered, phone numbers will be swapped, and the community will grow in a way you can't possibly take credit for."
I can't take credit, and I know Heidi wouldn't either, for what our meeting over scones eleven years ago has turned into. Who can you be the invitation to? Maybe it's one person, maybe it's a movie night with a group. When we step outside of ourselves and be the invitation it allows God more room to work and do amazing things in our lives.