It’s been a long time since I’ve been around groups of people for anything except medical appointments and tests. I’ve wanted to get involved in a women’s Bible study at the church I grew up at for a long time, and for whatever reasons, it just hasn’t panned out. I recently checked the church’s website for Bible studies and found one starting in early January, and left a message with the person who I was directed to in order to register. Understandably, she’s been out for the holidays and the answering machine said she’d be returning calls later this next week. No problem. I had been a bit skeptical of getting registered as I’ve had some issues in the past with getting through to anybody. BUT, someone I knew from my ‘old days’ at the church let me know via FaceBook that I was welcome to come- I could register that night. I’m so happy !! 🙂
I had attended some services and singles’ groups when I first moved back here in late 2002 and early 2003, after 17 years in Texas, and it all felt so foreign. It wasn’t the same place I remembered. All ages post-high school were in the singles’ group, and I felt really out of place. One of the people I’d known before (who is a couple of years older than I am, but we still remembered each other) made an effort to contact me several times for various things involving the singles’ group, which I still greatly appreciate. At the time, I was working evening hours, and also beginning to have some increased health problems that involve a severe heat intolerance, so I wasn’t able to join in and get to know the new routine. Things got worse from a health standpoint, and I was pretty much out of luck. I have been really bummed out, as my childhood through college years at that church left me with wonderful memories and a strong desire to fit in somewhere again. I’m so glad that I got the ‘OK’ to join this Bible study on Ephesians. I already ordered the book from Amazon so I could check things out, and I’m really looking forward to the group study. The book looks good !
I’m not a super ‘religious’ person, but my belief in God is strong and has gotten me through some really crazy (and scary) times, whether with chronic health issues, being attacked, or the more recent leukemia. I consider my relationship with Christ to be the most important one in my life. I don’t attend regular church services because of the heat intolerance, but still make decisions based on my Christian roots. With the ice vest I have now, I’m looking forward to being able to at least be involved in some sort of fellowship and study group. I’ve missed that. I’ve missed having some connection to other people since I’ve been on disability, and am looking forward to meeting new people there as well as seeing any of the people I knew growing up at that church.
I’m a bit nervous about ‘sticking out’. The ice vest I wear is something that allows me to leave home for a couple of hours at a time (unless I bring the ‘refill’ inserts- but I only do that if I’m leaving town or going to be gone for many hours). It does look a bit like a white bullet-proof vest- but it’s opened up so many things; without it, the Bible study would be out of the question. I’ve had to cut my hair almost completely off (though it’s grown; need another trim) because I literally can’t tolerate the heat of having hair. I already keep my thermostat at home set at about 64 in the winter, and no higher than 72 in the summer. Outside of those parameters, and I’m in trouble. When I get ‘in trouble’, I pass out. I don’t want to risk that around other people. It’s a distraction for them, and I get sent to the ER, which I absolutely loathe. So, I worry about being a pain in the butt for other people if something gets funky. Because of that, I tend to avoid being around anybody but a very few people who know that I may have to leave in the middle of something. With the ice vest, I’m anticipating things going well from the heat standpoint.
So, venturing out to join a Bible study means things on many levels. The spiritual connection (and desire for growth) is obvious. The social connection is something that I’ve missed so much since I have been on disability (since April 2004); no work has meant no ‘in person’ interaction with anybody on a regular basis. I do talk to my dad daily, and see him… otherwise, doctors are the people I see the most, and I’m tired of them! The emotional connection has many components, and includes testing my own anxieties about being away from my temperature-controlled environment, as well as looking kind of ‘off’ (hair, ice vest, my eyebrows never really grew back after the 19 months of chemo- and the weight gain after the whole chemo thing; I got the ‘fat’ chemo- the ‘skinny’ chemo was only the first week). There’s even a physical aspect to going to a regularly scheduled activity. I’ll have to get out of my pajamas, and walk around a very large church (it’s not a mega-church like has become popular in many places, but it’s plenty big!!). Walking will be painful, but it will be worth it. I’ve really missed being involved in something ‘positive’. I won’t ever be able to work again (and I miss nursing a lot), but if I can get out for a couple of hours each week to see other live human beings for the purpose of spiritual growth and human contact, it will be great !
So, the new year brings with it something specific to look forward to that is new, but also familiar as it’s a church I spent a LOT of time in. It’s a good beginning. I don’t believe that God is only found in buildings- but the connection with other people who believe the same things is a strong way to feel more grounded in my faith. We’re not meant to fly through this life completely on auto-pilot (I tend to be a loner in general, so this is outside of my comfort zone, even though I’m looking forward to it). With some adaptive equipment and finding a form of fellowship that works for me, I am thankful to be able to join in with the other women at my ‘old’ church.