It was just a door — wooden with a swirly metal glass inset. But it felt more like a steel gate.
There’s nothing more intimidating than a stranger’s door. And it’s twice as threatening when you are toting a hangry, tired 11-month-old and 3-year-old, clutching McDonald’s like it’s a lifeline, and praying no one melts down.
This was a recipe for disaster, but I took a breath and knocked anyway. Little did I know how one vulnerable knock on a wooden door would reshape my world.
A nice man opened the door and looked at me, puzzled.
“Hello?” His New Zealand accent was welcoming, but I was immediately put on edge that we were not expected. Great, I thought, we are intruding.
I quickly explained that we had been invited by another couple to visit this LifeGroup, and I was about to launch into why we were late when he smiled.
“No problem,” he replied. “We were just about to start. Come on in. I’m Luke.”
He dodged an entourage of noisy toddlers as they waddled to a room in the back of the house. As we entered the living room, ten pairs of eyes turned to meet us. I tried to ignore how self-conscious I felt by focusing on feeding my hungry babies.
But Luke’s wife, Natalee, didn’t leave me to my awkwardness. Instead, she came over and chatted with me. It was simple kindness that launched a lifelong friendship.
It was hard, it was challenging, but life in that circle in the weeks, months, and years that followed was sweeter than I could have ever imagined. It saw us through multiple moves, job transitions, job loss, disappointments, and death. We have celebrated milestones, laughed until we’ve cried, wept until we were spent, and prayed — oh, how we’ve prayed — for one another.
My husband and I grew to love others in ways we never knew we could. We were challenged to walk in faith in ways we never would have on our own. We were loved when we were unlovable, when our friends had a front-row seats to our mistakes, and they still loved us unconditionally.
Our LifeGroup doesn’t always get things right, but that’s where grace and forgiveness come in. We know we belong, we are known, and we are loved.
But most of all, we know we are not alone in this messy life, that we have brothers and sisters who will roll up their sleeves and get into the mess with us, no matter what. That’s the beauty of life together — and it’s worth being awkward and vulnerable.
It’s worth knocking on the door.
Learn more about groups at Bent Tree here.