I’ve been on the road lately.
Last fall a nearby church invited me to speak to their mom’s group about neighboring, being present to the people God puts in our path. The talk was well received and the group leader shared my name and contact information with other mom’s groups in the state. Since then I’ve fielded invitations from many group leaders to come and encourage their women with funny stories and a fresh dose of truth.
It’s been a blast.
I’ve spoken to rancher’s wives in a tiny farm town, rocked the microphone in a strip-mall church start-up, and found myself in front of a stained glass window telling a story about failed efforts at breastfeeding.
Last week I invited my friend Gina to join me as I headed down to a nearby suburb to speak at a nighttime gathering of young moms. We had about an hour in the car to catch up while we made our way to the meeting. I had entered the address the group leader sent into my GPS, so although I was following instructions about when to turn, I wasn’t paying much attention to where we were going.
Until suddenly the computerized voice told us we’d arrived at our destination.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I was shocked. This wasn’t a tiny farm town, a small chapel with stained glass or a strip-mall start up. This was a mega-church and I mean MEGA. I’m not sure I’d ever seen a church so big in real life. It looked like it could possibly be big enough to host a professional sporting event. And the parking lot was packed.
My heart began to thud in my ears.
“Okay, wow,” I said to Gina.
“How big is this mom’s group?” she asked, echoing my own questions.
I hadn’t read the email that closely. Had they neglected to tell me that I was the opening act for Jen Hatmaker? Was it possible that I was about to speak to 3,000 women? Would my thoughts on cultivating friendships in this season of life work as well in a cavernous auditorium as they did around the table with a dozen mamas in a small town?
“Yeah, I’m not totally sure,” I replied to Gina, breathing deeply, trying to steady myself. I noticed in that moment that I hadn’t remembered to change my pants, which bore evidence of a day spent with 2 toddlers including food from lunch and dirt from playing at the park.
Why hadn’t I changed my pants? Why hadn’t I read the email? WHAT WAS HAPPENING?
I prayed, quickly, under my breath that God would carry me through whatever it was we were walking into and in we went.
As we entered the atrium, with 4 story ceilings and a fully appointed restaurant in view, an electronic marquee prominently displayed a listing of that day’s events. As I read the list, I felt myself relax. There were entries for a high school play rehearsal, a 7th grade basketball tournament, a support group for recovering addicts and a class about blending families after divorce.
And the mom’s group, upstairs, in a classroom down a hallway. Which sounded just about right.
When we walked into the room, we were warmly welcomed and invited to join a table full of other young moms, one of whom was also sporting dirty pants. My people.
The night was sweet, laughing and telling the truth about some of the challenges of developing relationships while raising children. We ate too much chocolate and told our real stories. One woman at my table cried as she shared how much she longs for deeper connections in this stage of life. As Gina and I said our goodbyes, I felt grateful, satisfied. I was in my sweet spot, speaking and teaching from the front, sharing stories in small groups, leading times of prayer.
Here’s the thing – I loved that night as it was, but I also loved that moment, that tiny space where I had to breathe deeply and accept that I might be about to get up in front of a stadium full of people. It was scary and thrilling and reminded me when life doesn’t go according to plan we can lean into what we know to be true.
That dirty pants don’t actually matter.
That God is present for big jobs and little ones.
That all we need to remember is to do the next thing.
If you’re lucky, the next thing will have fun new friends and a plenty of chocolate.
This post originally appear at Maeve's A Wee Spoon.