I had not thought much about it until I came across their Facebook page recently and noticed they were offering an online bible study. It sounded interesting and so I joined. One day, Sue, the leader of the group posted about a praise and coffee meeting that would take place just down the road from my home. I was unsure at first, but decided I needed to go. So here’s the story of my first experience with praise and coffee.
Praise and Coffee Meeting
Saturday morning I woke up earlier than I normally would prefer for a weekend, actually earlier than I would prefer for any day of the week. I am not much of a morning person, but this particular day was the morning of the praise and coffee meeting. It was wet and gloomy outside and I was not feeling too well as my face hurt from my jaw deciding to lock on me again. But I got up anyway and got ready to go meet some other women and see what this was all about.
I was supposed to be meeting my mom and sister there, so when I got there and saw neither of their cars in the parking lot I decided I should call them and see what was up. My mom didn’t answer but my sister was almost there. Thank goodness because I was unsure about meeting new people all alone. I walked into Panera and the smell of freshly brewed coffee and baked goods enveloped me as I eyed the bagels trying to decide which one I would get, even though I would likely have a hard time chewing it with my jaw problem.
While I was standing there a woman came up to me and asked if my name was Ashley. I turned and noticed it was Sue from the Praise and coffee online group I had recently joined. We chatted a bit and I felt much more relieved that I now knew someone.
I filled my coffee cup three-quarters or so full with hazelnut and then the rest of the way with a dark roast and added some sweetener and cream. It was a bit strong at first which was not what I had expected so I added some more sweetener. It’s funny because this whole thing turned out to be not what I had expected, though honestly I am not sure what I had actually expected.
Before I get into the rest I wanted to let you know what got me here in the first place, so I want to share a little back story with you. First I want to say that I have hesitated with bringing this up publicly for a long time because I don’t want anyone to feel guilty or sorry for me but I also know that I am not alone in this. If you find yourself in a season of loneliness, I want you to know that there is hope.
Longing for Friendship
Let me tell you a little secret, even though it really isn’t so secret. I’ve been known as the shy girl for many years of my life. Through most of grade school that defined who I was. I went to class but didn’t talk a lot. It was hard for me to make friends even though I tried to be nice and most people were nice to me, but it hardly went beyond niceties. Of course there were those few who felt it was their duty to tease me and say other hurtful things. But for the most part I just flew under the radar.
When I got to college I began to learn more about what it was to have real friends. I will forever be grateful for those relationships that taught me the love of friendship. However, for one reason or another I don’t regular have contact with any of those friends. I currently find myself in a season of loneliness and longing for more women friendships. I love my husband dearly, but he is the only person whom I see or talk with often and as I am sure you can imagine, he doesn’t want to be one of my girlfriends.
For years I have wondered why I don’t have close friends anymore. Is there something keeping me from “fitting in”? It seems like most people in my stage of life who have been married for a few years are raising kids and going through the parenthood stage. Maybe I just don’t fit in because I am almost 30 and not a mom, at least that’s what I sometimes wonder. Regardless of the reason, I seemed to have flown under the radar again.
But recently, God has prompted me to step out it faith and seek fellowship instead of wallowing and hoping it will come to me. I do desire more friendship but how can I expect that if I don’t even find ways to fellowship with others? So, here’s a few steps I have taken:
- My husband and I joined a community group with our church that we have been a part of for about a year now.
- Recently, I joined a women’s bible study with a couple of other women from that community group.
- I have met some wonderful women online through my blogging ministry and even have a little group with two of them where we share prayer requests and help each other with our blogs and life.
- I also found an online study through Praise and Coffee that I am doing which is where I found out about this meeting. So that brings us back to Saturday.
Discovering the Joy of Faith and Fellowship
As I mentioned above, I had just met Sue, who not only happens to lead the online group I joined, she is the founder of Praise and Coffee! She wasn’t leading this group, but since she lives relatively close she came to the meeting. When my sister got her bagel and coffee we went to the back where the other women were sitting. We were clearly the youngest ones, but it actually didn’t bother me. I already felt welcomed by meeting Sue and I knew there was a reason I had come this morning.
So we sat down started to share a little about our stories. My mom came a little late because an appointment that morning had gone a bit long, but I think she was glad she made it. I was a bit self-conscious that I looked as though I was grimacing as I ate because the pain in my jaw, but as I tried to let that go I learned that even though we were all very different, we were still connected by a common faith.
Some talked about their love for their pets, others loved knitting like my sister, some were mothers or grandmothers, some married, some single. But we were all brought together that day because of a desire to connect with others and with God.
One of the woman, who was 92, though I would have sworn she was at least 30 years younger than that, shared her story of faith. She said that an acronym she likes to use is this:
isn’t that neat?!
Dawn, the leader shared some verses and made sure to make each one there feel welcomed and important. I felt for once like it was okay that I didn’t exactly fit in. I mean besides my sister most of the women there were at least twenty or thirty years older than me, but that didn’t matter. I fount that because I finally decided to step out of my comfort zone, that longing in my heart for belonging and fellowship was slowly being filled. That’s all I have wanted all along.
No, I didn’t meet other women my age or who completely understand me and where I am in life, but God placed me there that day to learn that I need the fellowship of other women believers, young and old. I learned that I need to be open to the wisdom of those older than me. And ultimately, I learned the importance of gathering in fellowship with other women who build each other up in the name of the Lord. I left that morning filled joy, thanking God for faith and fellowship.
Share something that God has taught you recently?
Do you have a bible study or other way that you regularly connect with other women?