When we’re at a party, I don’t bubble; I observe with fascination. When we’re in church, I’m happy when my child takes up all of my arms and eyes and it’s convenient for me to ignore the meet-and-greet ceremony. When I’m at the grocery store and see an old acquaintance, I hurry down the next aisle. And I hope she hasn’t seen me first.
I go deep. I get still. I want to hear your whole story or else maybe none of it at all? I don’t release my heart in little bits but in great big bundles of joy and sorrow. And maybe I’ll overwhelm you?
Few things are worse to a woman like me than a quickie hello with a few formulaic token words of greeting and affirmation. If I cannot be my best self with you, my real go-deep-or-go-home self . . . well then I’m not sure I have the guts to talk right now. Is that cowardice?
But when you sit next to me at a party, I will be the one asking real questions about your life. I will be the one sharing my thoughts on what Katy Perry might really be here on earth for . . . and how watching her documentary was like seeing a little more of the heart of God. I’ll be THAT woman. The one who makes you think. And wonder.
When you meet me outside in front of our garages while the kids play, we’ll talk about furniture restoration and how redeeming the damaged and once-beautiful is the expression of an Artist – and how we’re discovering that we’re artists like Him. Because I’m THAT woman. The one who loves to be inspired by you. The one who is bursting with ideas. The one who creates.
I kept trying to be that gregarious woman in the school parking lot. The one who makes conversation about nothing-at-all so deftly that I have to catch my breath as I climb into the drivers seat and turn the key. I kept hoping I would become the football mom who spends hours talking to fellow mom’s about what hotel we might stay in for competitions and how much our gas will cost. I want to be that woman because she is sociable, and fun and she makes you feel at ease. You can talk with her even when you think you have nothing left to say.
But instead I am coming to peace with being THAT woman. The one who doesn’t know how to make small talk but can talk with you all night about the future of Africa. The one who rarely remembers to comment on how pretty everyone looks but who sees deep inside others souls and ponders and wonders at their sparkling many-faceted beings. The one whose spirit is so swept up in the beauty of a dancing child that all she can do is stare, misty-eyed while she totally misses the instructions about pick up and drop off and where to sign in.
But you need THAT woman, don’t you? Just like I need that effervescent mother in the carpool line and the women at parties who stop and joyfully introduce themselves and others to quiet, observant me. They keep me light; help me remember that not everything in life is serious. They show me that even saying hello can be beautiful. That encouragement CAN come in the tiny parcels of a kind word wrapped up in a smile.
And I? I remind you that community is more than a safety net; it’s an ocean. It’s a place where you are finally allowed to get lost and and where you are guaranteed to begin to find yourself again. It’s where you reveal a better and more thoughtful person then even YOU knew you were. A place where your dreams can begin to bud and where the dandelion seeds of your inner longings are blown upon and scattered towards the winds of destiny.
That’s where I live; in that ocean. Yes I’m THAT woman. I’m the one who is often looking for the safety net of community and wondering why I’m not better at being a part of it. I float through those nets and I grab hold for a while and I am so thankful for each woman there – and the way they buoy me with their love. Then I flow onward, part of something vast and grand and tidal in proportions. Something that ebbs and flows with the seasons. Something that is so full of beauty and wonder I am completely unable to wrap my mind around it.
The only thing that can break the beauty of our potential to truly know each other as women, is our expectations that community is something specific, something we do. Because community is who we ARE; it’s bringing ourselves to the table of life with radiant courage – the courage to be glowingly ourselves. And it’s meeting others there for however long . . . . or briefly.
I’ll be the one running by, hoping you haven’t seen me yet. Unless I’m already deep in conversation; changing the world one person at a time.