It was a Tuesday morning, the day after school started back. I had just finished a good, head clearing run on the treadmill at the gym, watching school buses and SUVs full of kids drive past to middle school. I walked to my car and my phone buzzed with a text message. A Pastor from my church. He asked if I could give him a quick call. “I just wanted to let you know that another family has stepped forward to host Bible study, so you’re off the hook. If you want to step back like we’ve talked about, that’s possible now,” he told me. “Oh, wow. That’s great news,” I lied. We chatted for a moment more and then hung up the phone. I sat in my car, my phone in my hand, and stared out the windshield.
My mind wound back to 6 years ago, when I first started asking my Pastor’s wife when we could start a Bible study for women at home during the day. The funny thing about the luxury of the stay at home mom – no matter the age or stage – is the crushing isolation that sometimes comes with it. I’ve listened to enough NPR pieces about the way things were as recently as the 1960’s to understand the dynamics (families don’t live in multi-generational homes anymore, everyone drives in their own cars to all the places, Internet friends replace real people, etc, etc) that bring about isolation in the suburbs, but that doesn’t do anything to make long days at home with young kids any easier. We had moved back to Orlando from Kansas the year before and I was desperate to make some connections, especially with women at my church. After 6 months of bugging the Pastor’s wife, she told me she thought she’d met up with the perfect person to lead a study group, if only we had a location to meet. I instantly offered my house. Then went home and asked my husband. Ha! Luckily, he was onboard and several months later I opened my doors to the first of many moms and kiddos from my church and community. Over 5 years I hosted day time studies with women (not just moms) downstairs, connecting with each other and kid’s upstairs with babysitters, making new friends. I hosted evening studies with no kids. I hosted summer studies with 30 kids at my house. I hosted Advent studies and Jewish culture studies. But in all of this, the one thing I always loved the most was the hosting of community. Real community. Even on mornings I was cranky and didn’t want to open my doors, I did, and I ended up being fed by the stream of women coming in and out.
And now, with one phone call, it was ending. I texted a friend:
“It’s like my first baby just went off to college. Or, like, this idea I crafted and dreamed became an egg that I sat on and loved on, and then it hatched and grew. I fed it and watered it and tended it and worried over it, and now it just flew out of the nest. And it’s a fledgling. I have a fledgling. And I knew it would leave the nest one day, because that’s what healthy babies do, but, man, does it feel weird to have this thing I birthed and nurtured be ok to thrive on its own.”
Too dramatic? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of being too dramatic. I also talk with my hands a lot. I can’t help it. That’s what I do.
I had to process this change for a day or two. This transition that almost felt like loss. In the end, I knew it was the right step for this community I loved to be taking. If something isn’t changing and growing, it’s dying. The only thing that’s constant, it’s said, is change. So, I’m taking this transition in my life in stride. I want to be part of communities that are dynamic. I want to be part of communities that people are longing to be a part of. I want to be part of communities that are willing to be vulnerable and flexible. I want to be part of communities that aren’t afraid of change or transition. I want to be part of communities full of people who show up for each other. And the only way to do that is to open up my flapping hands, close my flapping mouth, and let the baby bird flap into the sky.
I’ll just stay close enough so I can watch it grow.
MIsty Steinebronn is a native to the Orlando, FL area. She enjoys instagram meme accounts, coffee, and bumping into people she knows at MMRR.