Small (Group) Wonders

A single woman's encounter with a group full of couples

As soon as I said the words, I should have known I was jinxing myself. Oh, it's not like I really believe in jinxes. It's just that when I jokingly told the pastor who suggested I join a new small group that I'd consider it as long as it didn't wind up being five married couples and me, I should have known that's exactly what was going to happen.

Well, it wound up being four married couples and me, but still … .

My pastor tried to find other singles to join our group, bless him. And Andy, my potential new small-group leader, was all kinds of sympathetic when I mentioned my reservations about being the odd one out—especially in a group of people all right around my age. And all of them parents, to boot.

But something told me I needed to give this new group, an intensive training for new small-group leaders, a try. I wasn't necessarily looking to become a group leader, but I was ready for a new challenge. The trials of the previous year had left me spiritually dry—a state I certainly didn't want to stay in. Maybe this new gathering was just the kick in the pants I needed.

And anyway, my reservations about joining this new group surprised me. In fact, it went beyond reservations to out-and-out dread as I dialed Andy to tell him I was in and as I drove myself to the first gathering. I didn't want this fear, or whatever it was, to paralyze me. And I had a feeling I wouldn't get to the bottom of this dread unless I showed up and faced it.

So I went.

And, unfortunately, that first night unfolded just about as I'd anticipated. When we went around the circle to introduce ourselves, all the married folk mentioned how amazing their spouse is, how lucky they are to be married to him or her. I was glad for all these happy couples. Really. But would you expect an infertile woman to sit there listening to a group of young moms wax eloquent about the blessings of motherhood?

I felt my pulse increase as it became my turn. I mumbled stuff about my job, some travels I've done, and my niece and nephew. I felt scattered and self-conscious and small. Not that I'm usually a paragon of confidence, but this wasn't me. Why was this group dynamic bothering me so much?

At the close of our meeting, all the women gathered around the baby one of them had birthed just three weeks prior. As if from the Young Mom Playbook, they started asking about the delivery and sharing their own labor stories. The men all gathered in the kitchen around the food, talking about life, work, and sports I don't know. And the kids were released from the basement, scattering around the living room and kitchen like happy little puppies looking for food and mischief.

I stood in this commotion not sure what to do with myself. I was pretty sure if I joined the mom-chat I'd start crying. I didn't want to meander into the guys' discussion and raise any hackles with the women. Sure, I anticipated getting to know these men and chatting with them in the future, but on this first week it just felt too forward to be like, "Hey, fellas … . "

So I walked across the room to put my Bible in my purse. It was right by the door, so close to the escape I desperately wanted. Before I could shrug on my coat and slip out the door, Andy meandered over with one of his kids and started chatting with me. His wife, Lisa, joined our small talk shortly after. My job came into the conversation, which led to my singles writing, and that led to my singleness.

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