I often feel like I'm running in circles. With four daughters, I literally drive circles around our city - either dropping someone off, picking someone up, returning a video, or running to the grocery store. My odometer clicks away the miles as I pass the same familiar landmarks several times in a single day. I also live in several distinct circles. I have my circle of family members, my circle of church friends, my circle of Burger Time friends, my circle of kid's friends and their families, and my circle of my husband's co-workers and families.
Then there are those circles in which I don't feel like I belong. These include the circles of people I know who own pontoon boats, ski boats, and snowmobiles. There are also the circles of people who are homeless, disabled, elderly, and pierced from head to toe. I just don't fit in. I often wonder what it would take for me to be welcomed into these particular circles. Maybe if I had enough money, toys, lack of money, disabilities, years of living, or holes in my body. I would be ushered in and befriended. But then again, maybe it is not their circle that's keeping me out. Maybe it is my own circles that are keeping me in. I came across a poem written by Edwin Markham called Outwitted that sings out the answer for which I'm longing:
He drew a circle that left me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in.
Is your small group creating a circle that outsiders can only look on from afar? Do your group's defining lines exclude those who are different? Sometimes, unfortunately, our small group borders belie our true intentions. This month consider drawing a circle with the love of God that will place other circles within your own. Plan an end-of-the-summer picnic at a local park. Ask your group members to prayerfully invite casual acquaintances such as the parents of a child's friend, a familiar cashier at the grocery store, a neighbor, a fast food worker, a co-worker, or a fellow student. Have your group members bring enough food and drinks to share so the guests can just come and enjoy. Plan to play volleyball, horseshoes, softball, or Frisbee. Take some time to gather in a circle and share your favorite memory from the summer. Continue to build relationships with these people, asking them to your small group in the fall.