by Sarah Witmer
photos: Evan Yamada
I want to be around people. I really do. But when it comes to walking out the door to go to an event, I sometimes find myself dreading those same people whose company I crave.
Small talk exhausts me. There are always a few bumps and bruises, awkward moments along the way, especially in large groups, and sometimes I don’t have the energy to wade through a socially painful conversation. I just want to know everyone already, skipping the uncomfortable getting-to-know-you phase.
When I look at some of my closest friends, I can’t remember any of the small talk we had to lumber past in order to get to the good stuff. But we did. And you know where we met? Church events. Volleyball games, summer BBQs, and concerts in the park. Event by event, word by word, we chipped away at each other’s outer walls, earning the right to go deeper with one another.
My life has been transformed by these individuals who gave their time and energy to get to know me. Imagine if they just didn’t feel like it. What if they stuck to the people they already knew because it was easier?
I wouldn’t have met my husband through that girl who was brand new to church at the time. The two women I met at a community group wouldn’t have been my bridesmaids. We wouldn’t live in our house, which was handed down to us by a couple at Maker’s. Our yard wouldn’t have been bursting at the seams this past Sunday as we announced that I’m 3 months pregnant with our first child.
This is true community. It takes time to build, and even more time to fight to keep it standing. To give. To show up when you don’t feel like it. To open yourself up to new people who want to belong as much as you do.
I have no doubt that I have yet to meet some of the people who will impact my life the most. My future best friend could be at the next summer event, dreading small talk as much as me. I hope we both push past it, seeking the life God has called us into – one where we get over our need for comfort and try our best to love others day by day.