I’m not sure I would have said it years ago, but I’ve become convinced (not to mention convicted) that I need women in my life.
To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed at cultivating female friendships, which required vulnerability, intentionality, and a surrender of perfection. After all, I have sisters and a momma who know the ugly me and are still my best friends, what else did I need?
I found I need the women who sit around a table once a month for three hours and little by little, have created a community where real happens. A community of women who laugh, cry, question, doubt, seek, and find together. And we eat.
After attending the IF: Gathering in 2015, the ladies in my small group decided that one Sunday a month, instead of a regular whole group meeting, we would instead meet as a community of women and follow the IF: Table model we had heard about at the conference, which provides a reading and questions to guide discussion.
There is something to be said about developing connectedness around a table, genuinely looking at and listening to one another, without distraction, sharing a meal together like family. We’ve had fancy, intimate meals, with good china and lit candles. We’ve scarfed down every dessert possible at “happy hour” at a homey, delicious bakery. We’ve picnicked in the park with fruit, expensive cheese and pretend champagne (since we are law-followers). We’ve had breakfast for dinner and enjoyed a popcorn bar in our jammies.
We know who will be late, who will bring a homemade, exquisite dessert, who dislikes cooking and instead will always bring the wine, who will cry anytime she talks about her children.
We know who is making it through an exceptionally tough time, who is struggling with parenting perfectly (that would be all of us), who is burdened with anxiety and worry, and who shares openly while fighting the enemy’s whisper to “keep that hidden”.
We know one another.
We are messy and authentic, unguarded and hopeful, reliant on one another and accountable to one another. The Table has created this depth and Jesus has blessed the process.
A few months ago, we decided to branch out from the questions that IF: Table provides. We began reading Shauna Nyquist’s beautiful book, Bread and Wine, which is “a love letter to life around the table.” It tells the sacred stories of what is shaped at our tables.
I am in love with this book.
When we gather, we each contribute a recipe from the section we have read together. This requires a fair amount of vulnerability, as we lay our attempts out before one another. Similarly, in the night’s discussion, we lay bare our hopes and fears and silly thoughts for each other’s consumption.
We truly nourish one another with our food, with our words and with the words of God.
Written by Sarah Tinan
Are you interested in joining an IF:Table? Contact Diane.