If you wanted to find me on Sunday mornings, before church, you’d have to drive over to a little coffee shop that has been tucked away in a small strip mall in Richardson. If you went in to that coffee shop, you would be surprised that they let me continue to come each week because it’s all stained wood and cinder blocks and quilted bench pillows with concrete barista counters. It’s so hipster, it makes me want to cry that it resides in the same city as me. But, week after week, despite whatever disheveled outfit I’ve managed to throw on to cover my body, they let me come and drink their ginger oolong tea or, if I’m feeling fancy, a Mexican hot chocolate. Sometimes, I even wear a beret.
On any given Sunday morning, you would find me gathered around one of the wooden tables with a small group of women, Bibles open, pens in hand, listening to one another intently. Sometimes laughing, sometimes crying.
This has become our weekly habit for maybe 8 months now. It started kind of haphazardly, like, “We’re going to meet at the coffee shop at 9:30. Come if you want to.” It’s now a thing– one that has become the highlight of my week.
We’re going through a study right now that has little “activities” every week. Some of them feel a little silly; some get really serious (like, tell the group your biggest fear). One week, we got to a page that directed us to ask a friend what our strengths and weaknesses are. It threw us all for a loop a bit and we spent a good amount of time discussing how we would do this. We decided to do it during the week, via email, so that we had enough time to process what our “weaknesses” were. While it was really hard and pretty scary, we did it. On the Sunday following the emails, we all talked about how it actually felt good; how we know our weaknesses but it makes them that much more real when other people can point them out too.
This is the part where iron sharpens iron.
There have been moments where it’s been awkward, difficult, scary, but we are finding freedom. We are learning to face our fears, instead of running from them. Instead of hiding our faults behind a layer of forged identity, we are learning that we find redemption when we share our secrets. We are talking about our struggles and our frustrations. We are bringing our dark things into the light and we are finding freedom.
This fledgling Church has been hard fought. It’s required a commitment to make meeting together a priority, a commitment to be intentional in these relationships, a big commitment to being vulnerable and gracious to one another.
When I think about the Bible referring to the Church as Jesus’s bride, I can’t help but think that this is what he intended. Not a zipped-up, sterilized bride slathered in make-up to cover her faults but this- this raw, broken woman who knows that the only thing that can fix her is a love that she doesn’t deserve, this woman who finds freedom from her shame, salve for her wounds, and grace for her heart.
We are finding freedom in a coffee shop.