This past weekend I attended a church retreat at a campground in Maryland. Basically picture any church retreat or camp you’ve ever attended, and that’s where I was — complete with bunk beds, a plethora of cold cereal choices, a bonfire pit, acoustic guitars, a basketball court, and smelly boys. In preparation for the retreat, an email was sent out asking us to bring sneakers and warm clothes. The 32-year-old in me starting asking lots of questions. Mainly, why? Subsequently, I may or may not have mentioned to a friend that if we did the trust fall, I might have to punch somebody in the face.
Well, good news! I didn’t have to take the plunge into the arms of a half-dozen 20-year-old boys with a collective weight of about 600 pounds. We’re all thankful, really. The retreat turned out to be a really laid back and fun time of community building. I made new friends and learned new things about God and his plan for me and our church. But, trust fall or not, it was apparent we needed a team building activity! We couldn’t leave the campground without one!
Enter stage left: Spider web game.
What happens when 30 church members are asked to stand in a circle? You guessed it — a team building activity ensues. Ours involved a large ball of twine, which was passed across the circle along with words of encouragement for the recipient. This went on and on until our hearts were full and the middle of the circle looked like a beautiful chapter out of Charlotte’s Web.
And it all had some significant meaning, of course. If one person let go of their twine, it screwed up the whole web. If one person left the circle, we’d miss them. We’re all important. We’re all part of the family of God. We all matter.
I had to check myself in that moment. For once in a long time, I was not cooler than the team building activity. Because, let’s face it, at this point I’m absolutely cooler than: 1) The trust fall; 2) The every-team-member-must-climb-over-the-six-foot-wall game (A.K.A. Get ready for people to step on your back); and 3) Two truths and a lie (which only promotes creative lying, I’m afraid). But this past weekend, as I stood and held my little portion of a ball of twine and listened as we vocalized our positivity and thanks toward one another, I was humbled.
I’ve written this before and I’ll say it again: Community is important.
And it’s important for all of us. Yep, that includes you married folks. Your spouse does not count as community. That’s cheating. You need more than that. And, frankly, so do I.
Funny thing is, this weekend, I really didn’t think about the fact that I’m single at all. Some might say it’s because there were no potential suitors for me in the mix. Touché. But I’d venture to say that even if there were, it wouldn’t have been on my mind. It wasn’t that kind of weekend. We were all just brothers and sisters in Christ, brought together around a bonfire singing worship songs and roasting marshmallows. No one cared about how we looked. Heck, I didn’t even shower and I do believe I walked around for at least an hour with remnants of a s’more on my right cheek. But it didn’t matter. We were just ourselves in all our natural, hippie glory.
And it felt good.
As is the nature of this blog, I often write about dating and relationships and marriage and being single. Hey, it is a dating blog. And I’ve even been accused of being “obsessed” with the topic. I repeat, it’s a dating blog. Of course I’m going to write about dating. And maybe, in a small way, I am obsessed with the topic. But only because it’s a conversation that must be had. And this blog is promoting a healthy one at that. And I’m proud of it.
But this weekend I wasn’t obsessed. This weekend I took a break. I laughed. I prayed. I sang. I played Catchphrase. I yelled a little too much during a heated game of Mafia (because “I looove this town!”). I ate too many Fruit Roll-Ups. And I found a little piece of community with my church family in D.C. — a web of trust that I’m learning to rest in.
If you’re not part of a church family, I encourage you to join one. Church isn’t perfect and it can be messy sometimes, but it’s beautiful, too. And you’re meant to be a part of it.
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” ~Charlotte
*Campground photo credit: Diana Wei Fang