75+ ladies joined one another around circular tables, ate tasty food, and shared their stories as we gathered at the local church. Our pastor’s wife prompted us with questions about social media, and how easy, how often, the comparison game takes place. Simply open up Facebook, or my personal fave, Instagram, and the scrolling begins. Swiping downward through apps can be mindless, but can also prompt me to look at other people’s pictures and wonder, “Am I missing something?”
My particular table included women ranging from teenagers to women in their forties. Some were college students, some were college graduates. Three married with children, five single. The initial questions I asked as table hostess included basic information, but soon deepened into less explored, hard conversations. Vulnerability. Honesty. Beauty. Sentences strung together with meaning and transparency began to harmonize as we took turns listening and speaking.
We sat there, eating appetizers and desserts, sipping on various beverages, and I took a moment to soak in this precious glimpse of beauty. Here sat women, in varying life stages, talking about dreams and reality. Sharing about the goodness of God, and His character. Words of encouragement spurred on truth being spoken into one another’s lives. The women who gathered were heard, and loved on. They left that evening feeling connected, and craving more face-to-face encounters. I witnessed numbers being swapped, prayers being prayed. Other table leaders shared that those at their table felt hand-picked by God and placed there with purpose.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
The beauty of a gathering is that it is a God ordained practice, and we who love Him have been called to embrace its richness. When we gather in His name and eat, walls built around weary hearts can come crumbling down. Words of affirmation offer truth and love. Frequent gatherings, such as those in the book of Acts, stir up the hearts of the attendees and build relationship. Sitting elbow-to-elbow with another person, breaking bread, tangibly hearing and seeing a person, reveals their needs. There is divine beauty in knowing another person’s heart’s desires. Jesus himself purposefully broke bread and drank wine during his last meal on earth with the disciples. He wanted them to remember him, and prompted them to meet together often.
Dear friends, gather together frequently. Break bread with one another, quench both physical and spiritual thirst, and honor God by encouraging each other. Find the beauty locked in the folds of gathering, and be reminded of God’s goodness and grace that stands firm in all circumstances.
Readers, Who could you encourage, listen to, or gather with to grab hold of the beauty that can be found as God works amongst the relationships He has given you?
Sarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.