A blogpost by Lindsey Goodyear
Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.
Sometimes Messy Church is exhausting. There is always a method we follow when we attend. Welcome and snacks, a chat about what verse we’re following, inside for crafts, then to the sanctuary for story and songs, and finally a great meal and home. As a parent, the joy I get from watching my children light up when they discover God’s word through art is a feeling I hope every parent will experience. Although, to be honest, most of my time is spent running back and forth, across the room, from table to table, to be with each kid (Heaven forbid they be interested in the same craft at the same time). I mostly don’t mind this, but this last Saturday, I was tired. We had just returned from our annual two week road trip and I was up to my ears in laundry, cleaning, and getting back to our normal schedule. Thinking about attending Messy Church made me want to take a nap. But, I tucked that feeling away, put a smile on, and packed us up.
This time, Messy Church wasn’t at the church. We had decided to venture out and set up shop at a local park. Everyone arrived with their own picnic dinner as well as blankets and chairs. The kids immediately took off for the playground as I set up our families little area. I soon took notice that we were missing the craft tables. Then, it dawned on me that we didn’t have a verse that was associated with this month either. Also, we were starting with the meal instead of ending with it like we normally do. In fact, the only thing that made this even remotely like a normal Messy Church was the parachute prayer and the familiar faces. It was a little confusing. I was so used to doing the same old things every month that it seemed like these two hours would drag on with nothing to do. The kids would play, we would eat, and we’d go home. I was so exhausted that I wished we had stayed home. I could have made dinner there and besides, this wasn’t really going to be a God filled evening anyway, right? Wrong.
As more and more people arrived, we formed a huge circle with all of the families sitting close. The kids were running back and forth between the playground and picnic while the adults sat and conversed. I saw people that I see every month when we go. However, I suddenly realized that even though I see them every month, doesn’t mean I actually talk with them every month. Sure, I say hello and ask a few surface questions and touch base but I don’t really make the time to talk with them. We had quite the conversation going. Little by little, the circle got smaller and tighter as more and more people sat in on the conversations. There were new friends and old friends and friends who had never actually met each other. The ease and amusement of conversation were apparently a cure for my fatigue as I noticed my cheeks aching from the laughter. Pretty soon, we noticed our Messy directors packing up. Although I was sure it hadn’t been two hours, I decided to check my phone anyway. It hadn’t been two hours, it had been more! Even though a few were packing up, the majority of us wouldn’t budge. The sun was setting but we were just settling in.
It was just the Messy rejuvenation my soul needed.
In the end, we all stayed until dark. The conversation never let up and neither did the laughs. As we were walking to our cars, I watched everyone saying goodbye. People we’d known for years waving at others they’d met that night for the first time. Hugs and smiles exchanged as we all felt reinvigorated with the relationships we’d taken the time to nourish that night.
As I drove my family home, I reflected on the feelings I had at the beginning of the night. Almost a sort of dread had enveloped me just a few hours ago and now I felt so light. God had provided me with an opportunity of a much needed re-connection with my Messy family. We’re often times on auto pilot, dutifully saying hello and offering a smile, all the while avoiding actual conversation. We then check the box of being friends but mere occasional acknowledgment does not make a friendship. We have to make time to nurture our relationships. God places incredible people in our lives and we cannot short-change our time with them. So, never again. This night produced a shift. As I sit writing this blog, I’m smiling thinking of our lively night. It was just the Messy rejuvenation my soul needed.