The fact that I was at a MOPS meeting was a complete surprise to me. I drove there and signed myself in, of course, but it was so removed from my normal behavior that it felt of an out-of-body experience. Even now, that memory is tinged with a hazy yellow, like someone has overlaid the “halcyon days” filter.
I went because my neighbor invited me. She seemed nice and fairly normal. I was new to the area and desperate for friends. Peering through my front windows anxiously waiting for a neighbor to emerge so I could “just happen” to wander outside is a slow way to make friends. Even so, I wasn’t really expecting much. “I’ll go for a meeting or two,” I told my husband. My experience of people who were in MOPS was that they were out of my league, with their 5 kids and their memorized scriptures and their adorable crafts. Clearly, it wasn’t a group I’d join, with my progressive Jesus, my 1 kid and my lack of scrapbooking ability.
This is not the first time that I have done something out of character in the wake of a move. Moves throw me off balance. While some people eagerly welcome the chance to delve deep into a new place, I like my home and my identity to stay intact. Changing places makes me feel like I don’t belong, which causes me to rush for safety like a moth seeking the light of a flame.
If you’ve avoided MOPS your whole life, let me tell you that a central part of the meeting experience is “joys and challenges.” This is the time when everyone writes down a joy and a challenge from their week. The idea filled me with dread. Share details from my life with 7 strangers? Nope. But of course it’s sort of a “thing” and I couldn’t really get out of doing it.
“I’m happy that my daughter is settling in well at school. My challenge is that I’m new to the area and still feeling unsettled.” I said cheerily. Everyone smiled and nodded.
I got by with variations of that theme for the next couple weeks until a crisis hit my extended family. That night at our meeting, without even meaning to, I blurted out the entire story. Then I cried. Then I left and felt like an idiot. The old me would never have shared this kind of info with people I was just meeting. This new me, the one I was becoming in this place, wasn’t someone I wanted to know. She was out of control, a complete mess and kind of a downer.
It’s taken me nearly two years to write about this experience because I still don’t like the memory. Good heavens, it was bad enough to live through once; I don’t want to have it widely known that I once broke down in public with strangers.
Fitness instructors are fond of pointing out that your body only changes when you push past your comfortable limits. You need to shake things up. Work harder, work faster or try another sport if you’ve plateaued in your pursuit of the perfect weight. We need to shatter our myths about ourselves in order to become a deeper version of who we already… Click To Tweet
Maybe the same is true for our souls. We need to experience change—and the real, messy uncertainty that goes along with it—in order to grow. We need to shatter our myths about ourselves in order to become a deeper version of who we already are. We need to discover that the world doesn’t fall apart just because we do.
I received many gifts from that MOPS group. New friends, professional contacts, interesting workshops and two amazing mentor moms. But what I remember most is that time I fell apart, with near- strangers, and was still invited back. Soul-stretched, imperfect and all wrong–but welcomed anyway.