Joining a Bible study was way out of my comfort zone -- but I'm so glad I did it.
Recently, I did something that put me way out of my comfort zone — I joined a Bible study with two of my friends.
I met these women as clients first, but they quickly became friends. They both have young kids, so it was easy to find ways to connect. The only problem was that with our combined kids and crazy work schedules, we couldn’t ever find a good time to meet up. Our coffee dates were random, haphazard, and few and far between, but the two of them attended the same weekly Bible study and invited me to join. Since it seemed like the only time we’d get to hang out, I said yes.
Sure, not the purest of motives, but it’s turning out to be one of the greatest things I’ve done for my spiritual and social life. Here’s four reasons why joining a Bible study has deepened our friendships with each other, as well as our relationships with Christ.
1It's regularly scheduled face time
No, not the kind of FaceTime you do on your phone — a Bible study provides regular, face-to-face social time with your friends. This was my primary motivation for joining, but I was still surprised by how much of my friends’ lives I was missing by only seeing them once a month or so. Weekly meetups for Bible study gave us much-needed social time to connect, check in with each other, and just enjoy the welcome dopamine rush from true social interaction, rather than text messages.
2It gives your friendships new context
I felt like I knew my friends pretty well going into this Bible study, so it was a pleasant surprise to realize that there was a ton about my friends that I didn’t know. Bible studies give conversations a new context, which tends to open up your lives to each other — past, present, and future — as well as learn more about your friends’ beliefs, experiences, and opinions. I’ve learned more about my friends in the past few weeks than I learned about them in our two previous years of friendship, and I’m so grateful to understand them better.
3It gives you the chance to dive deep
Bible studies aren’t exactly what I had imagined — they’re not all dry, informational study groups about the biblical history of some obscure tribe or whatever. The leader of this Bible study is particularly adept at weaving Scripture — whether the Psalms, the Gospels, or the story of Esther — into our modern lives, and helping us draw out lessons that apply to our own, individual struggles. Of course, this prompts a lot of in-depth personal conversation about those struggles. Yes, it was uncomfortable at first and it’s still uncomfortable at times, but I’ve found a kind of catharsis in sharing details of my life that I wouldn’t otherwise share. My friends have been unfailingly gentle, encouraging, and receptive, and have in turn shared their own deep struggles and fears. That kind of mutual trust and confidence in one another has deepened my trust in my friends. It’s really turned our friendship into the kind I haven’t had since I was in college. I lean on my friends, call them for advice, and can’t wait to share stories of triumph or trivial tales of daily frustration with them.
4It can help you identify personal weaknesses and build strength
One of the most difficult but rewarding things I’ve experienced is realizing how much my own spiritual life is lacking. Random prayers and church on Sunday really don’t cut it. I know that, but in the busyness of life I’ve just told myself I don’t have time right now. But my friends are just as busy as I am, and they still make time for God. I’ve been so impressed with their deep relationships with Christ that I’ve begun to try and emulate a few of their daily habits, like 5-minute devotionals with their morning coffee, because I crave the kind of rich and intimate spiritual lives they’re living. It’s hard to be honest about your own spiritual weaknesses, but doing so can give you the strength the reach out and ask for help–whether that’s advice or accountability. Knowing that I have two friends in my corner who care about every aspect of my life — emotional, physical, and spiritual — has made me take all those aspects more seriously, and begin a journey toward a more spiritually balanced life.
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