Our homeschool co-op meets weekly. While the kids are in class (Dancer takes animation, writing, and biology; Snuggler does gym, physics, and writing; Little Guy has a sweet little group that does read-alouds with crafts), the moms chat for a while, then break out into smaller groups. I'm part of the book group. It is a fabulous collection of ladies: bright, compassionate, funny. We laugh a lot.
Before we start our book discussion, the group takes time to go around the circle to ask for prayer requests. I like this, and not only because there are times I need a crowd to clamor on my behalf. Half the benefit is that I hear a whole range of difficulties that people face. It drives home the reality that having problems is a normal part of life. I'm not the only one who sometimes struggles.
You might think I'm smart enough to know that, but no matter how well or how frequently the lesson is taught, it has about the same staying power with me that tutorials on table manners have with my kids. I ask myself why, and conjure up an whimsical MRI-like image of my brain with certain spots that are porous, others that are dense, and still others that are made of rubber. But there's some other explanation, I'm sure. It has to do with the nebulous crossover zone between the intellect and knowledge of the heart. There's probably a touch of self-absorption in the answer. Maybe there's a bit of self-protection, too, because our souls aren't big enough to carry the woes of the whole world. Half the time they aren't big enough to tote our own troubles without help.
One of the good things I've learned by hanging out with honest people is that perfection doesn't exist. Some families might seem flawless for a time -- there's always someone who messes up the curve -- but we all end up in tough spots eventually. We all face things we don't know how to handle. We've all blown it, blown up, and pretended to blow off stresses and griefs and worries.We're not perfect. Life's not perfect. That's okay.
Which brings me back to my book group. Whether this week's big problem belongs to me or to someone else, friendship, compassion and laughter are very good tools for getting through life. A big thank you to those of you who help me remember that.