First and Third Wednesdays

I joined Bible study and worried I wouldn’t fit in. I was intimidated by all these women who had it all figured out. Then, through sharing, I learned that what they had was God’s peace. In time, with their help, I found that too.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

My pastor’s wife invited me to join the Wednesday evening Women’s Bible Study soon after I began attending my church. I was very busy at the time. I was a wife and mother, overwhelmed with running two child care centers and taking care of my family. I recently finished treatment for stage 2 breast cancer, and was putting my life back together after chemo, surgery, and radiation. My priorities changed with my diagnosis, and I worked to get my life in balance. I cleared my overbooked schedule, and tried to focus on what mattered. I was ashamed to say that at first, I hesitated about joining the group.

Another commitment on my calendar. Another evening away from home after a challenging day at work. I knew once I committed, there was no going back. I couldn’t be a “Bible Study Dropout”.

After some thought, I reminded myself that I wanted my life to be different from the very day I heard the words, “you have cancer”. Since I wanted to focus on ‘what mattered’ …

Wasn’t the study of God’s Word one of those things?

The most important thing?

I loved the pastor’s wife and I was excited to meet women at the church. I needed this in my life. So, I stopped hesitating and joined the group.

That first meeting, I looked at the women around the table. They were individually so different; but, collectively they had a certain confidence about them; a confidence, I lacked. Some of the women knew each other for years. I listened to them greet and catch up with each other. If I had to describe them, the word, ‘perfect’ came to mind.

Really, they all were so put together and … “perfect”.

I was instantly nervous. There was no way I fit in with this crowd.

I struggled daily to hold it together. I went to work in the day, and came home to my family at night. I was failing at all of it. I didn’t measure up. I couldn’t say exactly how that particular day went; but guaranteed, I was at work later than planned, and I busted through that door in a rush to get dinner prepared and cleaned up in the short time I had before Bible study started. I was probably agitated, and most likely impatient with my kids, barking orders at them and at my husband about homework and bath time, or whatever needed accomplished while I was gone. I was sure my heart was pounding as I threw my Bible and notebook into my car at least 5 minutes later than I wanted to leave, worried about being late.

Yeah, I was nothing like these women.

As the women arrived one by one, they discussed families, social activities, and some described quilting and sewing projects. See, totally out of my league. They were a cohesive group. I watched them pull out their Bibles with the worn covers and dog-eared pages. with hand-written notes and highlighted passages peppering the pages inside.

Listening to them, I thought again, “I am not sure I belong here.”

The women were kind and welcoming, but I felt like I didn’t fit in, not with women like that who had it all together.

I was trying to navigate life after cancer. I was trying to settle back into the world I left behind when I got sick. but I was now the puzzle piece that didn’t fit.

It wasn’t just around the bible study table. I didn’t fit in at work, at home, or even when I was alone.

I didn’t recognize the girl in the mirror. My hair was short, finally growing back after chemotherapy. I lost my drive for a career about which I was once so passionate. The house was a mess, and I was getting by, moment by moment.

I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, my heart was heavy, and my mind was never still. So, sitting around a table with a bunch of Godly women who had it all figured out, highlighted how much I didn’t. I stayed quiet, kept my head down, and prayed they didn’t notice.

I kept going, though, every first and third Wednesday of the month.

I enjoyed reading God’s Word; but more so, I enjoyed listening to the women’s thoughts about what we discussed. It made all those stories and verses I learned long ago make more sense. The Word became more relevant. They shared their life experiences. They had so much wisdom and knowledge. As they spoke about the hardships and trials they suffered in their lives, I was amazed by their strength. Some had grown children, but mentioned difficulties they faced when their children were young, and the difficulties that continued even into adulthood. Their stories resonated with my own.

One woman was in her 80’s. I listened most intently to her. As the others shared what was on their hearts, she quietly thumbed through her carefully mended Bible and placed her forefinger at just the right spot; and then read the perfect verse and gave the best advice based on Scripture. It happened again and again. She knew the Bible. It was so ingrained in her heart, that she easily found a relevant Scripture for any situation. I was in awe. And I soaked up every drop of wisdom she shared.

I wanted to be her one day.

As the weeks went by, one after another, different women shared their life experiences through our discussions. They shared their praises and answered prayers; as well as their heartbreak, losses, and turmoil. They shared struggles that I never guessed they had.

I watched women break down – and I watched the others move to comfort, to console, and to pray together.

I wanted to be all of them.

When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

Proverbs 31:26

I realized they were all broken in some way. That confidence they carried wasn’t perfection, it was God’s peace. They didn’t have it ‘all together’ like I thought, they just had a Savior to lean on. They had a Savior to hear their cries. They had a Savior that made them promises, and they knew He would keep them. I knew that too, but watching them made me see it so much more clearly.

I remembered that Bible study night soon after my life turned upside down again. I found out that my cancer had metastasized, and I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.I almost didn’t go that night. I was still numb. I was still processing. I hadn’t talked much about it, but that night; I shared the news.

I was strong. I was a big girl.

I thought I could do it.

I thought I could say those words out loud without getting emotional.

Then the flood gates opened.

All those feelings stored up inside. All those feelings I kept to myself to protect others.

All the feelings.

They didn’t just come out. Those feelings were like rushing water pushing against a wall; and, then pouring out until there was nothing left.

I shared my story.

I shared my truth. I shared my deepest thoughts with this group of women who had quietly, yet undoubtedly, become my friends, my sisters in Christ, my prayer warriors.

They hugged me. They comforted me. They consoled me. They prayed for me.

I felt God’s peace.

I looked at the women around that table; and I felt loved, accepted, and connected.

I realized how much they meant to me, how much I learned from them, and how much I had grown in the time I knew them.

Over the years, I gathered with these amazing women to study God’s Word on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month. There were nights when I was tired or not feeling great, but I still went. Even on those hard nights, not once did I ever regret going.

I laughed. I cried. I prayed. I grieved. I celebrated.

And I always left feeling better than I did when I walked in.

My heart was full. My mind was at peace. And my soul was soothed.

In a hundred little ways, these women changed my life.

I grew closer to God because of these women.

I grew as a person because of these women.

I still had a long way to go.

But in time, I realized that because of these women, I became one of those women.

Blessed is she who believed the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.

Luke 1:45

*********

Do you belong to a Bible study group?

Do you have a similar experience?

Or, like me, do you fear you won’t fit in, you don’t have much to contribute?

I urge you to find one.

You won’t regret it.

If you would like to share with me your experiences or what is holding you back, please comment below, or click here to send me a private message.

I would love to hear from you.

Author: Jennifer Lilley Collins

I'm a Mom, wife, daughter, and friend navigating life with metastatic breast cancer while finding joy in the everyday and spreading hope, love, and inspiration along the way.

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