How many times have you survived after losing your tribe? After you have bubble wrapped your familiar and beloved life and loaded it all onto a moving truck, when that truck rolls away, have you felt a sense of loss?
The life that you built, the relationships you nurtured, and the friendships you so heavily relied on are now fading into the rear view as you pass through the installation gate for the last time.
That daunting task of starting over looms on the horizon, and the thought of rebuilding seems nearly impossible.
When deployment orders get dropped, and impending chaos is coming, where do you find respite? Will there be support or people that can show up for you in the mess?
What happens when darkness knocks at your door, bringing hard circumstances or unbearable burdens? Who will walk beside you to help you carry the hardships of life?
Could you imagine, right after a fresh PCS, having a place where you were invited into community? How about having a spot to land during a deployment, when all you want is company and encouragement? What if, when you are struggling, there would be a table full of sisters who prepared a place for you to rest and grow your faith?
IF: Table is here and we have saved you a seat.
What is an IF: Table?
IF: Table is a monthly dinner where women gather together to share a meal and the joy of The Lord. Six women come together once a month for two hours and discuss four conversation cards, provided by IF: Gathering, to facilitate faith growing conversations. IF: Tables can be hosted in coffee houses, churches, or local restaurants. Most often, they are hosted in homes.
Our IF: Table
I have always loved hosting community events in my home. Planning menus and decorating my farmhouse table are tasks that give me a small measure of joy (and a reason to raid my local Target). Bringing people together over a common love of Jesus has been my family’s sole calling for years and there is such a need, in these times of isolation and social anxiety. Women are desperate for community, friendship, and accountability.
I want to walk you through the experience of an IF: Table, because I know that stepping out in faith to meet new people can be an overwhelming task. But, you are brave, seen, and wanted.
Walking up to the front door of the hosting house, you may feel anxious or afraid. You may have had a friendship (or two) go south and are worried that this may not work out. But, the possibility of deep and meaningful relationships is on the other side of that door.
When you walk inside, the aroma of a freshly cooked meal will fill the air and you’ll start to get excited about joining a group of women who are all frantically searching for the same thing: community. You’ll be welcomed with a friendly “hello” and an open seat at the table.
After sitting down at the table, you’ll push through that millisecond of awkwardness that comes with discussing deeper things with new people. The nervousness that you may feel about sharing your own hard story melts away as the women around you start letting their own walls fall down. In earnest and honest conversation, you will find that all of them are struggling in one area of their lives or another. You will have permission to be dump out the unorganized chaos of your “mental purse” onto the kitchen table and ask “What do I do with this?”
The fear of judgement will have totally disappeared and these women will give you the insight and encouragement that you need to repack all of your struggles and strife into the bag that you brought them in, with the hope of managing them in a better way.
You will leave the table refreshed, and with a new sense of understanding. You will belong. You already belong to an awesome God, who loves and pursues you, and now you have a place within a group of believers who will want to constantly point you back to Jesus. Most importantly, you won’t be able to keep this feeling of freedom and acceptance to yourself. You will want to give it away.
Are you ready to take your seat?
Join the IF: Military Facebook page.
This will be the hub of IF: Military. On this page, you will find your local tables, resources, and connection.
Host an IF: Table.
No IF: Table at your local installation? That’s ok. Start one. It’s easy. Sign up to host here. The conversation cards are free and downloadable.
Become an IF: Point of Contact for your installation.
The IF: Military team is also currently recruiting Point of Contacts to facilitate IF: programs nationwide for all military branches. If you are interested in joining the team, contact Colleen Matthews at Colleen.R.Matthews@gmail.com. For more information on IF: Gathering, click here
Megan Brown is one of the United States Air Force Branch Coaches for IF: Military, and a local Women’s Ministry Coordinator. She is a seasoned military spouse of 13 years, mother of four, and theology student at The Moody Bible Institute. To learn more about Megan, visit www.allherpaths.com or email her at email@example.com.