As the self-proclaimed Fall Hipster, (I loved fall before it was cool, JUST TRUST ME) it is imperative I take part in a handful of distinctively autumn experiences every year. When these experiences have been completed, I reach optimal happiness and can then and only then move along to the joys of Christmas.
What are these autumn experiences, you ask?
- They must involve beautiful fall colors.
In Houston, Texas, this meant a Google image search and an active imagination; but in East Tennessee, it means hiking in the Smoky Mountains, and let me tell you, I do not hate that.
- They involve warm liquids generally of the pumpkin spiced or apple cider variety.
This experience pairs nicely with the phrase, “treat yoself” as I convince myself it is, in fact, totally normal and okay to splurge on another $5 latte with approximately a kajillion empty carbs. (Rounding down, of course.)
- And they always involve pumpkin carving.
Thinking of ideas and designs to carve, the initial satisfying squish of pumpkin guts as your hands dig in, snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds for days to follow – I truly am happiest when elbow deep inside a squash. I’m not sure what that says about my brain, but I’m going to choose to ignore that for now.
I finally had a chance to carve a pumpkin last Thursday with my Thursday night girls.
My Thursday night girls are actually my small group which is really my “Connection Point Team” which is technically called the “Happy Hour Group” even though we’ve never once gathered during the traditional hours deemed happiest by society. We have, however, gathered every Thursday night just past Happy Hour for three years and we tend to be happy, so the name has stuck.
A lot of life can happen in three years.
We’ve had break-ups and weddings, houses bought, siblings lost, and all of the emotions walking through an international adoption journey. It still makes us collectively giddy when this woman brings her two sweet kiddos to group with her – as she did this past pumpkin-carvin’ Thursday.
THEIR FIRST TIME CARVING PUMPKINS. Y’all! Insert every single heart eye emoji here. The answer is YES my heart DID explode into a million pieces when their sweet faces lit up with the squish of pumpkin guts between their fingers. And I very nearly died at the sound of their giggles as they threw pumpkin guts in the air. (And the even bigger giggle as they saw the reactions from adults who decidedly did not want stringy orange globs of pumpkin in their hair.) And when the multi-colored flashing fake candle was placed inside the dinosaur pumpkin, well, you can imagine. It was precious.
However, not long into the evening, we learned the twins were not the only ones carving pumpkins for the first time.
Earlier this night, one lady had declared pumpkin carving was not for her. She simply could not do the squish and ooze of squash intestines. Understandable, of course. That distinguishable SQUOOOSH is not for everyone.
But as we carved and laughed and swerved from flying pumpkin insides, she had a change of heart and spoke up, “Would someone be willing to pull out the guts for me?”
Of course, the answer was yes.
That evening, our beautiful friend was able to carve her very first pumpkin.
That’s what community will do for you, friends:
We will pull out your guts.
Thursday after Thursday, year after year, we will slowly but surely pull out your guts. It starts awkwardly, of course – essentially strangers meeting and being forced to talk about life and Jesus. But time + consistency + transparency can slowly but surely produce a beautiful thing. Soon, we will start hearing of your struggles and stresses. We will pray for your journeys and your pains. We will celebrate your joys and attend your graduations.
We will eventually each begin to experience the terrifying nakedness of vulnerability – the hurt and shock and worry as guts are pulled out for the first time… and the comfort and warmth that follows as we experience the deeper love and more certain safety which comes in real, honest community.
Of course we will pull out your guts, sweet friend. Just ask. Just come. Keep showing up. Keep digging in. Keep having intentional conversation and unhurried time with other believers. Step out in faith and we will pull out your guts… Metaphorically and quite, quite literally when it comes to large orange squash.
Because it’s high time you carve a pumpkin. The result is worth it.