When I was in college, Friday night was party night.
Everyone dropped everything to crack a beer, hit the bars, go dancing, make out with a stranger, and generally get wild. The next morning:
“I feel like shit.”
“Why did we go out?”
“WHO did I kiss last night?!”
“I’m never drinking again. I mean it.”
Repeat weekly. Ad nauseum.
I’ll be honest: this was never really me. I would drink one beer, maybe two, but I hated being intoxicated. I’d dance but I kept all my parts to myself. I usually grew bored of my drunken peers and befriended the token Shy Friend so I’d have someone to talk to.
Sometimes there would be an hour of really fun dancing or a surprise heart-to-heart with a friend as the night was coming to a close. But for the most part, I still woke up on Saturday morning feeling like I hadn’t really done anything worthwhile the night before. Even though I never had a hangover and I still had my wallet, phone, keys, and panties in my possession, I couldn’t call the previous night a success.
Fast forward to Friday, February 1st. I left work at 4:00 and went home to being cooking a meal. I made spicy white bean dip with pita wedges and lemony green pea risotto with roasted red peppers. My friend Michelle came over early to chat, and she chopped parsley and grated lemon zest for me so supper would be ready when our friends arrived.
By 5:30, there were five women seated around my little living room, eating supper and sharing how our weeks had been and what was going on in our lives. We talked about boyfriends and exercise schedules and troublesome students (there are several teachers in our group). Once we finished our meal, we began our bible study.
Yes, bible study. On a Friday night.
While other young women were swilling cheap beer out on a sweaty dance floor littered with sequins from their dresses, we were sprawled across my living room, flipping through heavily-annotated books and searching bible apps on our phones in search of verses applicable to that night’s study. We shared our struggles and our celebrations, and we prayed for each other. We were home and (in my case) in bed by 10:00 p.m.
When I woke up the next morning, I didn’t have any crazy stories to share or the phone number of a dashing gentleman or blurry smartphone photos of drinks or dance floors, proof of a life engaged in hip social culture.
But I felt fed. I felt nourished.
I spent my night sharing my thoughts, my struggles, my joys. My fellow women and I engaged in conversation about our lives and our faith, things that matter every single day. These women made me laugh and made me think, gave me hugs and gave me praise for the meal, listened to my reflections and listened to my prayer requests. Michelle lent her hands to the meal, and the others helped clean up. We were a group, a community, a family, sisters in love and in Christ.
My friend AJ recently expressed her decision to intentionally seek and prioritize Christian community. “It nourishes me,” she said, “and makes my faith a bigger part of my life.” AJ didn’t want to put her faith life, her role as a daughter of Christ, on hold for other activities that she knew didn’t fulfill her in the same way. So she started looking for God in every hour, even those normally dedicated to knocking back beers and shaking one’s proverbial money maker.
I should note that she shared this at a Friday night worship service at my church, which she was attending in favor of bar-hopping.
So maybe bible study on a Friday night isn’t the coolest or craziest or most exotic thing I could do. Many people prefer the thrill of a darkened bar and a pounding bassline. Power to them, I say! I gave it a fair shot, but I’ve chosen otherwise. I choose homemade meals, girlfriends in jeans and sweaters, intimate conversation, and my bible. I choose the nourishing word coming from the mouths of those who love me and whom I love. I choose Christian fellowship.
And that, good people, is why I’m going to bible study on a Friday night. ON PURPOSE.