An Icebreaker That Matters
We must pay more careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away. ~Hebrews 2.1
For anyone who has been in a small group or Bible study with me – whether I am a member or leading it – know that I detest icebreakers. Y’know, those silly questions about your favorite vacation spot, what kind of animal you would be if you could choose, or what was your favorite toy as a kid. I detest them. Waste of time and energy. IMHO.
Wrong or right, it’s me, and I won’t be changing this any time soon.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Meditation. It has become the practice that brings me not only immediate solace, but also long-term remembrance. [/pullquote]The questions I hate the most are the ones that ask you to reveal your most embarrassing moment, your biggest mistake, when were you frightened out of your wits, tell about a joke that backfired – the negative stuff, the stuff that, by sharing, it somehow makes you more vulnerable, more approachable.
I always say I can’t remember anything to answer. Because I can’t. I really can’t. I always get those looks of disbelief, of pity that I couldn’t open myself up, unable to share myself. Such a sad existence, poor thing.
It’s not that I am no fun. I am, really I am. It’s just that I honestly don’t remember that kind of stuff. As hard as I try. (Although I do remember wearing a white skirt to work, and having my period all over it and didn’t realize until a male co-worker asked me if I had sat in ketchup. Why, God, do I remember that!!??) Maybe if someone reminds me of something, it comes back to me, but as a rule, I have really blocked it all out.
I don’t want to remember my worst moments, the times I felt totally destroyed, the events that drove me into being so protective of myself. And I don’t intend to change that. Ever.
I have learned that when I revisit it, the same feelings return – of disgust, or embarrassment, or being less-than someone or something else. My psyche has learned to protect and preserve what I have worked so hard to build and maintain.
This doesn’t mean I don’t remember what I learned from the past. I have looked into the mirror and remembered what I saw in it, in me. In fact, I think that’s why I don’t remember the specifics. I have dissected it, drawn analogies and metaphors and made changes from the experience. I sucked it dry when I processed it at the point of the emotion. Then I moved on. I see no reason to revisit, or even to clog up my head with it. I have learned to put it behind me. Literally. Not even visible in my rear view mirror.
Unfortunately this habitual moving-on has affected my faith in some real and distracting ways. I have drifted away from faith over the decades often because I do not hold onto what I have read in the Bible, to what the Word is teaching me. I took a morsel, digested it for just that moment of appetite, and moved on, never bringing it back to my memory. And when I was not reading the Bible – well, you can imagine how dry that season became.
Which brings me to remembering…
Over the past few years, I have begun a practice that had escaped me before. Meditation. It has become the practice that brings me not only immediate solace, but also long-term remembrance. When I take the time to really chew on something, to turn it over and over in my mind and heart, it sticks. Just as with the embarrassing moments of my life, I chew on it longer, embrace it more fully.
But, unlike the icebreaking nonsenses, I revisit it. Often. Especially the moments in the Word when I feel like God is just wrapping me in his love letter, when he is soothing my soul, when I hear him in ways that are hard to left behind. Even when he is teaching me hard lessons. These are the memories I want to hold on to.
I journal about them. Write about them. Memorize them. Remember them. I want to never lose them.
So next time, if I get to pick an icebreaker, this will be it: what is your fondest memory of a moment when God embraced you as his child?
Now that’s a memory I would love to share, and love to hear about from others.
I am sorry that you cannot be the dolphin you always wanted to be, but I would love to hear about your encounter with the God who made you exactly what he wanted you to be.
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Meditation is a skill I’m learning & loving, too. Love what you wrote about being wrapped in God’s love letter. I can’t understand my brothers & sisters who have asked Jesus into their hearts, but don’t want to crack open his love letter to us.
I actually detest small talk, preferring to go deep right away,but sometimes that’s a little intense for some people. I’m terrible on the phone, because usually after I say hello, I say what’s up? Or how can I help you? Not great social graces for someone who specialized in communication. ? Also, I love your thoughts on a new icebreaker. BUT… 🙂 what about with people who are new to faith? I’m asking bc I’m helping to launch a young adult ministry in our church, and about 25% of our meetings will be social, 50% bible teaching/storytelling, & 25% serving. I know it won’t break down exactly like that, but was just giving you an example. I feel like asking them about their favorite pastime/vaca spot/food, etc is where I need to start because I know there will be seekers among them. Thoughts? Thank you, Diane. ❤️
Gretchen – you and I are kindred spirits, I swear! I detest small talk too. But then, sometimes, I think it’s because I don’t want someone to get too close, to know me too well.Still working through that one!! As for icebreakers for new young’uns – young people tend to like small talk more than us oldies – perhaps cause they think they have so much time to live, versus we, who have wasted too much (I speak for myself). You asking them the ‘small talk’ stuff will help you grow that ministry into one that is relatable to them, and they will appreciate you wanting to learn that!
You won’t know that they would rather talk over a pizza than a cup of coffee unless you ask. Or that they would share more after a hike up a mountain munching on granola, than a road trip to shop the outlets. You get the drift, I am sure. Go forth and conquer this one, girl! I think this age group is too often overlooked!! I hear that from my thursday ladies all the time – a group that’s been together for 4 years, since high school. They are now college graduates, dating, getting engaged, but see nothing in the church world for them until they join the ranks of parenthood! Go, get ’em!!!
Thank you for this encouragement, gf!!!
Thank you for sharing your honest reflection on icebreakers. Some seem to be canned and not-connecting to what I really want to talk about. Some seem so un-attached/ambiguous that I don’t like “wasting time”, so to speak.
I’m currently beginning a small group Bible study on Grace. I was looking for ways to focus on the topic and not to “waste time.”