It’s a hot west Texas July morning. The kind of day when the cicadas start their racket about the time the sun comes up. It’s a good day though because everything that has to be done revolves around one important activity: hanging out at the community pool with anywhere from 3 to 7 girlfriends and the resulting tribe of children.
These are the good ole’ days when moms still rule the schedule and the only activity our kids are involved in is swimming lessons. We go early and bring lunch. This is before organic and clean food was “en vogue”. We feed our offspring peanut butter and Pringles, Twizzlers and cases of Capri Suns. You know, pool food. Everything is timed so that naps begin in the minivan on the drive home.
The soundtrack for our Honda ride is Shania Twain’s UP! album. (Nope, not ashamed to admit my kids still know the lyrics to “Ca-Ching” and “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face”.)
My girlfriends and I settle in on the side of the concrete pool, floaties and noodles scatter about like confetti and let the kids run wild. We discuss and process and counsel and confess, laughter laced throughout.
Nothing overly organized. No agenda. We call it simply “hanging out”.
A few times a summer we plan an evening swim, order pizza and all the dads come. Usually a birthday cake for one of the kids is thrown in to make a balanced meal of the affair.
I loved it and it saved me in so many ways, those few summers when the stars lined up for this sacred routine. I am certain it saved all of us mamas in our own ways.
I miss those unstructured hang out times. With out-of-town moves and the growing up of children, we all agree that the once fall back pleasure of “hanging out” happens less and less. That season was short and sweet and beautiful and like so many other impactful experiences, it feels like we hung out more often and for longer than actually happened. Todd and I both grieve the loss of hangout time with big friend groups that was so frequent and effortless when our children were young.
There are rich and beautiful things that can blossom in hangout time with people. Connections are made, community is formed, trust is built, and stories shared.
And finally to the point of all this nostalgia. In my 2014 quest to learn all that the word “ABIDE” has to offer, I stumbled upon a synonymous phrase for this word.
Among many other things, abide can also mean…”to hang around”.
I know it’s a leap semantically but here is where my thoughts went when I read this definition.
What if the call of Jesus to “abide in me” is, in part, an invitation by Jesus to come hang out with him? Like always, every minute of each day. The kind of delicious time that doesn’t really have to end. What if?
There were moments during our poolside hangouts that felt like heaven. Times when we would push our time past the limits of common mom sense. We’d go way beyond the point of critical mass and kids would be having meltdowns, the air filled with the smell of sunburned skin. But it didn’t seem to matter because we wanted to just linger, for our time together to last forever. The right-ness of it all makes me teary, even this many years later and I know those moments were holy.
Somehow I think that is what John 15 is all about. Jesus inviting us to come abide, to come hang out with him. After reading and rereading it so many times I know this is not a chapter that encourages works or doing. It’s a call to BEING.
All those things we experienced by that swimming pool are a tiny reflection of what Christ intends for us with him. Laughter and counseling and confession and community and discussion and venting. And loving. Our time together enabled us to be better wives and moms, better servants. After pool time, we’d leave and go DO a laundry list of stuff. But during our hangout time, we relaxed and were just together. No agenda. No expectations.
What felt like unproductive afternoons actually were preparing us. Hanging out together bonded us for the stormy times ahead in all our lives.
Jesus wants this kind of time with us. By inviting us to abide in him he is essentially saying…
I want YOU. Lets get to know each other. Let me fill you up with our relationship so that you can then go and do.
Abide in my love.
Come, hang out in my love.
So my joy can be in you, making your joy complete.
Hanging out with me? It’s the only way you will know how to bear fruit.
I’m realizing that is the kind of invitation Jesus offers us. To come hang out “by the pool” and just BE together.
Man. I’m there. And I’m bringing Pringles and popsicles.
I had lunch with a kindred heart kind of friend recently. No agenda. No pretense other than simply catching up on each other’s story. Half way through my fish tacos I realized that maybe one of the ways we abide with Jesus is by hanging out with His people. Laughing, venting, sharing stories. Loving and listening. Allowing Him to speak through them.
What does real live abiding look like?
I’ve got 10 more months to figure that out, knowing it’ll surely take a lifetime to really let the process of abiding sink deep. But I think I will start by seeking Jesus’s company with no agenda. Other than just to hang out and get to know him better.
And then seek to re-discover the simple joy of hanging out with the people He places in my life. Just like in the good ole’ days, inviting like-minded friends and families to the table, to the backyard, to a Starbucks couch.
*(I went searching for a snapshot of the mama friends poolside. Could not find one anywhere. Glad those days are burned in my mind because we obviously were no dummies when it came to bathing suits and cameras!)