April 20, 2012
a new community
Sometimes, I come off as this woman who is this huge fan of change because of how growing and beautiful it can be. But with certain parts of life, I am so resistant to it and I push back against it hard. Even when nothing is the same, I still try and pretend that it is and I try to make things work in all of the old ways I'm most comfortable with.
In the last few years, friends have moved away. And then more friends moved away on top of that. Really, it's felt like the people that I had come to love and feel most connected to, got ripped apart and left me with nothing. I felt robbed and deserted. I felt alone, and being without the community I was used to brought up familiar feelings of betrayal, abandonment and loneliness. It seemed like God had moved so many others on to different places and I was left with all of the broken pieces.
The ministries we've been involved with changed. The places we went to for barbecues and dinners and holiday parties changed and have become less frequent. The faces of the people that we see on a regular basis are rarely seen now. We feel out of touch with the people we were once so intimately tied to.
For awhile, I clung to what was left of my community, trying to make it the same as it always was. I let bitterness settle in my heart and was angry for what I felt like was stolen from me. For where God left me alone.
It's only been in the last few months that I've allowed myself to grieve what I lost there and begin to open up my heart to the possibility of new relationships, new community, and new faces of people to develop close friendships with.
The church we've been attending the last two years has been slow in coming in the friendship department, and that's mostly been because of us. We've been reluctant to get involved and get to know people. It seems like so many friendships in church can be shallow and superficial. It's not always a safe place for our hearts, our struggles and the real things we deal with as a couple. That may not be true for everyone or every church, but sadly, this has been our experience over the years.
Lately, we have been trying to purpose to be brave here. To be more open to relationship with people. To consider things we might not have and risk being hurt or not loved well - because we can't stay in isolation and feel sorry for ourselves forever. We have something to offer and we need what others have as well. We need community.
It's felt like we have had to start from scratch. It's felt wearing and discouraging because we were so used to being poured into and having places where we could pour right back out again. It's felt like it's taken forever, but new friendships are finally starting to bloom around us. Todd and I feel a bit giddy about being invited or included in things and meeting people that we know we could hang out with and get to know.
I feel myself letting go of what was and what used to be. Not the people or the things that left us changed - those are the parts we remember and treasure and carry with us for always. But I'm letting go of what needed to be let go of - where I felt hurt or angry or bitter, and mostly at God for where He had left us in all of the disrupting change.
Tonight, we've been invited over for burgers with some new friends. I am bringing dessert. Tommy will have some other kids to play with. This couple specifically has begun to develop a passion for the ministry that is closest to my heart and it feels sweet to connect there. And tomorrow morning, another woman I have been getting to know from church is coming over for some coffee and conversation.
I am starting to see what developing new community looks like for us. I feel grateful when I am able to see how things can always start new after something has come to an end.
I am not just looking forward to burgers and coffee. I am looking forward to what is beginning.