Eight years ago my husband and I waved good-bye to our families, our friends, and the church community we’d been surrounded by since childhood. With stars in our eyes we pulled a U-Haul truck out of the city we’d grown up in and headed hundreds of miles away into a new adventure.
Our excitement — to join the staff at a ministry we loved — carried us through the difficult departure. By the time our moving truck was unloaded, however, a cloud began to form over my head. We had just left a life where we had history, where we were known, and where we were understood.
Now, for the first time I was the new one. For the first time I was the one feeling unfamiliar. And for the first time, I felt the insecurity of not knowing or being known.
Those early days of forming friendships — of gaining and finding trust in the women around me — provided a steep learning curve. I had stepped into this new-to-me world and quickly became aware of the differences between myself and others. Many times it felt like I was trying to fit my circle-self into the square peg of this new subculture. And if I’m honest, my expectations were left unmet in how I thought others would respond to me relationally. I was sad, a little hurt — just wanting to be known in a way I had hoped to be.
It wasn’t long before God’s Spirit whispered truth to my heart. He showed me that tightly grasping my expectations was keeping me lonely and focused on myself. I began seeking God to fill my needs and to breathe life into my relationships. He answered by opening my heart to understand and love the women around me. I started desiring to know where people were coming from:
What makes them tick?
What kind of family were they raised in?
Why do they have that perspective?
How can I show interest in them?
A beautiful thing began to happen. Not overnight, not over a few weeks, but over the long-haul of time. This band of women I found myself in the midst of simply began walking life together. We played games in each other’s homes late into the night and shared news of expecting little ones over squeals and hot chocolate. We welcomed those babes into our worlds and helped each other survive through casseroles and kid swaps. We supported one another through unexplained illnesses and in prayer through long days and nights when we questioned if pouring our lives out in ministry was making any kingdom difference at all.
And all of that walking life together? It didn’t change our God-given natures. It didn’t change our backgrounds. It certainly didn’t change the fact that we are all different. But it did merge our hearts together. God used everyday life to drive roots further into the ground of our friendship. He deepened our understanding, appreciation, and celebration of each other — differences and all.
I learned that friendship is something that simply can’t be rushed, and I am so very thankful for the women in my life.
God has reminded me I’m not the only one desires to be known. We were all created this way, and He’s the only one who fully satisfies the need. I Corinthians 8:3 says, “If anyone loves God, he is known by God.” When I embrace the truth that I am intimately known by my Maker, I am freed to know and be known imperfectly by the people in my life. I can love and be loved freely, not as a replacement for His love, but as an overflow of God’s grace to and from others.
So will we throw in the towel on friendships before God has fully sown His work? Or will we lay ourselves down, extend to our sisters, and seek to appreciate the way God has made us all unique? If we choose the latter, we will surely experience a rich spectrum of friendships that will speak more of who God is, and less of who we are.
Related: Invite your friends into your everyday and make it feel special. Add these delightful placemats to your table setting when sharing your stories and growing in your friendships.