I thought I was prepared for that first winter in Seattle. It rained all the time, of course. I knew to expect that. I could adapt to gray skies and rain. I determined to make the best of it by buying everyone in my family some bright happy colored rain boots in those first days after our big move.
My new rain boots made me smile, and they kept my feet warm and dry, but they did little to fix the real problem. What I was really craving was the warmth and connection of friendship to brighten my days in this new city.
By the time spring arrived, I was ready to do something about the gray loneliness that had settled over my soul. I prayed to God, asking for friends.
My husband and I had already found a large church that was home to us, yet we had held back on getting involved with any of the small groups that met throughout the week. Eventually, I filled out a card at church, indicating we were looking for a small group to join. I answered detailed questions about the kind of group we were looking for (age, stage of life, location, time, etc.).
I wanted to find friends who were married, had elementary age kids, and, preferably, some other stay-at-home moms (people like me). It was a big church. I was sure they could accommodate my simple requests. Never mind the fact that most of the crowd I saw each week at church consisted of young, single, twenty-something-professionals.
An email came later that week with a suggested group for us to attend near our house. I read the description. I was mildly disappointed when I saw that this was a group of single, twenty-something-professionals. We gave it a try, anyway.
Would these people even want us in their group? What would we have in common with them?
We walked into the pool house where they met and were immediately welcomed. Everyone was warm and welcoming, going out of their way to include not only us but also our kids in the conversations. They were fun people. We liked them.
We enjoyed our time with them and went home that night happy to have met some new people, but we were still not convinced that we had found our community. I still had the idea in my mind that we were supposed to seek out people who were like us.
I emailed the church, asking for another group to try, emphasizing that we were looking for married people with kids. When I got my response, I had another recommendation for another group with the same description: single, twenty-something-professionals.
That’s when I realized that maybe God was trying to tell me something and that He was leading me to these people.
Setting aside those old ideas, that my friendships needed to be with people who were like me, my husband and I went back to that first group of people, to those people who were seemingly nothing like us.
We were part of that group for several years, forming friendships that deeply blessed our whole family. We enjoyed free babysitting (they liked our kids), we got to go to lots of weddings (most of them didn’t stay single), and we experienced spiritual growth through Holy Spirit led conversations (just because someone is young, doesn’t mean they aren’t wise). I’d like to think that we were able to bless them, too.
I was wrong about one thing. I had something very important in common with those people. We all loved Jesus. That was our common bond — and it was a strong one. It was enough.
The love of Jesus shone brightly through the lives of these new friends. It could rain all it wanted in Seattle. My soul no longer felt the gray gloom of loneliness. God answered my prayers for new friendships in a way that I never expected.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)