And I know people say we aren't supposed to use the word "blessed" anymore...because they think it makes it sound like we are better than other people...or like God is blessing us more than other people who maybe DIDN'T get to live in one place for 15 years. I get it. But it was a blessing. Just like having to move away from that place...to a new place...where our two younger kids had to go to a new school, find new friends, etc. That was also a blessing. It was just a different kind of blessing.
I think the problem comes when we associate the word "blessing" with only what we perceive to be the "good" things in life.
After growing up as an Air Force brat, and moving 16 times before I graduated high school, I thought it was a blessing to live in one place for that long.
Four years after we married, we made our first move. We left our small college town, and moved to the big city of Little Rock, Arkansas. It was there that we started our family. Even tho we were only there for 5 years, God allowed us to make some precious, precious friendships...friends we still have to this day. Making friends back then was easy, because we had the common bonds of faith, family, and all things involved with having kids and trying to figure out how to raise them to love Jesus.
These days, we are most likely to see these friends at weddings...or funerals...and when we do, we pick up where we left off. We are concerned for one another, and interested in each others' lives. We pray for each other, and for our children...and we have each others' backs.
After 5 years, we moved again...and, not gonna lie...it was a long 2 years in that place. But even there...God provided friendships, and opportunities to connect with others.
And then we moved to the place we lived for 15 years. My older kids would call this their "home town."
But, after 15 years, we had to move again. My first priority, as a mom, was to make sure that my two younger children were okay. They started new schools, and we found a new church. Honestly, this new town really embraced us, and that was so nice. I made some really sweet friendships during our time there. Our 3rd child graduated from high school there...and he met the girl who would be his wife there...and that was a huge blessing for all of us.
Five years later, we had to move...again.
During the last two moves, the hardest part, for me, was finding my people...making new friends.
So here's some of what I've learned. I hope I can articulate it in the right way: you can't move on with new friendships, if you are comparing them to your friendships from the past.
Does that make sense?
The friends we made when we lived in our "home"town of 15 years? Those roots grew deep. So, when we moved, and when we moved again the time after that, I was looking for these types of friends.
And I never found them.
Well, one reason is because we are in a different stage of life.
We no longer have the bond of AWANA and Children's Choir and Mother's Day Out and sports programs and school.
Also, I am not out in the work-place. I am home with Joshua. I spend my days teaching life-skills and answering some of the same questions as the day before...talking a lot about the weather, and running him around to his various activities.
And I am happy to do it.
It just that my life kind of isolates me from people my own age, and I have to work harder to make and find those connections. Most of the people we know who are around our age, are free to hang out and go at a moment's notice. We cannot. Our situation is different and unique, because we have a FRED. Not complaining at all. It's just different.
When we first moved here, someone at church told us, "people say it takes about 7 years to feel a part of things here."
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
We might not even be living here in 7 years.
I might be dead in 7 years.
Actually, I have just a little over 2 years until I am the age my mom was when she died. Every birthday, Joshua tells me, "uhhh...only 5 more years until you're the age when Nammaw died..." The next year: "only 4 more years until you're the age when Nammaw died..."
So, I was a little bit frustrated at the hoops I thought I had to jump through...in order to make friends here. And, on top of that, it was going to take SEVEN YEARS?
One of the main reasons for my frustration came when I tried to force or create friendships myself.
As the "new" person, it's hard to know what to do. I feel like the "established" people, the "home crowd," so to speak...should be the ones reaching out to the "new" people. They should be inviting them, connecting with them, connecting them to others, checking on them. The new people bear some responsibility...they have to want to engage, and they have to make an effort.
But they should not have to make ALL the effort.
So, instead of thinking God might have me in this season for a reason...I decided to take matters into my own hands. I tried to befriend the ones I felt I had the most in common with, like...if our kids were the same age, or if we had similar personalities, or if we were around the same age/stage in life, or if I thought they were "fun" people.
And, guess what?
It didn't work.
And I was left wondering, "is it me?"
God was bringing people into my life...don't get me wrong. But it wasn't the people I had been looking for. It was older people, younger people, very different-from-me people...people in need. Not really the meet-for-coffee, go-to-lunch, walk-the-neighborhood, share and laugh and cry and pray friends I was looking for.
What the heck, God?
It's tough to feel like you're not enough. Not good enough, pretty enough, confident enough, well-spoken enough, connected enough, popular enough...EVEN IN THE CHURCH COMMUNITY.
What are we, in high school?
But this is the game that satan plays with our minds...even as Christians: "They don't like you...you'll never fit in...they are probably talking about you."
And, even tho I knew better, and I know better, I still allowed those thoughts to creep in...and they affected the way I saw myself. And the way I saw others.
The Bible has PLENTY to say about our worth and our role IN CHRIST, and it is the first place we should always turn. But, when I read the book, "UNINVITED" by Lysa Terkhurst...these words of hers washed over my heart: "live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won't find yourself begging others for scraps of love."
"...begging others for scraps of love..."
Once I stopped trying to do things MY WAY, I was able to see that the people God was bringing into my life? They were there for a reason. Some were meant to be friends, and they are my friends. Others were meant to encourage me, or challenge me. Others need me to minister to them in one way or another.
If you are in a season like this, I would suggest that you do your part to stay involved and connected. Pray and seek God, and just see where He takes you.
You are loved. Jesus loves you. Your family loves you. You have friends who love you. Why isn't that enough?
It IS enough.
You don't have to beg others for scraps of love.
"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8