3 Things to Remember
The other day, I had plans to meet with a friend. We meet weekly, going over a chapter of whatever book we are currently reading together. We’ve been trying to get through this particular book for a few months, and it took us a year to get through the one before that. It says nothing about the books or authors we are reading but more about our lives.
We both grew our family last year and experienced several other changes. We pass each other in the school parking lot as we battle school drop-offs and pick-ups, but when it comes to finding time to get together, we wave our white flags as we surrender to the season we are in.
Years ago, our family had moved to a new state, and after living there for about nine months, I hoped to grow deeper friendships with the acquaintances I made there. I decided to have my husband take the kids out of the house for the evening and host a girl’s night. I invited about twenty women and made enough appetizers to feed a small army or, at least, a handful of teen boys. I was so upset when only three ladies showed up.
As a military spouse, I’ve had extra practice in finding friends and cultivating community, but it still doesn’t come easy. When you’re younger, you worry about making friends, and when you’re older, you struggle to maintain friendships. Like anything else in life, friendships and community look different depending on our season, but over the years, I’ve learned a few things.
3 Things to Remember About Friendships and Community
- It might look different than expected.
My friend has a mentor in her life, someone just a little further along who speaks truth over her, uplifts her, listens and shares her wisdom. One day, I told my friend I wished I had a mentor, and she reminded me I had one – the women’s ministry director at my church. I mentioned her often. She would invite me over for lunch, love on my kids, check in through text and send scripture when I needed it. But because I never asked her to be my mentor, I didn’t even realize she was one!
We have ideals about how friendship and community will or should look. We might even desire for a relationship or friend God has already placed in our lives to serve in that role. I had never officially asked this woman to be my mentor, but it’s exactly what she was.
Don’t discount something because it looks different than you expected.
2. Change is okay.
While I’ve experienced a lot of change in friendships because of military life, much of it has occured outside of it too. My husband is currently in a military role that no longer requires us to move, but I’ve faced just as much change within my friendships here.
When we first moved here our oldest wasn’t quite yet a teen, and now we have a couple of teenagers and our family has grown. Because our season of life looks different, our friendships do too.
At first this shift felt like tension for me, and I worried the people we did life with felt it too. The truth is change is inevitable. We feel this within the relationships in our homes, and outside their walls too. Sometimes what we need out of our friendships change, one season it might be a listening ear and the next, someone who relates to what you’re walking through.
3. Community is ultimately where He is.
Community doesn’t always equal a crowd. I think about that night I was disappointed about how few women showed up at my house. After they left, I headed to the kitchen to spread some untouched feta dip on a baguette and remembered John 6:35. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (ESV).
I was hurt over the night’s outcome, but also disappointed in myself. I ached to put into practice a life where the relationships around me weren’t more important than the giver of relationships. I wanted to embrace an outlook of being blessed by the three who showed up, who I was able to fellowship with.
Community can be beautiful, and I believe God created us relational beings, to walk through life with others as He walks with us. Community can’t compensate for a communion with God.
Community is coming to the bread of life, resting in Him, then going out and sharing His offering with others.
Maybe being intentional in your relationships this week looks like noticing the people God has already placed in your life. Or perhaps it means accepting a particular friendship has changed because of your current season and giving yourself grace. Remember, our hunger for community shouldn’t be more substantial than the bread of life Himself.
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com.