“So when we meet as strangers, when even friends look like strangers, it is good to remember that we need each other greatly you and I, more than much of the time we dare to imagine, more than much of the time we dare to admit.”
~ Frederick Buechner ~
If you haven’t read Pt. I of this mini-series, I recommend following this link to :: Unexpected Friendships :: Pt. I so you can get the rest of the story 🙂
We left off in February 2017 when the Tabby of 4 years ago cried herself to sleep rather frequently in her last term of college. (mmkay, I’ll stop that, no one likes when you refer to yourself in the 3rd person 😂🙈)
All praise to the King, I made it through my Senior Year of college & graduated. Through a series of lovely events, the Most High allowed me to continue on to Grad School. I was able to work a job on campus that is still one of the best things that has ever happened to me (see the series on my blog entitled The Office Shenanigans for more info).
& something began to happen.
Christ grew me, matured me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, & taught me that strangers can become friends if only we’re willing to step outside of ourselves & trust Him.
He taught me that simple acts of kindness & love can often go a longer way than we could ever imagine.
Those 2 years of Grad School were the best years of college career. During the day, I’d work in a cozy office space with some of the quirkiest, lovely humans I’ve had the pleasure of knowing & at night, I’d walk across campus to laugh & sit in class with my fellow Graduate students who wormed their way into my heart.
We spent 2 years with one another, taking the same classes, dealing with the same frustrations & triumphs, & it forged a bond, however temporary.
So between the lovely humans from The Office & the lovely humans from my Grad classes, I slowly began to realize a comforting truth: friends don’t always have to be Kindred Spirits.
Sometimes, friends can be people you come to love & appreciate even though you have precious little in common when it comes to salvation & Christ (though your deeper friends should always be fellow believers in Christ).
In the friendships I made, the Most High began to heal my wounded & lonely heart.
He grew me out of my native introversion to the point that many people now suspect me of being extroverted haha I assure you, I am a hard-core introvert & I need quite a bit of time alone to recharge my social batteries after extended time socializing (but that too, is a story for another time).
But now, I go out of my way to talk to others, to make my fellow Image-Bearers feel their native dignity as much as I can. I still have a long ways to grow in this but I’m thankful I’m not where I was even in Grad School.
& that’s the faithfulness of our Saviour:
He takes us further than we ever thought we could go.
& so we come to one of the best things that happened in 2020 for me. Something I still marvel over nearly a year later:
the way the Most High continues to turn strangers into friends.
At my dear church, the number of young adults fluctuates. For a while, there weren’t many of us. Most of us were teenagers and then the ones that were older moved away to college or got married.
& even after that, when the teenagers became young adults, we never really exchanged more than a wave & the superficial “how are you?”; you know, the one where you’re asking, yeah, but you don’t really expect the person to give you a straight or deep answer & you’re kinda maybe sorta hoping that they don’t. (am I too cynical here? I dunno, probably 🙈)
Time passed & our young adult number grew pretty hefty but we still weren’t really friends; just acquaintances.
Until the virus. It brought a real great blessing with it & I know my friends at church are just as thankful for it as I am.
Darius bought a new apartment in August 2020 & he wanted to have a house-warming party. So he went round after church one Sunday morning asking if a few of us wanted to come. & good on Darius for taking that leap to start the ball rolling;
by the grace of the Most High, it blossomed into something life-giving.
A la the virus restrictions, only about 12-ish of us were able to make it but we had a smashing good time. We laughed till tears streamed down our cheeks, sang hymns with Darius’ guitar, played riotous games & enjoyed ourselves so thoroughly that Akron invited us all to his apartment a week later, partially to celebrate his birthday & partially to just hang out again, this time with tacos.
That night at Akron’s apartment, the Motley Crew was born, & ever since then, we’ve been planning shindigs, sending strange messages in our group chat, adding people to the fold, & actually talking with each other when we cross paths at church; not just the casual “hi, how are you?”.
& it’s been so good. So.good.
We’ve wondered why we’d taken so long to come together. And then it hit a few of us in October in a minivan on our way back from a lil trip to the store:
it had taken Quarantine and loneliness for us all to realize the importance of community and friendship.
& so I’ve sort of come full circle; back to the beginning of Pt. I.
The Most High uses loneliness to make as appreciate friendship.
He uses times of darkness to make us appreciate the light.
Sometimes He’s got to bring us to our knees so we can see things more clearly.
& then we rise.
We rise with the Truth He’s taught us & we go out wiser, stronger, & able to better share His Truth with others.
So, lovely humans, if you’re lonely, if you’ve gone years without friends; look around you. See the people Christ’s placed in your church community with fresh eyes.
I guess sometimes we can get jaded & cynical. Once you’ve grown up in a particular church community, you see people’s sins & they themselves look frustratingly ordinary to you.
& you yearn for something different.
For people somewhere who just “get” you.
But there’s a curious truth:
when we begin to lose our pride,
when we begin to dig our hands deeply into the Life before us even if it’s not quite what we wanted,
Christ, by His Spirit, changes our desires & clears our vision.
We see that there’s work to be done wherever we are & it’s a beautiful work.
Perhaps the people in your church aren’t the ones you would’ve chosen to make friends with. Like the private Christian school I attended, perhaps you’ve got to learn how to get on with those around you simply ’cause you’re with each other nearly 24/7.
& perhaps that’s your answer to prayer.
Perhaps these are the raw materials Christ has set before you, souls you can pour into & who can pour into you.
It’s hard work, yeah, ’cause we’re quirky & stubborn & different & sometimes clash.
But love bears all things, endures all things, & never fails.
It’s something more splendid than mere feeling.
It’s action & hope & perseverance & I can tell you that it’s more than worth it.
& for those who look around & see only empty space, pray.
Pray to the Most High to send you godly brothers & sisters in Christ & He will answer that prayer.
He’s answered it for me & for the young adults at my church, one of whom had literally prayed that prayer a week before Darius invited us all over for his apartment-warming party 🙂
& He’s answered it for quite a few other lovely humans I know.
In addition to the young adults at my church, the Most High has also blessed me with the loveliest group of fellow Christian young women I’ve met through Instagram. There’s about 8 of us & we constantly encourage each other through the week, sending prayer requests, thanksgivings, book & song recommendations, photos of things that make us thankful, & videos where we can actually hear each other’s voices & see each other’s faces.
& it’s not as ideal as in-person friendships but you better believe it’s an incredible blessing.
Oh there’s loads more I could say.
About bookstagram & my PA family & Erulisse & Charlotta
& how the Most High brought Charlotta especially into my life when I wasn’t even hunting for a Kindred Spirit 2 years ago & the immense blessing she has been to my soul.
But alas, this post will ramble onward to infinity if I don’t reign it in 🙈
In the midst of our loneliness,
even in the midst of our friendships,
may we remember that Christ is the greatest Friend of all 🖤
“Jesus! what a Help in sorrow! While the billows o’er me roll, even when my heart is breaking, He, my Comfort, helps my soul. Hallelujah! what a Saviour! Hallelujah! what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.”
~ J. Wilbur Chapman ~
“What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Do thy friends despise forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.”
~ Joseph M. Scriven ~
“Thank You, O God, that we do not walk this road alone, but that this journey toward eternity…has been, from the beginning, one that You ordained we should undertake in the glad and good company of our fellow pilgrims.
O Lord, make us ever mindful of one another unto the end that we would labour in the days to come as those who would tend and encourage the stories of those around us by prayer and friendship and thoughtfulness and conversation.
It is no accident that we were born in the same epoch, and that our stories have twined in this time and in this place. Let us therefore go forth and steward one another’s stories.”
~ Douglas McKelvey ~
:: A Liturgy For Leavings ::
:: we’re in a War, my friends, & we all need Courage on the Front Lines ::