Fellowship, My One Word, My Walk, Wisdom

(Kind of) Navigating Friendship

I firmly believe the LORD places people in our lives for a number of reasons. We may never understand what those particular reasons are, but as Faithful followers of Christ, we take it on Faith (or at least try really hard to). We trust the LORD, because we know He has it all figured out (Right?).

Since my word this year is Fellowship, I’ve been contemplating friendships: how they’re formed, how they’re nourished, and how they fade away. I’ve never been someone with a large group of friends. Even in school, I preferred the company of a single person to a crowd. This hasn’t changed in the years since I left the halls overcrowded with teenage angst, overlapping voices, and the slamming of lockers (and do I need to mention the overpowering smell of cologne and body spray?).

Making friends also isn’t what it used to be. I’m no longer forced into situations where friendships are made simply out of necessity. I am no longer trapped inside a building for eight hours a day, sharing experiences with the same people hour after hour, bonding over a shared desire to grow up.

No, now I am that grown-up. I’m voluntarily in a home all day long with my children, and when possible, my husband. I’m not sharing in misery, I’m sharing in love and a desire to grow together.

Without the forced interaction, making friends is hard. Friendship is no longer about shared boredom, but about responsibility. Being friends isn’t just about seeing someone during classes, at lunch, or in the hallways. Friendship as an adult requires effort. It requires a deeper bond, and the understanding that you may go long periods of time without seeing each other, because you’re adults with responsibilities that take you on different paths.

Several years back God introduced me to one of my nearest and dearest friends. It was completely by chance we ever met. I was in California and she was in Washington. We met through an online writer’s group, and we often joke about it being the only time online dating ever worked (Love you, Babe!). She now lives in Hawaii with her new husband (one of my few friends from high school), and her three children. I’m of course, back in the PNW. Though we see each other rarely, our relationship remains intact. Our lives have taken us in drastically different directions, and on paper we shouldn’t match up, but God knows what each of us needs. Without even realizing it, she helped me to acknowledge God and to understand He was calling me. I’ve never told her I feel she was placed in my life to help me be the person I am today, and I’d like to think the LORD has used me in her life as well.

As I grow and change each day, I look for new opportunities (and often have to force myself into them) to meet people who may change my life in some way. I keep my heart open so I don’t miss the subtle signs God gives me that may lead me to someone who will become one of those few friends I cherish.

Of course, even with God’s grace and love, these opportunities always scare me. The shy girl I thought I left in junior high wants to come back. I start questioning everything I say. Did I just sound really dumb? Man, I should have dressed differently. I don’t fit in here. I have nothing in common. I’m so new to being Christian, what if I say something that completely labels me as some kind of fraud?

Okay, so in some cases making friends as an adult brings you right back to those terribly awkward teenage years. Or, maybe that’s just me.

I’ve met some amazing people in the last year, and especially in the past three months. I still have moments of discomfort and shyness, but more often than not I look forward to seeing them and getting to know them. Most of the time when I’m with them I’m able to relax and not wonder if I’m going to say something that will make me the social pariah. I’m a work in progress.

What it really comes down to is I NEED to trust in the LORD. I NEED to trust His work in others the same as I trust His work in me. None of us are perfect, and it is possible some of them are as hesitant as I am when it comes to meeting people and letting them into the heart.

Until next time, may the LORD bring peace to your life,

Sare

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God's Beauty, My Walk, Uncategorized

God’s Garden

I view my relationship with God much the way I imagine the relationship between a gardener and their beautiful garden. I say imagine, because honestly most of my life I’ve had a black thumb and couldn’t keep a cactus alive. Recently though, I’ve managed to care for a bamboo plant and an aloe plant. Much to my joy and amazement they’re both thriving. I see these plants as a direct representation of my growth with the LORD. The more I grow and thrive, the more my plants seem to as well.

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Now, I’m assuming any good gardener would know something about pruning their flowers (I haven’t gotten to this stage with my own plants, and I probably should since the Aloe has multiplied and outgrown its home). As a glorious and blooming flower in God’s garden, I’ve been pruned on several occasions. Many of those times I didn’t even realize happened until much later. A few of them, however, were painful.

When I was in high school, I had my whole life planned out to the very last detail. There was no question in my mind about who I was, where I was going, and who I would be in the future.

Do I even need to say that God was in no way involved with these plans? No, I didn’t think so.

I joined the National Guard at seventeen with the intention of the U.S. government paying my way to a degree in Criminal Justice. I was going to be the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department, and I was going to make a difference in the world.

Fast forward a dozen or so years to this moment, and laugh with me.

Between the year 2000 and 2015 the LORD did some serious pruning to this little flower. Not only did the National Guard and I part ways early on, but so did my plans of being a homicide detective (let alone the youngest one). Not only did God cut away those plans, but he made a few more snips to dreams and experiences that at seventeen I hadn’t even thought of.

When I was in my early twenties my high school sweetheart and I divorced in a less than amicable fashion. Snip. Before I had time to truly come to grips with the knowledge that I had become a statistic, I was devastated by the loss of my son. Snip. This was a turning point in my life. A turning point that at the time looked like it was leading me down a dark and dangerous path. Snip. Snip.

People grieve in different ways. Some turn to God, some turn to counseling, and some turn to other more destructive means.

I was the latter.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Isaiah 30:15-18

Looking back at my choices brings me powerful guilt and shame. It makes me wonder how God could ever have forgiven me, or for that matter how those choices shaped me into the person I am today.

The answer is easy to know, but not always easy to accept.

God loves me (and each and every one of you). All those painful moments, those late nights, those heartaches, and bad choices; the destructive actions, the selfishness and bitterness, the hate and anger, and the reveling in sin and discord those were little bits of me that needed to be snipped away so I could grow into a healthy, happy, and God-honoring woman.

“How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!'” Isaiah 30:19-22

I’m not a homicide detective, the U.S. government didn’t pay for my degree (in fact I’m not quite finished with my Journalism degree yet, and it’s likely I’ll be paying it off until my children graduate college), I don’t live in Los Angeles, nor do I have any desire to EVER live there, unless that is where the LORD sends me; and if I’m making a difference in the world it is through the raising of my children to be good people who love the LORD and help those who need help.

Every day God continues to prune me. Each day I grow a little brighter, a little healthier, and a little stronger, because the LORD is snipping away the old parts to make room for new growth. I am a beautiful flower in the LORD’s garden, and I wouldn’t wish it any other way.

In what ways has God shaped you?

May the LORD bless you,

Sare