it’s been weeks since i’ve been on this blank page that holds the space i write these posts. it hasn’t been for lack of thoughts, but it has certainly been for lack of time. i am busy this year, which is exhausting. and i am grieving this year, which is exhausting. so i’m writing this from my evidence class because i didn’t do the reading last night (due in part to the busy and in part to the grief), and i have no idea what is going on anyway. and there’s this thing i’ve been wanting to write about for awhile now…
you see, the week before school started i did this thing. i did this thing, and it took a lot of courage for me to do. over the summer i felt God prompting me to switch churches. that’s a long story for another time, but i felt the prompting so i obeyed. but i didn’t want to just switch churches, i wanted to go all in. so i took a friend’s recommendation and joined her old bible study. and just like that her old bible study became my new bible study.
the thing is, this kind of thing would have taken courage for me in any season. i’m just not all that big on letting new people in. i’ve got a handful of very close friends, the kind of close friends that i will sort through with exceptional difficulty if ever comes a day i get married and need to pick some others to stand beside me at the altar. it took me years to really let most of those people in. now they are there, and i’d be fine just keeping things that way. but in this particular season, this kind of thing (joining a new bible study) took an immeasurable amount of courage because in this particular season it isn’t just about letting people in. it’s about letting people into my worst, not my best. i’d have to let them into my saddest days and my messiest days. and those days happen every day. so in this season, it’s about trusting that people will love me, even in this, because i need that love, especially in this.
now, i had a plan for my first week at this new bible study with this group of strangers. i knew they were going through a book, and i knew no one would expect me to contribute because i didn’t have said book. i could sit there silently, and just ease my way slowly into this new community. in fact, i considered how many weeks i could really go without ever saying anything at all. i had a plan that first night, and God, He had another one.
because as we finished dinner that first week, it came to my attention that the general discussion about the book was getting postponed. the next thing i knew i was in a circle full of women i didn’t know, and it was time to share about how we were doing and some prayer requests.
i thought to myself, “self, this cannot be happening.” my thoughts went spinning round and round in the same way that the turns were going in our circle. it was getting closer to me and i had a decision to make: do i share about mom? because my mom passed away about three weeks before this bible study, and it’s not really the kind of thing you bring up when you meet someone for the first time. but how was i supposed to honestly share about how i was doing without bringing her up? and how was i supposed to ask these new friends to pray for me without bringing her up? i mean, i didn’t even know what i needed prayer for at that point, and i was having to trust them for that.
so i brought her up. i brought her up because i felt confident that God led me to this group. and i brought her up because i felt that God led me to this group for a purpose. and it was after i shared about mom that it happened. this thing happened and whenever i tell people about my first time in this new bible study i always, always tell this part.
i shared about mom and then i spent what felt like an eternity going from looking at the ground in front of me to looking around at all these new faces looking back at me. and one woman sitting across from me in the circle said this thing, and this thing kind of took me by surprise.
i don’t even know you, but i want to walk through this season with you.
didn’t i need courage to do this kind of thing because of how hard it was to let people into this season? but this woman wanted to walk into this season with me. and when she said that i knew i was right about God leading me to this group for a purpose. and when she said that i knew we would be friends.
one week later that same woman shared about a blog she writes. and i found myself sharing about this blog. and, for an undisclosed reason, for the first time since my mom died i laughed and it didn’t hurt to do so. i laughed until i cried, and i didn’t cry about it. it was then that i had a pretty good feeling that this new friend was particularly placed on my path to healing. so we talked about getting together to write. and i think, because it was so early in our relationship, that we were both kind of joking about it because we couldn’t tell if the other person was really serious about it. the thing is, i think we both really wanted to get together to write. or maybe we just wanted to get together.
we haven’t gotten together yet, but i’ve been learning all about her from her blog.
the week after that she told me she had been thinking about our friendship. she had been thinking about our friendship and she had been thinking that it might be kind of fun to email each other. and with that, she hesitated. she hesitated because she felt like maybe she was being too forward. the thing is, she just didn’t realize how desperately i needed someone to be so forward.
the following sunday she sat in front of me at church. she noticed i was sitting alone, and she offered for me to sit with her and her family. well, i was only sitting alone for a few minutes while some other friends were on their way to fill the seats next to me, so i didn’t take her up on that offer. i didn’t need to sit next to her then, but i would need her by the end of the day. because there’s this other thing that i need to do that is also going to take a lot of courage. and although i’m not ready to write about it yet, i really needed her advice about it.
i don’t even know her and i found myself flipping through the contacts in my phone in search of her. i texted her and we arranged a phone call for the next day. and one of the final things she said to me via text that night was thanks for trusting me enough to ask for my feedback.
she doesn’t know it, but there she was making another statement that really took me by surprise. it really took me by surprise because i felt like she knew me in that moment. i felt like she knew me because the people who really know me know that i have a really hard time trusting people.
well, we talked on the phone the next day, and i was on the verge of tears through the entire conversation. in the beginning of the conversation i was on the verge of tears because we were talking about a personal thing, and it’s the kind of personal thing i’m really, really sensitive about right now. in fact, the thought of it could about bring me to tears right here in my evidence class. but by the end of the conversation i was on the verge of tears because i felt so overwhelmingly loved and cared for. i felt so overwhelming loved and cared for because she talked about how she wanted to get together. she talked about how she wanted to get together, not because she felt obligated to, but because she wanted to. she talked about how strange it is to meet someone who is walking through the kind of thing i am walking through.
i feel like i would miss out on knowing you if i didn’t get to know you in this.
and i don’t want to miss out on knowing you.
i think highly of friendship. relationship matters to me maybe more than it matters to most people. and i spent a lot of time learning last year what it looks like to be a good friend when it costs you something. and now i’ve got this new friend who is willing to pay the costly price of pursuing friendship with me in this season.
and the gratitude is endless.
it means everything to me in this season to have someone pursue me. it means everything to me in this season because in this season, more than any other season, it feels very much like God has left me. i know He hasn’t, but i am talking about feelings. so yes, it feels very much like God has left me. and yet i know that this new friend and her pursuit of me is God reminding me that He hasn’t left me after all. He hasn’t left me and He isn’t going to. the truth is, feelings aside, He is pursuing me, too.
today’s margin note: if you are walking in darkness, let people in. let people in and trust that God just might let them bring light to your darkness. and if you know someone who is walking in darkness, be willing to pay the price of pursuing friendship with them, even in that, especially in that.