When we moved to our current town we knew no one. It didn’t matter much; my husband and I were both working full-time and in the process of selling one house and buying another, and I was well into pregnancy. Life was busy, and we worked at building our life block by block.
Eventually all the pieces fell into place and we put down roots. We found doctors and mechanics and favorite restaurants, spent a lot of time working on the house, shook hands with neighbors before asking them to help us move furniture, and socialized with my husband’s work colleagues. As a new mom who worked from home I spent my days wrangling a baby while trying to work during naptime.
I don’t remember being lonely. We were busy enjoying the little life we had made.
Eventually life found its groove, that hum that comes from doing something for enough time that things just fall into line as you go along. We decided to find a church. We weren’t church-goers during that time, opting in only for major holidays – it wasn’t a priority. But we each had grown up going to church and something told us that our kids needed to, too. Plus, church was a great place to meet people and make friends.
As we church-shopped and found our home, we started looking into faces of the people around us. This was our new family, the people we would be spending this part of our lives with. We didn’t have family members close by; we needed to connect with the people right here.
An ad in the bulletin and a stint in the nursery one Sunday morning led me to a mom’s ministry meeting around the time that I discovered days and nights with a baby and work-logged husband were more than I could handle. I needed a break. I needed out. I needed girlfriends.
And I found them.
We shared so much around the table during those monthly meetings: from tips on how to get babies to sleep all night and potty training ideas and the best parks to take your children to relationship issues with spouses and parents and everything in between. We shared more during those meetings than I had in years with other women. The floodgates opened and each month we unloaded our hearts over cups of lemonade and pans of brownies. There were stories and tears and so much laughter.
Over time I practically ran out the door of our house to sit at that table.
Some relationships blossom and others fade; I am fortunate to maintain a few strong ones that began during those meetings. I am immensely grateful for them; they have become my family, aunts and uncles to my kids, people we spend birthdays and holidays and vacations with.
I am just as grateful for the acquaintances I made during that time. No longer together during monthly meetings, we still pass each other in church and in the community and smile; I remember the faces in the crowd as the faces around that table. They are older and wiser, maybe not as needing of the shared time now as much as then. Maybe they have gone off to nurture their own strong bonds with each other.
Those connections were vital to me, to our family, to our life. I learned so much about motherhood during that time, but also marriage and being a daughter, sister, friend, and Christian. I learned from these other women how to grow in my faith and as a person in general. I found God, and myself, in those meetings.
When people ask when God has helped you through a rough part of life, I think of how he put these women in my life at this particular time. When I needed to learn about being a mom, wife, friend, and Christian, he put these women right in my path. More than that, he put the desire in my heart for their company. Just at the moment when I needed friends, he provided them.
Friendships are mysterious relationships; we never know who will be in our lives for the long haul upon first meeting. We can connect with others on a deep level quickly, but that initial spark might be a flame that burns fast and dies down just as quickly. These relationships are no less important to God – after all, he gave them to us just as he gave us our greatest relationship with Jesus. Knowing this, those past relationships are not any less important to me, either. I still love those women with whom I might not be as close with; they occupy a space in my heart that God made just for them. They were with me during a great growing part of my life.
For all of these friends, I am grateful.