Listening to: Carrie Underwood – How Great Thou Art
As I was growing up, I rarely identified with people my age. I was always looking to the future, to this longing that I had, but could never put my finger on. That longing made me different, it made me think of my teenage friendships as fleeting, not something that I should hold on to. I felt as if I viewed life differently than all of my peers… I always felt ahead of them somehow. These feelings made me feel like I never quite fit in.
I can’t say that this is truth, but I can confidently suspect that God was present even in those years of unbelief—at work in my life, stirring up my heart to yearn for something greater than I whatever it was that I presently settled in—stirring up my heart to not quite fit in.
Shortly after I married Luke, I lost touch with all of my friends from high school. When I got married, most of my friends were in school or figuring out what to go to school for, while I was marrying the love of my life and dreaming about children. I never quite fit in.
Shortly after having Isla, I realized that I needed some friends. The church we were attending was large and I felt unnoticed, even unwelcomed sometimes. It was hard to make meaningful connections and reaching out to women my age was hard. We attended that church for about six years and while we were blessed with meaningful relationships with our pastors, we never seemed to make really good friends. I never quite fit in.
One weekend we decided to try our current church—Renaissance. A friend had been attending for a year or two, and we were already attending bible studies at the church, so it seemed like the logical choice. That was the Sunday that changed everything.
For months, I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t quite fitting in. I was shy in approaching new women, and many women seemed to know each other so well that it seemed as if they didn’t need another friend. But God! In His good timing, God opened up my eyes to women who I could reach out to and He blessed me with a group of women who I would develop deep-rooted, meaningful, sisterly relationships with. These women support me, encourage me, listen to me, pray for me, babysit for me, visit with me, cook for me, cry with me, laugh with me and love on me—among so many other things.
Even though I was blessed with these relationships before we left on our journey, I still didn’t feel like I fit in. I was accepted and loved, but I doubted my value in my relationships. You see, because I thought of my first teenaged friendships as fleeting—it was hard for me to understand that others found value in my friendship. Only now, do I have a true perspective.
Since we left Brooklin in August, we’ve received several invites for weekend sleepovers from our brothers and sisters. We’ve only taken one family up on their offer, simply because it’s a familiar space and there are only two people living in the house—our pastor, John and his wife Janine.
We left my mother-in-law’s cottage 28 days ago, we’ve been in Brooklin for 14 of those days, taking over John and Janine’s basement (and Netflix). Each of those days has been filled, to overflowing, with visiting with friends, eating with friends and praying with friends. We’ve had the privilege of being a part of a family I didn’t fully understand the value of. From being invited to stay much longer than planned, to being treated just like another daughter, from being invited to take part as the only non-familial guest at a family dinner, to crying together and being encouraged by sisters at a women’s dinner… We’ve been on the receiving end of a John 13:35 kind of love. The love and relationship I have the privilege of experiencing while we live with them is beyond anything I could ever imagine. I quite fit in.
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—
when they see the love you have for each other.
We just returned from our second weekend with them and the only word I can ever utter as we drive away from Brooklin is… Overwhelming.
My heart is filled—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. God, the giver of good gifts, is abundantly blessing this once lonely heart with an entire church family full of love—redeeming what I didn’t even know was missing from my own life. I find myself buried under the weight of this practiced biblical love and I wonder…
How can this be just a small portion of what is to come?