I've gone through many friendship changes in my life, both challenging and rewarding. I had girlfriends growing up and in high school, but I don't see most of them at this stage in my life and our contact is sporadic. I talk to my best friend several times a week, but we don't get to have much face time. We do the best we can with children and careers and an hour's drive between us, but I miss her. I had many great friends in college, some whom I still talk to regularly and some I havent heard from in years. Earlier in my marriage, I was a part of a wonderful women's group at our church who really mentored me as a young woman. I learned so much about life and marriage and children and they held me together during a really dark battle with infertility. As much as we needed each other at that moment in time, families moved and jobs changed and I found myself without that support system that I craved. I really struggled with the ebb and flow of friendships in my life for along time and couldn't understand why I wasn't making life-long connections with the women in my life.
My mom is a classroom aide at the elementary school in the town where I live. She has worked there since I was in middle school and I've had the opportunity to know many of the teachers and staff members there. The in-home care where my little girls stayed was primarily for teachers' kids and I continued to befriend them as we did birthday parties and afterschool ice cream adventures. Two summers ago, one of those teachers invited me to a Bible study there were starting on Wednesday evenings over the summer. Kamin & I were the only two non-teachers at the time, but we were so thrilled for a place to plug in. We met in a local coffee house for several hours, once a week and really began to know each other. These were other woman struggling with marriages and motherhood, trying to figure out how to balance life and careers and really searching for how God wanted to strengthen their relationships with him. We all had a heart for service and wanted to make a change in the community where we lived and worked.
Even though the group has been a constant presence in my life for more than two years now, the girls still tend to ebb and flow. We have a few who are a constant presence, but we welcome new members and bid farewell to others as lives grow and change. Wev'e studied countless theological books together, read through the New Testament and learned for ourselves who Jesus really is. We've been to mom conferences and speaking engagements. We've developed service projects, made donations to those in need in our community and collected countless dollars for charities we believe in. Y'all, we have church.
Many times we get together and it isn't so Bible-centric. We have dinner together and let our children play and go on beach trips like the one this past weekend. These girls are such a huge part of my life and it's hard to imagine that newlywed girl longing for friendship. We are really living life together and they are such a necessary part of my day. I know I can call them or send a Facebook message or an after-midnight text if I really need to talk or pray or cry. They give great advice and make me laugh almost as hard as Josh can. I know there might be a day when this group doesn't work for us any more and it will be such a bittersweet moment. Today, though, I'm enjoying the ebb and flow.
Are you involved in a small group outside of your regular church fellowship? I really encourage you to invite a few friends to spend time with on a regular basis and see how much your relationships with each other grow. How the time spent struggling through life together will impact the relationship you have with your Heavenly Father. The connections I've made in this small group have changed my life and the lives of my children in ways we can't possibly understand this side of heaven.