34 Days of Favorites: New Friends

I love sturdy, old friendships that have stood the test of time.

But I have to say, I’m also totally loving new friendships right now. Having just moved a few months ago, new friendships are a new favorite we’ve been experiencing around here.

People find this hard to understand, because we moved back to the town we previously lived in for five years. But things have changed a lot since the last time this was home. We have some old friends here whom we love a lot, but we’re excited about new friendships, too.

Funny how I didn’t think much about that before we moved. I was very concerned about Anika’s social needs, wondering how she would adapt and make new friends, but I never considered my own needs.

Yet here I am, surprised by God’s goodness, over and over, as He sends people into our lives.

There are two women who have saved me since our move. Saved me, because I’d forgotten how life can feel a bit dumped upside down after moving.

And then they showed up, and now I can find my way again.

One of them is not technically a “new” friend – I knew her in college, and then we lost touch, and I hadn’t seen or heard from her in many years. But we connected again this last year, and now she brings all this richness into my life which blesses me and makes me feel like this place could be home.

She calls me up and asks if she can quickly drop something off for me, and then she spends a little bit of time sharing life with me.

I don’t think she really knows what she truly does for me, just by giving me the gift of spontaneous connection – by showing up at my door with little notice, the way I’m used to from all those years at camp.

And then there’s my sweet new friend whom I’ve written about here and here. She phones on a Saturday night, wondering if it’s too last minute to ask if we can go for coffee.

I’m so tired from the day, but suddenly I realize that a good long talk and a change of scenery is exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

She drops me off at the end of the evening, and we still stand talking in front of my dark house, my family all fast asleep already, and finally we have to cut ourselves off from so much to say, because we’ll carry on next time.

I didn’t know there was an emptiness that needed to be filled until these ladies started to fill it. I already have some wonderful friendships, and wasn’t really thinking I had a huge need to add to the collection.

But oh, do I ever! Because who could say no to such rich gifts!

So when Ben says a new family has moved down the street, my first thought is, “Thank goodness I made extra chocolate chip squares. We can bring some over tomorrow evening.” I was shown such warmth and welcome, it makes me want to pass it on.

But my very next thought is such a silly one: “Maybe that would be weird – they have so many neighbors right around them that are probably welcoming them here already, maybe they don’t need us to stop by, too.”

What, because they might make too many friends on this street? Or they’re not feeling as dumped out in a new life as we were? Because it’s possible to feel too welcomed to a new home??

 

Good grief, grab the squares and get over to their house! What if everyone were thinking the same thing? “Someone else will do it.”

Yes. Someone like me.

Because it’s all about people. And my life is so full and rich, with old and new, and I am thankful.

Now I have to ask – have you ever made a completely unexpected friendship? Are you having any current adventures in making new friends? Do share!!

(Read more about “34 Days of Favorites” here.)

Privacy Is Overrated

In our new back yard, we have a lovely row of trees.

I am often extremely thankful for that row of trees, because they are my little bit of nature – green, fresh, and beautiful, in this vast and barren land of New Development. We chose to build our house on this lot because of that very row of trees.

The other day someone asked me if we were enjoying our privacy, provided by those trees, and also because we don’t live at camp anymore, where almost all of life is shared, all the time.

I didn’t know how to answer that question about privacy. The old me would have said yes. But after five years of living in close community with people, I’m finding I don’t like privacy as much as I used to.

I have always loved my own space. I love having a schedule and a to-do list, and although I have always liked people, I would sometimes start to view them as an interruption to my perfect little plan.

It was hard for me to adjust to camp. There were always people around. We shared a duplex (and an entrance, and a laundry room) with another family, we shared a yard, we shared the majority of our meals with others.

People were forever wanting to get together to play games after all the kids were in bed. There was stuff going on almost every night. It wore me out. I thought it was good and healthy to say “no” to socializing all the time, and I still believe in creating space and margins for sanity.

But I went too far the other way. I said “no” too many times, and suddenly I found myself sitting in our quiet house, having backed into a perfect, isolated corner…and I was completely lonely and miserable.

I am so thankful for friends who kept making the effort, kept trying to share life on a regular basis. Now that we’ve moved, I find myself wishing I’d said “yes” a lot more often.

Now that we’re in Niverville, I hardly recognize myself, I’m so hungry for social opportunities. Look out, neighbors! If you’re new, and moving onto our street, we’re coming for you!

I still love that row of beautiful trees, because I need my nature. But I don’t need as much privacy as I used to.

In our culture, it seems as though we sit in our private homes with our private yards, and leave each other alone so everyone else can live their own busy, private lives. Someone at the door is a rare occurrence (while at camp, I couldn’t even count the number of times in a day when someone was at the door).

It’s easy to plan people right out of our lives. It’s easy to get so caught up in our own schedule, in our own comfort and desires. Community drags me away from my plans and my lists. Being close to others is sometimes the only way for me to always remember they are there.

A friend once told me that growing up in a large home made it very possible for everyone to retreat into their own little worlds.

Can’t get along with someone? Go hide in your own room where no one will get in your personal space.

Can’t agree on what to watch on TV? No problem – there are enough TVs to go around. Go watch whatever you want by yourself in the basement.

Can’t shower or use the bathroom whenever you want? Heaven forbid we should have to wait. Every home should have three bathrooms, at least, right?

I have tried to retreat to my own private place to avoid problems, but in the long run, it doesn’t work out very well.

At some point, I’ve always had to come out. And everything is still waiting there for me.

When we first moved to camp, there was a relationship I struggled with. I told Ben about it, and declared the solution – I needed more space from the person, before they drove me crazy. I needed to take a break from being around them all the time.

But Ben said, “No, you need to spend MORE time with them. You need to spend SO MUCH time with them, that you get past the annoyance, and learn how to truly love them.”

And you know what? It totally works. It’s very hard, but it does work.

Although we’ve moved into a three bedroom house almost twice the size of what we had at camp, I don’t want us to lose each other.

A small space keeps you connected. That’s why we’ve chosen to have our girls share a room. And it’s why we won’t be finishing out our basement any time soon, unless the number of people living in this house increases.

And close neighbors keep you from yourself! Now, when my sweet new friend down the street says, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry…” I smile and think to myself, “Oh, please do! Pry away.” I will try to embrace the discomfort that comes with losing my privacy, knowing that it brings growth, character development, and a connection to people.

I will continue to love that row of trees in our backyard, but I will also continue to hope for a yard full of neighbors and their loud children, and many knocks on the door. Keep me from my private corner. Remind me that life is meant to be shared and lived together.