Two and a half years ago, my husband and I (newlyweds) moved to a part of the country and a city where neither one of us had ever lived. We came to a position in ministry and left behind all our previous connections. Now our families live a plane-ride away and our friends, while scattered across the country, aren’t scattered nearby. Our nearest friends live a four-hour drive from here. We’ve had to start fresh while navigating the first two years of full-time ministry; it’s not uncommon, but it’s also not easy. This place is unfamiliar territory, with all the thrills and risks that entails. We came here armed with advice that ministry is lonely, that there will be few people you can open yourself to, and that it’s wiser to keep a distance until you’ve worked out who people really are and what they want from you. We ignored that advice sometimes because we so much missed having people to talk to, in fact, because there were times when we really needed to talk. As a result we’ve both gained a few relationships that we can count on, and also been incredibly disappointed when it turned out that we said too much to someone without really knowing them well enough.
So, after two and half years, I’m finally realizing two things:
1. The friends we’ve made here are priceless, and we should thank God for them.
2. It’s time to make the effort to re-connect with those who know us best and know us from before.
Over the past week (a lonely one because I stayed home while my husband went on a trip) I’ve talked almost every day with a good old friend. I’ve been free to cry, to pray, to laugh, and to say what I needed to say. I’ve been honest. And I’ve heard their honest stories too. It’s left me thankful for the people God has put in my life all along the journey–not just our friends from the here and now. It’s helped me realize that it’s always going to be worth the challenge to connect with our far-away families and friends because they love us in a different way than those we know in our present place of work and ministry. They can support us in a different way also.
Friendship is a gift from God and I’m so grateful as I write this for all the friends who’ve walked beside us for a little while, and who now walk with us via phone, Skype, text and email (even Facebook sometimes). We long to see your faces and sit beside you in person. We’ll pray for you and we know that you’re praying for us. You celebrate with us in our successes and joys and you lift us out of our failures, because truly, (in the words of that classic movie) “No one is a failure who has friends.“
We love you.