May 14th marked one year that our family has had an address here in Suburbia, USA. I say it that way because after the big truck unloaded our furniture, the kids and I turned right around and went back to Small Town, USA to finish the school year. We lived in hotels and with friends and survived bronchitis and band concerts and living out of suitcases.
I think back to what the last year has brought and done for my family, and where our feet are pointed now.
There have been struggles and difficulties, as there always are in a relocation, particularly for teenagers. There have been victories and successes, as there always are when God is in it.
I still feel, to some degree, in that No Man's Land of between-ness.
There have been hard things that have pulled us back, physically, to Small Town to help grieve.
There have been hard things that have pulled us back, emotionally, to Small Town to wish we were there to help grieve and offer hugs.
There have been happy things that have pulled us back, physically, to Small Town to celebrate.
There have been happy things that have pulled us back, emotionally, to Small Town that we celebrate from afar, offering congratulations and enjoying photos.
Here, we are still tip-toeing toward acceptance and belonging. People are so very kind and gracious, but the reality is that true and real relationships take forging.
When my dear and wonderful Mark 2 friend leaned across a grimy table in the Taco Bueno in Small Town almost 10 years ago now, our children leap-frogging tables behind us, tears glistened in her eyes. "I am COMMITTED to your marriage making it!" she exclaimed. She had steel resolve where I did not as my marriage was barely able to be resuscitated.
"We'll get through this," said this woman I barely knew. "This is how friendships are made...."
She repeated the same thing less than a year later.
Another Mark 2 friend had found hard, hard news -- her son, her 6 year old with the bluest eyes any of us had ever seen, had a brain tumor. Get to BigCityHospital. Now.
We met at the airport to pray and see them off. Watching them walk out to the plane, Taco Bueno friend said it again:
"We're going to have to be there for her. But we will. This is how friendships are made..."
You know what I was thinking? "Can't we just meet together and play Monopoly? Have a Diet Coke?"
But the reality is no. She's right. Friendships are forged on the anvil of tears and tragedy, prayers and pain. Which is why she is still a dear friend today.
Here I have met and come to know people that I know will be forever friends. I know that there are forever friends yet to meet.
But as hard things have unfolded around us -- and they have -- I have not been witness to the history, the back story, or the forging. My heart is sad for the hurt surrounding the hard thing, but I am on the periphery.
And as celebrations have occurred I have enjoyed watching people rejoice together and celebrate, but I am unaware of the struggle that took place to get the butterfly in flight. I am still a little bit on the outside.
God is, of course, at work in our time here. Every day that we are here we begin to be a little more clear about why we were called here -- why God needed this to be our mission field. I know that God did not bring us here to work alone, either.
He continues to reveal to us people who will journey beside us, champion our children, and do mission work with us. I know that there are still things to learn about our purpose, call, and mission.
And I know that there are friendships to be forged.
And through it all, He will be there, for He is faithful.
"You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures." Psalm 16:11