Faith reflections: Finding your people

by Laura Morrison

 
When family is at a distance (either emotionally or physically), it’s imperative to find friends who understand you to your core.

 
I’ll be moving across the country soon, from Washington state to Ohio. There, I’ll be new. I’ll be the one who doesn’t belong. But slowly, as time goes on, I hope to become part of the community–and to find my people. Of course, that won’t be easy. In some ways it will be painful. But making these connections is not only valuable, it’s necessary.

I’ve been the new person before, having moved from California to Iowa to the east side of Washington state (where Seattle is not) knowing no more than one person in the new place before moving.

I’ve had to put myself out there, not only to find acquaintances, people you know only on a surface level, but to find true friends. These are the people who understand your motivations and feelings–and they still like you. They are your people, and theirs is a role that cannot be filled by your significant other or your best friend or your cat or your family–especially if you’re not close to your family, whether physically or emotionally.

Jesus teaches about friendship and love often, but loyal friendship is also presented in the Old Testament:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had com upon him, each of them set out from his home – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. (Job 2:11)

Now if you’ve read the book of Job, you know that the lead character has lost everything dear to him. He is completely and utterly desolate when his bros show up to sit with him and listen to his tale of woe.

They’re there to support him, but they also challenge him as together they wrestle with the big questions of faith and God. This is real friendship. The hard stuff. The good stuff.

It’s what we all need in our relationships.

So how can women who are coming into a new place find “their people”? Through years of packing up and moving and doing it all over again, here’s what I’ve learned.

Say “yes,” again and again
It’s simple. When someone invites you to do something, you say “yes.” Even if that thing is volleyball and you’re terrible at sports. Even if that thing is karaoke and you don’t sing. This doesn’t matter. Show up because you don’t know who may be there – maybe a new friend or maybe not. Either way, you explored a new possibility.

Join a group
Look at the events page on any local newspaper website to find groups for anything from Moms Who Motorcycle to Knitting Circle. Making new friends as an adult isn’t always natural, but chances are that in groups like these, you won’t be the only one looking to meet new people.

Find a church
The Quakers call themselves the Religious Society of Friends. I’ve always loved that. It seems to me that every church should be a society of friends. Obviously, you won’t be bosom buddies with everyone you meet at church, but through a shared faith in God, it’s easier to find people who understand you. Getting into a small group Bible study, like a Café group, can also lead to important connections. To have a place to talk about Jesus and what it means to be a follower today cannot be underestimated.

Prepare for the next move
“Jump,” “Leap,” “Have faith,” they tell us. But the unknown is always scary. Prayer can also help you during a new transition to a new home.

My grandmother, now in her 80s, has had to move often thanks to her father’s and later her husband’s work. Each time was hard, but she would pack up and go when the time came. Because of this, she has friends all over the country. She calls many of them weekly and still writes handwritten letters. Our sense of place and worth isn’t only wrapped up in the place we live, she taught me. It’s about finding an authentic community of friends, even if they don’t live nearby.

Remember what it’s like to be new
The thing about being in one place for a while is that you eventually forget what it’s like to be the new person. There are always new people moving in. They feel the exact same way you did. They are you. Make them feel welcome. Give them practical advice, like where the best farmer’s market is. Tell them where to meet people. Tell them they’re not alone. You can’t promise love or even best friends, but you can promise they’ll find support.

Now, once again, I’m moving. But this time I won’t be so alone–I’ll be moving with my new husband into a new apartment and a new job. This is absolutely amazing–and terrifying! But I’ll have my husband’s family nearby and some of his friends. What a blessing. And I look forward to finding my people too. The journey will be well worthwhile.

Closing prayer:
God, I’m here once again to cry out to you. Through all of the stress and the worry of daily life, you are there, always. Listening. Help me to recognize you in the beauty of your world, and the beauty of your people. Lead me to make strong and lasting relationships built on honesty and laughter and your word. Bless the friendships and connections I have now, and bless the ones to come. Be with those who feel lonely. Help them to realize that loneliness is never the truth. Love is stronger. You are stronger. Your timeline is never the same as our own. Blessed be your name. Amen.

Discussion questions:
1. Do you think of your friends as like your family? If not, would you like to?

2. How can we be more approachable and welcoming of others who may be new?

3.What are some ways you can better cherish and enhance the friendships you have? What makes you feel most part of a group?

Laura Morrison, a journalist, is moving to Cleveland, Ohio. She wants people to know that she’ll always be a Seattle Mariners fan.

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