Monday, August 26, 2013

a kindred spirit.

When we were living in Chicago, I attended a women's retreat where Dee Brestin spoke on her book, The Friendships of Women.  Her comments on praying for godly friendships left an impression on me.  She said they moved around a lot for her husband's job, and as they were leaving for a new home, she would pray for a 'kindred spirit' in the new place they were headed.  [Extra credit if you can name that movie reference.]  She said He always answered the prayer - she had dear dear friends all over the country now.

Fast forward a few months and we're getting ready to move from Chicago to Nebraska with a year of marriage under our belts.
I just finished my first year teaching high school.
I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, and by the grace of God, I was leaving several dear friends.  A best friend I'd known since 5th grade, a 'kindred spirit' I co-mentored high school girls with, a few sweet girls from high school.  It was hard.

We moved in to our home in Lincoln the first week in August of 2011.  Just over 2 years ago.  We signed a 2 year lease.  Ben was starting a 5-year phd program in sociology.  [Things change.]  I was opening a piano studio out of our home.

Ben started not long after we moved in & we had one car.  I would often drop him off on campus in the morning & drive over to Holmes Lake- a small lake [pond?] with a path around it- to walk.  I remember feeling sad some mornings about not knowing anybody yet.  But one particular morning sticks out to me.  I was walking. It was unseasonably cool for a midwest morning in late August.  We had visited a church and felt 'blah' about it.  We were going to visit another one the following weekend.  And this particular morning, I noticed all the other people.  Walking in pairs. Or threes.  Walking with babies or dogs.  Talking, laughing, encouraging each other in a workout.  As I walked, silent tears started welling up in my eyes.  In my heart, I told the Lord I was sad.  He knew.  And he brought to mind Dee Brestin's words on praying for a friend.    

And so I prayed.  I prayed for a friend to walk around Holmes lake with so I wouldn't be the only one walking alone.
I prayed for a friend who would speak candidly & allow me to do the same.
I prayed for a friend who would be in a similar season of life as me.
I prayed for a friend who would be fun.
I prayed for a friend who would challenge me to grow in my faith. To step outside my comfort zone.
I prayed for a friend who loved Jesus.
I prayed for one friend - for a kindred spirit.

The next church we visited was Lincoln Berean, and we knew after 1 service, that it could be our home for our time in Lincoln.  They posted their small groups online, so we browsed to find a group of young married couples who met close to where we lived on a night that worked for us.  We emailed & they welcomed our visit.

So, off we went.  There were 5 couples when we arrived and they were chatting with one another, snacking on some dessert.  As they headed into the family room, they told us they weren't sitting with their spouses & asked us to guess who belonged to whom.  I think we got most of them right ;)

Anyway, the night went on and Ben and I were shocked at the openness and grace that filled the room. These people loved God.
These people weren't all from Nebraska [much to my surprise & contrary to my assumptions].
They were interesting.
They were open about their imperfections and spoke the truth in love to one another.
They were funny.
And they were normal.

We left with a peace that joining this small group would be the right thing to do.
The next day, before we had contacted them to say anything about wanting to join, I got an email from one of the gals we had met the night before.  She was the only one with a kiddo & she stayed home full time with him.  She emailed me saying that sometimes she went to Holmes Lake and walked and asked if I'd want to join her sometime.

As I read her email, tears streamed down my face. Happy silent tears this time.
I was so thankful.
I thought to myself - it worked. 
Little did I know what 'kindred spirits' we'd become.

Over the next two years, this gal and I became good friends. Great friends. Perhaps best friends.
She taught me a lot about being a good friend.
She asked good questions.
She remembered what I told her.
She'd let me try out a product she'd recently bought - even if it meant she didn't get to use it for a few days. Or she'd just give me an extra.
She cooked dinner for us weekly for several weeks after I had Addie. Even though she had just had a second baby too.
She answered all manner of new mommy questions at all hours of the day.
She challenged me spiritually.
I didn't have to be too nice. Or fake. I could be myself.
Our husbands became friends. [Anyone who is married knows how much of a blessing this is!]
We ended up being pregnant at the same time.
She was every.single.thing I asked for in prayer.

And she wasn't even the only one! We made many sweet friends in Lincoln.

They still live in Nebraska. We live in Massachusetts. I think we'll be lifelong friends though.
Kindred spirits, if you will.

And so here we are again.
We moved across the country - this time as a family of 3.
We don't know anyone here, but we are prayerful.  On the lookout for who God would have us befriend.

I do long for another dear friend here.  But my perspective is different now.  Less selfish, I suppose. t That sweet friend in Lincoln taught me a lot about being a good friend.  I'm on the lookout for someone I can bless like she blessed me when we had just moved in.  Someone I can invite over for dinner, or watch their kid while they run errands.  A pregnant lady I can cook for.  Or someone I can ask questions to and get to know deeply.  Someone who will become another life long friend.