I thought I was prepared for that first winter in Seattle. It rained all the time, of course. I knew to expect that. I could adapt to gray skies and rain. I determined to make the best of it by buying everyone in my family some bright happy colored rain boots in those first days after our big move.
My new rain boots made me smile, and they kept my feet warm and dry, but they did little to fix the real problem. What I was really craving was the warmth and connection of friendship to brighten my days in this new city.
By the time spring arrived, I was ready to do something about the gray loneliness that had settled over my soul. I prayed to God, asking for friends.
My husband and I had already found a large church that was home to us, yet we had held back on getting involved with any of the small groups that met throughout the week. Eventually, I filled out a card at church, indicating we were looking for a small group to join. I answered detailed questions about the kind of group we were looking for (age, stage of life, location, time, etc.).
I wanted to find friends who were married, had elementary age kids, and, preferably, some other stay-at-home moms (people like me). It was a big church. I was sure they could accommodate my simple requests. Never mind the fact that most of the crowd I saw each week at church consisted of young, single, twenty-something-professionals.
An email came later that week with a suggested group for us to attend near our house. I read the description. I was mildly disappointed when I saw that this was a group of single, twenty-something-professionals. We gave it a try, anyway.
Would these people even want us in their group? What would we have in common with them?
We walked into the pool house where they met and were immediately welcomed. Everyone was warm and welcoming, going out of their way to include not only us but also our kids in the conversations. They were fun people. We liked them.
We enjoyed our time with them and went home that night happy to have met some new people, but we were still not convinced that we had found our community. I still had the idea in my mind that we were supposed to seek out people who were like us.
I emailed the church, asking for another group to try, emphasizing that we were looking for married people with kids. When I got my response, I had another recommendation for another group with the same description: single, twenty-something-professionals.
That’s when I realized that maybe God was trying to tell me something and that He was leading me to these people.
Setting aside those old ideas, that my friendships needed to be with people who were like me, my husband and I went back to that first group of people, to those people who were seemingly nothing like us.
We were part of that group for several years, forming friendships that deeply blessed our whole family. We enjoyed free babysitting (they liked our kids), we got to go to lots of weddings (most of them didn’t stay single), and we experienced spiritual growth through Holy Spirit led conversations (just because someone is young, doesn’t mean they aren’t wise). I’d like to think that we were able to bless them, too.
I was wrong about one thing. I had something very important in common with those people. We all loved Jesus. That was our common bond — and it was a strong one. It was enough.
The love of Jesus shone brightly through the lives of these new friends. It could rain all it wanted in Seattle. My soul no longer felt the gray gloom of loneliness. God answered my prayers for new friendships in a way that I never expected.
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So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Loved your post. Isn’t it crazy, how when we pray and ask God for something, we put parameters on God? Dear God, here is my request and here is how I’d like you to answer it…..Amen. God knows what’s best for us. That’s why He’s God and we’re not. While I’ve been recuperating from surgery, God has blessed me with friends right here within the (in)courage community. Some women have reached out to bless me through their prayers, their notes of encouragement, their genuine caring and compassion. It has been a true blessing in this long haul recovery. I love how God usually has something “up His holy sleeve” and He wants to bless us in ways that we don’t necessarily expect or ask for. Thank you for your testimony of God’s all-knowing goodness.
Hi Bev…you are a blessing of radiant “encouragement sunshine” to others in the INcourage family – I often read your continual posts of encouragement…you are like the “little engine that could” of encouragement – LOL…but true! – -especially admirable since you are in battle for physical recovery from your recent surgery…and of course, we are always in SUREgery – emotionally and spiritually…with ourselves, in our daily walk with the Lord. To do a quick-scan reveal of my spiritual, emotional torment.: I have been in emotionaly surgery and process for what seems like an impENDing divorce…chaotic and shocking circumstances that never changing – even though I was asking for God’s healing of my marriage…His restorative Rescue…and at intervals, His “vending machine” prayer ingredients that I perceived needed to be poured forth and delivered in this schocking process.
God is Miraculous First Aid…it is true – His Compassionate Grace gives us what we NEED …and sometimes it looks the complete opposite of what we actually desire or think is best – like the 20-somethings that blessed Dawn in unfathomable ways like she expressed…through tremendous pain and suffering but continual “surrendering” in the devastation (my kids are son almost 16 and daughter, recently 13 – prayers for parenting peace and persistence) God has been faithful as the Saviour whose “grace is sufficient”…and outrageously opposite of what I expected or desired…but what is/was the necessary…His BLESSecary prescription …personal prescription for my time, season, location, situation…of the All-Knowing Divine Physician.
He is definitely not a vending machine – even though we try to prayer Him into that…but in His Grace, He really is the All-Knowing “blending” machine…who knows the ending from the beginning on what we need and what He wants…and works “all things together for His Good.”
I have been unexpectedly blessed over and over and over again by being given unexpected and undesired gifts of interaction and support in my new spiritual community…I see evidence of it all around me…different ages and stages.
God is age-less…He will bless with age and stage but I have been noticing something completely different and I witness the “My ways are so much higher than Janine’s ways”…paraphasing His exclamation that He is so different from what we ever can imagine and recalling even still what He does in His specially-planned blending process…”gives abundantly beyond what we could hope for or imagine.”
Thanks for a great post that helps me be grateful to reach out to others – and be part of a community of single, young, old, married, widowed, child-less and child-centred…professionals, stay-at-homes, white collared, blue collared and even leash-collrred LOL…people with pets)…my thoughts are running away with me.
Better go get them leashed and pour another cup o java!
Blessings as we all invite the experience of the “blending” God provides in our lives, communities, churches…He has pre-planned them for us…to embrace, experience and invite others into His (not ours) “loving others” tapestry.
Beautiful post…thank you for sharing.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Thank YOU so much for YOUR encouraging words to me today. I like the “Little engine that could” of encouragement 🙂 I do try. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a little encouraging, because let’s face it, this life on earth can be hard!! I’ve been on the receiving end of Pollyanna platitudes and they really don’t help. I do try to keep it real.
I’m truly sorry to hear about your impending divorce. It sounds like you have done everything to try to hold your marriage together and God honors that. I was in your shoes several years ago. I, too, felt like I had done everything to hold it together including forgiving infidelities among other things.
After 26 years of marriage I found myself alone and a single mom with only decades of “Stay at home mom” skills to put on my resume. I won’t lie, divorce is hell on everyone, but God was faithful to walk with me through the flames and through the rising waters to bring me through to the other side. He WILL do the same for you. Don’t let your worth be defined by what one person thinks of you….God is the only one that matters. I will pray for Him to lift you up, comfort you with His everlasting arms, hold you close to His heart and whisper that you are His beloved daughter. This is Truth.
As a note of encouragement, God did bring a wonderful godly man into my life so I know firsthand that God is an expert at bringing beauty from ashes. He has been a saint through my surgery and nursing me back to health. I feel so blessed that in my middle age, God chose to bless me with a second chance at love in my life. I would have never pictured things working out this way, but again, God in His wisdom knew best what I needed.
I know full well that even though weeping endures for the night (and believe me I’ve shed thousands of tears), joy does come in the morning. Our God is faithful.
I’ve enjoyed having my cup o java with you this morning. Keep your eyes on Him and we will be here to encourage you along the way. We are in this boat called “Life” together….
Love and ((hugs)) sweet sister,
Imagine that…the Spirit promted me to let go and expose the truth my personal life distress…even hate the word but shall utter it : divorce. I threw boundary caution to the wind and exposed my vulnerability and truth like laundry on the clothes line of my life…and voila : God usd the actual encouragement I was extending and appreciating you for…to unravel aand deliver a “sister in Christ” who has experienced the destructive process…sometimes, I actually can detect his “holy laughter” as he smirks of His “super-duper-dollop-of-whipped-cream- Connection- Perfection!!”…may I add His triple cherries on top for Him!
I never knew of your personal past…but He does. and did! Thank you for encouragement and exposure to personal past experience sharing…for the purpose of edifying and building me up in my experience…I appreciate it.
Do you hear Him laughing?…it is the Good God kind of laughter where you can hear Him say: surpRISE!!
They say if you wAnt to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.
Praise God there are wonderful women supporting each other
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you and family as you travel the road of divorce. I pray He will comfort your soul and make you realize you are His beloved. He rejoices over you with singing daily! You are crafted in His Holy image!! I pray also for peace & calm to reign in your hearts & home!
Hi Beth…Thank you…your words are confirming what I experience as being a Promise from Christ.
The wife of my Pastor at my church actually told me the same Zephaniah verse..assuring me that I have done my best turning over every rock…also thank you for your prayers for Peace and calm..I.have been immersed this weekend in immense prayer and peace & calm have been my convictions and intentionsand His gifts to me…reMINDing me that I can walk in the Spirit gifts no matter the circumstances.
I am so grateful. I am reaping spiritual gifts from this trauma…and I feel so preserved and protected and even “beloved”…and am gonna keep focusing on the “rainbow” promise…and also rainbow after rain.
Thank you for taking time to pray for me and reach out…thank you for compassionate response in connecting. And showing me kindness & care in your response…even after a couple days.
What a loving and gracious kindness. Thank you. Hope you had a blessed weekend.
I am really experiencing: “His Perfect Love casts out fear.”
And..Peace that surpasses. Prayers so appreciated. HUG…Janine
Janine, Bev, thank you, both. I love this conversation and I love the encouragement that has been shared here. God is so good!
Margaret chapello says
Lovely. This is why diversity matters so much to us and to God! We are meant to love and learn from those who are not exactly like us!
I agree -lovely! God calls his children from many walks of life so his goodness and truth will reach many more in need of his word and unconditional acceptance.
Thank you, Nancy! God knows what he’s doing, right?! : )
Thank you. You’re so right, Margaret. We learn from those who aren’t exactly like us.
Thank-you for sharing your story of your gift of friendship with us. And by you, and your husband accepting the offer helped give your (younger) friends a solid foundation to build their families on. Another example of God’s work in His miraculous ways.
Have a blessed day all,
Thank you, Penny. I hope you have a blessed day, as well!
Rebecca L Jones says
I think I had a lot of people passed me by because of being young and even jealousy. It doesn’t matter as long as you are following the Lord, I’m picky about who I want to pray for me, when you need help, you need someone who is skilled in the Word.
Desirae P says
This was very encouraging to me. I’m glad I saw the story in my email and followed through reading it. I moved to a new city with my husband and two boys almost three years ago. It’s been hard and disappointing trying to make new friends. The Lord knows my heart my prayers. We’ve visited many churches trying to find a place where we can set down roots. Not every church has been inviting or welcoming. Some don’t like diversity in their churches. I know the Lord will be faithful and we are open minded to where God will lead us. No friends no community and a season where I am no longer teaching preschool so no coworkers has been hard on my heart my mind and spirit. I’ve been recovering from recently being diagnosed with neurological seizures and a rare illness. So the alone feeling was even more evident. I worship I pray I read devotionals and cling to the Lord I know he is my father my healer my strength. Anyway thank you for sharing your story. Every day is a little better healing is a slow process and even though I’m not the most patient person the Lord is healing me from the inside out.
Thank you, Desirae. Yes, the Lord knows your heart and your prayers. Patience is hard, isn’t it?!
Holly Robertson says
I experienced the same thing! I started working with the high school student ministry at church. I really enjoy working with teenagers (really!), but the best, most unexpected blessing was getting to know and work with the other student ministry leaders-most of whom are in their late teens/twenties. I have even known a few since they were children. They are amazing, Jesus-loving young men and women who have taught me SO MUCH! I just love them and cherish our friendships to this day. I am 57, btw! It just goes to show that all we need in common is our love for Jesus.
I love that story!
In my own way, I experienced this around race. I thought my community would mirror what I was used to – but God had other ideas in mind. The common thread is Jesus.
Lots of great comments and another great post. So much encouragement. I’m Catholic and living in a small place. I’ve moved many times in my life and always found my “tribe”. But after 4 years in this small place I still didn’t feel I had anyone I could call on during a bad day. My (now former) boyfriend goes to an Episcoplian church. While he and I are no longer a couple, in that church I made community and I now attend a weekly homegroup. It’s been great. Getting the scripture study I was hungry for and the friendship I was needing. Similarly the group were in a different life stage to me – I’m late 30s single no kids. They’re all late 20s young couples and some do have kids. But it hasn’t mattered. They lift me up and are there for me. By crossing over to a different church (I now “double up” most weekends – episcopalian church in the morning, catholic in the evening!) and mixing with a different age group I’ve grown closer to the Lord in ways I couldn’t even have imagined. Praise be!
Doris Swift says
Hi Dawn! This blesses me so much, you see I work on staff in a church office and know those “cards” very well! This is such an encouragement, as we often receive requests to match people with small groups, and this is a great reminder not to assume where they should go. We should probably stop trying to play the “matching game” matching people to groups by the usual and obvious ways, and allow the Lord to lead and for them to pray about it. I will certainly share your post and may it open the eyes of all of us to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. Blessings to you 🙂
Thank you, Doris! Blessings to you.
Hello, My name is debby and i relate so well to things that people are writing and commenting on but i couldn’t put my finger on it. I was a very active , always busy mom. I loved my Church, Bible studies and retreats and socializing. Then around age 40 I ended up so sick and in and out of numerous hospitals, undergoing procedures, surgeries, many tests and so critically ill i felt like i was in a new world.
Well i just turn 50 at the beginning of the year and i have nurses or attendants caring for me 24/7. i spend my days and nights in my bedroom and bathroom area since it where i wheelchair, tubes, tanks and wires can go. 3 years ago i was on Hospice Service but by God graciousness and love, i am still here so they switched me to a long standing service.
The reason why i believe i went through this history because ,although i still have joy in my heart for the Lord and life and people I see, I MISS socializing and serving. I long for a friend to talk to or friends to connect with.
One of my closet friends comes over to visit each week and leaves, to spend time with her new found friends .Just recently I felt the sting as my oldest daughters were invited and picked up for a Bible study. I am overjoyed they are walking in the Lord, but i want to walk beside them.
thank you out there if anyone hears this post
” He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4
Just wanted to encourage you today that the Lord sees you and He makes no mistakes. We may not understand what He’s allowing in our life’s but He is faithful! May the God of all comfort be near you, filling you to overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m so sorry to hear how you’ve been ill for so long. People who have health don’t understand because they’ve “not walked in our shoes”! Grant them mercy and grace it’s freeing! 😉
I’ve had a chronic ill a for 27 years and recently my husband was hospitalized and diagnosed with GPA a rare condition.
It’s been difficult days… But I know He holds us in His right hand. May the Lord bless you as you continue to abide in the shadow of the Almighty… He sees and loves you and your daughters so much!
Your sister’s in Christ are here for you should you need support and a listening ear! May you feel His presence in a Mighty way this Lord’s day! You are loved dear one. His ways are greater and higher than our ways! May we trust his plan… On the journey! Always Praying!!!Let us know how you are… Hope to hear from you soon. Blessings,
Debby Larimer says
Thank you Bren for your reply. I have really been uplifted by your response and the topics and the author’s writings here. I had not posted so openly or transparently about myself in a while. I’m hoping to feel less alone as i read on. I am a single mama of 4 awe- inspiring special needs children/+adults that were adopted prior to me being diagnosed with this ugly disease, Neuro-Sarcoidosis ….it spread through my lungs, central nervous system, some of my internal organs yet through it all GOD has been so FAITHFUL over the years. I do cringe a bit inside each time I either wake in a hospital after being unconscious or my nurse/doctor and I make the decision for another admission. I really do feel a lot of joy and there is’nt really a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge GOD IS SO GOOD!!!! My cup overflows.
Thanks for listening, Blessings,
Your words are such an encouragement, Debby, That’s right. You are never alone! God loves you so much.
Debby Larimer says
@Dawn It was so nice to receive these thoughts from you. I just enjoy all that I am seeing , reading , and hearing here. God is good.
May the Lord continue
To give you Joy each day as….”the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
I will continue to lift you up in my prayers!
“May the peace that surpasses all understanding rule your heart and mind through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He is faithful… I will include your family also
As I’m sure it’s another concern for you. Remember to sing praises or listen to praise music… It not only helps pass the time it wages warfare against the enemy! Read one of my favorite Old Testament accounts of battles really inspiring is in 2 Choronicles 20 read it slowly as the story unfolds…” Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”
This really blessed my heart as a single (30something) and fellow Washingtonian. 🙂 It was refreshing to read this because sometimes it seems like we all get caught up in our idea of what real community looks like, thinking if I’m married with kids I won’t have anything in common with someone who is not, etc. From the other side us singles can feel like married people don’t want to hang out with us and we feel really loved and honored when you do, because we’re treated like fellow human beings who love Jesus. A dear friend of mine is in her 30’s same as me but she’s married with four teenage kiddoes. She and I have a blast together and she encourages me in ways that other people haven’t. And its also funny because I didn’t think I had anything in common with this “young professionals” group I went to (made up of young adults both single and married) but I thought I clicked with the older singles group (women older than me who are single!:) Go figure huh? Thank you for writing this.
Thank you, Jessica! That’s great to hear. I love stories like this.
Beth Williams says
I can so relate to your story. I was used to going to “large” churches with 2-3 services on Sunday morning. There were a mix of people young, old, etc. My husband goes to a small church in the country-complete opposite from what I’m used to. When I first tried his church I didn’t think I would like it. So many older people & few in their 40s. The more I went there I saw how friendly & welcoming they were. It has been 13 years and I wouldn’t trade those folks for anything. They have seen me through hard times & good. You just never know where God will plant you to make friendships.
So true. God is so good and so full of unexpected blessings!
I was in a small group similar to this a few years ago – except I was the single twenty-something professional amidst a group of young marrieds with 1-5 kids. I got to do free babysitting and learn from those who have gone before me and be invited into families while I was trying to make my way into the world as an independent away from my family of origin. I still talk about this group as one of the biggest blessings in my life, because they are still great friends!!
I’m sure you were a blessing to them, as well!
Marva | SunSparkleShine says
I’m so glad you followed God’s lead and didn’t miss out on this blessing, Dawn. Now you have a beautiful testimony that encourages me to step out and trust God, even when His answer doesn’t look the way I expect.
Blessings to you, dear friend!
Blessing to you, Marva! Thank you for your sweet words.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Thanks for sharing this story, Dawn. What a beautiful, tangible reminder that God can send us community from many walks of life. I love the way you saw the common bond!