The absolute hardest thing about moving has been separation from people…my loved ones, and my own identity.
The loved ones part goes without saying. But besides 30 years of friendships, a son, a grandma, an aunt and uncle, cousins, friends of family, family of friends, doctors, cashiers, pastors, neighbors, teachers, former co-workers, library staff, park mommies, et al, there was the separation of the ME I had become in the last few years, someone who was very comfortable in her role of Woman of the House, wife, mom, hostess… and the person I was to be here: new girl. marketing exec. person who doesn’t know anyone.
I haven’t written a lot about this since the summer. Thankfully, this was one of the areas in which slowly and steadily, I made strides. I learned to let go of my kids a little bit and adjust to their lovely school (and loving teachers). I embraced my role as a working woman again, mostly, and even though I still don’t always know how to dress.
We discovered that Myrtle Beach is, in fact, a small town, and before too long, we knew enough people to start having random sightings in restaurants, gas stations, stores. These are the kinds of silly, inconsequential things that make me feel home.
We have also met some truly wonderful people through our work at the theater, people who I talk to like friends, even if we haven’t hung out much outside of work, people who know enough of our story and have shared enough of theirs that we know each other’s kids’ names and places of origin (because hardly anyone is from here) and Facebook statuses.
But weekend friends…open-your-refigerator-door-friends…laugh-and-ugly-cry-friends…we all know those are harder to come by. I knew where we would find those. I knew it would be church. And so it happened, when we visited our 4th church here in July, we found a new landing place in our journey, and that place happens to be called journey church.
journey church is a body of people with a story like ours. They are passionate. they are warriors. They took a big risk in their very formation and have ridden a great roller coaster ride in the aftermath. They are believers. They are servants. They are crazy, excited worshippers. They hug tight. I adore them.
There have been a few families at journey church who have immediately and swiftly embraced us as open-the-refrigerator-door-friends. We’ve eaten together, had marshmallow fights, teased, made plans. Some of them think – and I say this in great humility – that we were brought here for them. But I know, especially as I type this while battling huge waves of homesickness – that they have been sent to us from heaven, saving us in a big way as we worked to settle in.
I have amazing friends…friends who patiently answer Facetime so my kids can talk to theirs during the chaotic bustle of dinnertime…friends who answer my tiniest whine via text…friends who send us real mail, complete with artwork…friends who have bought plane tickets or driven hours out of their way on prior-planned trips to visit us…friends who randomly say We miss you as if they know the moment when I’m afraid of being forgotten.
But those friends cannot sit at my kitchen table any old night, or have us over for a bonfire, or meet us for a donut before the work day (a yummy buttermilk donut that the shop worker generously slathers in chocolate icing by request, I might add), or watch our kids during a work crisis, or pray with us at the altar or our office. And these new friends can. And they are. And they will.
journey church means a lot of things to my family. It is our new home to be fed and to worship. It is a place where we feel safe, accepted, and understood. It is the church we dreamed about when we accepted our positions at the theater, because as soon as possible, its Sunday services will be held there!
It is an anchor in many ways. But in my sentimental, social soul, it is the place that gave me the greatest gift of my new life: friends. I am so grateful for each time they are gathered in our home, for each invitation to be at theirs, for the sweetness their children extend to ours, and for the memories ahead which will continue to mingle friends from all aspects of our lives together.
This past Friday, we hosted our first couples’ dinner club at our house. Our home, which I’ve noted previously has been a little on the quiet side for me, was filled with new friends, laughing children, chili and desserts, games, and an overall warm feeling. This was a sweet answer to a simple prayer I’ve had for our home: May life friends gather here.
happy first anniversary, journey. we’re so excited to share our journey with you.