There we sat, my husband and I, uncomfortable in the unfamiliar.
We were in an unfamiliar class in an unfamiliar church, with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar city.
Hubby and I had just moved away from twenty years of comfortable and I was desperate for a friend to help me get from the prickly new to the worn and smooth feeling of home.
So while I looked like I was listening intently to the Sunday school lesson being taught, my eyes were actually discreetly scanning the room. Much like a woman scans a shoe department for a good-looking, well- fitting pair of shoes, I was shopping for a friend.
Ah ha! The right side of the room held promise. On the end of a row perpendicular to mine sat a lady in a “smart” suit wearing classic pearls. I thought to myself, she and I could be friends. Her articulate answers and slow southern draw sweetened the package.
Yes, classic-pearl lady was friend material and after class I would go introduce myself and ask her to meet me for lunch the following week.
That was the plan
Proverbs 19:21 “ You can make many plans but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” NLT
On the opposite side of the room sat a lady with spiky blonde hair (with one strand of purple in front) and with a thick Rhode Island accent she asked the Sunday school teacher … well, a lot of questions. She reminded me of the kid in school who always held us up from recess, and that irritated me.
I thought to myself, she’s not my type. We have nothing in common. Spiky-hair lady and I will never be friends.
1 Samuel 16:7b, “…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks a the heart.” NLT
After class, David and I went to grab lunch.
We arrived at a restaurant a short ride from the church, a trendy place that was beyond crowded.
There was no available seating except at a six-top where two people were already seated. The pair were none other than Mary, the spiky-hair lady, and her husband, Craig. They spied us searching for a seat and waved us over to join them.
As we shared and broke bread together or more accurately the best flatbread pizza in the world, we discovered, even though we didn’t necessarily mutually agree on style, the four of us melded on matters of the heart. We had a hunger for Jesus, a desire for authenticity and a feeling of being displaced.
You see, even though Mary and Craig had been living there for three years, like us they felt restless. It was as if God had another place for them to be and they were in a holding pattern. If Mary had owned a pair of ruby-red slippers she would have surely tapped them together and chanted, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” But neither Craig nor Mary were sure where the feeling of home was.
From that day forward because of what we shared in common, God forged in us a deep and lasting friendship. Mary and Craig became like family. Our hearts blended together like warm bread and butter.
At the end of three years, doors opened for David and I to return to Jacksonville.
Oddly enough within a few months of us leaving, God pointed Craig and Mary to Seattle Washington where they found their resolve.
A multitude of God things took place during the three years we lived in Tampa not the least of which was our friendship with the spiky-hair lady, and her husband Craig.
I’m not writing this story to school you on choosing friends (though this is a good lesson on what not to do!) but to say, as believers we are all on mission for God and sometimes that means we find ourselves serving in the unfamiliar.
If and when you find yourself there, in the dwelling of the new and prickly, let me encourage you, the God who hears your cries and sees you heart, will fill your needs as he promises in Philippians 4:19…
“My God will will meet all your needs
according to the riches of his glory.”
And that includes providing a friend who will help you get from the uncomfortable space to the well-worn place that feels like home.
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Christy is a wife, mother, writer, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. She is passionate about encouraging women to move forward, and press on through their struggles, seeking God’s presence in every bump and turn in the road.