Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen in 7 years. We had worked together on the mission field after my freshman year in college but hadn’t seen each other since. She and her husband were in town for work and had some spare time to grab dinner and catch up on old times. We had been trying to get together for months so I jumped at the opportunity to meet up.
In the couple of hours before our meeting my nerves started to get to me. “Will she notice I’m different than my silly 19 year old self?” “Do I have anything to worry about?” “I wish I were at this place in life instead of where I am so that I could impress her.” – these questions and thoughts riddled my mind. None of which came from the Lord.
Dinner time came and spending a meal with her and her husband proved to be a complete joy. We shared the highlights of the last 7 years, laughed about memories (one in particular where I apparently “coached” her in storytelling) and reconnected over our mutual love for the Lord. It was so life bringing. Because I had so enjoyed our time together, I invited them to my favorite little coffeeshop to grab some espresso and a little deeper conversation. 4 hours later we were saying our goodbyes, praying over one another and promising not to let another 7 years pass before our next reunion.
I left that night with an overwhelming feeling that I had just experienced life-bringing conversation with people I would see for eternity – they were my family, my brother and sister in Christ. Seeing them and talking with them was like seeing family that I hadn’t seen in forever – their care for me and my life and their willingness to be open and honest – it was all so refreshing and something I had been craving. I’ve always known that other believers were my family, but for the first time that really meant something. While driving home I thanked the Lord for such rich and beautiful conversation centered around him and for my “extended spiritual family.”
They aren’t the only “extended family” I’ve heard from in the last couple of weeks. I saw one of the women I aspire most to be like at a wedding in Houston this weekend and reconnected as if no time had passed. On the same night I heard from a sweet sister from high school who was passing through the area with her husband and wanted to reconnect – again, I felt the Lord giving me chances to see my family and walk with those I felt I had lost.
I’ve been trying to figure out what about my encounter with that old friend and her husband was different than others – what made it feel so sweet and opened my eyes to that familial aspect of community? I have to believe it was their vulnerability, their willingness to walk alongside me in my life and spiritual walk and their need for support in theirs. Their care.
I have this deep desire to be a woman known for her love and hospitality (much like the woman I mentioned seeing this past weekend). To have an open house that is always full of people and to care for others and love them so well with the Word. To pray over them so fiercely that their hearts open up to Him. To have this big, spiritual family – and that starts now.
It starts in reconnecting with those brothers and sisters that I have lost, or maybe even hurt, along the way. It starts in loving those around me, Christian or not, with a love and care so fierce that they can’t help but see the Lord. It is about creating community by inviting others into my home and giving my time freely when they need it.
It is about family. It is about Jesus.
So, I’m going to try something a little different this post. If you are in my “extended family” and we’ve lost touch – would you let me know? I’m going to try my hardest in the next few months to reach out to you and find time to hear more of your story and how I can care for you (especially if you’re local), but if you get to me first I would love it. I can’t wait to hear how you, my brother or sister, are doing and what the Lord has done in your life. If I’ve wronged you, I’d love a chance to humble myself to you and make it right. If there is some way I can help you, I want to try.
You are my family. This is a forever deal.
I can’t wait to see what this season brings and I can’t wait to reconnect.