We have lived in our house for almost three years. For the last two and half years every time it would start snowing Mark and I would almost rejoice. Because it meant that our front steps and our back steps would snow over, making it impossible to get to our house unless we lifted the garage door. This meant that we had invited you in and wanted you in our house. But, it had to take effort to get into our house. We didn't really have a reason to shovel.
Then, this year happened, the year of beloved, amazing friends. The year God would introduce us to people who would make shoveling our walkways not only a must, but a joy. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for these beloved people to make their way into our home and our hearts!
Mark and I have lived in Albert Lea for seven years, it has taken all seven years to cultivate friendships, to develop a brotherhood and sisterhood of soul friends. Which is quite funny when you think of it, because I grew up in Albert Lea, born and raised. Wouldn't you think I would be coming home to friends. But, that was not the case with me. I was coming home to people who knew me as I was and I was coming home to people who I knew before, but had not gotten to know as the adult them. People change, I change, but it takes a while to learn to trust the knew selves. We had also moved eight times in eight years and I believe we had begun to guard our hearts. What was the point of growing deep friendships if in a few years we would up and move. It was too hard on our hearts and honestly I was tired of hurting people in the process of our leaving. Building trust, building a relationship only say well sorry but we're moving and let's be honest long distance relationships just don't measure up to face to face tea, coffee, or lemonade time. Email and the phone can only count for so much, phones and email don't let you hug a person or cry on their shoulder, crying on the phone just isn't always the same. Some times it leaves you lonelier.
This year, as the snow falls, I think to myself "my goodness, one more thing to add to my day". But, I also smile and am thrilled to need to go out and shovel. While I'm shoveling I pray for the dear friends who have come into our lives. I pray for their needs, I pray blessings upon them, but I also pray for dear friends who live far away. Friends who crave to have beloved friendships were they are but have not found yet. I pray God would bring them the 12, the 3, the 1. A group of friends (the 12), beloved friends within the group of 12 that just get you (the 3), and finally that 1 person in the group that makes your heart sing. You think the same, act the same, struggle with similar stuff this is your 1 person. Jesus had 12 disciples, he had 3 good friends, and he had a beloved disciple, John, who was closer than a brother to him.
I said before that Mark and I had guarded our hearts against friendships, but last year I began to realize how lonely Mark and I had become. I also realized that guarding our hearts also allowed us to let sin in our life fester, we had chosen to live in the dark. Because when you don't have the freedom to share struggles it becomes really easy to live in the place of sin. But, having a close group of friends brings light into your spiritual life. They see you acting not quite like yourself and in love they approach you and draw you out. Giving love and encouragement, giving sword sharpening truth, bringing light into darkness. Darkness flees at the light and our souls, our lives are brightened because of these beloved friendships. So, last year I began to pray for soul friends for Mark and I. I began to pray these friends would be couples who have kids around our kids age. Oh my goodness, mercy me, did he flood us with an abundance of amazing friends. Friends who I can only say are ordained for us to know and simply 'do life with'. One couple in particular has crossed our paths several times and everything in our lives should have allowed us to meet up, but we hadn't. We have similar friends, lived in the same apartment complex, go to the same church, hike the same park, and yet we hadn't met up. This year was the year our paths would finally cross and I am so blessed and so thankful they did!
God heard my hearts desire to begin to enter into friendships, he heard my cry of needing light shining friends in our lives. This year I have not only shoveled, but sanded and salted, because I want our friends path to our house to be as safe as possible. My front door and my heart are accessible and being willing to risk hurt, risking the possibility that we may move again. I have begun to pray for our friends hearts and our hearts to be prepared for the day we might move. We don't plan on moving, it's not our desire, but none the less I want to be ready and willing to go when God says go. For now, I will rejoice at friendship, I will rejoice that I am in need of a shovel and a snow blower!
Praise the Lord for cleared paths that lead to friendship! God be praised forever and ever!