There is room at the table.
I wasn’t sure of that anymore.
I’ve spent the past three years trying to make friends. When we first moved, I felt like a trailblazer. An adventurer.
After the first month or so? Good feelings gone. Once you unpack the boxes, you actually have to live in that unfamiliar place. And watch your friends move on. (Facebook + moving can be a painful and heart-wrenching combination. I don’t recommend it.)
I felt lonely. Less than. Like damaged goods because I couldn’t seem to find real friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of people to smile with. Attending megachurches can do that for you. But those people who see your whole soul and know how messy your insides really are and don’t turn and run away screaming? I didn’t have those. (With the exception of one in our old neighborhood. That we moved from…)
I tried small groups. Photography meetups. Saying hi to neighbors. Trying to talk to people on the playground. (SOOOOO uncomfortable for us introverts.) Emailing people who seemed nice. Volunteering. One night, I even searched for mom groups on meetup.com which is something I originally swore I would NEVER do. (The sad thing? I would have had to pay to join the play-group. Which felt like I’d be paying to have friends. This was a low point.)
I heeded Elmo’s friendship advice and even sang the “Stick out your hand and say hello” song most every time I went to a place with people. (Not kidding. I remember singing it to myself before a kindergarten/parent party)
But everyone’s tables appeared to already be full.
I get that. As a mom, I’m doing well to dress myself most days. (sacred secret: I sleep in workout clothes so that if there isn’t time to change before getting the kids on the bus or taking Ash to school – it looks like I got “dressed.” Truth.) With loving my people, it often feel like there’s little time left for anything else. Most of the friends that have stuck with me through this journey are gracious people who knew me before I had kids or back when I only had one kid.
But when you move away from those people – you look around and want to cry because these people who now walk beside you in the everyday already have their table filled. (Or maybe I just think they do. That’s also possible)
A few weeks ago, I went to a local church and attended a gathering of women that weekend. I gave myself three rules: “try”, “stay open” and “be you”. I secretly wanted to gather up all of my friends from other places and go be me elsewhere amidst the comfort of people who already know and for some reason still love me. But problems don’t typically get solved when you run from an opportunity to face them.
As I walked through the parking lot, I tried to take deep breaths. “I can do this. I can try again. I can stay open. Maybe God will surprise me.”
There I met up with the two friends I’ve finally made in the past year.
Before long, we did that typical “break it down” move of church gatherings and I found myself amidst a table of ladies I didn’t yet know. At that table was Morgan.
Morgan is either not afraid to say THE things or she faces that fear and says them anyway. Which means I adored her in .3 seconds. After the evening was over, I asked her if we could be friends in real life. She said yes, of course. I held back tears.
Since that night she has literally brought me to her table. The first time I entered her home, she explained that she purposefully didn’t clean because she was tired of all the pressure and wanted people to know the real her. Which is why when I texted her the other night that we were coming for the gathering of families at her house, but we were totally running late because of me and my little guy was STILL wearing pajamas, I wasn’t surprised when she texted back: PERFECT!!!
There’s no snappy, put together conclusion to this story. I guess I wrote it just in case you too are lonely and currently haven’t found friends. I’d just want you to know that you are so incredibly not alone. It is freaking hard. You may be completely sick of trying. I get it. I wish I could hug you today. That we could sit down together and I could look into your eyes and say “me too.” And that I could also tell you what a gift you are to this world. That I see you and I know how incredible you are and one day – I pray with my whole heart you’ll find more people who do, too. Or that you’ll see and invite in those who already do.
Though your heart may be aching today, I just want you to know that there is a God who loves you beyond measure and knows you and your story and since the beginning of FOREVER has a seat open and decorated JUST FOR YOU. There is SOOOOOO much room for you at His table. And He never turns ANYONE away. Ever. He just gets excited and throws an epic party when you come on over to the table where you BELONG. (And if you doubt this, it’s all good. I have for the past three years and He hasn’t given up on me.)
Lastly, can I please just ask anyone reading this to please oh please leave room at your table? (Yes, even those of you who currently feel like you should just throw yours out because no one is sitting at it.) There are so many of us wonderful, amazing people out there who for whatever reason haven’t been discovered in our areas yet. Some of us are new moms. Some are transfer students to your school. Some of us have 3+ kids and rarely break out of our yoga pants.
We are gifts to this world just like you and we’d hate to miss out on the gift you are to this world. Would you keep your eyes out for us and keep room at your table? Because I’m learning that one of the greatest gifts we can give is taking the time to really see each other and say – Welcome. I SEE you. I’m so glad you’re here.