Friends Old and New

I was reminded this week as I got together with an old friend, or rather, a friend from the old neighborhood, how good it is to have true fellowship with someone. This is a person (you know who you are!) who sees me as I am and likes me anyway, with whom I can rant, cry, laugh, pray, troubleshoot and commiserate. We don’t always agree, but we do always speak the truth in love. Although this kind of thick-or-thin friendship seems to be a rare and beautiful thing, in God’s kingdom it is in no short supply. I have always found a friend in the places I have moved—at least one, true, loyal and kindred spirit with whom to share the journey. How is this possible? If you count the number of times I have moved in my life, it is surprising that I always find this person, and find her so soon after moving. I can no longer think it a coincidence.

We were bemoaning the physical distance between us. An hour’s drive is prohibitive when you have young children. We often meet in the middle (both physically and metaphorically), but although distance makes the heart grow fonder, it doesn’t do much for keeping in touch day-to-day. We really miss each other, and our kids are suffering withdrawal from their playmates as well. It’s hard to find a good thing and then leave it behind, and maybe harder to find a good thing and have it leave you behind. We were each committed to praying that the other would find fellowship on the new path on which she finds herself.

The very next day, the next day I tell you, I met the new friend. A Gulfstar 53 sailboat with a live-aboard family with four home-schooled boys moved in almost directly in front of us on the next dock over. We had heard rumors that a family was coming in, but we didn’t dare hope for one so like ours. As it turns out, Vicki’s strategy when they move to a new place (they’ve lived aboard for five years), is to pray that God would send her a friend. Both her prayer and mine were answered in less than 24 hours!  I had so longed for a boat-mom friend, so much that I didn’t realize it until I met Vicki. I actually cried during the first meeting! (How embarrassing!)

Since their arrival, we have had time to do “church” together on the weekends, go on a dinghy outing, take the kids to the park and start to show them all of our favorite local spots. They, in turn, have given us quiet moments (a rarity here) when all the kids “went next door” and reminded us why we like living this way so much while encouraging us to keep pressing forward (“you have no idea what fun awaits you!”). Their kids are well-behaved, imaginative, articulate and well-matched to ours—playmates from the first moment they met.  I am too happy and thankful to properly express my exuberance. I hope I don’t scare them off with my enthusiasm…

This all reminds me to remind you to ask. Just ask. Sometimes the answer is no—after all, His grace is sufficient for us. But it pleases a loving God to show us love in a personal way, sometimes through the people He sends our way. I will definitely be following Vicki’s example as we come to new places and asking for a friend. But whatever it is that you lack—ask Him first. And then expect the implausible and maybe even impossible.