When the Lord showed us clearly to move in March, I had no idea how much I depended upon and cherished my circle of family and friends. I had lived in my hometown for 24 years and had been a member of our home church for 16 years. I took for granted living in a town that most people either knew me, Chad, or our parents. The people that didn't know us, knew our boys. There was just something about Sulphur Springs that I felt amongst family wherever I was. I really never realized or understood that until we moved. Even though I am blessed to be able to call, text, and facebook my sons, family and friends, our new hometown is friendly and our church is filled with sweet and loving people.... the truth is, we are newcomers! I sometimes forget that my new friends might not know my heart and sometimes worry I am taken the wrong way. Where I once never felt alone, I am now at a place where loneliness often settles in.
The weekend before Easter was my great niece's 3rd birthday party. I remember that day so clear. I was so sad. I sat on the couch in our quiet home knowing all our family was gathered back home celebrating. We were once a family of five and our house was filled with loud teenage boys and their cousins and friends. We felt a deep ache in our heart that day. Loneliness affects alot of people and that's something I seldom ever had felt before. I was very anxious how we would spend our first Easter and worried Chad and Zach would feel sad too. But, the Lord already had it all figured out. A sweet family asked us to join their Easter Celebration after church. We had such a great meal and even played games with their family like we would back home. At the end of the day, we felt such a peace and contentment. We missed our family very much but the Lord provided some of our church family to fill that void.
Here is what God has showed me through this experience: First, back to the basics....God is with us and will never leave or forsake us. Even when we "feel" alone, we are not. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Second, the Lord doesn't want me to stay only in my small circle of friends and family. I believe He wants us to open our circle and include people He brings our way or people He takes us too.:) We short-change ourselves when we don't get out of our comfort zone and reach out to people God brings into our life.
I had a choice: hide in my house mourning and missing my family or push myself to get to know new people that didn't automatically love and understand me. It wasn't always comfortable or easy but always worth it. I had to let go of the way things use to be in order to take hold of what the Lord was doing in my life now. Do I ever have days where I really miss my family and friends back home? Yes, almost weekly....but I have friends here that I love now and that have a special place in my heart too. When we reach out to others and love them, we are showing others we belong to Jesus.
John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
The people that have reached out to me here in our new town have made an everlasting impression on my heart! I want to encourage you to purposely look for someone that's new to your town, church, or neighborhood and reach out. Pray and ask the Lord what He would have you do to let them into your world.