Friendship over coffee

Of Coffee, Benches, and Friendship

I sat down for a cup of coffee with a friend today at a local coffee shop and had a conversation about life.

It may seem like not such a big deal, and the realist in my head is trying to convince me it’s not, but really? It is.

You see a little over two years ago, I read a book that literally changed my life. Yes. Literally. The book was Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman, and it was the first Christian book that I had picked up by choice. The first time I used “Christian” in the Amazon search bar. The first time I read a non-fiction book cover to cover. The first time a book made me cry. Because it was so real. It was so relevant.

In her book, Emily speaks of smallness. The smallness is a state that lonely girls like myself reside – where we feel unseen. In a world that feels so big, in a place where we feel so small, we are invited not to pursue bigness, rather she calls us to embrace the smallness.

Small is an invitation to participate in something greater than ourselves…. Instead of forgetting or running from my own smallness, what if I chose instead to look it in the face, to settle down in a place where I am, to notice what is happening around me on my ordinary days? What if these small moments are the very portal into experiencing the kingdom of God? I believe they are—and if we miss them, we miss everything.

So I began to look for those small moments. Smiles to strangers at church week after week turned into hellos, and soon after, warm embraces and small conversations. Courage to join a small group led to new names and numbers in my phone contacts, and text message threads. Embracing the smallness was scary. It still is. But the outcomes wouldn’t have happened if I kept waiting.

Soon my adult life began to mirror my teenage years. I knew people, lots of people, and they knew me. But as I examined my relationships, though I knew people, I didn’t really know them, and even more disheartening was they didn’t really know me – the real me. I waited and waited for deeper relationships. I waited and waited for the friendships I saw on Facebook and Instagram. I waited night after night, thinking that perhaps this type of friendship was not for someone like me. In a sea of people, I still felt so alone. And I waited.

I could either continue as I was, waiting for people to show up and surround me, or I could decide to move toward people myself.

So I began to move. In her book, Emily speaks of building benches rather than building cities. Sometimes we want to embrace the fullness, the bigness, of all that God has to offer – all that we think is meant for us. But not all of us are cut out to build cities. Some of us are meant to dwell in the smallness and simplicity of a bench. A bench where we feel comfortable sitting and observing. A bench where we can invite someone to join us and sit for a while. A bench where Jesus already is, and where we truly realize we are not ever alone. So as I moved, I built my bench and invited Jesus to sit with me in the wait. And together we focused on the details of the bench, making it more inviting, more comforting, and more of a place where I could feel completely at peace no matter what company I kept there.

And as most introverts do, I took first to building friendships through the “safety” of the virtual world. I joined an amazing community of writers online called Hope*Writers. Making connections was a little less stressful than in the IRL scenario, and I managed to make a few really great and meaningful friendships with people from all parts of the country, but in my heart I still longed for those moments of face to face, hand in hand, real hugs connections. I needed to grow in my own local community. So I continued to wait for God to tell me it’s my time.

Sometimes when I think I’m waiting on God I wonder if he’s actually waiting on me.

As I read this line, tears welled up and I knew that this was truly the case for me. If I was worried in the waiting – if I was conscious in the waiting, then I wasn’t truly relying on Him to fill me. I was trying so hard to make things work on my own that potential friends would come and go, because in all honesty, I was not really good at this. And at this stage in life, balancing a home, wife life, mom life, and a career was so hard! I made mistakes. I was busy. They were busy.  I focused on what I wanted for myself out of these friendships, or sometimes I tried so hard to please the other person, I’d drive them away. I looked in the mirror and cried over my faults, my imperfections.

But Jesus knew better. He saw His perfection taking root in my imperfection. And in the wait, I finally let go. I began to pray. Not for a friend to keep me company. Not for someone to build the perfect FB/IG friendship with me. Not for a BFF. Rather, in my sadness, I began to give thanks. I thanked Him for HIS friendship, His love. I thanked Him for His faithfulness, and the opportunities to continue to further His kingdom. The focus became more on Him, rather than myself. And peace began to fill my heart as I handed Him my yoke. Everything was in His hands and I finally felt free of the “have to” of friendships.

And in a single small moment last month, the Spirit stirred in me and I asked a friend if she wanted to get together over a cup of coffee…in person. And before you go thinking this is not really such a big deal, well, the racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, the indecisiveness to go through with it, the fear of rejection would tell you otherwise.

I swear sometimes “Mom Dates” are as scary as real dates.

And in God’s grace, she said yes. And we went. And it was wonderful.

I thanked the Lord for this fellowship, because in this blessing, I knew it was not about me and what I wanted. It was about community, serving, and obedience; but mostly it was about iron sharpening iron as two moms, two sisters in Christ, sat and talked about life.

When we embrace the smallest moments on the most ordinary of days, God sets into motion the extraordinary. Even if the extraordinary would ordinarily go unnoticed.

So keep your eyes up, and have faith.

(Note: All quotes in this blog, unless otherwise stated, are from the book Simply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman. You can get the book here! (affiliate link))

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