Two years ago today I started this blog. At the time I was looking for a place to keep up with the egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, and peanut-free recipes I was figuring out for Lucy. And let me tell you, I am humbly my blog’s most frequent visitor. It’s nice to be able to take the iPad into the kitchen and pull up a recipe I know we like [because gluten-free, vegan baking is hard, y’all].
But some time in the last couple years, I began to share fewer recipes and more “stuff”. Our life is definitely messy beautiful. Last week I opened up about Landon’s autism diagnosis. Which even for me, the over-sharer, felt hard to do. Laying things out there certainly puts you in a place of vulnerability, but it also opens you up to richness. Which is why I can honestly talk about gaining friends and living richly.
Seven years ago God lead us to a new church. We’d been shuffling around quite a bit. We didn’t know what we were looking for but we knew we were searching. When we eventually landed at Citylights Church we were stunned by the seemingly immediate friendships we formed. These people, it seemed, were just completely interested in getting to know us. They expected nothing in return. Our first few months at the church, I’m pretty sure we didn’t have a weekend night free with all of the dinner invitations. It was a widespread hospitality we’d never experienced. And it was intoxicating… in a good way.
Through the community of believers we’ve met at our church, we’ve gained so many friends who enrich our lives. They have been with us through the births of three babies [and fed us during the sleep-deprived months that followed]. They’ve continued to share their lives with us. To seek out relationships that go beyond the “what’s going on in your life?’ questions and moved to “what’s going on in your heart?”.
So instead of sharing my heart and being worried about what others might think, I shared something hard and immediately felt a sense of relief. When we’re honest with our struggles, others can sense that realness. They’re drawn to it. Friendships are formed. Deep and rich friendships.
And tonight, when I heard a message from 2 Corinthians 13:11 [ESV]:
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
I couldn’t help but feel a rush of gratitude. It’s not our specific church that gave us this life we appreciate so much, it’s being a part of a community that’s intentionally pursuing real, honest relationships that are grounded in the love of Christ. It’s calling upon the strength of God rather than depending on ourselves. A glory-strength:
“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul- not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating. [Colossians 1: 9-14 MSG]”
So instead of the last few weeks feeling like a haze of autism books, google searches, medical questionaires, and appointment bookings- there’s been a peace [don’t get me wrong: there was also a lot of googling]. And this crazy joy that comes from being known and knowing prayers are being prayed over you. And goodness, I felt it.