The other day, we were riding in the car on the way to church and my 3 1/2 year old out of the blue says, “Mama, I miss my friends.” This isn’t the first time he’s mentioned how much he misses his “Ohio friends,” but it just so happens on that particular day that I was missing mine too, my Whirlybirds. I told him that I knew exactly how he felt, because I was missing my friends too. I told him that it was okay to miss them and feel sad, because it meant that we had loved our friends with our whole heart. I promised him that he would make new friends, friends that God has hand picked just for him here in South Carolina, and while it may take a while and it might not be easy, it would happen. In that moment, I realized I needed to hear those words myself just as much as my son did.
Although we had prayed about our move for a couple of years, when it finally happened, it happened so fast. Literally in one month’s time, Nick resigned from his current position, accepted a new job offer, we sold our house in two days, packed up our very first home all while I was in the middle of the first trimester pregnancy woes. I had little time to sit and really think about what all we would be leaving behind. While all our friends around us were grieving our move, I was too busy to really let it sink in what was about to happen.
If you had told me when we first moved to Ohio that I would make some of the best friends, friends that were more like family, I probably would have laughed and told you that’s not possible. And like I have shared before, while it took almost two years, let me tell you I was blessed with the best group of friends, my Whirlybirds.
Honestly, I have no clue how the 5 of us came to be or how we all just “fit” each other like missing puzzle pieces, but we did and it was beautiful. And don’t even ask how we got the name “Whirlybirds,” it’s a long story! Anyways, we did life together, and I mean we truly did life together. Every weekend we were at each other’s houses, we celebrated babies together, we celebrated holidays together, we surprised each other with coffee or flowers, we swapped kids, we worked out together and well, you get the picture. These 4 other women helped in the “construction” of myself. They added to my truest self, each one placing a new nail in the “structure” of who I was. We often joked that one day we would live in a remote place somewhere with our families and we would have everything we needed…a hairstylist, a designer, a teacher, a personal trainer, and an accountant.
I can’t stress enough how important community is, finding your “tribe,” and really doing life together. And I’m not just talking about hanging out on the weekends and enjoying heavy finger foods, although who doesn’t like that. But I am talking about being vulnerable with each other, asking each other the hard questions, rallying around each other’s marriages and helping raise each other’s children. Community such as this is truly living out what it means to BE the church; to live life alongside each other and to give the best of ourselves to each other and to God as often as we can. I love what Eugene Peterson says on community and the church, “Everything that God is and everything that we are intersects locally in the company of family and friends and the immediate circumstances of our lives…God is not abstract, remote, inaccessible. Church (community)—ordinary, local, immediate, personal—welcomes us into the company of Jesus, who is God with us, who embraces our human condition and speaks our language.”
Maybe you have already found your “tribe” and together you are living life intentionally, keep it up! Or maybe you have your tribe but the intentional piece is missing. To that, I say, rally the troops and discuss together how you can support, encourage and push each other forward. Will it take vulnerability and an effort on everyone’s part, yes, but it’s oh so worth it.
And to my Whirlybirds, you know who you are, thank you for allowing me into your lives, for loving my family and me and for sending us off even when you didn’t want to. I love ya’ll!