I always felt like every year in college was totally different from the year before… almost like I was attending a different school each time. Some things stayed the same — the Lawn, mochas in the library, and tried and true friends that I’d had since school started — but everything else shifted. New faces became dear and familiar. A new house or roommate changed my living experience. New professors or classes changed my school experience. New organizations or clubs (or friends to enjoy a slow glass of red wine with) changed my social life.
All these things made each year entirely different than the last.
Real life is like this, military life especially. Every year people arrive. You might even add a new baby to your family… how’s that for major transition!
I am feeling the crunch of transition right now. I looked at my “Favorites” list of numbers in my phone and realized all those friends have moved away. (Well, except my husband, thank goodness.) At my women’s Bible study in the fall, I will only know about 5 people there instead of 20; everyone else has moved away. The friends that we have loved and relied upon since Day 1 in Sicily are no longer here.
And suddenly we’ve turned into the old fogies. We’re now the ones who speak the most Italian (what?!), the ones who know the best places to eat here, the ones who know where to park there, the ones who can lead the caravan of friends’ cars instead of follow it, the ones who can say, “Well, two years ago winter storms killed the orange blossoms, but last winter it wasn’t so bad, and so I think the blood oranges will be plentiful this year.”
(^ dork alert ^)
Suddenly, even more frighteningly, I am the one who needs to welcome, invite, include, initiate. I have always been on the other end of this, first as the newbie and then as just a friend. Now there are so many people who need me, who need to be found, who need to be befriended, who need another mom who will suggest we pack multiple children into hot cars and head off on a mid-week adventure, just because it’s Sicily and why not?!
Can I love as I have been loved? Can I — with mere months left here — hold open my arms and say, “Hi! Want to be my friend? Are you free on Thursday?”
Last night Elliott and I were praying together, and I prayed that we would “make room” in our lives for new friends. I called this blog “Making Room” because we want this to be a habit in our lives: welcoming people into our home, offering friends and travelers our guest room, having new and old friends over to dinner, participating in Bible studies/community groups that include whole families in each other’s houses, seeking out needs of others and clearing our schedules so that we can meet these needs.
We’re not good at this. We confront our own selfishness (or busyness, or introverted-ness, or exhaustion, or internal strife… this is a safe space!) every day. When faced with these frustrations, we usually choose to make excuses instead of making sacrifices. We choose self over service every day.
But thankfully, we have two things to combat our selfishness and help us “make room” this year.
The first is that we serve a God who not only made room for us in His Kingdom but gave life to us, welcoming us just as we were and then gently and faithfully continuing to sanctify us year by year.
The second is that we have had wonderful examples. So many friends here have opened up their lives, homes, refrigerators, minivans, and hearts for us, welcoming us just as we were. They have never assumed anything of us, other than that we’d like to be included. They have made this strange and wonderful land a home for us, a place we love because they loved it first and showed us why.
Can we do this for others? Can we seek out the newcomers and tell them what we’ve learned? Can we catch them before they escape after church, shy and overwhelmed, and ask them about themselves? Can we get their numbers and invite them to dinner? Can we take them to our favorite beaches, pizzerias, hiking trails, and agriturismi?
Can we love as we have been loved?