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?

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12 Responses to transition.

  1. Lucy August 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    There is much much wisdom in all of your thoughts. In a way I think the giving of yourselves will help to define your purpose for the next year. And others will surely be blessed, but no doubt your family will, and you will, too, in abundance.

  2. Carrie August 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    We are in a similiar place here in Guatemala – thanks for the encouragement to reach out to others!

  3. Serena August 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Growing up in the international community in Rome, this happened all my childhood. It was a little heartbreaking and a little disconcerting. There will be times when you miss the ball completely- you’re wrapped up in yourself and you don’t even notice people come and go, or you’re sick of people wandering in and out of your life, so you actively avoid the heartwrench you need to go through to seek out new friends and then lose them again. But ultimately, I learned so much. Once you understand and accept the way of things, that they are for you, as you are for them, a touch of friendship, a moment of home, and instant of respite in unending travel, it helps your soul instead of tearing it. Instead of resenting people for leaving you behind, to the old grid while they move on to their next adventure, you learn to appreciate the light they brought to you, for however long it lasted. Now I can made a friend in a heartbeat, take up a conversation with a stranger and make it into a lifetime friendship, and let a loved one go, loving what they gave to me in that moment.

  4. Poppy August 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Elliott has a great example of parents who open up their home to many and you have a Mom who is also very good at it, so perhaps that is some encouragement as you learn the joys of doing the same. What a blessing you guys are to the newbies; they will speak of you with gratefulness the way you do when you tell us about your special friends (e.g., Josh and family). Let it be a rich year…with much granita! Oh Señor, ayúdanos!

  5. Tiffany August 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    I love this post! What a great reminder. Seminary life is similar, and it is jarring to realize you can no longer take comfort (or make excuses) due to being the newbie!

  6. Joy @ Caspara August 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Great post!! I know exactly how you feel!! Lately I have been really feeling the strain of another transition. Somehow it seems like people don’t reach out like they should, and I’m the one doing all the “reaching.” Or maybe it’s because my eldest is a teen now, and they just aren’t the friendliest and most outgoing group so I’m constantly “scouting” potential friends. Anyway, I’m just feeling burnt out and tired by all of it right now. This timely post is a great reminder though! Thanks!

  7. Hope August 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    This is such a challenge for me, especially as an introvert. At the beginning of this year, I wrote down 5 words that I wanted to define 2013, with “hospitality” being a key. I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone, but as I do, I’ve felt so much life-giving joy. Baby steps. :)

  8. Shelly August 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Cracked it out of the ballpark on this one, BG.

  9. Rebecca Arthur August 12, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Well said, dear friend. You are so very talented at making people feel loved and welcomed and we will pray that the Lord will fill your hearts and bless you abundantly in the coming year…even though I can’t stand the thought of you having fun here with out me!

  10. Marmee August 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    At times like this (for you…and admittedly many at any given time), I am reminded of a phrase from a good old Larry Norman song–“…homesick for heaven…” Where there never will be a good-bye that jars the heart and soul or an anxiety that looks fearfully into the future or a tiredness that prevents moving into the next adventure with gusto. I resonate with you (tears in my eyes!), and I admire you for the careful thought you’ve already put into anticipating the change this next year brings. John 16:32-33. Lots of love and prayers with you all…<3

  11. AG August 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    This is so timely, as this seems to be exactly the place my family is in too. We haven’t moved away, but all of our friends have. We will probably stay where we are for a long time, and suddenly are finding ourselves with two kids and not a whole lot of friends to share life with. I know we, too, have to “make room” for new people in our lives. I’m excited about this, but also apprehensive about the time and vulnerability it takes to develop relationships with other people. I know God will see us through, just as He’ll see your family through it. :) Your blog is such an encouragment to me. Thanks!


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