At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to make a new friend at church. There were not many young people at church, and I quickly picked a likely prospect. She was about my age, still in school, and working part-time. I figured we had enough in common to keep us going.
But somehow, things just did not work out. We never “clicked”. To this day, we would stop for a routine Sunday morning greeting, but rarely anything more.
It was somewhat disheartening. I had made the resolution as part of my attempt to see church as family. Growing up, I received most of my spiritual (and physical) nourishment from my immediate family and family friends. Though we went to church every Sunday, I did not really need it; all my needs were already being met elsewhere. Or so I thought.
Sometime last year, a friend questioned how I could care so little for the body of Christ. That led me to pick out my “prospective friend” as part of my attempt to become more involved in church. What I did not realize then was that I was still looking for someone like me. Church is a very rich place, with people from different walks of life, different stages in life, with very different struggles, but all redeemed by Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). Though I ignored diversity at the time, God, by His grace, had other plans.
In February, I started attending a women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings. The women there were mostly retirees, whereas I was a jobless college graduate. We had little in common and, to be honest, I did not expect to gain much from the group. However, as time went by, I got to know the others a little better.
One woman in particular took a liking to me, and I to her. She had recently re-dedicated her life to Christ, but was being continually battered by trial after trial. Her failing health, the precarious health of her family members, her stormy relationships—every week she seemed to bring a new prayer request to the table. Every one of them was serious, yet so few of them were answered.
Yet, week after week she came back, and week after week she praised the Lord for all that He had done in her life. She clung to the truth that God is good more fiercely than anyone I have ever met.
Somehow, the two of us became friends. I still cannot explain how it happened. We differ so greatly in age, personality, experience, and outlook on life. But how I look forward to seeing her each Sunday, to hear the good that God has done and to share the weight of her trials as much as I can! And she always makes a special effort to greet and hug me. She told me once that I have the most beautiful smile and it brightened her day to see it every time.
Church is family. You cannot pick who shows up each Sunday. And life would be far less beautiful if you could. When I prayed at the beginning of the year that God would help me build a friendship at church, I had my own expectations. But out of His goodness, He gave me a relationship much richer than I could have imagined.
Perhaps you are in the same position. What unexpected relationship might God be growing in your life?