Building Friendships and Community

IMG_20180417_100904519In our opening time Tuesday morning, we were privileged to hear the story of one of our young moms, Kaytlin Seeger. Here’s an excerpt of what she had to share about friendship and community.

About 4 years ago, shortly after I became a mom, my husband Bob found me crying because I didn’t have any friends. We sat down together and prayed that God would give me good, authentic, deep friendships with women. During that time in my life, I felt isolated and lonely. I wasn’t working anymore and so I was just home, with this new baby, and realized I had no clue how to do any of this on my own. This was hard for me because, up until that point in my life, I had always had a lot of friends. I spent most of my free time with friends. But then life happened. It seemed that most of my friends had moved away or were in different seasons of life. So, I was deeply hungry for meaningful friendships that would last. I needed other moms that, together, we could watch our kids grow up and go through the fun and hard times with.

God has been faithful. He has given me just what I prayed for . . . just what I needed.

That doesn’t mean I’m done seeking new friendships and building relationships with others. Exactly the opposite! I feel as though God has been placing women in my life. I’m learning to trust God through the relationships he puts in front of me. And recently, as I was thinking about those past years and how I prayed that prayer for a long time, it dawned on me that God HAS been teaching me some things. And I’d like to share them with you all.

  • The first thing . . . making connections with other women takes work. Like all good things in life, friendships take time. Good friendships are not going to happen overnight. And, just because you invest in someone, does not mean it’s going to work out in the end. Real life things come into play . . . work schedules, ages of children, availability, etc. So, maybe, it’s just not the right season for that friendship. And that’s okay.
  • I have to be willing to put myself out there if I want to make friends and be in community with other women. I have to be the friend that I want them to be to me. If I’m not willing to ask someone to hang out, get coffee, meet at the park for a playdate, and so on, then I shouldn’t be offended if I don’t get asked to go do those things. And, if I’m always too busy to meet up and spend time with someone, then I shouldn’t be surprised when that friendship doesn’t go anywhere.
  • Not all of the friends we make are going to be a deep kind of friendship. A person only has so much capacity for those friendships. There are certain friends that will love you even when that means being real about something difficult that needs to be brought to the table. Other friendships are less deep and that is also okay.

All of the things I’ve been learning about connecting with others ties into  something else I’d like to share with you. Last year, Berean started a Connections Ministry to help those attending our church become more connected with each other. When Josh Luse started preaching about “Sections,” Bob and I felt God tugging at us to do something. Everything Josh was saying really spoke to us. We believed in the mission of Sections . . .

We wanted a small-church-feel in our big church.

We wanted to have better community with the people sitting around us every Sunday.

We wanted to walk into the auditorium and see people we knew.

We weren’t sure what getting involved would entail or how long we would “have to do it,” but we felt like God was saying, “I’ll take care of that, just trust me.” So we met with Josh. I thought it sounded fun and like something we could do, but the reality of our responsibilities and daily life with two young kids made us hesitate. We weren’t sure how we would find time, energy, or space for new friendships and people. It felt daunting to try and meet everyone in our section, greet newcomers each Sunday, and be early every week. And to top it all off, my husband is definitely an introvert! I fall about right in the middle of introvert and extrovert. So, neither of us felt super excited about going up to strangers and trying to spark up a conversation. We thought we’d help get our section up and running and then be able to back off and let someone else take the reins. But God was faithful, patient, and persistent with us. We have been the Section Leaders for Section 8/Second Service for about a year now. It’s been fun to see the people in our section growing in community. ​

Something changed in us that first week we decided to go for it. We were both amazed with how God gave us courage to lead in our Section. We were also surprised that it didn’t take up more of our time. Our goal is to arrive early each Sunday to allow time to greet people as they walk in and say hello to those sitting around us. Some weeks we aren’t early, or the kids are sick and we aren’t at church, and then we don’t make a new connection. But God has given us peace about it. In it all, I think God’s been teaching us patience as we build relationships and connections little by little. We are learning to trust God’s timing instead of making our own agenda.

We had our first Section Potluck last fall. Since then, with the exception of summer, we’ve had a potluck every other month. It has been amazing each time to see the people come to sit and talk to one another. We could see connections being made right from the start. Each potluck we’ve had has been very different—different people, different numbers, and a different feel. But I can see God is at work in our section. It seems like each week I see more connections being made—people introducing one another to those around them, catching up with those that they’ve made a connection with and being intentional about saying hello.

It’s been awesome thinking about God’s faithfulness. There have even been women from our Section I’ve connected with at places out in the community . . . places I go to regularly with my kids. I wouldn’t have made the same kind of connection with them if I didn’t know them from the Section and then acknowledge them outside the church setting.

So, I’d like to encourage anyone feeling like you have more to give, but not knowing where God’s leading you. If you feel that “tug” to serve somewhere at church or in the community, it doesn’t have to be big. It may be just arriving 5 minutes before the service starts to spark up a conversation with someone who sits in the row ahead of you each week. What seems small to you might be big to the person you talk to.

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