Letting Go & Coffee Shop Friends
I started writing this post yesterday but when I was adding a link I clicked “cancel” and everything just went away, not to be recaptured again. Unless, it was written again.
The irony of it all is that sometimes God has to rewrite our story for us. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Right now this truth doesn’t sit all that well with me. It seems He has authored a season of relational disconnect for me. My perspective only, but dare I say perspective is everything. How one sees a particular situation can color it completely different than it truly is.
I cried all day yesterday, cancelled my church membership, and yelled at my cats for pooping outside the litter box. They sense my anger, fear, anxiety and stress. My fur babies are forgiving so all will be well again, but am I so forgiving with myself?
You see, on May 25, 2014 my world as I knew it would be catapulted into a “new normal.” It would be a date on the calendar that I would hate every year. My best friend, Karen, left for heaven that day. I, unwillingly, was forced to stay behind. To figure out life without my mentor, coach, best friend, teacher and emotional processor was not something I wanted or felt was fair. But life is rarely fair, isn’t it?
Estranged from my biological family for irreconcilable differences, Karen, gently but in the most uncanny way knew how to help me overcome feelings of hate, insecurity and a ship load (cargo size) of botched up emotions. She chose to embrace me, baggage and all at the riskiest part of my life. Next to God himself, I trusted her with my life. Our friendship was substantiative, a soul connection deeply grounded in genuine love for each other. Her greatest deposit she ever made was this lesson that people are always inconsistent, but unconditional love is always consistent. Let that soak in for a minute. If God is unconditional love, then He IS always consistent. God gave me my calling, she helped me unearth it. Her job was done here three years ago, My job is not done here but sometimes I feel it is. Sometimes I wish it was.
We are made for connection. We are wired to help others. We need what I call “coffee shop” relationships. We need to be heard and we need to speak. Believe it or not, our trash maybe somebody else’s treasure. Our shared (stories) experiences create movement – movement creates change – and change means we do not stay the same. Summed up, we overcome, we become stronger, we help more people and the cycle continues. Rinse and repeat.
Prior to Karen’s death, I heard God gently nudging me to return to a church community. I was not thrilled by this instruction/suggestion. My church experience is vast, some pleasant and some unpleasant. Yes, we as Christians and those in church leadership can do things to further damage our brother’s and sisters in Christ.
Even so, I agreed to follow what He was asking from me (maybe a little kicking and screaming too) but I found Parkway Fellowship. Honestly, God knew I would be safe there and patiently waited for me to recognize it too. I cannot say enough good things about Parkway’s leadership, Pastor Mike McGown, Pastor Gary Chevalier, Tennyson Smith and the ever awesome Dee that has fielded countless calls to the office from me. It has been the most consistent leadership I have seen in church in a very long time. Pastor Mike’s messages are always spot on, story telling with an end that leads to conclusive action. Always relevant. Always on time.
Yet (yes, here comes the butt), Sunday is only half of the equation. Small groups are the other half. The words “small group” are cuss words in my vocabulary. When Karen died, I was lost. The axis of my life was reading the GPS coordinates wrong. It had life upside down and backwards instead of right side up and forward. Needless to say I needed support and people in my life that could help me right the GPS and keep moving forward.
I moved out to Katy, TX to be closer to Parkway and to make the commitment to be involved in a small group. Little did I know that my efforts to connect, make friends, move forward and share the immense deposit of love Karen gave me would be a train wreck. My groups kept getting cancelled, days would change, topics would change, locations would change and leaders would change. This last group I was in was obliterated into space. I missed a couple of weeks and reached out to my leader to find out if the group was meeting the following week. My text and phone calls went unanswered. Needless to say, I am not interested in small groups (hey, there’s that cuss word again). Frustrated, angry, and disconnected. I have refused to try again. This leaves me conflicted. Hope has been deferred to many times and my heart is sick.
Dare I say, some small groups, to the outsider looking in are cliché’s? Long time friends, and parkway members who have established relationships staying together every semester? Even if new people wanted to join, would it even be comfortable for them.
Social interaction is so important to living a balanced life. We need people and people need us. Raw, uncut, and authentic. This relational disconnect has pained my heart to a high degree. I have asked myself, cannot I not connect or have I not been allowed to connect? I have wanted to throw in the towel, give up, end it all. I reach deep down and find a small motivation to take one more step. I elicit the help of hope to guide my heart. Until that hope is deferred again.
She’s in my DNA and I have her heart. Yet, Karen would tell you she wants me to move on, I have given myself permission to move on, but I need your help to move on. To have and experience what I did for nine years is held in a sacred place in my heart & soul. The relationship we had is a rarity, one that comes along maybe once or twice in a person’s lifetime.
But now I am taking that brave step to say, I am looking for “coffee shop” relationships where people just want to connect and talk about the most random things, live authentically, and have fun in this incredible life. “Coffee Shop” relationships, no demands, no judgements, just people living life. I would love to find it within the church, try again, not give up, stay in the game. Although, I won’t limit myself to the church.
If you are in need of a “coffee shop” relationship, look me up so we can find each other. We each have a story to tell. I know there has to be at least one person in this big wide universe God has given us to play in.
Thanks for reading.