I’m going on a bear hunt
I’m not scared…
A narrow gloomy cave.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!
Tiptoe! Tiptoe! Tiptoe!
One shiny wet nose!
Two big furry ears!
Two big goggly eyes!
IT’S A BEAR!
We are a part of our very own breakfast club.
Or at least, we were. Earlier in the year we’d discussed committing to brunch together every other week with a group of other families we wanted to get to know better. The group consists of all fellow transplants to Seattle from our church all grappling in different ways with life here. For some it hasn’t been long in the Pacific Northwest. For others (like us) it’s been 5 years or more. Whatever the timeline, however long we’ve been here, we’ve all started over and we’ve all shared the need for deeper relationships in our lives.
But sadly, whatever our intentions, by mid-year, we’d only ever ended up getting together a handful of times. Those initial interactions were awkward when we tried to push past a surface level friendship and it felt hard to press on when the first scheduling conflicts hit. We were young families with soccer games, and piano recitals, and girl scout cookie quotas to reach. We drifted apart and didn’t really stay on track with meeting regularly. And, initially I felt like that was ok. Life happens, and it’s hard to stay committed when there are so many schedules and so many needs. But as time has gone on I’ve realized it’s about more than that.
Being with new people reminds us each of the hole left in your heart and in your life when you leave a place you felt rooted. A home where you felt known. It’s hard to grieve the distance between you and the people you love, especially if and when you chose to be apart. It’s hard to be away from ‘home’ if your heart still belongs in another place. I know this- I’ve felt this. There are ways even to this day that I feel like an outsider in this place. ‘Getting back out there’ to make friends, to begin again, only intensifies those feelings, only exacerbates that need. Forging ahead with new people, going all in on new friendships, on a whole new community, feels like a betrayal to my old life, like a stake claimed, somehow.
But isn’t that what we need to do, make roots, plot stakes?
And maybe that’s why this particular group, and the cloud of nostalgia that hovers over us collectively; irks me. Our attachments to other times and places are an ever growing distance between us. A gulf that feels impossible to cross. I walk away feeling disconnected and un-invited nearly every time we are together because none of us will let go of the past in order to take hold of the future. We need hands free, we need arms wide in order to discover an opening, a way forward. But our hands are closed, our arms are crossed and we are clinging to another time and place that does us no service in this new world: whether we like it or not: this is our home. All this to say: it’s been months since we’ve made it work, since we’ve gathered together.
A few weeks ago, we’d invited everyone to gather at our house for a grill out on Labor Day. I sent an invitation and for the most part..
Maybe it was just us. Maybe no one wanted to be here with us. Maybe it was just timing: maybe everyone already had plans; or maybe it was about making time and making space for new people. Maybe it was easier to keep that door, and that new hope, closed. Maybe what we’d promised to commit to each other, we weren’t ready to commit: being HERE. Together. Now.
And I get it.
We just moved. Again. Out of the city to a more rural area. Not too far from where we used to live, but still our 3 girls will have to attend a new school in just a few days. my oldest daughter especially, is most vocally mourning the loss of our old community. The familiarity of her old school and her old friends. She’s folded her arms and furrowed her brow and promised me in no uncertain terms: she will not make friends.No one could ever be Rebecca or Alexandra or Kellan. Yes, this is true. This will always be true. When you love someone, no one else can ever replace them. And yet the heart is a muscle. It will expand. IF you let it. I have faith she’ll find her way. I have faith we’ll find our way.
And what I want to say to her, is what I want to say to my failing breakfast club:
New people in your life won’t, can’t possibly ever, measure up to past relationships in your life. New relationships need the time and space to carve out their own place in your heart. Intimacy takes time. And new relationships will never grow into something meaningful and good if you never even give them the chance. You can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. You absolutely must. go. through. it. Every damn time. Every single new relationship. Sometimes you won’t know which is scarier, not finding the bear or actually finding it.
But, keep going on that bear hunt.
It is worth it, I promise.