There is a group of gals from church that faithfully gets together for lunch on a Thursday each month. Gather up these fifteen women and there is always a whole lot of laughter and good food and dessert. Always dessert.
Today as I was paying the waitress for my bill, she quietly asked me if there was a particular reason why I was with this group of women. Is one of them your grandmother? She looked across the table full of ladies with salt and pepper hair and deep set wrinkles.
At first glance, I may not look like I belong. The women around the table have 30, 40, and 50 years on me. They have been married for that long. They are widows. Grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They wear sweatshirts with bunnies and snowflakes and angels. They are Marilyn, Frieda, Judy, and Ann.
Our move to Michigan a few years ago meant forming new friendships. I felt as lonely as one can feel and without hesitation, these women befriended me. I am married to their pastor, but it goes deeper than that. They care and hug me tight and ask questions and remember tidbits and offer advice. They invite me alongside of them and learn my story as I learn theirs. One by one.
My entire life, I've been surrounded my ones dear to me. Best friends and family just up the street or in the dorm room next door. I never had to search hard for friendships. I was spoiled and didn't know anything else. And then we packed up and moved to a place where we didn't know anyone. For months after Josh, our little one, and I arrived in this tiny town, I prayed and prayed for a dear friend here. Just one, Lord. I've struggled with this. But He drew me closer and closer to Him and now, slowly but surely, he's blessing me with beautiful friendships. They are still blooming, but they are here and they are wonderful and they are with sweet ladies of all ages.
But all along, they have been here. The ladies with the gray hair and kind eyes and open hearts. They have been my first true friends here. And I adore them for loving me and showing me that age can be thrown out the window. For giving me a place to belong. For making me laugh until my side hurts. And for always, always saving me a spot at the table each month.
I turned to the waitress and answered her question.
They are my friends.
She nodded and smiled. I smiled back, a whisper of a prayer of thanks on my lips.