Recently I was at my favorite eavesdropping location—which also happens to be the best coffee shop in Wichita—and I heard a young man talking about his loneliness since moving to the Midwest. He spoke about how he longs for community, but the church the Lord has placed him in is lacking in his age bracket. He serves there and is spiritually fed but lacks life-giving community. I sat there in total understanding; when I moved back to the Midwest three years ago, I was so lonely. I knew I was where I supposed to be, and I knew this was where the Lord had planted me, but I craved community more than the coffee I actively pursue.
Three years ago I was struggling to find my place, but I knew God would be faithful and the loneliness was only for a season. And that is the truth—it really did only last for a season. God came through with an amazing community of people who I love. We eat together, play games, goof off, paint basements, and talk about life. I want so badly for those who are lonely to have a community, a family to be tied to.
The other day my friend’s son, Marky, had a conversation with his mom, that was wise beyond his five years . Marky has aunts and uncles and grandma and grandpas, but his parents have also collected a group of single friends. We are a strange family he has grown to love. Marky asked his mom if I was a part of their family, and when she said yes, he went on to ask about the others who hang out there. After this conversation he bounded back into the room and hugged me. This little man had integrated me, a single adult, into his life with no apprehension or hesitation.
I need this family, this rag tag community. We do not go to church together, in fact we are all from different congregations. But much like a moth to a flame, we all find ourselves drawn to Nick and Dana’s; gathering in their livingroom, fixing cars in their garage, and goofing off with their kids.
I keep thinking about the guy at the coffee shop and Marky. This young man needs a Nick and Dana in his life like Marky needs single Godly grown-ups in his life. How is it that a five-year-old who is trying to understand what family and friendship means can so easily simplify the relationship? His mom says I am family, so I am. What if we all treated strangers in this way? What if we took the Word of the Lord the way Marky takes the word of his mom? “When I was a stranger you welcomed me in.” What if Matthew 25 was the definitive Word for us at this moment? I want to be like Nick and Dana with an open home, and I want to be like Marky with an open mind and an obedient spirit (he’s in preschool, so that might be a stretch).
I also firmly believe that the Lord places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). As usual, my tendency to eavesdrop turned into a real conversation, and I hope the young man from the coffee shop accepts an invitation to hang out. Because when I said yes to a dinner invite three years ago, I discovered an unlikely family, an unexpected community I love. That “yes” took me from lonely to home.