You Belong Here Too

My friend recently posted a picture on Instagram and I almost wept at the memories. It was an image of me standing at a wedding with arms draped around two of my sister friends with other close, family-like friends in attendance. Sprawled out on a north Alabama hilltop. The sun positioned at just the right spot to bathe everyone and every moment in golden light.

I can still see the faces, the sparkling eyes, our fancier clothes, the variety of skin tones and hair textures. The layering sounds and tones of their laughter and identifiable quirks of personalities. The ones who became close friends in just a couple years and the others who had been in my life for decades.

Later that night, the upbeat chords of music wafted by, promising a fun night of food and dancing at the reception. And even though I was heavily pregnant with my youngest, I was gonna have that moment where the right song came on. I would point to a few of my girls who I knew would nod their heads in time with me and together we’d bust onto that dance floor to slide and sway.

I reminisce with joy and ache for those memories. There are a multitude of other recollections that form the reel flowing in slow motion in the back of my mind. Triggered by the most subtle reminders. In the midst of new adventures and rhythms, I still long for that. Those core feelings of belonging. The beauty of comradery. The raw and authentic way that sister and brotherhood are built.

Friendship makes you known, in the ways that matter. There is something so special about sitting with those who get you without explanation. There is a certain level of competence in those spaces.

Although beautiful and nostalgic, these times don’t last for always—for any of us. What do we do with those moments, these memories? How does God redeem them and where should they be placed in the rhythm of our current lives?

I do cherish the moments of this now season—the coffees and talks and outings that facilitate new and growing friendships. But I still long for that core feeling. The place where I‘ve made a home and my fast talking, quick to dance, southern, second generation Nigerian quirks are fully known.

Because sometimes, in the aftermath of major change, the movement is a bit more awkward. The steps to that once finetuned dance are as clumsy as a toddlers two feet.

A stumbling and tripping, a learning and reacclimating, a fall in the dust of new makings.

Jesus sits there in the dust with us, grinning at our inability yet relating to us with the most tender expression in his gaze. He lifts us from those lonely places and teaches us how to move in the rhythm of friendship in new seasons.

What we’ve had before is not replaceable but it was never intended to be. And thankfully many of the ones who represent home still stand waiting with those open arms of belonging.

But here, even on the far side of transition and change, it’s different. With its own kind of raw significance. We discover the importance of actual hugs, coffee and homemade pastries—sitting curled up on couches with rain falling sideways outside. It’s the comical stumbling through words and then laughing at the attempt to be understood. And because of it all, we are known more than we realize. Known in our flaws, third culture quirks and deep laughter that rolls from the place of shared humanity.

It’s the head laid down on tables of hospitality, where the desire to serve is turned and you weep as new friends speak and pray over you. And your heart beats in rhythm to the feeling of known…home…belonging…here…too.

It’s here too. The opportunity for deep friendship. Carrying its own layers of texture and tone, rolling with the presence of the One who calls us His own and therefore knits friendships together wherever we go.

He cares too. About the things we carry and care about. The longings in our heart that point to what was but can serve as a foundation of what Jesus wants to be here. Through us. Among us. Sprawled out glory upon us.

What are some of your fondest memories of friendship in your passport country? What does friendship and belonging look like for you now? How is it different? How does it carry its own special texture and tone?

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Clarke January 13, 2022

    Jenny, thanks for this! My heart can surely relate. I’ve been praying for that kind of friendship that sinks deep and is safe. The kind that is surrounded by laughter and will also sit with the tears. The kind where you are still known in the silence and still loved in the flaws. It’s approaching six years since my mentor passed away and everyday I still miss her friendship, her counsel, her presence. But it’s a comfort, a grace to know that God calls me friend. That He is there in the deepest of valleys and the highest of mountaintops. That He cares about the desires of my heart and lifts my head when I’m ugly crying. Truly, the older I get, the more meaningful the song resonates – What a Friend We Have in Jesus!

    1. Jenny January 13, 2022

      Yes to all of this. I resonate with your comment so much. There are so many layers to friendship in our context. What is missed, what we have now, what will never be the same. It’s been a little over two years since my friend/big sister/spiritual mentor passed away and I never fully grasped how open and easy her friendship was until she stepped into eternity. What gifts we’ve been given in women like these and I’m thankful for the ones we still have. But so so so thankful we don’t have to navigate this without Jesus!

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