She entered my life without an invitation, wandering into the church office, asking about a way to get connected. I was working there, but I also attended a house church. Trying not to be too biased (of course, I thought my house church was the best—and it was, for me) I shared a few options with her, and off she went.
The following Wednesday night she showed up at my house church. I was excited that someone I had invited came, even though she was not some random person-off-the-street that I would have expected to invite. She was looking for it, in the most obvious of ways, and she fit right in. Interestingly, she only lived a block north of me. As we started visiting more, I shared with her that I was preparing to move to a distant land in about two years.
This did not deter our friendship at all. In fact, it was not long before she invited me to stop paying rent and move in with her so that I could save up and reach that goal more quickly. I argued that I was fine where I was, that I really liked my roomies, and that God was going to provide all the funds, so I did not really need to save. However, two weeks later, in the middle of a Perspectives course, the speaker told of how Hudson Taylor had learned to live on rice and legumes (or whatever it was) before he moved to China. The speaker then handed out a list of ways people might do this today.
What? Are you serious? I knew this message was something I needed to take to heart, especially when I got to the end of the list and it said to live as a minimalist—adjust to not having ALL your stuff. At the time, the house I was sharing was largely furnished by me. Moving in with my new friend would mean getting rid of it all long before I had intended. With all the humility and trembling imaginable, I told her that I would love to move in with her, agreeing that it was something God wanted.
This was the beginning of a great friendship. She became more than a friend; she became my accountability partner, one who knows me better than any other person. When I moved to the other side of the globe, she came to visit. When I returned, she offered me my old room back. As I prepared to return to the field with another organization and different vision, she got excited and felt like this was where she was supposed to go too. How awesome to have my best friend go with me!
And then it happened. She really took time to seek God and realized she had gotten caught up in all the excitement. This was not where the Father wanted her, at least not yet. As she tearfully shared this with me, she asked what she should do. She had filled out all the paperwork, our church-based team had been meeting and praying and seeking God’s direction for months, and she felt like she had already made the commitment. With all the courage I could muster, I had to say it: “Don’t go.” I meant it, even though not having her there was going to be so hard for me to accept. At the same time, what a wonderful advocate to have on the home front! In reality, I could not go wrong either way.
Though I have missed her close companionship, her ability to encourage, challenge, and commiserate with me from afar have made this first year bearable. She knows me well enough to not let me pull anything over on her (ah, nothing like an accountability partner who just will not quit), but she also knows me well enough to know that sometimes I just need someone to say, “I know, it really sucks.” She is coming to visit this summer to meet my new friends, to help me laugh at the things I need to laugh at, and to push me further down that road of language learning. I love how God brought her into my life, and I probably do not tell her (or God) this enough. I will do that now.