I feel like I've been the "new girl" my whole life. You see, I was a military kid. My dad joined the Navy as a Chaplain when I was in second grade. I ended up in three different schools that year. We didn't move as much as many military families, but it was a new home and a new state every two and a half or three years from then on.
Idaho to California. Two different schools in California. Two neighborhoods in Washington State. Three years in Okinawa, Japan. Two awkward and lonely final years of high school in North Carolina.
I wasn't the girl that grew up with her same best friend all through school. In a way, I liked starting new again, and in other ways it was terrifying. Who would I sit next to at lunch on the first day? Would I be able to be a new me at the new school?
pre-military Kindergarten/Idaho me & my sister
First grader/Idaho me, about to be oldest of two sisters
3rd grade/California me and two younger sisters
Okinawa me at a tea ceremony going through my "scarf phase"
High school/Okinawa me with my sisters
I had my first deeper friendships in college. It was a sweet uninterrupted four years for me. But I still felt like the new girl, somehow broken in being able to develop and keep relationships. I was so used to letting people go. I just didn't know how to maintain a friendship.
It was always a surprise when friendships got hard, when they demanded grace to keep going. I thought "real friendships" should be easy and uncomplicated. Real friends wouldn't annoy me, right? Haha. My view of relationships was primarily self-focused.
Thankfully, God has been so gracious in this area, giving me friends who consistently pursue me and love me, poking and prodding to get to know me and keep in touch with me.
Fast-forward to now. I've had a relationship with my husband for eight years now, and my friendships here in this town for a good seven. This has been uncharted friendship territory for me with so much to learn.
I don't think my friendship challenges are unique to me or military kids. I think we're all broken in some way in this area--our expectations of friendships, our ability to sustain them, our skill at applying God's grace to these areas.
So, I write as someone struggling to be a friend--to my girlfriends, my church family, my children, and my husband. By the way, I think marriage is just a deeper, most intimate friendship, not some other class of relationship.
I'll be posting more about relational grace in the coming posts!