In the way-too-early hours of a Thursday morning a few weeks ago I loaded up in my husbands pick up to head to Nashville. He dropped me at the airport and waved goodbye so I could get on a plane alone.
Alone is a special kind of sweet that comes from being so spectacularly rare. But, of course, I wasn't going to stay alone. I was going to meet up with 800 other mamas who do education a little outside of the box.
I knew no one.
But I felt incredibly known.
I had to do that awkward is anyone sitting here thing and by right of that I had to explain my choice to come alone.
It's nice not to have to explain anything. That was my answer.
Now let me be clear: I, to my knowledge, have not had anyone ask me about our life choices unkindly. Most people are interested, curious, and at worst caught a little off guard and concerned. Never accusing or mean.
They ask. I explain..
I explain my big family. I explain adoption. I explain homeschooling. I explain (once again) that we don't actually use a curriculum. I explain ministry and our choice to not be involved in almost any extracurriculars. I explain blogging, writing, and sharing.
And in Franklin, Tennessee for one Friday and Saturday, it was understood. I was understood.
But as you can imagine in a room full of women who have almost all ready The Last Kid in the Woods, our conversation turned to our place, our families, and our children.
It wasn't until I was flying home glancing our the airplane window to a vast expanse of treeless quilted land that I realized I had spent much of the weekend explaining where I was from. How it shaped our days, and formed our family.
I had explained my weekend away.
Because, of course in a room full of strangers I could never be completely understood. In a room full of friends I could never be completely understood. Even with my husband, who gets me better than anyone else has ever fathomed can I ever be totally and completely understood.
So here we inject a cultural view of friendship. We hashtag it squad goals. We want friends that see into the deepest parts of our lives. That understand the abstract and the physical. We want them to get our hearts and hang in our living rooms.
And that is a good goal.
And that is bad goal.
It is good to yearn for deeper more meaningful friendships, it's good to want it on earth as it is in heaven. It is bad when we turn friendship into an idol, propping it up in the place of a God and heaving the weight of glory on it that it can't handle.
How to handle the conundrum then?
We build wider. We reach father. We go to more places and talk to more people and we discover at the bottom of it that we can be known more vastly that we could have imagined. We learn that this is always the way the church was meant to function. With each of us reaching a different part of everyone else.
It is only in this vast array that we can get a glimpse of how widely God can love. Only here can we begin to understand that no part of us in left truly alone and lonely.
We build deeper. We have the hard talks. We explain different choices. We order another latte and we explain again the ways God is moving in our lives and then as we sip we sit and listen to the way God is moving in theirs. We see that this is the way the church was meant to function, with all of us stretching and growing each of us outward to broader compassion.
It is only in these deep and safe places that we can get a vision of how deeply God can love even the hardest most confusing parts of us.
So tell me, do you feel known? Do you feel stretched? How are relationships growing you in your life right now?