When you leave your country to relocate to a place that is unfamiliar and doesn’t yet feel heart-safe, creating a close community takes some time.
Not easy when you’re pregnant with your first child.
We wanted to celebrate our friend for so many reasons: she was pregnant for the first time and it hadn’t been easy, she’s moved to the US and has left her support group of family and friends behind in Ecuador, and her mother can’t be here for the birth.
I cohosted with two friends, and the consensus was to make it as beautiful and celebratory as possible. Our friend has only been in the country about four months, and the physical challenge of her pregnancy has made it harder to be out and about. Plus the factor that her heart language is Spanish (even though her English is excellent) makes it more difficult to know if she’s communicating what she wants.
About twenty women showed up, each one desiring to demonstrate a commitment to knowing and celebrating our friend.
She was overwhelmed with the love and compassion of people she’s only getting to know.
A bonus happened midway through when her husband’s cousin drove in from the coast just to be with her. A sweet surprise that connected her with family; her value of family relationships exceeds the norm for many Americans.
Finding connection and comfort in a community is what we all long for. It gives us a place where we feel known and valued. A space of acceptance and safety.
There’s a story in the Bible about a son who was so self-absorbed and disrespectful of his father that he demanded his inheritance before his father died. His dad graciously gave it, and the son left, seeking a life of self-satisfaction.
It wasn’t too long before he lost everything. People left him when he had nothing left to give them. He was so desperate that he sought employment at a pig farm. Not his finest hour.
He came to his senses and decided to go home and work as a servant for his dad; he’d at least have enough to eat.
But while he was still far off, the dad, who had been hoping he’d return, ran to him and embraced him in love. The son, who felt great shame, didn’t want to even look into his father’s eyes, and humbly offered to work for his dad as a servant.
The father wouldn’t hear of it. His son, who had been lost, was found. He celebrated his son’s return.
He fully forgave, fully received, his prodigal son.
The best community we can engage with is in a relationship with God. He sees us fully, knows us completely in all our messiness, and still accepts us fully if we choose His love for us. He’s the Father who seeks us out and won’t let us be separated from His love because of our shame or guilt.
His love is complete and perfect; His understanding of us is beyond our comprehension.
My friend misses her family greatly. Her loneliness felt like loss; new friends restored her sense of being known.
We who belong to God are never out of His thoughts, never separated from His love. Understanding the scope of such love takes time.
We all need to start small.