I'm not a sappy guy usually but this post is going to be sappy. You've been warned. :-)
Last night's small group lesson and this post over at Mysterium Tremendum made me really ponder something. How would my life have been different had certain people not entered into the picture at a certain time.
The people at my church already know this as I've said it a million and two times, but there's no way we'd still be in the town we are without their friendship. We moved here not knowing a soul and it was so lonely that first year. A church family is something that is very important to us because we don't hit the clubs or do any kind of bar scene and we were several hundred miles from either of our families. Secondly, I took a pay cut from delivering pizzas to becoming a visual journalist (imagine that). So, the money to go do anything that might give us social interaction was tight as well. We found CCJ but still didn't have friends there.
When we were getting ready to try and have a baby, Shannon and I talked at length about whether or not we were going to stay here. We decided to try for the baby and stick it out for (maybe) another year just for insurance reasons if nothing else. I was already involved in our praise band by then and was forming bonds there but, honestly, I still wanted to leave town and get back to Tennessee. When we started our small groups however, things began to turn around in a big way. People started viewing each other as 'family' instead of just 'our group.' After Isabella was born, one friend in particular really went the extra mile for us (as she continues to do). She treated Isabella as if she were her own daughter and treated us as if we were her brother and sister. I can't help but think that this is what was described in the Book of Acts (talking about the early church). I could go on and on but you get the picture. For those Christians who think a church family isn't important, I'd respectfully (and strongly) disagree with you. You need these people.
Another friend has been there for me during the most personal of struggles and for that, I can't express enough gratitude. This guy has been the person I shared long talks with about faith, life, love and doubt. I hope nothing but the best for him because he deserves, well, what we all deserve but I want for him the very best in everything.
I have been blessed by so many friends and I don't have the time to express to each of them how much they have meant to my life. I really believe God puts people in your life for a reason. I hope I have served some reason in the life of my friends because they definitely have in mine.