May 8, 2011

Unlikely Friends I...

This one starts a couple years ago, actually. So maybe it will become my next bloggy-saga. Or not; who knows.

So we go back to what turned out to be the end of our year-long church hunting journey. We joined the current church, having been sucked in by the extreme kindness and friendship of those who are now our current FOCUS group (fancy name for "cell" group, or "small" group, or whatever). At the time they were going through a sort of transformation, exploring the idea of reaching out to those in everyday life--neighbors, co-workers, or whomever they came across on a daily basis. And then taking it a step further, & showing them God's love with no strings attached, but also being available if they want to know more about this God and his love. I'm a big fan of this approach, and you'd think this would be a common & desirable thing among Christians and their communities, but sadly it is rare in my experience. I think a lot of us Christians have a bit of a superiority complex when it comes to reaching out to others, and somehow those nasty strings manage to work their way in, so when so-and-so doesn't automatically want to convert, we have a hard time being OK with that. With all that in mind, I was especially proud of this group of folks who were daring to take on such a great experiment & see what God did with it.

As a group we explored ways we might reach out to folks in our everyday lives. The Cat Daddy and I talked about opening up our yard sale to our neighbors, turning it into a sort of neighborhood yard sale. Other folks had great, normal ideas.

My awesomely awesome diva-friend's oldest son was starting preschool, so she talked about making friends with some of the other preschool moms. As it turned out, her opportunity came quickly at drop-off one day, when she had to hand off her then-youngest to a random stranger so that she could deal with her oldest's puking, or tantrum, or some other preschool-type emergency requiring two hands.

Well, you can guess what happened next. The two moms got to talking and struck up a friendship. The random stranger turned out to be a single mom with a colorful life--past, present and everywhere in between. On the surface she was a tough-talking, awesomely inappropriate welfare-mom with two boys, both bright and brilliant, and each with their own quirks and challenges. Down a little deeper was a lady who loved God (or was pretty sure she did, anyway) and wanted good things for her sons, but also came from generations of pain, abuse, poor choices, and just plain bad luck (yes, I know "luck" is probably not theologically sound, but it's the best word for the time being).

Over time the two became better & better friends. Their boys went to preschool together, and soon they started having play dates. While they are both strong personalities, they are just about as opposite as you can find in two people, so the dynamic was (and still is), um, interesting at times.

And where do I fit into the mix? Stay tuned to find out...