Over a dozen years ago, a neighbor told me all about her wonderful church, and how we could visit. Ivet was sure our toddler would love the Sunday School. (Since Ivet, the pediatrician, and the grocery clerk were the extent of my weekday social life, I listened closely to everything any of them said.) My mister was raised in church, and he wanted nothing at all to do organized religion. I wanted something. As the next weekend approached, I told the mister that I was going to check out this church, and that he did not have to go. That was where the children and I would be Sunday morning if he chose to join us.
The four of us walked through the doors of the middle school where the church was meeting while waiting for a building to be completed. We were greeted by a man who was married to a woman who would be an incredible blessing to our son in years to come. She was the only person to look at him in his toddler years and suspect Autism affecting his development and social skills. (How I wish she had been advising me in those days rather than the pediatrician we mistakenly trusted.) The Sunday School teacher handled my anxiety over leaving and Evan's subsequent hissy fit with equal ease and aplomb. She found something to compliment him on each week whatever his behavior, and she avoided criticizing me for the wildness in The Boy. The pastors did not tell us we were going to burn, but instead suggested we had an alternative should we choose to accept. They spoke of a sin nature, and that it could be defeated. The music was contemporary, and the band talented enough to capture the ear of my musically inclined mister. We continued to return week and after week.
In the loneliness that led me to seek out Ivet, and to accept her counsel, I signed up for everything and anything that would allow temporary release from our small apartment with or without the stroller. A women's retreat was held in a hotel near our apartment, and someone anonymously gifted the attendance fee for me. Seeing the women in the retreat venue, a yearning for the kind of fellowship they shared began to cautiously unfurl. Sitting at dinner with two women, grossly outside what I felt was my social sphere (who would later become two dear friends), I was enthralled by their camaraderie. The three of us had daughters born the same year in February, March, and April respectively. Peeking into their lives, seeing their friendship, I wished for such friendship. And I began to pray for just such a friendship.