In a town called Liberty, we lived with our door wide open for years. Friends and neighbors in and out. Impromptu movie nights, babysitting swaps, birthdays, and BBQs. Our small house couldn’t hold them all at times, so our parties trailed out of doors. We belonged, and from that gift, we helped others belong.

Then one day we decided to move.

Our new home was bigger and more suited for entertaining. It was the reason we bought it. A welcoming entry way (without a fantastic view of dirty dishes) plus a spacious patio for the friends we imagined. We just knew we would be friends with all the neighbors, that we would get connected quickly at work and church, and that fitting in wouldn’t be a problem.

I started my part of the crusade by introducing myself to every person I met at the park and was sure to give them my number. Days went by. No phone calls. I invited new church friends over. It was great, for a while, but our church was so big, we rarely saw the friends we did make. In the school groups we joined, everyone already had well-established connections. We tried to gently push our way in with friendly boldness and determined hope, but there was also this one thing: everyone was so busy.

For periods of time we did make friends. Then relationships fizzled for various circumstantial reasons: a class would end, a family would move, or school would start. We found ourselves starting over once more. Year after year in our big beautiful house.

patio_GT

Every day felt harder than the one before—to introduce myself again and again. To always be the one inviting. Eventually I stopped reaching out altogether. I was tired and lonely. Every time I drove back from a visit to our old town (which was just an hour away) I wept in the car, remembering the deep family-like friendships we had there. I vowed that nothing in our new town would ever compare to that. I wouldn’t even give it another chance.

This home would never be what I wanted it to be because I didn’t belong.

So when a new friend would invite me over, I told them I was busy. When I watered the flowers and saw a neighbor getting the mail, I stayed put. I might lift a hand in hello. But it felt safer and less disappointing to duck inside and sit on my back deck alone. Doors closed. Heart shut tight.

I pined for Liberty. My husband begged me to stop nagging him about moving back. As I began to see how my children felt rooted in this home in which I didn’t, I grew bitter and anxious. The patio stayed empty.

In Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons, Christie Purifoy says about chasing expectation,

“What might happen if I loosen my grip on the perfection of the not yet? What if I stop acting as if not yet is something I can achieve? Something I am supposed to muscle into existence? I want to learn to live in today as I live in this house.”

We just furnished our patio with a table and chairs. The weather is warm and tomorrow I’m having new friends over again. People who want to belong, just like me. We’re all in difficult transitions, trying to find ourselves and where we belong as writers, mothers, wives, and followers of Jesus. Maybe not quite fitting in has been a gift, strange as it is. I feel like I’m being invited to give the not yet another chance.

Christina Hubbard
Christina Hubbard / Posts / Blog

Christina Hubbard is an author and poet who writes about identity, worth, living courageously, and the messy, amazing creative life. Her mission is to help others find God’s imagination in their own lives. She loves chatting about faith and deep things over coffee with friends. She lives in Kansas with her husband and two kids. Find her at Creative & Free.

  • Emily Conrad
    Emily Conrad
    http://www.emilyconradauthor.com

    I’ve never moved outside of my hometown, but even here, it takes work to build and maintain those deep, family-like relationships. I understand the impulse to stay safely tucked away, to stop the hurt of rejection by stopping to reach out. Thank you for sharing your journey, for trying again, and for reminding me to do the same.

    June 15th, 2016 9:46
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  • Vicki

    Oh my! This is me! We moved here 21 years ago and I would still go back to “before”. We moved here to go into full time ministry and it’s the loneliest place to be in! Who knew?
    This is encouraging.

    June 15th, 2016 10:07
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    • Christina Hubbard
      Christina Hubbard
      http://www.creativeandfree.com

      Vicki, the lonely is the hardest place to be in, especially in ministry. Community is a gift I will never take for granted again. Praying for your connections and a sense of belonging. I hope you are finding a new sense of relationship through the book club in the in-between.

      June 15th, 2016 10:12
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  • Shelley

    I had no idea others felt this way too! I’ve always felt this way. Growing up in school I was so why U never connected with people. In college it took years but I met a great group of friends. We scattered all over after graduation. 18yrs ago an adult in a new city I didnt know what to do, after kids forced myself to make connections through my kids. We tried get togethers a few times a year but as you said everyone always had their own established groups of friends. We were

    June 15th, 2016 10:50
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    • Christina Hubbard
      Christina Hubbard
      http://www.creativeandfree.com

      Shelley, kids help, but life changes like friends scattering are difficult! So thankful we’re not the only ones. (hugs)

      June 15th, 2016 11:15
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  • Christie Purifoy
    http://www.christiepurifoy.com

    I love this, Christina, and I relate so much to your experience. It is such a mystery to me how hard both loneliness and relationships can be and yet both have been gifts in my life. I am glad to read that you are returning to a sense of hope and possibility.

    June 15th, 2016 14:41
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    • Christina Hubbard
      Christina Hubbard
      http://www.creativeandfree.com

      Christie, they are gifts, aren’t they? Thank you for inspiring us all with the promise of knocking down fences and opening our lives wide open again.

      June 16th, 2016 12:17
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      • Torie
        http://mcyfnldv.com

        I think it’s a nefarious plot by Fox to entrap a bunch of anti-Fox folk into spreading the link around so they get a ton of clicks. BONUS: They also get to cite all the comments about ‘hey, look at this! Fox did something fair-ish and ba#ciaed-nsh!&l8217; They can feed off of that for months.

        November 5th, 2016 13:01
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  • christa sterken
    http://www.christasterken.com

    Oh how this is my story! I mean I could have written it verbatim. Every part resonated with my. We’ve moved a lot, but when we moved to Anderson, Indiana from Portland, Oregon I was broken.

    I tried all the usual things that worked in the past. But… people were very busy. It has been 8 years now and we are settled, but my family is all in Arizona and California. I ‘long’ for them. For someone to just stop by, to have a casual flop on my couch and stay for some horseshoes and tea.

    I have wonderful friends here who I love now, but they are still all busy. Different phases of life now, as I just graduated our youngest. 14 years of homeschooling and a soon to be empty nest. We are talking about moving back to Arizona. To be near family. But the truth is, I am a bit scared. I am 45 and to try and meet people when there are no “kid” activities, yet not retirees? Who knows?

    God does. So I am trying hard to learn patience, to listen
    Bless you sister

    June 16th, 2016 11:53
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