Today, I’m thinking about a different kind of family: The friends who become like family through shared experience.
In a recent post I mentioned a friend I made when I was part of a young adult volunteer program after college. Honestly, I actually made many amazing friends during that time. Specifically, my fellow volunteers became a very special family for me. We were sent out across the United States with a common mission and shared similar ideas about putting our faith into action to help those living on the margins of society. We challenged one another to grow spiritually and supported one another through difficult times. Sounds like a family to me.
When my dad died at home in Pennsylvania while I was volunteering in Mississippi, my new family reached out across the miles. Some who were living and serving in Philadelphia drove to the funeral to be with me.
We have prayed together, laughed together, and grown closer as people called to make a difference in today’s world. I’d say that in addition to the huge impact the actual work I did as a volunteer made in my life, this community has shaped who I am, the things I hold dear, and my outlook on the world.
Today’s note it for Julie, a fellow volunteer and “friend who is like family.” She recently had a baby and over the past few months I’ve watched him grow in Facebook photos. (Oh — the joys of technology!) One reason I specifically wanted to reach out to Julie was because she and her husband are always good about sending an annual Christmas letter updating everyone on the adventures in their lives. Julie is a United Methodist pastor. I noticed Julie’s pastoral qualities when we were in the volunteer program together. She was always understanding, an excellent listener, kind, faithful. She has a calm voice and manner but strong convictions about helping those in need. After volunteering and later being a pastor at a church in Nome, Alaska, Julie and her family are living in Michigan, closer to her and her husband’s families.
This week, I challenge you to reach out with a note to a friend who is like family. Let them know what they mean to you. Let them know they are loved.