Looking back at this past year, there is so much I am grateful for—so much to fall on my knees in gratitude for. No, I don’t think that sentence even covers it. I feel like I could fall on my face and lie there until I sink through the floor, allowing the weight of my gratitude to plow through at every level. At one of our women’s night in early December, we had a brief toasting time. There wasn’t a need for massive statements or declarations because I was in utter joy watching the sparkling Christmas lights on my tree illuminate the faces of the beautiful women in my home as they clasped flutes of champagne or glasses of wine and shared what they’re grateful for. Many of them said they were grateful for community. For people. For each other. For relationship. I couldn’t stop thinking about our relational design, which is why the Lord’s words in Mark are so spot-on:
Jesus answered him, “The most important of all the commandments is this: ‘The Lord, Yahweh, our God, is one!’ You are to love the Lord Yahweh, your God, with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, with every thought that is within you, and with all your strength. This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor in the same way as you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.” - Mark 12:29-31 tPt
Relationship is the bottom line. Loving God, loving people. Relationships are the heartbeat of life, pumping warmth and connection to our lives. I heard someone say that hunger is the currency of the Kingdom of God. I think relationships are the rivers on which we ride in the Kingdom—towards our destinies, towards health and towards wholeness. I remember moving to Colorado Springs five years ago and leaving behind a wealth of relationships in Fort Collins. I left behind friends I had walked through pregnancies with, friends that had entered into motherhood at the same time as me, coworkers that were like family, and some deep deep relationships that were a decade old. I’ve moved enough times to know that I will indeed make new friends and find a community, in time.
Time is painfully slow sometimes, though. When we moved here, Evie was two years old and Finn was five months old. I worked full-time night shifts at the hospital, which ended up being 3-4 nights a week depending on when my call shifts were. We lived in my in-laws basement for seven months while we waited for our new home to be built. There were many months where I was in straight up survival mode. Exhaustion reigned supreme. Erin was working in Parker, Colorado, and had an hour commute each way each day. Our time together was usually spent lying on the couch, both drained from our days and chasing two littles around. We hardly saw each other. Our first two years here were flat out tough times. I felt overweight, exhausted, and lonely. I think whenever you have a child, you feel like you’re on a wild rollercoaster. Identity shifts occur as your time and focus shifts. Basically your whole life takes a shift.
I spent most days at home because, let’s face it, it’s a whole lot easier to be home with small kids than chase them around a restaurant or public place. I was used to the few quiet moments I had to myself and when they arrived, I felt this weird void of disconnection. Disconnected from my heart and from God and from people. I longed to feel known, to feel seen, to feel pursued. Authentic connection was missing in my life at this time. I remember sitting in the kitchen of our new home crying one afternoon after I’d put the kids down for naps. I had firmly felt that we were called to move here and it was an amazing blessing to live by our family. It was just hard.I missed the girlfriends in my life who knew me in and out and were walking alongside of me in a similar stage of life. As I sat crying at the kitchen table, I saw an image of a bouquet of lavender in my mind. At first, I disregarded it, but the image kept coming back to my mind.
I chose to look at it. What’s with the lavender? I remembered how my friend, Adam Paulson, who was a fellow RMR Backcountry guide for Young Life with me, had given me a bouquet of lavender from his mother’s garden for my 23rd birthday. I had kept the bouquet for months in my Honda civic and loved how it made my whole car smell amazing. It hit me in that moment. The lavender was God’s way of breathing hope into my heart that community would come, that I would have friendships here that run deep. I just needed to keep waiting, keep hoping, keep believing, and keep trying. The community I experienced in RMR Backcountry was one of the most tight-knit, powerful communities I’ve ever known. Living on the trail in the mountains for seven-day stretches together created unbreakable bonds. We saw each other at our best and worst as we guided teenage kids that were sometimes super hard. God just created community in such a beautiful hands-covered-in-dirt-from-working-so-hard kind of way. I have thought of that bouquet of lavender a million times since then. I love how God knows how to connect with us even when we aren’t even looking for it. The smallest image or word or feeling can plant a seed of hope or usher us into connection with Him. I love how gentle He can be with us. He knew I didn’t need a band blaring trumpets and a banner over my head yelling, “Adge, pick yourself up and quit being such a ‘Debbie Downer.’ Quit throwing yourself a pity party. People are coming.” Instead, He gave me that sweet, meaningful image of that simple gift a friend had given me eleven years earlier—a bouquet of lavender. He knew how much that meant to me then and He knew it would speak to me in a way that nothing else could.
Today, I am choosing to think of each face here in the Springs that means so much to me. I’m choosing to look at the paths of friendships that I’ve been privileged to walk on with the women here. There’s always MORE when it comes to community and the future God has for us in community. He wants us to have it more than we even want it. I love thinking about how many freaking amazing people there are in this world that I haven’t even met…YET. I’m so glad I kept inviting relationships into my life instead of giving up and letting the door shut on hope. I remember sitting at a Young Life staff meeting years ago as Howard Baker asked us to describe the Trinity. I threw my hand up and said, “The trinity is perfect community. Perfect community.” I love that God has this incredible trinity of connection: the Father, the Holy Spirit and sweet Jesus. He is so passionate about His relationships and has designed us to be as well.
If you’re wondering where that community is for you, I want to hand you my bouquet of lavender… I extend this to you in confident affirmation that it IS coming. You won’t always feel lonely or disconnected. You won’t always sit alone at your kitchen table covered in messy dishes and baby bibs or alone on your couch at night comforted by Netflix. And if you’ve been hurt or disappointed, I challenge you to not hide, not withdraw yourself, not isolate yourself. Keep hoping, keep believing, and keep going after the relationships that God brings to your mind that are GOOD for you. Keep inviting. As you read this, it’s my prayer that He’d put someone on your mind to connect with today. I challenge you to reach out, whether it’s a text, an email, a social media message, or better yet, an actual phone call. Keep that drive for relationships into your life alive. God has planned relationships for you since before you were created, and they are coming your way, Sister. Keep inviting.
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!