I grew up in Spokane, Washington but my husband and I moved away when we had been married just one year, in 1998. I always tease him that he has a bit of gypsy blood in him, he used to get restless after a couple of years in one place, so we spent the next few years moving around, a lot. We went from Spokane to Utah, from Utah to Seattle, from Seattle to Idaho, from Idaho back to Utah and then from Utah to Texas! Phew! Makes me tired just remembering all the packing and unpacking that went on in those wandering years!
Throughout those many moves I made a few friends in those different places, some friendships that have remained precious throughout the years and some that faded into memory after time, distance, and seasons of life eroded those ties.
When I first moved to Texas I was completely disoriented. It was a strange place and a drastically different culture (they say things like “we’re fixin’ to go” and call shopping carts buggies, people!). To top it off, my husband is a truck driver and at that time was traveling for weeks at a time, leaving me and my one-year-old son alone. I felt like I’d been dropped off in the middle of ocean without a lifejacket.
There were many months I prayed, Lord, please just bring me someone who wants to really know me, someone that cares enough to see that I am lonely and hurting and scared to put my heart on the line.
Although it took some time for me to let down my guard which, as a highly introverted person, tends to be pretty high gradually, through church relationships and gracious neighbors, I slowly began to gather a few trusted people around me. And as my children got older and we became involved in homeschool co-op, that circle grew wider and deeper and richer with friendships. And once I began writing, the Lord gifted me with new connections with other creatives that truly understand my heart and passion.
There are times, however, I have worried that my tendency to hold my innermost thoughts close to my chest and to literally hide in my closet (which is where I write) might damage some of those ties, especially over the last couple of years when I have been learning to balance writing, homeschooling, sleep and you know, life.
But in the past six months I have experienced such an outpouring of love and support from the people around me that I am left with an overflowing cup that just keeps on spilling over.
When my first book Counted with the Stars released I decided that since it was my debut novel and since it happened to be near my 40th birthday, I would throw a big party to celebrate. For weeks, one of my BFF’s and I planned and plotted (and spent way more money that was budgeted) to launch CWTS in the world.
I’ll be honest friends, I wasn’t sure anyone would come, other than the local friends that were on the launch team and maybe a few people from church. But I figured, hey, a debut is a once in a lifetime, I’ll have fun even if only a few people show.
Wow. Was I wrong.
By the time the night was halfway over it was standing room only in the banquet room I’d rented. And the majority of those people were my friends, from various circles of my life. I had to work very hard that night to control the tears that kept welling up when I considered how many people cared for me, supported me, and were willing to give up their Saturday night to celebrate a story about my imaginary friends.
I marveled at the selflessness and support of those friends who spent the entire day helping me set up our crazy decorations, cutting strips of paper for the kid’s crafts, dressing in costumes, frosting cupcakes, and then serving all the guests who arrived later. I marveled at the many people who showed up to celebrate Shadow of the Storm with me and those who joined me in my first Facebook Live broadcast to attend the party virtually (even though the sound quality was a mess). I marveled at the gifts of friendship that the Lord has bestowed on this wallflower over the years.
Eleven years ago I did not even want to move to Texas, I was terrified of the snakes, the heat, and the loneliness. But I have seen the Lord answer those desperate prayers for just one or two friends to care about me many, many times over.
Maybe you are in that time of loneliness, a time when you feel no one around you cares, or that you are invisible or forgotten, or maybe you have been wounded from lost or damaged friendships. But may I remind you that God adores you? He hears you, even in those empty desert times. He made you and knows your deepest hurts. Perhaps like me, stepping out and be vulnerable and sharing your heart authentically is a struggle, but it is so worth the effort. Pray for courage! Pray for friends!
Perhaps you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and have no problem making new friends and are confused by people like me who pull into our shells in social situations. Can I encourage you to keep trying? We introverts need you to draw us out, to call us and invite us to coffee—because most likely we won’t call you, even if we want to. It may take a little more effort, but the opportunities for a deep and loyal friendship are high with us introverts. Pray that the Lord would open your eyes to a lonely soul!
We need fellowship. We need other women to speak into our lives. From the beginning God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” and that means women as well. It is His desire that we connect with others, reach out, and allow ourselves to be known. Friendship is at the heart of the gospel, for who is a better friend than Jesus who laid down his life for us?
So I challenge you, whether extrovert or introvert or somewhere in between, reach out and take a step towards relationship this week. Whether that’s calling someone who needs encouragement, approaching a stranger, or renewing a friendship that withered away over time. Pray that the Lord will show you who needs you to take that first step. And, like me, I have little doubt that in time your friendship cup will overflow as well.
Recipe for “Manna Cakes”
The Bible describes the heavenly food, manna, which in Hebrew is loosely translated “what is it?” as “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31) So, for the release party last week my awesome friends helped me make these “Manna Cakes” which I concocted by altering a cake mix. They are super easy and quite yummy with honey buttercream frosting!
1 Box White or Cake Mix
1 TBSP Apple Pie Spice
¾ cup honey
½ cup oil
½ cup water
Mix together and follow Directions on the back of the box for cooking times. Frost with Honey Buttercream and top with white non-pareils (tiny white ones, so it looks like manna!)
Honey Buttercream Frosting
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
Add milk, as needed, for thinning
Use applesauce in place of the oil to give the cupcakes a yummy, fruity flavor.
Thank you Sheila, for once again having me on your blog to share my story of hope and friendship. One lucky commenter will be receiving a copy of Shadow of the Storm, so tell us how you’ve been blessed by a friend lately or how God has been faithful to supply a friend in times of loneliness.
About Connilyn Cossette
When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible, uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus and weaving them into fiction. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.