Moving is hard. I've moved quite a few times in my short life. You pack up your belongings and relocate to a place where you kinda know people, but not really. This last move from Oregon was one of the hardest for me. What I've learned from moving so many times is that it's critical to get involved in things right away. Whether that be church or a program or something to get to know people. Then you spend time investing in those other people via coffee dates, movies...shared experiences. That has been my formula for moving success for years.
When we were at MAF the prospect of moving across the world wasn't a scary one. When you are in ministry, you have a built in set of friends, people who are or have been exactly where you are at and know how important it is to connect. They are your home base of friends from which you reach out and create new friendships. With MAF we fit in so well and felt at home for the first time in forever. We are still working to get back to that "home" and hope in a year or so to have everything together to do another evaluation. We've grown so much in these past few years in ways we needed to as people. Ways that definitely are preparing us for life overseas someday or to be involved in missions ministry or humanitarian efforts.
But back to this move. What's been so hard about this move is that we moved back to my home state, Washington. I knew some people but it's been years since we talked and we were out of sync. All my best friends live out of state or hours away. My family also lives a few hours away and Eric's even further. This move neither of us had family or friends to fall back on, we started new and this time with a daughter. Being a parent and moving is hard.
When you are parent and move you are at the mercy of your kids for the most part. No longer can you just go on a random hike or see a movie or be super involved in church like before, your kid comes first. This severely hampers your ability to make friends. Most people in this area have family here or deep rooted friendships. They have their home base of friends from which to branch out and create new friendships. If they don't have time, they still have their core friend and family base nearby. Making new friends is an effort, and sometimes an effort they don't see worthy of their time because they already have friends from the area or friends in ministry.
This leaves people like me (Kristine), fighting hard to create and maintain new friendships. Friendships not only for me, but for my daughters. (Now I have two) It's so hard to have an adult conversation when you have your three year old running up to you every five minutes wanting to tell you something. Finding time to have shared experiences to build friendships gets harder too because if they have kids, you have to work out schedules for the both of you. But that doesn't mean I stop fighting. It doesn't mean I give up and feel doomed to a life of loneliness outside family. It means that I realize that moving is hard.
Making new friends is even harder. It takes time. I think many who have deep friendships with people that have been in the same area for years can't imagine how hard it is to be the newbie in the area. The one who hopes they are interesting enough for others to want to be friends with them. It's kinda like another version of high school, only replace the crazy teen hormones with sleep deprived mom brain. Sometimes I try to be the best version of myself, but take away my sleep and give my kids colds and my brain no longer functions. Things get cancelled or moved and it gets that much harder to develop friendships.
I am learning though. In the past few years since we were with MAF I have become way more outgoing. I love inviting people over when I get the chance and I love getting to know people in the neighborhood. I love getting to know people in general and to hear their stories. That part of me has grown tremendously since the move. I want to be a good example for my girls and to show them that just because you are the newbie, it doesn't meant that you are lost, it just means that you haven't come into your own yet. I teach my kids that a kid they don't know is a potential friend they just haven't met yet. That's how I feel in my adult life too. It's important to listen to people's stories and their hearts, you never know what you will learn. It's important to use common sense though. If there's a scary person who is angry and threatening, it's probably not the best time to get to know them. :)
Being the newbie this time has helped me understand newbies even more. I am so thankful that God had us take a break from MAF so we can grow and develop these interpersonal skills and be a good example for our girls. I am excited to see what is to come in the next year or so, even if being a newbie is hard, it'll be worth it.