We got back from France 6 months ago. And pretty much nothing about the past 6 months has gone down the way I expected. A lot of it has been pretty crappy and some of it has been awesome. One of the hugely crappy parts has been friendships.

See, when you leave for 2 years, it alters your friendships. It has to. If you are going to maintain relationships while abroad, you have a lot of tools to do so – email, Skype, Facebook – but none of those is the same as meeting someone at Panera and just…talking. There is just something about that physical presence that is important. Out of the 5 girls I would consider my best friends here, I missed 3 first pregnancies/children, a wedding, and a really hard time in life. And they missed a hard time in my life and also my first pregnancy/child. Those are things you can’t ever get back.

I was really looking forward to re-joining our small group at church. They were really supportive of us while we were overseas, even the ones who joined in our absence. This will be a great place to just recuperate, I thought to myself. The only problem is, our small group dissolved shortly after our return. Plus people are busy, which makes it really hard to do that great face-to-face thing at Panera. And now that we’re back in the States, the emails and Skyping have slowed…which leaves us basically community-less. And un-recuperated.

Could we join a new small group? Sure…in theory. Even if we find one that fits our schedule, which is the schedule of our child – who is ready for bed by 7pm – that would entail MEETING NEW PEOPLE. Which is not one of my strong suits when I’m at my best. I just don’t do small talk/getting-to-know-you stuff well in general, and I definitely don’t do it well right now. It is just awkward. Getting-to-know-you questions would necessarily bring up our recent stint in France, which I frankly do not want to talk about. There were some really beautiful things about our time there, but a lot of it was awful and it is really difficult to skirt around that. Not because I think it’s something to hide, but because you don’t drag out all your crap for the getting-to-know-you part.

Then, after the France thing gets out in the open, suddenly everything changes. I have lived in an exotic place, so I must be interesting! Um…no and no. Southern France IS exotic…Marseille is not. (We have some friends – from our now defunct small group – who just moved to Thailand, I think, and the video they sent of their neighborhood seriously looks just like ours in Marseille.) And I am not that interesting. I am just a normal, mildly boring person who usually loves Jesus. I am not good at telling stories or jokes or other really any sort of entertaining thing. Also people suddenly expect me to be super-spiritual. I just cannot live up to that right now. Like I said, I usually love Jesus…Or, people seem to think they have to be super-spiritual around me. You don’t have to pray if it’s unnatural to you, just because I’m there. I am totally fine with eating unblessed food. In fact, when I eat alone I don’t pray at all.

So, it’s basically just easier to stay home. But I know I need community, even if I don’t feel like it and even if I don’t want it.

Even if it sucks.