November 2022

Thank You For Being A Friend

By Meredith Long

It is an unseasonably cool, early autumn day in the Blue Ridge foothills, and I slowly stretch my weary body, heavy with the weight of our second child, while allowing myself a moment to take a refreshing peek out the back door at the subtle greens, golds, and reds that brighten the landscape through the late September mist. My mind is also a bit weary as I turn back to survey the living room, dotted with stacks of pictures and artwork recently taken off the walls, a U-haul box or two, and the elaborate blanket “nest” constructed this morning by my toddler. This is our third move in less than three years, not counting the post-honeymoon, cross-country relocation to my husband’s home as a bride almost four years ago, and while I am oh so tired of the moving process, the anticipation wells up once more at the thought of the Tennessee home where we hope to stay awhile at last.

At the same time, my thoughts flicker over all that has led us to this point: the joining of two different lives, the forging of a path together, the prayers, the intentionality, the hard decisions, the open doors of opportunity, the steps clearly directed by the Lord. I am once again filled with thanksgiving for the kindness of our Father, especially in reflecting upon this sweeter-than- expected season here in North Carolina.

How well I remember our first brief visit in March 2020, our six week old daughter in tow, to this rural little place; the nerves and unknowns of signing the contract to buy a business during global uncertainty; the emotions of closing our honeymoon chapter in central Washington; the first few weeks and months of finding our way in a new home, a new church, a new town; our joint commitment to make the best of a couple of “stepping stone” years, whatever they might hold. It is a unique kind of tension – the knowledge that one’s time in a place will most likely be of brief duration, balanced with the desire (indeed, biblical command) to make each day, each station, each interpersonal encounter count to the fullest.

The “end of the story” is that we’ve enjoyed here, as a place, far more than we imagined we would; been blessed, as a business, far more than we dreamed; are headed home to family and exact opportunities prayed for, far sooner than expected. I will forever carry in my heart the 2 ½ years of early marriage and early motherhood lived out in this quiet little corner of the world. But one of the biggest unexpected blessings of all that I praise God for are the friends we will leave behind. Oh, thank you, Lord, for the friends.

Prior to my marriage my social circles had been fairly stable for a number of years, and forming meaningful relationships during our time out west was harder than I expected. What an absolute gift it was to my skeptical self, then, to connect with not just one, but five other young women very soon after arriving in North Carolina. “E”, a transplant from New England, is the mother of four children (number 5 on the way!), and a natural leader and organizer of all the things, including the Bible studies that have been such a blessing to all of us. “J” has two children, soon to be three, possesses some of the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen, and is a gifted musician who serves our church humbly and well. “M” is patient, gentle, and one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met; mother to one little girl, and now joyfully expecting a long-prayed-for addition. “G” brings some delightful spice and humor to our little group, and currently lives out her homesteading dreams with her husband and three daughters. “K”, mom of  two and the youngest of the bunch, inspires us all with her skills in the kitchen, her flair for home décor, and her zeal for biblical truth.

“Carry each other’s burdens…do not become weary in doing good… do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6). We’ve shared a lot in 2 ½ years. Plenty of culturally-stereotypical moments, yes – playdates at the park splashpad and Chick-fil-A, meet-ups at the local coffee shop, moms’ nights out at the best Tex-Mex restaurant in our little town. We’ve also shared plenty more times of closeness and authenticity; invited one another into the intimacies of our messy homes and messy “life” things; communed in joys, sorrows, fears, and frustrations. We have laughed, cried, listened, counseled, commiserated, celebrated, prayed, and served together. We’ve shared books and recipes and potty training tips. We’ve supported one other through births and deaths, infertility and miscarriage, job uncertainty and difficult parenting moments.

It is the commitment to the richness of biblical community that has been the greatest blessing of all – the mutual care, investment, accountability, truthful exhortation, hospitality, and encouragement to be faithful wives, mothers, and homemakers in the midst of what can be a weary season of repetition and feeling unseen, of endless tasks and sleep deprivation. I’m so thankful for these women who’ve lifted me up in prayer and edification, modeled so many traits of godly character, and pointed to our Savior in each circumstance. Praise the Lord for the harvest that we have reaped.

About the Author

Meredith Long is a Tennessee girl who married a boy from Utah, Derrek, in January 2019.  Many adventures have ensued, from sea to shining sea, most recently coming full-circle in a relocation back to the Chattanooga area.  Meredith delights in spending most days dabbling in the kitchen, scribbling the occasional blog post, and nurturing two precious little daughters.  A good book, a good cup of coffee or tea, and a good Alabama football game are other things she finds to be very satisfying.