Two and a half years after our move to Juneau, Alaska, the time came for another transition—this time to Colorado. After our move—once our furniture was unpacked and our clothes tucked away—I knew the time had come to start building a new life. We began in our neighborhood. When a couple strolled past our driveway, we rushed out to greet them. As we worked in the yard, we waved and said hello to anyone who came out to retrieve their mail. But the "Hey, neighbor" conversations never moved beyond anything surfacy and shallow.
Making friends always takes time, I assured myself. Deciding to try again, we welcomed another couple into our home. In our harried preparation of dinner, I had forgotten to set the formal dining room table. We decided to just grab our plates of food and eat around our old table in the living room instead.
Conversation danced like the vivid warm flames of our fireplace. Topics shifted from work and play to theology and technology. We exchanged honest stories of heartaches and celebration. We laughed hard and often. The connection I craved in friendship was satisfied. More than anything I didn't want the evening to end. I experienced the wonder of friendship, and I never wanted to let go.
What made the difference? From waving to neighbors across the street to bolting out of their driveways after dropping off a loaf of bread to trite conversations in stiff settings, we had kept others at arm's length.
To rediscover the wonder of friendship, I had to change. Rather than holding people back, I needed to invite them in. My hands required unclenching and my soul exposing. I had to learn to be more focused on the rewards of good relationship than the possibility of being hurt.1