In a little over a week, I will be moving “home”. Not just to the state I grew up, but back into the very same house where I was raised. Although many of my childhood friends scattered throughout the country following our high school graduation, they too have begun their migration home to the point that only my best friend is still living more than an hour away from where we went to school together. I am excited to once again be able to spend time with the women who defined my childhood and teenage years, with whom I’ve created incalculable memories with, and who have contributed to shaping the woman I’ve become. Yet, just below that excitement is another feeling: uncertainty.
You see, of all the friends I’m still in contact with from my hometown, only one is married and a practicing Christian. None have children. I don’t believe that a friendship requires both people to be in the same exact stage in life or to have the same lifestyle and beliefs, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have more in common than memories.
It’s been fairly easy to maintain regular contact with my friends while I’ve been away. While I can’t say we’ve talked weekly or even monthly, we’ve managed to remember birthdays, keep up with each other’s big occasions through social networking, and talk on the phone several years. Most of my friends I’ve had the joy of seeing at least once every year or two, usually at the holidays when we’ve gone home to visit family. With distance, our friendships have been easy to maintain. We spend the time we have together catching up since the last time. It doesn’t seem to matter that our lives are vastly different because these differences don’t affect each other.
Once we are living in the same town, our vastly different lifestyles will be apparent. I worry how these will affect my friendships.
When talking on the phone with my friends, I’m happy to listen to their stories of celebrating their birthdays will all-night bar crawls. But when I live a few miles away, will they understand that I can’t join them? That I would love to meet to celebrate their birthday with dinner but my priority is to be home early to put my little one to sleep?
Will they understand that the activities we do together will be limited to free activities - dinners at home, a free concert in the park, a trip to the museum on the one free (and super busy) day a month? That even when my husband gets a job, money will be tight for us so I can stay at home and we can welcome as many children with which God blesses us?
What will we talk about if we no longer need to spend the time together catching up on the last several months? My day to day experiences as a wife and mother are quite different than theirs as career women in the dating scene. I don’t belittle their lifestyle and I don’t mind hearing about it; I worry more about being that woman who just talks about how cute is her baby and how wonderful her husband.
Then there is the issue of faith. It doesn’t come up much in short visits and over the phone, but it is a huge part of my everyday life. How will faith differences affect my friendships? I never try to push my faith on those around me, but I won’t hide it either, and I can imagine it making some of my friends uncomfortable.
Will my friends be hurt when I seek out new friends who share faith and family aspects of my life? I would never suggest that anyone drop friends because they don’t share one’s belief or lifestyle (after all, I serve my friends by being an example of Christian love to them). However, I also can’t ignore my need for friends that challenge me spiritually, speak up when they see sin in my life, and support me in the journey toward heaven. I also need other moms to discuss the difficulties (and joys) of motherhood. But will my old friends realize they are not being replaced? Will I be able to balance family life with old and new friendships?