I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Michele Chung's reflection "Finding New Friends In My Journey."
Being a Monk in the World has been quite an exciting adventure. However, what I didn't expect was that when I went on my journey, I had to leave my friends and old support groups behind. It didn't happen right away, but in the span of a year, my small inner circle of friends had mostly moved out of town for personal reasons. Over the next few years, my theology would change so much that I stopped sharing my spiritual life with friends from my old circles because our paths have diverged so far from one another.
Honestly, I didn't expect them to understand the path I was following. After all, the journey God has for each of us is immensely personal. The shock for me was leaving the support system I had leaned on for most of my adult life. Who or what will take their place? To be fair, I wasn't alone. My husband was a great encouragement to me. God took him also on a similar journey. One night, after a disappointing talk with an old friend, I turned to my husband and said, "I have no friends left." He replied wisely, "You will always have three friends: the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit."
Dear friends, if your contemplative journey has also led you to a place where you seem to be traveling alone, I hope you will find comfort in knowing that you're not the only one. For I too am going through a similar season.
I've always felt closer to the Holy Spirit, and tended to pray to the Spirit for comfort and guidance. However, it's different this time around. During my solitude practice, I laid bare my longing for companionship, and was reminded of how Jesus called us friends. Rather than focusing on the Holy Spirit as my source of comfort, I sensed the Lord wanted to teach me about the friendship of Jesus. Not only was my earthly support being shifted, God was also shifting me away from my old spiritual habits.
It's never comfortable when God tears down the old in our lives to make way for the new. But unless I let go of my old ways and habits, I could not grow. Recently, I've finally made new friends. However, these new friends are very different than the ones I had before. My new friends are from a variety of age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and have very different spiritual outlooks than my old ones. I didn't go out of my way to build this new group of friends. They're simply kindred spirits whom I met along the way. Our paths crossed so often that we've started to lean on one another for support. They have become my new neighbors in life.
I'm also learning what it means to let Jesus be my friend. He has called me friend, but I did not understand the significance and depth of that friendship. Through this experience, I'm slowly learning to trust him as my source of comfort and provision.
I'll be honest, a part of me still misses the familiar closeness I had with my old friends. We've known one another for so long that we're like family. However, just as new wine needs new wineskin, so I need new friendships to help me grow in the new journey. I'm grateful for Christine's website as a channel where I can process my thoughts and interact with others on a similar journey. I'm also grateful to many bloggers and artists online who bravely share their insights and challenges. Looking at their works have inspired me to keep writing and sharing. As I continue, I hope I can also be an encouraging friend to others along the way.
Michele loves reading and learning about everything contemplative. She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and a house full of books. You can find her writings at mzchele.wordpress.com or Facebook: @SabbathCafeBlog. She also shares her art on Instagram: @imagochele.