July marked four years in Austin for us. Four. I understand how time works, and yet sometimes I don't get it. We moved here when we were twenty-three and twenty-four, and now we're twenty-seven and twenty-eight. We've lived in this city through various seasons: settling in newness, making it a home, building community, befriending coworkers, etc. I worked night shift at first, which seems like a lifetime ago. We've processed through hard things and waiting seasons, too. We've missed family and celebrated anniversaries and found favorite restaurants and walked our neighborhood countless times.

In so many ways, we're different people than when we moved here, different because we moved here, different because of the people with whom we choose to surround ourselves. The people you surround yourself with make worlds of difference. This is more apparent to me in this season of life than any other before.

We've been in a hard, expectant, waiting season for quite some time, and there are times when my heart feels weary, heavy, eager to retreat into my own world. But after four years in a place, I have people in my life who won’t let me just retreat into my own world. I have people who pull me back, who say with their words and actions: together (community) is better.

I met my friend Jessica on Saturday morning, and we sat inside, watched the rain, drank lattes (her's oat milk, mine whole) and talked about what we're reading in the Bible and about families and our marriages and how much the people around you influence your life. We talked about ways we've grown, how we have healthier friendships, how we're less easily offended, and quicker to forgive. How she's a healthier Type 1 and I'm a healthier Type 2 (enneagram types). We knit and I felt my heart filling up.

It thunderstormed for most of the day, and I came home, feeling refreshed, ready to spend time with Nicholas. We spent the rest of the day at home, but it was home in a different light, a less reclusive one, a more joyful one.

And today, I met my friend, Molly, for coffee. And again, we talked about the influence of people in our life, and the importance of people who can see you distancing yourself and hold out their hand to you. We knit and laughed and talked about upcoming visits home and how we fight for joy in confusing and heartbreaking situations. We talked about how my biggest lesson right now is rather than living in future dreams in my head, it's most fruitful (and faithful!) to look amidst my surroundings, taking in all the ways He's blessing us right now, today.

Tonight, Nicholas took me downtown and we got our favorite pizza at our favorite place and walked in the rain, holding hands and a paper bag filled with leftovers. We talked about a future home and reminisced about our first kiss at the park, all those years ago. We stopped for dessert at Steel City Pops and got sticky fingers and then ran through the rain back to the car. This week, he's spoken truth in the face of lies, and given me all the hugs I need and more.

I'm seeing how God blesses us in dry seasons with different kinds of blessing than even what we pray for sometimes: often in the shape of people who love me well and remind me of truths and get excited with me and feel sorrow with me and drink coffee with me.

I love this Spurgeon quote:

No Christian has experienced perpetual prosperity [...] Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid [...] but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God's full grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.

In all three of these interactions, encouragement and laughter and fun and prayer that made these days (and countless others) more hope- and laughter- and joy-filled. I believe that amid "winds and tempests" our community is imperative to "tearing off the rotten bough of self-dependence," and help remind us that the only sure and sturdy root is in Christ.

If you're in a heavy season, shake off some of the heaviness with a friend, a spouse, a knitting date, a cup of coffee, a neighborhood walk. Leave what’s heavy behind. Hope in the present doesn't diminish hope for the future. Choose joy, community, hope, seeing not just the space of what isn't yet, but the promise of what is, here and now, trusting He's got the rest in His hands.