Friday, January 18, 2013

Thank God For Friends

"Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not."
Proverbs 27:10
(KJV)

A true friend is a rare find.
They have their faults.
But, they are worth keeping.

Zach and his two best buddies, Austin and Jonathan.
I went through a time of deep depression after Mom died.
That is no secret
and probably the understatement of the century.
There were days,
I honestly wondered if I would survive.
Unfortunately, there still are.
Today, wasn't one of my better days.
I struggled at lot today,
because I thought of Mom...
a lot.

I wanted to see her...
to talk to her...
to go pick her up and take her someplace...
like we used to do so often.

I just miss her....
more than I could ever put into words.

During the months immediately following her death,
I shut a lot of people out.
I had no choice.
And though I was misunderstood,
and my behavior had to seemed cold and insensitive,
from the other side,
I was powerless to change a thing.
I just couldn't cope.
Couldn't deal with talking.
Couldn't handle encounters.
There were very few people I allowed in...
at all.
Strictly my inner circle.
It's all I could do.
Even the phone was mostly off-limits.
I could talk to a select few....
that was it.

I seem to do that when the hurt is deep.
It is just a natural instinct for me...
to withdraw...
further and further into an invisible cocoon...
and stay there forever.
If God wasn't so faithful to me,
I probably would do just that. :-)

He has strategically placed very special people in my life.
True, blue-to-the-core friends.
Loyal ones who care...deeply.
I am so very blessed.

Kevin, Zach, and I were enjoying a meal together...
at Olive Garden...
when I happened to look over at a table caddy-cornered from us.
There was a group of women...
possibly a women's club of some sort...
gathered at a long table,
laughing,
talking,
having a good time.
I didn't know any of them,
but as I gave a quick glance in their direction
one of them caught my eye.
There was something about her face...
her eyes, specifically....
a certain element...
that reminded me so much of an old friend.
A friend who had helped me through
 a very deep hurt and troubling time
just months before Mom died.
A friend who had talked with me on the phone, for literally hours at a time,
prayed with me,
advised me,
understood my situation so fully, because she had gone through something uncannily similar,
and who drove a very long distance to be at Mom's funeral...
to support me on one of the worst imaginable days of my life.

A friend I had shamefully neglected.
I didn't realize it until that moment...
as I locked eyes with this stranger...
seated a few feet away from me.

I missed her.
I felt the sting of tears coming to the surface.

"What's wrong?"
Kevin asked.

Bless his dear heart,
my emotions can change so quickly.
Here we are, at one of our favorite places on earth,
the same restaurant chain he took me to eat on our very first date over 25 years ago,
laughing, enjoying ourselves with Zach,
when he looks over and all of a sudden,
I am crying.

I can go from hysterical laughter to uncontrollable tears in a split second.
Can I get an amen?  ;)
He never knows...from one minute to the next...
what my emotional state will happen to be.
He is the most kind-hearted, patient man on earth.
I couldn't love him more.

I discreetly nodded in the direction of the woman who resembled my friend
and mentioned to Kevin how much she reminded me of her.

"Yeah,
she sure does."
He understood, as always.
Kevin always just knows...
what is in my heart,
what I can't put into words.

"You know, I really need to get in touch with her.
I feel really bad.
I haven't talked to her in a long time."
I felt a deep sadness...
like I was on the verge of losing something precious.

When we got back home,
I came straight to the computer and emailed her.
Tonight, she and I talked on the phone for over two hours.
We just picked up right where we left off...
the last time we talked.
I am glad she didn't give up on me.
I'm thankful she could appreciate my need for space...
that she didn't get offended by my silence...
and withdrawal.
May I be ever so understanding...
with those I befriend.

Had I not seen the stranger...
had God not allowed her to be seated right next to us...
would I have ever felt the urge to re-connect?

Here's an even stranger tidbit of information....
almost unbelievable, but totally true.
I saw the same woman again...
the other day...
in a completely different place.

What are the chances?
I don't even go to that area of town...probably nearly 50 miles from us...often.
I happened to be there on two different occasions...
and saw the same woman twice...
who has eyes just like my neglected friend.

Our families have known each other for years.
I remember going to her house as a little girl.
Her Mom always kept a box of toys and books available,
right next to the staircase,
and I would play while Mom and Dad visited her parents....
and talked over church problems,
political situations,
and the stuff of life.

She had one book in that box
that was my favorite.
I read it over and over and over.
"The Princess and the Pea",
by Hans Christian Andersen.
I loved that story.
I would read it and daydream about faraway places...
and becoming a real princess.

Such childish dreams.
Such fond, cherished memories.
To be a child again!
To sit on the floor of that farmhouse,
long hair pulled up high in two ponytails, one on each side of the top of my head,
(sometimes Mom pulled them so tight, I felt like my eyes were squinted...
can anyone relate??)
feeling the sense of security in knowing both of my parents
were nearby...
close enough to touch.
I never had a clue...
what a blessed little girl I was.

My friend is several years older than me.
She is closer to the age of my older siblings,
so we didn't really become "friends"
 until several years into my adulthood.
She was up and grown and out of the house
during most of my visits to her home place.

The older I get,
the more I realize how valuable those links to childhood really are.
I don't want to let them go...
lose them...
watch them slip away.
Staying connected somehow makes me feel closer to Mom and Dad
and those carefree days of innocence.

I thank God for the gentle nudges He gives us.
The reminders He sends our way.
To keep in touch with those we care about.
To not let the distance become irreparably far.
To hold on to what is important.

I'm glad I spotted that stranger.
Who knows, I may run into her again.
If I do, I'll know for sure God is trying to tell me something.
I think I better pay close attention.

How about you?
Any cherished relationships dangling by a thread...
ready to break...
permanently...
and completely?
Anyone you've neglected?
If they are a true friend,
they will forgive.
You will pick up right where you left off...
no matter how long it has been.
There will be no harsh words of rebuke.
Just compassion...
and tolerance...
since they know you'd do the same for them.

A true friend is hard to find.
Sometimes, they do things that get under our skin.
They get on our last nerve.
They have quirks.
We become impatient and intolerant,
and tempted...
to give up on them.
To throw in the towel.
To cash in the relationship,
and look for another.

Sadly, our search for a replacement is often in vain,
and we find ourselves wishing we could have our old friend back.
The one who knows us inside out...
and loves us anyway.
The one who shares a piece of our history....
and our heart.

Today is a great day to take inventory...
of your relationships.
Is there someone you need to call?
Someone you need to send a card to?
Someone you've neglected?
Someone you really don't want to lose?
Someone you need to forgive?
Someone you wish would forgive you?

Sometimes, we let go of a friendship over the pettiest of things.
Then we spend precious time and energy on remorse.
Why not let go of the regrets and just start fresh...today?
Forgive yourself.
Forgive your friend.
Then start again.

True friendship is worth whatever it takes to keep.

2 comments:

  1. You have such beautiful pictures here!

    Thank you for visiting my blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. And thank you for visiting mine, as well! And thank you for leaving kind comments and encouragement behind. God's peace be with you, as you depart!

    ReplyDelete