Just about a year ago, I travelled with one of my girlfriends to a women’s religious conference. I remember how excited I was to travel with this friend, but at the same time very nervous, too. I was nervous because she was a fairly new girlfriend and so she didn’t know some of my “quirks”, and I not hers! You know, we all have them! Like, when I eat a piece of pie ~ I always eat the filling first and then the crust! Or, when I start to fall asleep I sometimes make a “humming” noise! I know, weird, but hey, at least I don’t talk or walk in my sleep! I know, it’s weird, but aren’t we all?! Come on, be honest….I KNOW you have a quirk, or two, too! But, I digress! So, I was nervous to travel with my new friend. Since she didn’t know my “quirks”, I was vulnverable. I don’t like being vulnerable! But, who does?!
And, then, there was the conference. It was an o.k. conference, but it was A LOT of conference. Ya’ know? It was A LOT of information – one of those where you hear a lot of great information, but so much great information that it’s more than overwhelming – it’s like an avalanche of information came tumbling down on me at one time! There was A LOT of stuff to process, and, I am STILL processing some of it! I am STILL wading through the pages of notes I took! Maybe I’m a slow learner or something?! I just need to take my time processing things. I like to really think (sometimes I think too much!) and see how the “dots are connecting” in my life from one circumstance to another circumstance. That’s how I grow….I think!
So, we made it through a couple of nights in a hotel together and the avalanche of conference information – and the several hour trip of non-stop chatting both ways – and – I’m happy to report we survived one another’s “quirks” and came out closer friends. But, before we left, my friend gave me a gift. It was a picture with this really cool flowery design thing, that looks just like me, and in the middle it has these words: “Friends know the song in your heart and can sing it to you when you have forgotten the words.” I have this picture hung right by my computer screen so every day I look at it. Some days it kind of just blends into the background, other days I admire the flowery pattern while my computer is warming up, and other days I read the words over and over again. On the days I read it multiple times it is because I am either very happy and grateful for the friends I have in my life, and other days it is because I am sad or lonely because of the friends that are missing from my life.
It’s easy to reflect on my friends when I am happy from sharing a good time with one, or having received a funny text from one, or a thoughtful card ~ like my my girlfriends that I see or talk to on a daily or weekly basis. They are the one’s I call my “peeps”! They are the one’s that hear my daily grumbling like when my car wouldn’t start or when the dog chewed up something or my hubby put darks and whites together in the laundry! Or, they are the ones I call first when I want to share a “brag” about my niece accomplishing something or that I won a ticket to something! But, it can be very sad when reflecting on friends that are missing.
Some of my friends are missing because God has called them home. I miss those friends dearly, but find comfort in knowing that they are with our heavenly father and that one day we will be reunited in heaven. Then there are those friends that because of distance I miss. Like my friend who lives in Minnesota. She’s my best friend from college, so we’ve been friends for nearly 30 years! Or my friend that lives in Alabama. We have been friends for nearly 16 years! With both of these friends I have shared a lot of laughs and a lot of tears. And, then there are those friends that time and “life” seems to interfere with and you just lose track of one another. Yet, with all of my friends that are either at a distance because of miles or because of “life” we seem to always be able to pick up where we left off. We greet one another with a huge hug, sometimes with tears of joy, and just chat it up!
And, then, there are those friends that are missing because of a hurt. Maybe cross words have been exchanged or some kind of a misunderstanding has occurred. These are the toughest reflections! They cause us to have to look deep into our souls and ask tough questions. Questions like: what could I have done differently, or why did I do that, or why did she do that; with the main question being am I willing to forgive. God tells us in 1 Corinthians that love does not tally wrongs, that love is patient, love is forgiving and that it never fails. I have been experiencing this kind of love a lot lately. I believe it’s called GRACE! I have been led to give grace lately. And, thankfully, I have been shown a lot of grace lately. This evening I read the following: “a good friend will sharpen your character, draw your soul into the light, and challenge your heart to love in a greater way” (author unknown). I believe that!
A friend that calls you out on something to challenge you to reach for your higher self is a good friend .
A friend that reaches into your soul by singing the song of your heart when you have forgotten the words is a great friend.
A friend that extends grace and a friend that accepts your grace, is a friend that challenges your heart to love in a greater way, and that is the greatest of friends, because as scripture says, “love never fails”!
As I lay my head to rest tonight I do so with a reflective and thankful heart. A heart that is challenged to love greater, to forgive greater, and to offer greater grace. And, I pray over Romans 12: 9 & 10; “don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them…”
Good Night! Love, Jackie 🙂