As we sat outside Starbucks on the patio, enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze, we laughed and laughed. Rather than feeling awkward like I feared it might be, I was actually completely at ease and felt like I did the last time I got to be with these friends. “How long has it been?” we asked each other. “16 years? That doesn’t seem possible!” We took turns catching each other up, going back to 16 years ago and giving the nutshell version of life for us since then. So much has happened since we lost touch with each other – much blessing, much hurt and growing.
I actually didn’t think this day would ever happen. The friends I’m talking about were very close and dear friends to John and I when we were first married. We shared community and prayer like never before with them and several other couples in our first small group experience. We spent lots of time together, talking, laughing, walking, praying, sharing. A few years into this great friendship, John and I moved to Florida to work in a church there. Coming back to visit one summer was fun, but already felt a little different. You know how things change in a relationship when you’re not able to spend much time together. You tell yourself that it will probably never be quite like it was.
God began leading us different ways, as if I saw my special friend and her husband walking farther and farther away from me until I couldn’t see them at all. Life has a way of becoming so busy that unless we’re really intentional about staying in touch with people, it just doesn’t happen. We lost touch. We heard of them from time to time and wondered how they were. At one point I heard that my friend, who had wanted a child so desperately, finally got pregnant only to miscarry. Being pregnant myself at the time I felt awkward reaching out to her so I didn’t (I wish I would have). Down the path farther I wondered if that was one reason we had grown so out of touch – maybe I hadn’t been a good friend during that hurtful time for her.
Fast forward about 11 years to the time in my life when I faced cancer. I received many loving cards from people during that time (which I still have) that encouraged me so much and made me feel so loved. One day as I was sifting through the mail I saw a note from her – from this friend. I was taken aback but happy as I opened it. My friend had faced cancer, so I knew she understood more than some what I was experiencing. Her words blessed me and I began to think – maybe we just simply lost touch. Maybe I’ve been silly in worrying. Maybe God would let me see her again someday. I would love that.
Fast forward about 5 more years to a time in my life when I’m immersed in the world of facebook. The thing I love best about it is the chance to reconnect with people I haven’t seen since high school, past churches where we’ve served, past towns where we’ve lived. It is a joy. One day I saw my friend’s name on somebody’s friend list. My heart started beating faster as I clicked the “add friend” button.
It may seem silly to be so worked up over a friendship but this type of friendship has not happened very often in my life. I’m an outgoing people person but those deep relationships in Christ – those close friendships when the other person loves me as I love her, when you just “click”, when she wants to spend time with me as much as I want to spend time with her, when you genuinely make each other burst out with belly laughs, when she wants to share heart to heart about her walk with Jesus and life in general and then hear my heart, too – those I could count on one hand. They are precious.
This entire process flitted through my mind as I sat looking at her (and her husband) sitting across from me and John. JOY. I thanked God for giving me another chance to know her, to have her close again as a sister and friend. I’ve been praying for time with good friends – needing some close kinship.
As I walked this part of God’s path, suddenly I turned around and there was my friend! We get to walk some more together side by side. It’s up to God how long – I’m just so happy to see her there again.
“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24 The Message
“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17 NIV