Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday - dear friend!

I’ve heard it said, “You don’t choose your friends they choose you.”

Hmmm. Maybe? I don’t exactly believe it! I think God plays a huge role in who comes into our lives. And, because I don’t believe in coincidence or chance meetings, then I don’t believe there is necessarily a “choosing” on anyone’s part.

I do believe we are all created for friendships. I think we all long for support and encouragement from those who know us well. I, for one, am not likely to turn to Facebook when I want to share my joy over some accomplishment, or if I’m seeking comfort if a loved one is ill or dying. You also won’t find me searching out a casual business colleague to help with a gut wrenching personal decision.

I’ve also come to realize there are many depths of friendships and many reasons we become friends with another person. I believe some friends enter our lives for a “season”. When the season has passed, they fade away. I don’t believe this means we have failed at the friendship, but it was only meant to be transitory. These transitory friendships can be intense, necessary and worth cultivating and treasuring just as I would a long-lasting friendship of the heart. I know I couldn’t survive without them. These transitory friendships get us through a particular “time” and for that I am grateful. The transitory friends I’ve met along my journey have brought great joy and insight into my life.

However, the friendships of my heart are my real friends. They have stuck by me through the years. They have watched me soar and seen me fail. They know my mood swings and my family history. No matter how many months or miles come between us, the friendships endure. Our cumulative years of shared history maintain our connection. This connection steadily pushes us together on the same journey. With my “heart friendships” there have been so many years of tireless talk that we now speak in shorthand to each other. We don’t necessarily keep up on the daily details of our lives, but we know each other’s headlines. We count on each other and we keep what’s worth keeping and we blow away the rest.

I want a friend who really knows me – my history and dreams, my joys and griefs, my hopes and fears. I want someone to help guide me through uncertain and sometimes choppy waters. Even greater than all this, I want someone who knows me even better than I know myself. I want someone that can check for my own self-deception. Someone that will challenge me, support and encourage me to dream, even when I want to give up. Someone that will call me to account – and I have confidence that they are doing it with my best interest at heart.

I long for a friendship with someone who knows me so well that their life will also impact and influence my life. “As iron sharpens iron, so on man (woman) sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

What the heck? You are probably wondering what brought all this on! Why all the talk of friendships? Well, today is the birthday of my very best long-time friend, RT. She is my “friend of the heart” and the things I have written above describe her to a T!

She would be the first to disagree with the “heart friend” title (she’s very humble) and she would most certainly disagree that she is a good friend! And yet…I can state those two things emphatically!

RT and I met at college in 1972. For most of the first few months she was there I “knew” who she was. However, once she moved across the hall from me…I got to know her. She was painfully quiet, but something stirred in my heart to really know who she was behind her cool, calm demeanor. I felt the Lord speaking to my heart during my quiet time that I should get to know her. REALLY, LORD? HER?

Once I decided to open my heart…I was drawn to her…her athleticism, her sweet smile and her tender heart. I noted that she loved to sing and there is always a song on her lips. She can take a lot of kidding, but be prepared to receive in kind! She has a great sense of humor (able to laugh at herself) and loves to hug on people (beware if you don’t like someone in your personal space!) She is very passionate on “certain topics” (and we don’t always agree! Don't even talk to her about Facebook!) She hates injustice of any kind!

Most importantly, I learned she didn’t (and still doesn’t) like to be the center of attention…or for that matter have any of the spotlight on her! If it was her day to have to speak in class…be prepared for throw up! She considers herself a “background” person, but she is so much more than that.

At any gathering you will find RT sitting close by “someone” and getting to know them one-on-one. You’ll notice that she is leaning into the conversation to hear every word. RT picks up on small nuances...the things not being said. She is listening with a keen ear and hearing what is said via her heart. The Lord has given her a spirit of discernment. RT has great compassion and at any moment her heart can expand to the size of Texas! You might also find tears welling up in her eyes as you speak to her because she has such empathy for others.

She loves young people…children. I think my own children used to secretly wish “something would happen to us” so they could go live with her. HA! (As with all children they never really thought that through! She is way stricter than I am!!!) But…she loved my children as if they were her own. She fussed and prayed over their hurts and cares. To this day she is one of their biggest supporters and will pray for any need they may have at the drop of an “email”!

During the darkest time in my life she was my lifeline. She prayed for me, encouraged me and never left me. We were miles apart, but she was there via telephone, email and snail mail. She was my window out of my darkness.

The Lord must have seen how different we were. He is probably still laughing at our strange and wonderful friendship. Only He could have brought us together and only He can sustain a friendship that in an earthly-sense, should have died a quick and painless death once we went our separate way. But…we have prevailed! The Lord has taught us much about ourselves and about each other through this friendship, and I believe there is so much more to learn.

“And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel. Psalm 84:5 (The Message)

Her life has become a road I travel, and I travel this road with joy and with pain…but no regret. We know we can count on each other…and what we share is an irresistible impulse to keep going on this road together. The Lord has blessed us both with different lives and burdens, but we share those burdens as we travel this road. The Lord has called us to have HIS heart and to continue to love each other…many, many years to come.

So today…Happy Birthday, RT! I am thankful that He planned our friendship from the very beginning…

“Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9 (The Message)

God bless you, my friend! (And if you know RT...tell her how she has blessed your life! We don't live forever, you know!)

I love you, RT!


3 Cowgurls said:

Terri said...

Jan is that friend for me and how thankful I am she is in my life. Your tribute is absolutely beautiful and moved me to tears. Ditto to all you have written. I think your friend is blessed as well in having you as a friend.

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm glad that you've got such a wonderful friend. You are truly blessed.

kanishk said...

Your tribute is absolutely beautiful and moved me to tear
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