Forward by Peggy:
There is only one post this month. Andi has documented a slice of her life that is incredibly profound, and needs to be here on it’s own. It is a privilege to post this, and I hope you are blessed by it.
Friendship by Andrea
The meaning of friendship shifts as we grow and mature. Every time I have sat down to write this blog I have cried. I know when this is happening the Lord is working on something more for me than anything I have to offer my friends.
When I was very young, in grade school I had a few friends. As one of thirteen kids, we were born onto our own team. Our home was often distressed and chaotic. Although there were sisters I felt close to, I more often never wanted to be home.
Then a friendly young girl moved across the street and for a few years this new classmate and I were absolutely inseparable. I had finally found someone who just wanted to spend time with me. I knew everyday where she would be because we’d be together. The best of friends, hanging out, sharing everything. Gratefully knowing someone who enjoyed my company. Companions, confidants and cohorts, we were as close as any two sisters could be. So when the phone call came that she was missing and I didn’t know where she was, I knew something tragic must have happened. Sadly, she had been raped, strangled and left on the side of the road on a beautiful day in March 1970. I was 15, totally unprepared for death and I now I was certain, there was no God. If there was a God, He had taken the wrong half of the friendship, it would have made so much more sense to have killed me.
I reasoned that if there were a God, how could He be so stupid? How could He allow the beautiful half of us to die a horrible death and have left the angry ugly half to not only live but to live alone? Kathleen was everything I was not, she was gentle and beautiful. She was going to become a model. She was not impressed by popularity, wealth, good looks or peer pressure. We would walk through downtown Pitman and she would wave to the store owners and they all knew her by name. How could a God have taken her and left me? It was not fair, therefore there could not be a God. I had no choice but to live. I never returned to school. I got a minimum wage job and worked as many hours as offered. Working as hard as possible, leaving little energy to think. I had moved in with Kathleen’s family to help her mother (Floss) deal with her grief, we worked at the same place and for a few years all we did was work and grieve.
Only Jesus brings life from death. In my anger toward God, there was a conversation being started, I was angry, He was not silent. I often heard words of comfort and knew there was someone out there. I was both unwilling and unknowing. I would not seek Him.
When we had our daughter, Danielle, the real fear set in. What if this person I loved as much or more than Kathleen was taken from me. I would look into the face of this infant and know; there is a God. My husband and I could not have produced this angelic being without divine help. I also knew she was only here as long as this God allowed me to have her and I was grateful for that time. Whatever picture of love I held, was completely shattered by the entrance of this incredible little person into our lives. My plan was that if I ever had the phone call or found out she was gone, I would not stay around for the grief. I would as quickly as possible use one bullet. The only way for me to live, with both the unimaginable love and the crushing fear of loss, was to have an exit plan, I would never grieve like that again. In a strange way this plan gave me peace.
Years later, I know my thinking about the circumstances of Kathleen’s murder were not God’s doing. It is His hand of grace that allows this desperate world to continue. Even as we may see evil all around. He is rescuing His creation and restoring the beauty of life. It is also true that He sees ALL things together for our good. That conversation that started with Kathleen’s death, eventually, became the conversation that made me ask the Lord to come into my heart. If He were real, I truly did want to know Him. With that one prayer, my life was never the same. Every challenge, now becomes an opportunity to see just how the Lord might transform our lives. Today, I try to see His glory and His healing even before I see the outcome. I know it will bring life, eternal life.
Having grieved the loss of friends through death, change and choosing to break away when I felt a friendship unhealthy. I see friends like the chapters of a book, they are in your life’s story. It won’t matter how unhappy the ending, they are there. Friendships are meant to end or change. People marry, move, their lives fill with other relationships. Children become our greatest challenges to friendships but they add a new dimension to our lives we would not want to miss.
If I could go back and reteach my daughter one thing it would be, choose friends wisely. They are times you don’t get back, your sorrows and joys. You will have those memories for the rest of your life. Choose love, choose well. I talked to her often about what to look for in a man but not in friends. Although, the most important feature in finding a husband is to find a friend. A friend who will stick closer to you than a brother.
That is how I have often heard the Holy Spirit described, a friend that will stick closer to you than a brother. We should always look to Him as our friend. Not our task master, not just our teacher or provider but our friend. We are made in the image of a relational God. Our God is love. For someone to love there is an object of their affection, thus the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our need for love is within us, the ability to love is within us. Friends and family are often God’s hand in our lives. A reflection of His holiness, a reflection of His grace.
May you come to know His love, His strength and mercy, in such a way that you would want to spend time with Him. As you would your best friend. God bless, andrea
Jn 4:16 And we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love live in God, and God in them.