I’ve been gone for a week. I traveled with friends to the Orange Conference 2013. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. I invited six friends to go with me. This was the first time for them to experience an Orange Conference and I suspect they will continue to unpack what they heard and learned for weeks to come. I’m still chewing on the great stuff I heard. I’ll write about that great stuff later, but right now I’m focusing this moment on the stuff of friendship.
Those six friends that accompanied me to Atlanta are new friendships in the making. They don’t know me well and most have not heard my story of being rescued by Jesus Christ. They don’t know my family, my children and grandchildren. They don’t know about the crazy wild and fun adventures my family has experienced or the deep sadness of loss we have dealt with. These new friends do not know my history, yet they are now part my life story. And you know what, I am now woven into their story, too.
I had to stop and think about that…I am now woven into their story, too. My new friends have opened a small window into their life story and I have offered them a glimpse into my history. The stuff of friendship is messy when everyone’s history is dumped on each other. I realize it takes time for friendships to become engrained with trust, laughter, and acceptance of the real messiness of junk. All of that junk that keeps us bending the knee in prayer and surrendering in submission to God for help. The stuff of friendship means that I give them grace when they mess up and they give me grace when I fail.
The stuff of friendship is built on the foundation of Jesus, the number one example of what being a real friend is. While Jesus was all God (think about that! ALL God!) He was very comfortable hanging out with the “worst ” of people. The worst of people who needed a real friend to impact their history…nasty and messy people with raunchy stories that would soon be filled with supernatural beauty of healing, forgiveness and life change. Jesus added more fun and laughter into their lives. He gave them something real to be happy about!
Those friends of Jesus were transparent before him. They spilled their guts and messiness all over him. They wanted more of Jesus and he welcomed them into a new life of freedom and victory. He took their mess and began to rewrite their stories. Jesus offered them a way out of their messy junked up life. Their history was forever changed.
The stuff of friendship is like that. We are the voice of Jesus into a broken world, shouting beautiful words of hope and joy, sounds of laughter, having fun and sharing stories of real life change. We can help shape another person’s story, add grace from God’s truth and begin to weave it into the life of a new friend’s life story. The stuff of friendship is the stuff of stories full of God’s redeeming grace.
So, I’ve been gone for a week. I walked in the door of our home very late. My husband was waiting for me. When I walked in, very tired and weary, he was there to embrace me and he said, “Finally, you are home! It’s good to see you!”
The stuff of friendship is woven into our marriage, our life together means transparency and acceptance of all the junk and messiness that we are capable of and we continue to love each other through it all.
My husband is a handsome introvert. Introverts find their strength and rejuvenation with retreating into a quite respite by themselves. Introverts are very contented with alone time. I know this about my hubby and since our friendship is woven deep and knotted with life, I am very happy to give him time to be alone.
That’s why I treasure the words he said to me, “I am most contented with me, myself, and you!” No longer is it, “me, myself, and I” but YOU.
The stuff of friendship is about including the people whom God moves into our stories. It’s knotted up in the life of each other. It’s including all of those “YOU’s” out there into our life. We have very little time left to make a difference in the lives of our families, much less into the lives of friends that God brings to us.
We are people needing the stuff of friendship…the catalyst for a deep devotion, and sustaining faith in God. Friendship and loyalty that can single-handedly make it possible for us to survive.
“Friendship” is a mild word for such an extraordinary and holy connection, for what can be the most sustaining, life-giving, death-defying relationships some of us will ever experience. My closest friends are the reason for my deep faith in God, because through them I have discovered what superhuman intimacy and devotion are. ~Anne Lamott