This is a re-post from earlier this year. It is one of my favorites and the way I remind myself as to how rich I am. Rich beyond words.
I was recently asked the definition of Church.
How often, when we say Church, we think of a building? But Jesus didn't come to earth, minister, die, and rise from the dead for a building, but for a people. Wherever the people of God are gathered to worship the Creator of the universe, there the Church is.
The Church is a people created, called out, and gathered by God. ~~Gloria Furman
The best part of the churches we have been privileged to be a part of is the many women I have met over the years. Women who love God in spite of unwanted divorces, children who have died, husbands who died suddenly after being cancer free. Single parent moms who just do the next thing. Words escape me as to the awesome life I have as a pastor's wife to know so many of God's women. Whether in joy or sorrow or the mundane of life, my sisters in Christ fix their gaze on Jesus and reach out to those around them.
Church is a place full of broken people with their gaze fixed on Jesus and their arms outstretched to others.~~Blythe Hunt(Mundane Faithfulness)
Women I have been honored to know and love make me very rich. I am amazed at how the Church I love works together to build each other up, cry with those who are grieving, take food to families who have had a new baby, or work together in the kitchen to pull off a turkey dinner. I could name a thousand ways women honor each other, but I will name a few here.
This is just a smattering of women I have known over the course of thirty years. I look forward to living the rest of my life getting to know and love those God puts in my path. Not a building but a people.
- A new friend said to me this week, "stop by anytime, I know your extended family is far away and I'm sure you miss just stopping in to visit them". How did she know?
- Women who walk with their sisters in Christ through cancer. Not just saying, "I will pray for you", but go together to doctor appointments.
- Neighbors who give you a new French Press coffee pot because she has an extra.
- Women who press on, looking to the future, after being fired from a job they've been at for many years.
- Wives who walk with their husbands through many illnesses, encouraging them to look to the Author and Finisher of their faith.
- Friends who watch their lives take a path they never planned and watch as God faithfully takes them on a path that is new and exciting in ministry.
- Mothers who trust God in the dark as children take a prodigal path.
- Friends who are transparent as they pour their hearts out over cups of coffee and lunch time sandwiches.
- Women whose marriages have not born the fruit of 'growing old together', but still love God and their neighbor in the midst of difficult marriages.
- Women, young and old, who say 'I will trust God and His Word' in the midst of dire circumstances.
I wrote this a year ago, but loved reading it again as I have been considering and reading about friendships the past couple of days.
My shortest relationship began and ended in disaster.
His mother worked at the bank with me a million years ago...well maybe not that long ago. I've been with my husband for so long it seems there was no one before him.(I mean that in a good way dear hubby!!)
Sadly I cannot remember the name of the sweet guy who sent me roses on Valentine's Day. Maybe because it was 1985 and that was a long time ago. Weren't you married in 1985 you ask? Yep! That's another romance story. But this was February, and Rob and I were not speaking. He was in Arizona, probably not giving me a second thought..you may have to ask him about that!!
For this post's sake let's say his name was Doug, I think that's close enough. As I said, I worked with Doug's mom who was a typical mother, looking for a sweet girl for her son to date. The roses were beautiful he sent that year along, with a request for a date. I wonder what she told her son about me. We had never met but he wanted to go out. I said yes. He arrived one evening at my upstairs apartment bearing more roses. He was early, anxious to get the date on it's way or get it over.
I ran to the door with plunger in hand as my toilet decided it was the perfect time to run over. I was dressed and ready to go, but toilet duty called meaning, water needed to be cleaned up before it drowned the downstairs neighbors. I'd like to think Doug rolled up his sleeves and helped me, but memory again fails. With the mess cleaned up we were on our way for an hour car ride to see the magician David Copperfield. Plunger disaster averted. Doug was the perfect gentleman that evening. I wish I could remember what we talked about. He was as sweet as his mom. We had a great time together, but the second disaster hit when he called the following week for another date and I had to turn him down. I worked fulltime, baby-sat a couple of evenings for a friend, was involved in ministry at church and played volleyball. I didn't have a free evening. I'm sorry I was never able to explain my reasons. He never got up the courage to call on a girl who was too busy for him, I'm sure he thought. His mother was gracious and never asked. We went our separate ways, I married and went my merry way, hearing several years later he had died of cancer as a young man and never married. I hope I wasn't the one who turned him off to dating.
This brief time in my life makes me think about how busy my life can become, believing everything else in life is so much more important than taking the time to spend with friends. Work beckons, babies and teenagers seem to write our schedule with church and community activities rounding out the calendar. Where does that leave those we call our friends?
I had a wake up call seven+ years ago when I was very busy taking care of my growing family and trying to keep up with a very active church life. When death suddenly arrived at my doorstep, it was like chains fell from my sides and life as I knew it would never be the same. NOT that family and ministry are chains, but that weekend when my dad entered heaven, God was showing me what really mattered. I was so busy doing, I had failed to stop and just be...whether it was taking the time to be with God, stop and enjoy my family rather than rushing from one activity to the next or stopping to enjoy coffee with friends. Maybe that is why, over that past few years, I have come to enjoy coffee so much more. I don't think it is the taste or the caffeine(might be though). The simple act of enjoying a cup of coffee causes me to slow down, to enjoy the moments with my Bible, or across the table from my kids, friends and loved ones.
All this rambling to say we need friends. Even if it just one or two people we can count on no matter what, friendship is so important. And if you're married girlfriend..don't expect your husband to fill all your needs when it comes to friendship. As one husband who will remain un-named told me so many years ago..."I'm not your girlfriend and I don't want to be your girlfriend." If you are un-sure about that quote, give me a shout and we will have some girl time. In the mean time, let us take time for friendship.
She sat on the end of the bench most games collecting splinters. Most games I joined her as we watched the first string girls basketball team play. We rode the bench together our junior year and had the best time that winter. We were the best of friends in high school.
Going our separate ways after high school graduation, she to a big university, me to Bible college. We had dinner the summer after college graduation. Over pizza, she told me the high school rumors were true. I panicked and fled....
and did not love.
Over 25+ years I gave her much thought, wondering how she was and what she was doing. I went on my merry way, raising a family, ministering along side my husband, but not forgetting her...and remembering I had
failed to love.
She and I met up not long ago, her first question was
Why did you leave?
I was speechless, but found my words to say
how sorry I was
would you forgive me?
could we start over?
Over enchiladas and tacos we began again. I tried to say we could be friends, good friends in fact, all the while not condoning or approving of the way she had chosen to live her life. We hugged, I went back to my merry life, she to her lonely life.
Wanting to see me more than I was willing to give...
...I failed again to love
I don't live with many regrets. But there is one...this one...failing to love someone who is not like me.
Looking for verses that would highlight this post I found What Does the Bible Say About Love?
I haven't just failed, I'm giving myself a Big FAT F!
...praying God will bring us together again.