Those days were impossibly long and yet too short. The end was coming quickly, and yet it seemed to forever loom on the horizon. I struggled to learn what it meant to grieve well, especially when the object of my grief was not yet gone. I was lost in my todays, dreading the tomorrows, and wishing my yesterdays would come back. Meanwhile, my peers were embracing futures they had only just started to write. I couldn't relate. My life was being consumed by locusts...and though those months and years of death and destruction would be given back in grace gifts beyond my wildest dreams, all I could see were the swarms (see Joel 2:25).
There was a steady faithfulness, though. She and I, we would purpose to meet at the local gym...presumably to work out together, but inevitably we would always end up gabbing relentlessly, nursing our sore muscles and even sorer hearts. It was in those moments of consistent, intentional friendship that I poured out my poisonous brokenness and soaked up God-strength to face the next tomorrow. God's grace comes in many forms.
Then there were the months of darkness and depression, of broken trust and deep, deep hurt. This relational girl was torn apart when relationships in which I had deeply invested myself combusted. God gave me another relentless grace, another kindred spirit. She met me in the pit. She listened, she caught my tears and joined my chorus of screams at a world broken and unfair. But in the end, she wouldn't let me stay in the pit. She nudged me upward, closer to the heart of a God who never stopped pursuing me.
Of course I can't forget the sisters who share my blood and my heart. The wise one, who has poured so much of herself into me...who was my template for life for many years as I watched her live and grow in independence, making her own choices and becoming the beauty she is today. And the young one, with whom I can be candid and perfectly goofy and still feel fully accepted and loved. The giggles and road trips and shared passion...who am I without these ones who share a history with me? Dear sisters, by blood and by heart.
I haven't even begun. I could name many others...Grace gifts I never deserved but God heaped on anyway. What I couldn't see then was that, while the swarms were still thieving, God was already giving back what was being taken. Even today I sit with hands poised over keys...not really sure how to convey the magnitude of what God has done for me through these dear, treasured friendships that will never allow me to stay the same.
Friendships--the kind of treasured, life-altering friendships I am talking about--are hard fought. They are work, commitment, and sacrifice. But the generous return is immeasurable. There have been days when I could have buried my head under the covers with less heartache than it took to pursue, to pour out my heart, to grow. Those days when I choose to do the hard thing, though--to willingly enter into the depth of sacrificial friendship--those are days I meet Jesus in new, deeper ways. These gifts I have been given in the form of friends are a reflection of God's goodness. And while now we only "see in a mirror dimly," and that reflection can sometimes be smudged and smeared and dirty, it serves as a reminder to me...one day, I will "see face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
I turn 25 in a few months...and while I am semi-freaking out about this quarter of a century milestone, I am also reminiscing about a beautiful day last year celebrating those who made me who I am. Can't wait to share those memories in this space...a tiny glimpse into the depth these dear sisters and "spiritual mothers" (well, biological too ;) of of mine have added to my life. Stay tuned...you may decide to celebrate a few people in your life as well :)