We only meet every few years because we have a hard time finding a date when we're both free. But when we meet, my soul feels like it has feasted.
1. Friends have history. I had lunch today with a heart-friend of almost 40 years. Bonnie roomed with me in college for two years, rescuing me from almost certain extinction due to a previous roommate, who smothered me by shadowing me everywhere. B knew what she did/n't want and didn't need to define herself by our friendship. She was happy to be herself, funny, and pragmatic as we students were wrestling with who we would become. Those schoolmates have disappeared and we're older women who see the tracery of God's plan across the landscape of our lives. (However, funny stories remain forever, like our midnight raid on the guys' dorms during finals week ... which we confessed to dear Doc Holdcroft - our college president - after 25 years.)
2. Friends stay connected over time. After we graduated, we stayed in touch, occasionally meeting or writing letters. My letter about expecting our first son crossed the mail with her own announcement to me. (Our sons were born a month apart.) Then we had a daughter each. Our kids grew up, moved out, got jobs, and gave us a few grandkids.
We tried to say hi or schedule a visit on Boxing Day annually. Through the years, there were more misses than hits in connecting. Whenever we met, we remembered what we were like as young women and caught up on the people we knew in college. And we shared what God was doing around us in our husbands, kids, work, and church.
3. Friends keep Jesus at the center. We've exchanged our challenges and prayer requests as the years skipped by from decade to decade. I could depend on Bonnie to hear from God and share that with me.
We've marveled that life gets simpler, even when it doesn't get easier. Our focus intensifies as the main thing really takes hold of us (= our relationship with God). And the periphery - the stuff of life - though stressful and heartbreaking at times, draws us in closer, where we trust and love God more.
We don't know if we'll meet in person again. She's moving to a small Canadian community I've never visited, while we're off to Asia.
As we talked today about how God has aligned our gifts with our calling, we were both amazed. She loves to sing, worship, and serve people with special needs. I like studying, writing, and speaking.
We're so different. But we're similar because at our center is Jesus and his Kingdom. When we paused to pray after lunch, our hearts entwined again. She promised to support us in prayer and I did the same.
She asked of God: "May your Kingdom come on earth [in each of us] as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)
"Ah yes please, Lord Jesus," my heart answered. "Walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. (Isaiah 26:8)
What a gift Bonnie is! Between times, we assume the other is growing in grace. We've prayed for each other since we were young. And we continue to do so. Each time we meet, I'm astonished at how I can trust her with my life.
God, today I want to thank you for this dear friend. Bless her, her family, and her calling. Let your face shine on B and other friends so dear.
These special heart-friendships are your gifts of grace, your compassion and favor on us. We could not conjure them up nor solicit such depth of feeling.
On this pilgrimage, you display your care by sending us fellow travelers who experience life's purpose and meaning from many vantage points. Through their faithfulness, we learn more about you and your Spirit among us.
We are so grateful. Help us to be a blessing to them as they are to us. Amen.
Who are your heart-friends?