In the last week, I have been struck by the sweetness of friendship. I lost a friend, but in my grief, I was inundated by old and new friends with sincere concern over my well being in the form of hugs, messages, texts, and prayers. I heard from people I hadn't spoken with in years due to miles and busy schedules, I reconnected with old college friends who were able to pick up right where we left off 15 years ago, and I felt so much love from everyone who reached out to me with the simplest of gestures, people who never even knew Gloria, but felt my pain in losing her. No one can really explain the power of friendship, but I can testify that when you have a friend, you have a beautiful gift that transcends the temporal and tastes the eternal. I think that's why I cried so much during Gloria's memorial services and felt such a strange mixture of sadness and joy; it was so hard to say good-bye, but it was inspiring to see the magnitude of her friendships in this life. Losing her made me realize that my friendships are worth the investment of time, even when it feels like I don't have enough. I told one of my old Northwestern friends that hanging out again was like opening a gift that had been on the shelf for 15 years; what took me so long to unwrap it and enjoy it?
My old church while I was in college, Evanston Bible Fellowship, had a 25-year Anniversary celebration this past weekend. Todd and I were unable to attend, (sadly missing it by only a few days of being in Chicago for Gloria's memorial), but we got to hear from other friends how amazing it was to see each other after decades of being apart in different states and in different stages of life. These are the people that we did life with during college and our first few years of marriage; our relationship and spiritual growth was greatly impacted by Pastor Martin McCorkle and his leadership at EBF. We truly would not be the people we are today without his sermons, his friendship, and his shepherding of this church. All past and present EBF-ers were able to get together this weekend to reminisce, worship, laugh, cry, and enjoy each other's company again. Knowing many of them, I have no doubt it was a great party! One friend who attended shared a quote that resonates with me so much right now:
"In friendship. . . we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another. . . the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "You have not chosen me but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."
-- C.S. Lewis
I love the idea that God chooses the people He wants us to know in this lifetime, and I am eternally grateful for His choices for me in all the different stages of my life!