Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007

It is said that friends come into our lives for a "reason, a season, or a lifetime". In a Bible study I am currently involved in, Dee Brestin, author of the Friendships of Women, says that our friends are either "annuals" or "perennials".

I don't particularly like change. When I make a friend, I want to keep her for a lifetime. Yet that is not really how it works most of the time. I have been blessed in my life to have quite a bouquet of friends. Most of us have lived in this same town for all or most of our lives. I have a couple of friends that I met and became friends with in elementary school and though our relationship has changed over the years, we remain friends. We have quite a history together and that history is what unites us now more than current happenings in our lives. Yet I know that if I needed either of these women, they would be there for me.

There are other women in my life that God has brought into my life at other times. We, too, have been friends for 30+ years. We went to church together when we were young married couples. Our children grew up together. Our husbands played softball together. We were all young and broke together. Yet we have remained friends through the years. We all still get together once a month to go out to dinner. We have been there for graduations, weddings, births and deaths. We have walked through valleys with each other, prayed for each other and loved each other through joys and sorrows. These are my "forever" perennials.... because I know that they will be there forever!

I have a college friend who I dearly loved when we were in college together. We hit it off from the beginning and have remained friends through the years. We kept in touch a lot when we first got married, then as the children came along, it was usually only by the occasional Christmas card. But.... praise the Lord for email.... we re-connected on a more regular basis several years ago and it has been such a blessing to have re-kindled that relationship. We saw each other two years ago after 20 years when my husband and I got to visit her and her husband while on vacation! It was a sweet reunion. She and I have a lot in common and have also shared joys and prayed each other through some difficult times. I thank God that distance cannot separate friendship.

Another friendship was resurrected through email a few years ago. Oh what a dear and precious friend this one is! She is my cheerleader (and everyone needs a cheerleader!!). She is always there, always ready to listen and pray. We have met a mutual need in each other's lives, being there for each other more times than I can count. Although we do not get to see each other but twice a year, those times are so very, very precious. But if we never saw each other again, I know that we would still stay in touch. She has a quiet strength that blesses my life and encourages me and lifts me up.

God blessed my "bouquet" 20 + years ago with another "perennial" when he planted me next door to her and her family. Words cannot describe what a blessing she has been to me. Her friendship has been an anchor to me, no matter what storms blew through she has always been there. But as much as I love her for being there in the storms, I think the thing most precious to me about our relationship has been just being there for the everyday "stuff" of life. Someone to share the big and small things with. We were there for each other when our children were planning weddings. We were together for football games and cheerleading competitions. We celebrated over pounds lost, perfect gifts found, rooms re-decorated and children's victories. We laughed over sewing fiascos, private jokes and blonde moments. We helped clean each other's yards of debris when the literal storms blew through our neighborhood. We wept over children's hurts, ailing parents, and our children leaving the nest. We truly know the meaning of "a joy shared is a joy doubled; a sorrow shared, is sorrow halved." And, although we no longer live next door to each other, we are still close and are still prayer partners.

Others in my bouquet have come for a season and now I rarely cross paths with them any more. Yet they remain in a treasured part of my heart. They blessed my life for all they brought to it at the time, for the lessons learned from them, from fun times shared, from support given. They were bright spots of color in my life and their fragrance still lingers.

Having a friend requires that we BE a friend. It means giving of of our time and our love and our forgiveness. Friends, no matter how wonderful they are, will disappoint us at times, let us down and sometimes even betray us and we will do the same. Not that we want to or plan to or meant to. We are human. We have feet of clay and none of us are exempt from blundering into that painful realm.

We must also realize that our friends, no matter how special or wonderful they are, should never, ever take first priority in our lives. God should be #1. When we allow our friends to be everything to us, we set ourselves up for a terrible fall. God blesses our lives with friends to teach us things, to be "Jesus" to us, to walk through valleys with us and to spice up our lives. But we must always remember that HE is to be our source of joy and peace and strength. He is to be EVERYTHING to us. If we keep Him in the proper place in our lives, we can hold our "bouquet" of friends with an open hand, not clinging too tightly to them, and help keep them pointed to Heaven too! After all, He alone deserves to be our VERY BEST FRIEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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