Friday, February 13, 2009

Precious Gifts

As I was walking my daughter into school this past week, I overheard one of the kindergarten teachers chastising a student for his poor behavior in the classroom. "Little Billy, you know we don't treat our classroom friends that way!" You see, in Kindergarten, they call each student a "friend" instead of a "classmate" or "kid". After hearing the exchange, my precious observant child looked up at me and smiled her special "I want to ask you something" smile. Later, before I led her into her own classroom, Kayla whispered to me, "Mama? Do I have to be friends with him?? He's not very nice to me." I couldn't help but smile at her question. It was a valid point. How many times have I asked myself the same question when faced with someone who is completely self absorbed and more focused on what's wrong with everyone else than self reflection?? So, like any good mother, I skipped right over that question and gave her the stock reply of, "Just be try to be kind and considerate to all of the children, Honey." But in truth, I wanted to say, "Heck NO! Don't be his friend! Pick your friends wisely and be thankful when you get it right!" But that's not how it is in Kindergarten. You see, at that stage of life, the choice regarding who your friends will, or will not be, is not really up to you. The ability to embrace or walk away from another individual is not given or encouraged. So how will kids ever learn how to choose just who to let into their special circle?? Perhaps we should just leave God up to the match making...

I have never been one to have an abundance of friends in my life. Now, don't think I'm complaining or anything, because this is not a bad or sad thing for me. Being someone who has a hard time opening up to new people, I prefer to reserve the label of "friend" for those precious few who learn to know me beyond the quiet, subdued, exterior I portray to the world. I tend to guard my friends closely, and treat them as I would a precious stone or diamond. You see, a diamond is one of the strongest, yet most beautiful, of all materials. They are rare, priceless, and are appreciated and admired.... just like a true friend should be. It's too bad that often times we forget just how valuable those gems are, just as we forget how precious a true friend can be.

I remember that fateful day when I first met my friend Catherine in the 7th grade. I walked into that large cold Biology room and, after meeting our overly excited, super geeky teacher, Mr. Mackey, I felt my insides trembling. Catherine and I were placed at the same lab table simply because we were seated in ABC order and her last name started with an M and mine an N. As luck (or rather God) would have it, I pushed my mother relentlessly to register me in school under my stepfather's last name (even though it wasn't legally mine yet) when I really had no reason to do so. If I hadn't been registered in that way, Catherine and I might never have become the friends we did! She and I made it through that horrid Biology class, and even stuck together as best friends through all of high school. She was the person I confided in about every crush, every homework assignment, or any problem. She was the first person I told when I met my future hubby, and her opinion of him meant the most. She was my maid of honor at my wedding, and remains to be someone I care a great deal about. Although we don't get to see each other as often as we once did, we remain in close contact and I know she is only a phone call away should I need her help. She is very precious to me! I will always remember Catty as the one person in my childhood who had a glimpse at how awful my life could sometimes be, but who never judged me for it. She never pressed for information, she never pried, she just loved me.... warts and all.

When I got older, my husband and I started visiting a new church about a year into our marriage. One special day, I recommitted my life to Christ, and my husband was saved. It was a very memorable moment in time for me! Not only were my husband and I united in an extremely deep and meaningful way, but God also blessed me abundantly by orchestrating a meeting with someone who would come to know me better than I knew myself. On that day, I met my dear friend Lizbeth! She and her husband were on call that weekend in the prayer room and, as God's plan would have it, had been praying for a couple to disciple... and of course, we were right on time! Over the course of the next 11 years, our friendship has flourished into something a kin to sisterhood. Although I have never known what it meant to have a blood sister, I do know how it feels to have a Liz... She is one of the first people I not only want to call, but need to call, when things go right or things go wrong. She helps to celebrate my victories, and is always there with a tissue, hug, and Coke during times of defeat. And the most amazing part of this relationship, is my desperate desire to be there for her whenever she needs me too. We need each other, just as close sisters do. I am so thankful that God had this relationship in His plan for my life. I don't think I would be where I am today without my dear friend's love and guidance, and I believe this is how God intended us to be with one another.

And yet, throughout my life, I have noticed how very little stock some women put in those special friendships. I have personally witnessed grown women treat the person they claimed to be their "best friend" with little or no appreciation at all. I have seen how women will twist words of love and encouragement into something foul and meaningless in an attempt to gain favor from people they believe to be in positions of authority. I have also watched women blatantly lie about the actions of their "friend" in an attempt to hide behind their own pride and sinful nature. It is so sickening. But mostly, it's just super sad. Friendship is not a gift that every person has, so it should be cherished! Just as that precious stone is housed safely in your velvet lined jewelry box, our special friends should be housed securely in our hearts. We should give them the benefit of the doubt when things come up that are out of character. We should immediately apologize when we mess around or mess up. I'm not saying we always have to agree with them, but we should treat them with the love and respect they deserve! Let's face it, we're only human! We all fall down, get dirty, mess up, and need help! Why do we feel it necessary to use our friends as a punching bag?! Why is it so easy to cast the blame their way, instead of accepting responsibility for our own selfish behavior?

When Jesus came down to the earth, He picked twelve special individuals to enter into His sacred circle of friends. He knew they weren't perfect, and yet He loved them any how. He knew they could and would fail Him, and yet, He forgave. He saw beyond what they were, and believed in who they could be. He even watched them walk away in His time of greatest need, and still ran to them when they were lost in the woods. That is what friendship should look like. That is the kind of friend I want to be. That is the kind of friend I want to teach my daughter to be! So how is your friend doing today?? Have you talked to her of late? What has she been celebrating? What has she been mourning? Don't just claim the title "friend", but do everything in your power to BE the FRIEND! And the next time you find yourself in need of it, I guarantee your friend will be there for you too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thank God daily for your friendship!! You are truly a diamond to me! Thank you for being there for me yesterday. You are not just my friend, you are my sister!!