Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friends Again - Finding Golden Friends

“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.” As a little girl I sang this traditional Girl Scout song. Long after the meetings, campfires, and badges are a distant memory of my life, I recall singing with a smile on my face and a warmness in my heart, but as a child its lasting value evaded my understanding.

Every occasion presents a new opportunity for God to bring spiritual blessings to our life. We should live life always expecting, in anticipation of what God is going to do. Just a few weeks ago, I stood in the church parking lot so hurt, sharing my heart, crushed by a person in church who lacked grace. After listening, my wise pastor told me not to worry about it, that the person did lack grace, but to hold on because "God is doing a new thing!" Those few words gave me hope to hang my heart on as I walked to my car smiling knowingly repeating those words inside... "God is doing a new thing!"

As Christians we are called to walk in faith and not by sight, a faith that God is always working in our life, always bringing good out of what initially seems bad, like a recent mandatory cleaning day at my children's school. Cleaning a building may not initially sound like good, but it depends on your outlook, and more importantly your sensitivity to God.

The night before, I was with a group of moms that were coming up with every reason in the world to not attend. A conscientious friend, with little enthusiasm, confessed, "I will be going." So I nabbed this as perfect timing provided by God, suggesting, "I can pick you up." "Oh, I would like that because you are always late," she smiled. We laughed at the thought of someone cherishing the fact that they would be not on time.
I have been taught that two things on earth are eternal - people and God's Word. This knowledge has been a foundational building block for my life. When I think about how I am spending my time, I remember to invest in eternity. To accomplish this, I must spent time with people and in God's Word, the true "silver and gold" treasures to cherish in life.

Friend ends I have learned that friends tend to draw near and then over time drift away, with a kind of ebb and flow. I treasure friends, but never entwine so tightly to become dependent. Following a cyclical pattern of close and distant, some friendships end in painful disasters, often through my lacking relationship skills, my desperate desire to have a "best friend", or constantly seeking happiness in others' acceptance.
God has allowed me to bungled more friendships then I care to recall. But in the fallout of each, I endeavor to learn something new so that I will not travel down the same old friendship fallout again.

I have learned I can't always satisfy others' needs. Some people can't take disappointments nor walk along-side a friend through hard times. Some drift due to a disparity in finances, goals or values.   Thankfully not all relationships die a permanent death. Some fall into the pattern of the lyrics of Girl Scout song, "Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver and the others gold."

The ones that make it to "gold" are the few priceless people who love you even with all of your faults, in spite of all of your weaknesses and withstanding all of your "strengths". They understand that none of us are perfected on this side of heaven. We are a work in construction. We need to be encouraged by God knowing, "He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it."

"Friends Again" are the people who allow us to go through hard growing seasons even if they can't walk through them with us. They put up with our fads, changes in life, and new-found quest. They see value in us even when most people think we are ready to be tossed to the curb. They delight in knowing someone that is authentic - in good times and bad. They allow themselves space to grow, and expect this in others.
Forgiveness is a way of life for anyone that can be a "Friends Again" type of person. They know they are safe to mess up, frustrate, and disappoint; and they extend the same grace to others. They are vulnerable enough to hug, laugh, and cry, knowing life brings a rainbow of emotions that color each of our lives, especially after the floods.

Friends againSo I surprised my friend by pulling up in her driveway right on time to pick her up for our mandatory cleaning day. With smiles, love and chatter we spent three memorable hours cleaning a filthy kitchen and catching up with the lives of other moms and friends. Work is a pleasure when it is shared with the love of friendship.

This particular lady has been too busy for the past few years to meet me for a cup of coffee or a casual visit. She has struggled deeply with the death of her sister to cancer, a move and feeling ineffective as a mom of two teenagers. This plunged her into business to fill the void and provide structure to keep her going.

When we are patient with each other, faithful to remain in the sparse times, we have the blessed gift of becoming "Friends Again". While we are not new friends, we are better. We are friends tested by the purifying fires to make gold! We get the joy of unconditional enduring love.

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