Monday, March 30, 2009

Friends Forever

The past two weeks have been so strange for me. I go back and forth from great joy and eager anticipation to aching sadness and overwhelming doubt. As we leave this place I am filled with so many emotions that it is hard to seperate them out, yet I want to do just that. No, I NEED to do that. I need to understand my feelings. I need to know why I am feeling things and what that means for me. I am just weird like that. I know it drives my husband crazy! He makes a decision and it is done. What do feelings have to with anything? Well, they matter to me. They tell me so much about myself and what is going on in my head and in my heart.

I think back to when we moved to Florida. I felt like it was the end of the world! I was so sure God would never ask me to move to Florida. I am a big fan of the mouse but that was the extent of my desire to ever come to Florida. See the mouse. Glance at the ocean. Go home. That was fine with me. And then Dean told me he felt like he was being pulled to this church. I fought it with everything I had. Short of threatening divorce, I used all the tricks I knew to use to change his mind. And then God started working on me. Several things happened to make me see what Dean saw and I gave in to the call. Not with a smile on my face though.

And so we came. And, truth be told, I have never found a love for Florida. I still like the mouse and enjoy a glance at the ocean once in a while but I would choose a mountain view over an ocean view or a snowstorm over the heat. I still feel like a foreigner here in so many ways. I may not have learned to love the place, but God placed in me a love for the people that has surprised me and changed me.

These people have walked through the valley of the shadow of death with me arm and arm. They have watched me stumble and fall and pulled me up as I got back on my knees. As I knelt before my God, begging and pleading for grace and healing, they knelt with me and annointed me with their tears. And when I finally stood up and was able to raise my head and my hands and praise God for his mercy and love, they stood with me and rejoiced with me and held my hands up when they started to shake and fall. They cheered me on with each step I took forward and loved me and held me when I felt I could not go on one more day. And, for that, I love them with all of my heart.

I am so grateful. I see the plan now. So clearly. It had nothing to do with Florida. It was all about the relationships. I believe that I was absolutely in the right place at the right time. I have the names of all of these special people written on my heart. And I will carry them with me.

I think the relationships run so deep because there was no pretending. Maybe for a while I hid behind a mask. But when your life is turned inside out and upside down the walls come down. There is no pretending. You are who you are and people can take it or leave it. It was like this for me anyway. I know some people go on pretending, even in their grief. I really wanted to but I couldn't. It was too raw. There was no hiding. And when I realized that there was nothing left to hide I felt such a sweet freedom. Free to be me. With no masks. No walls. Just me. I found that the relationships deepened and the fellowship grew sweeter. I may not have fallen in love with Florida but I fell in love with this church. They became my family. They have taught me that it is good to be real and to let people know me and I take that with me as I look forward to new friendships in a new place.

As I say so many goodbyes, I have so much sadness but I also have peace. I know that these friendships run deep and they do not end. We will have all of eternity to worship our God together. I will once again lift my hands in praise side by side with these friends I love so very much. And the time in between... it is a vapor... a blink of an eye.

My prayer is that I have made half the impact on their lives that they have had on mine. If I did, it is only through God's grace and mercy. And I thank Him for it.

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