My heart feels full of gratitude today. I know that Jesus is good to all His children, but seriously – seriously – this past year it feels like He has been so uniquely kind to me.
Around this time last year, God was busy strengthening my friendships, bringing new people into my life and re-connecting me with old friends. He was arranging the perfect community to persevere me through the past 12 months.
He has saved me over and over again through each of the distinct qualities that He knit into the people he assembled around me. Here are ten of their strengths that I’m thinking of today:
#1: Letting me be broken. The moment I found out my dad was gone, I sat in a tiny room with a friend who sat there with me as I wept. She didn’t read scripture over me. She didn’t try to comfort me. She just sat there.
She’s not the only one of my friends who has endured the painfully useless feeling that comes from watching someone hurt. They’ve fought through their desire to ‘fix’ me and they’ve done it because they know that their silent physical presence is the only thing they can offer me that Christ can’t.
#2: Thinking of me. All of my friends have crazy lives and real and painful things they are dealing with, yet somehow they still find a way to make me feel loved. Just when it feels like I’m about to fall off the edge of the world because I’m so isolated, my phone will light up with a message from a friend who is praying for me; a message from God that I am not alone.
#3: Making me talk. I’ve never had a hard time talking – until now. Words just get snagged somewhere in my throat and even though I feel like if I don’t talk I’ll die, I just can’t think of what to say.
I think I would have exploded over the past year if I didn’t have friends who would push through their fear of offending me or hurting me and force me to process really hard questions because they know I need to talk.
#4: Listening to me. It seems like I generally get unstuck right at the wrong time. Words start spilling out as we’re standing by our cars saying our goodbyes. Tears start in the middle of a staff meeting. But no matter how inconvenient, my pals always seem ready to drop whatever they’re doing to listen.
#5. Telling me I’m okay. Around last November I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I had tried everything I could think of to get ‘better’ and I still felt so broken. I remember one of my friends saying to me on the phone: taking a nap doesn’t heal a broken arm. Nothing but time and Jesus can heal grief.
I’m sure that seems obvious. But nothing is obvious when you’re hurting and the grace of audible voices telling you true things cannot be overstated.
#6 Adapting. My usual methods of processing haven’t been working out over the past 12 months. Praise God for friends who are willing to adapt. They have figured out how to love me and they have held every explanation I’ve given them with an open hand, never scolding me when I say something totally different 30 seconds later.
#7: Laughing with me. My family is weird. Between my sister bringing a pig to my dad’s funeral and the unfortunate language barrier with some of my relatives, it’s been a sort of hysterical year. One of the things that has made me feel the most loved and known has been sharing inappropriate laughter. (I guess I’m weird too).
#8: Praying for me. Most of the things I’ve needed in this past year are not things my friends can do for me. They know that and so they have demonstrated their love for me by fighting for me in prayer. There are moments when I’ve literally felt my heart be changed within my chest. Neat.
#9: Letting me change. It won’t be a shocker to any of you who read my blog, but I feel like I’ve been changed by this whole experience. There aren’t words to describe how grateful I am to those friends who have not only let me change, but who have made room for me to figure out who I am.
#10: Failing me. I’m sitting here, writing this today and I still am in love with Jesus. And that’s a miracle. And it’s thanks to all the ways my friends have failed over the past year. If they were just a little more perfect, I would have looked to them to save me in this pain, and that thought makes me tremble. Because the sweetness of Jesus that I have tasted in these past months has been the greatest grace of my life.
And you know what I’m most thankful for about my friends? Not a single one of them would be offended by that.