Today I sat in the back of my car with the door open as I spoke to a woman that has lived homeless for 15 months, listening as she shared some of her life with me. She smiled and laughed, and was real and honest. I so enjoyed her, wanting to know more of her Journey and the hurts I am sure she has experienced but I didn't want to scare her away, so I just listened and asked appropriate questions without prying. Today she wanted to talk about her dog and the teen group that serves in her camp, helping with firewood and tarps. As I listened, I realized again, we are all so similar. We all want to be heard, and understood. We communicate for that sole purpose-to explain ourselves and to be known. A homeless person is not different from the next, wanting respect, time, and to be known and loved.
I ponder the simple word friendship today. I was once told by a dear older woman in my life, "Terri, if you have TWO TRUE friends in your life, you are blessed." I am thankful and blessed with wonderful friends in my life, I thank God everyday for the dear people I count as friends. God has taught me countless lessons about friendship, one of which came through the death of my father. My dad had a long and painful bought with cancer. His diagnosis was bleak, and at the end, we knew he only had a few months to live. Everyday my first waking thought was that I should go visit my dad today. He lived 25 minutes away and with a busy life and young kids, it was difficult to get over there. Intellectually, I knew our time was short, but in my heart I believed there would always be another day. I am thankful I made peace with my dad, and that we did have some precious moments together before his death, but that Idea that another day would always be there, abruptly ended, sooner than I could ever believe.
The very idea that friendship should be easy and that we will have continued chances to make things right, is wrong. God teaches us many lessons through other people, but it requires humility and sacrifice. To LEARN means we don't know something already, if we are not humble how do we know we have something to learn. I learned something from my fathers death- when I was faced with something so final as death, the conflicts I imagined in the relationship took a strange backseat. What had always been the most important thing- forgiveness and reconciliation, all of a sudden became the only important thing, without excuse. I couldn't afford pride, the cost was much too high.
Friendship requires much forgiveness, the willingness to overlook an offense, grace. If we want a true friend we need to know them, care about their hurts, understand their failings yet still extend grace. The following scripture from Ecclesiastes says it best-
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.