First, I'd like to thank all of the kind brothers and sisters at ChristianBlog.com for their wonderful words of encouragement and their prayers as I've been going through cancer treatment. I got back from my second chemo treatment just a little bit ago. I'm pretty tired and heading for bed soon, but I'm doing okay. However, before I do that I wanted to write about the gift of friendship based on something I just experienced. It all started back in September 1975...
Junior high had been really, really tough for me. I went to an inner-city school and busing had just gone into effect. I wasn't bused but there were a number of students who were and they were angry. This isn't a debate on the pros and cons of busing. I'll simply say teenagers were suddenly sent somewhere else to school where they didn't know anyone and this was really tough for at least some of them. They wanted to stay with their friends which is understandable. Some of these kids were probably afraid as well as angry and they acted out in rage. As a result, there were a lot of fights in our school and the administration chose to turn a blind eye to things rather than try to solve the problems.
The kids who knew me were aware that I was a Christian. There were some who came to me and began asking me about Christ. I began to share and that's when problems began. There was more than one occasion when I was brutally attacked by a couple of girls who did not like me sharing the gospel with their friends. That didn't stop me but things were tough to say the least.
Then I went onto high school. I really felt the need of a true friend. Our church was a long ways away and we only had about 20 in our youth group. None of us lived close to each other. The morning I started high school, I prayed and asked God to send me a true friend, someone who accepted me for who I was, someone who would stand by me no matter what and someone who loved God. Then I headed off to school.
My first class was German. I stepped into the classroom and there were just a few of us. My eyes fell on a girl who had been at my junior high. I knew her name but that was pretty much it. We didn't hang out together or anything like that. She'd been in the other German class in junior high until 9th grade when the classes were merged. Then she was a couple of rows over. However, since she was a familiar face I latched onto her immediately. To my delight I learned that she also was a Christian.
I tease her that I probably overwhelmed her but she laughs and says she wasn't exactly trying to escape me. She was there for me when my dad was diagnosed with cancer about a month later and she was there for me when he passed away two years later. I headed off 1,200 miles to college but we stayed in touch. She was my maid of honor at my wedding nearly 27 years ago. She went to law school and then life got in the way and we lost contact shortly after my son was born.
We ran into each other two years later, just in time for me to go to her wedding. I'm glad I made it! Her husband had never met me and was asking people about those two people who had "crashed" the party. Charisse had to intervene and say that we were with her:)
We kept in touch for a bit then they moved, we moved and communication broke down again. A few years ago, I managed to track her down again. We connected again just weeks before her husband was in a near-fatal accident which involved an uninsured drunken driver. His legs were completely destroyed. We cried and prayed together. We watched God work a miracle as Charisse's husband did things they said he would never be able to do again. Praise be to God!
After a time, life got busy and we got disconnected. I moved. I called her before she went on vacation. She was going to call me back. One thing led to another. I started working full time, she started to working evenings while her husband fought a battle to keep his job.
I called her yesterday. I'd been meaning too. It's just that...life had been busy and it's hard to tell people you have cancer. I thought about how I would want her to call me so I made the call. The words were barely out of my mouth...and she cried with me and then we prayed. "When is your next chemo treatment?" I told her it was today. "I'm coming with you!" she declared. Then as an after-thought she said, "That is if you want me too."
We reconnected. The friendship was never broken. We've never had so much as a cross word. It just got disconnected now and then. Actually, Charisse says it never was disconnected because we always go on as if we last saw each other yesterday. We both agree though, we have to stop doing this and I think we will.
She kept me laughing the three hours she was with me. Then we got serious. We held each others hands and looked back across the years. We talked about what God has done and what he will do. We both know God is bigger than....(fill in the blank with your own battle)
I told her about the prayer I prayed when I was 15. I'd never told her that before. I told her that God knew way back then that I needed a "Charisee" for this moment as well as back in 1975. We both cried again. We live in a metro area that extends about 100 miles or so yet we found ourselves living in the same community 20 miles from where we both grew up. We live about 5 miles away from each other. When we thought about this we both said, "This is amazing!" We both knew this was a God thing.
Though we were separated, Charisse was right when she said, "We never have stopped being friends. We might have not been together, but we have always been friends and we always will be."
I thank God for the gift of friendship
One friend just dropped of some dinner for us and four more are going to do so this week. Others send cards, emails, or drop by for a visit. They add me to other prayer chains and share my story with other friends. The circle keeps getting bigger and bigger.
If you think you're alone, remember Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He laid down his life for his friends (that means you). If you're lonely, ask Jesus to introduce you to some of his friends. He loves to do that you know!
Love And Friendship Because Of Him,