Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Faith and Friends...

Today was Baptist Women's Day at my church. This is a tradition that has been a part of the church for approximately five years.  The pretense of the idea is that women lead the service, the music, and give their testimony on how Jesus and Faith has changed their lives.  The messages were beautiful and I choked back tears many times.  I sat in awe of the women that spoke this morning and their devotion to God; his devotion to them.  This year, a lovely woman in the church who has a beautiful voice herself asked me if I would sing in the service.  Thinking I was going to be part of the choir, I readily agreed.  Turns out she had a solo in mind, something I haven't done in over a decade, but she is one of those people that you just like.  There is something about her, something that draws you in and while I can't often put my finger on it, I don't tell her no very well.  She finds this amusing, something to remember for the future.  She is my friend.  And as my friend she asked me to share in music the devotion to my faith, something I admittedly struggle with.  But she supported me, as my friend, and it made me realize that I am surrounded by greatness all the time; by faith and by friends.

I did sing this morning, legs shaking and all, and I as I understand it; it went well.  I chose to sing El Shaddi in the arrangement of Amy Grant.  This song has always held a special place in my heart as one of the first contemporary Christian songs I learned growing up and I also believe it has an amazing message.  The entire song is a beautiful array of Godly ideas, but I must admit there are favorite parts for me.  In the first verse there is the line, "to the outcast on her knees, you were the God who really sees," and this line reminds that God always sees who we really are despite the show we may put on for those around us.  Deep into our minds and our hearts, he knows our core and it is this he judges us by, not what the world judges us by.  I am also partial to chorus line, "age to age you're still the same by the power of the name," as it reminds me that my God that I love was my mother's God and my Grandmother's God, and my Great-Grandmother's God and so on and so forth, as I am blessed to have come from a long ling of Christians that have served the Lord.  He has been good to me and to my family over the years.  This is not to say that hard times have never fallen upon us, but it is to say in those difficult moments, God has been there to walk with us; I can see that now.

It is with this thought that I reflect on the women and men that are in my life as friends, the people God has placed with me here on earth.  Because of a friend, I was forced to look at my faith today.  It seems like a simple song, but for me, this was a huge leap and I'm not sure I would have put myself on pulpit display if she had not been there to ask me, to encourage me.  I cherish her friendship and I don't tell her nearly enough.  This brought me to consider all those I call friend and what it really means?  Just how do we go about friendships when life is in the way?

I recently read an article in Real Simple magazine entitled Can I Call You Back in 15 Years?  The article talked about how finding time for friends in our adult lives is truly a challenge.  That when the words "Girl's Night Out" pop up in your email in-box rather than jumping for joy you're trying to figure out how you could say you never got the message and crawling under your desk in retreat.  It has nothing to do with whether or not you like your friends, but everything to do with time for friendships in a life where time is precious (and an illusion noted in a previous post).  A friendship is a relationship, a marriage of minds (if you will), and that relationship requires nurturing and attention to flourish and grow.  The article made me go hmmmm when it said, "As it turns out, one important section missing from my adulthood 101 manual explained how friendship would eventually become a choice."

And it is, a choice.  We can all pretend that it's not, but it is.  It is a choice to take moments away from the husband, the children, the job, or even simple necessities like eating or sleeping.  To not stow away any "me" time and fill every waking hour with conversation and company in order to develop the bond needed amongst friends.  But then I have to wonder, is this healthy for our own minds, our sanity?  And on the other side of this question I always think, "if they are really my friend, then don't they understand that I just need to be left alone sometimes?"  Honestly, I think they would but we rarely tell the truth when the question of "is this a good time?" is laid upon us.

Most of us work in atmosphere that we are surrounded by people constantly, I know I am.  I eat, sleep, and breath other people's live (mostly teenagers) and often when the day is done and my son's in bed I just want to breath completely alone, and then the phone rings and it's a friend I haven't talked to in years and I now have a choice.  I can let it go to voice mail, and this is usually my first thought, or I can pick up the phone and put effort back into the relationship I forged long before my life became as busy as it is now.  This Saturday, I chose to answer the phone, and I'm glad I did.  Because while I was finally seeing Avatar, long after the rest of the world saw this film, and enjoying a few hours of alone time on the couch when I looked at the caller ID and saw who it was, I made a conscience choice to answer the phone and felt overcome with guilt for not calling her sooner.  I love this women who called me and while our lives have spun in completely different directions, there was a time that I couldn't have pulled through some things without her and frankly, how dare I be too lazy to talk when she calls?

We talked for almost an hour and it was marvelous.  We talked about life, about how we should have kept in touch better, about husbands, accomplishments, kids, and expectations.  I don't know when I will talk to her again, but I do know I'm glad she called and made the first step of shaking up our friendship that has been dusty on the shelf for far too long.  Hanging up with her I thought about all the people in my life I need to get back in touch with and then I thought about the ones that are here now with me everyday, pushing me forward and upward and catching me when I fall, stumble, or simply drop from the weight of the world we all bear.

Friendship, like faith, takes time, effort, and organization; a constant unwavering commitment.  And friendship, like faith, will not always be easy or pleasant or simple.  Scripture warned us that faith is something we must endure regardless of the pain, and friendship is often like this, too.  Friendship, like faith, lives in the heart and even in times where we've turned away, true friendship, like faith will take us back.  But we must remember that friendship is a worldly treasure and not a mind and soul reading concept like faith.  In friendship we must articulate honesty and openness and willingness to admit, "no, I can't talk right now because I'm exhausted and will call you back," or "I only have 10 minutes to catch up, is that o.k.?"  Friendship, unfortunately, is not omniscient like faith but we often assume it is and they should just know what we're dealing with, why we want to be alone, or when a better time to talk is?  They don't.  You have to tell them.  And as the friend, you have to receive the information NOT as a personal brush-off, but as their friend understanding that life has interrupted your together time, but they will get back to you, they always do.

The article closed with a funny anecdote about finally getting an opportunity to catch up with an old friend noting that, "When [she] turns 80, when the kids are finally out of the house and [she's] finally retired, and when [she] finally has more than 17-minutes to [her]self on any given day, [she's] to send an email to [her friend] with the subject line: 'Girl's Night Out' and her friend will understand why it has taken so long to reply, and her response will be whoo hoo!"  I laughed at this thinking of the people in my life that would understand why it will take me until I'm 80 to genuinely respond to an email.  I hope it doesn't come to this as part of taking on this blog was to learn to better appreciate my life and the world around me, but there are still days where you just can't answer the phone, even if you really want to.

I know that I will continue to seek focus on my faith and my friends.  There are days when the tribulations of both are as daunting as they are delivering, but I think it's in this balance that we find why it is such a comfort to have the pair.  It is my sincere hope that when you finish reading this you will say a prayer and then pick up the phone to call a friend, I'm sure it's been too long. 


  1. very have become wise beyond your years (and mine for that matter!)

    so proud of you...MLG

  2. Thanks - not sure how well I always apply what I talk about, but somewhere in the back of my mind I know the truth is there :-)

  3. Thanks for writing this Cresta. El Shaddia was the first song I ever learned. It has a very special place in my heart as well.

    I love your openess and your style. Thank you for inspiring my faith and reconnection with friends, even if it is brief. And helping me be okay with that during this season of childrearing.

    I hope this finds you blessed tonight.

  4. Thanks Cass - I'm glad you enjoyed reading. I hope to continue posting 3 to 4 times a week as my schedule permits so feel free to tune in! :) May this also find you blessed.

  5. Faith and friendship often go hand in hand. Even with disagreements on politics, people, or personality, a shared faith will sustain and carry on forever.