I'm basking in the pleasure of face-to-face time with a long-time friend who moved to Germany and is now back home for a short visit. Our friendship spans many years filled with good memories, heartaches shared and new beginnings. We changed baby diapers on each other's floors-our bodies never even thinking twice about kneeling down and then getting back up again with baby in tow. Our toddlers shared playpen space, gumming grahm crackers while we volleyed tennis balls on a court close by. She and I are part of a morning breakfast club with several other friends we still relate to. I enjoy this privilege every week; she, whenever visits to the States allows. In fact, today we took advantage of this holiday morning to meet at McDonalds at 7:30 am, despite the ribbing of our husbands who claim holidays were made for sleeping in. Show me anything that beats girlfriend time with women who have weathered 3 decades of me and still love me. One made the comment this morning that she's convinced our cluster of closeness has kept her from needing a therapist.
I remember a season when a life choice I made wasn't totally understood or accepted by these friends and I was close to walking away from the group. How glad I am that I stayed! In spite of disagreement, hurtful feelings and some uncomfortable moments we loved each other well and kept praying for one another. I didn't want to lose my investment in the friendships. As seniorhood advances there is not enough of life left to build new relationships that would ever have this length of shared history.
Our society's current disposable lifestyle has stolen more than landfill space, china plates, and photo albums. What about church membership abandoned after a trivial offense? Or the marriage ditched because it just became too hard to be happy? Or credit ruined from debt wracked up because the old wasn't in style anymore? Sure people can make adjustments to new surroundings and new spouses, and sentimental saving sometimes leads to horder's hell, but what about the things that can never be regained?
Like severed relationships that tear away security and the rhythms of forgiveness.
Romans 5: 3-5 says, "...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
If we stay in the fray we could gain perseverance, character and hope, and avoid some disappointment. Lifelong spouses can become seasoned lovers, comfortable with each others quirks and quibbles, able to share together adult parenthood, grandparenting and years of memories and dreams.
As advertizers promote the newest techno fads and glitzy gadgets in their loud-voice offers, let's not fall prey to believing new is always better. I'd be the first in line for free handouts of iPads and you won't catch me ever washing with a wringer washer like my mother used, but by God's help and grace I'm not letting go of friends who have seen me at my worst and still love me or of an imperfect husband who is constant in his love and care for me. Suffering is not to be dreaded or avoided because my God works it over into stick-to-it-ness, genuine-ness and the assurance-of-the-eternal-things-not-seen-yet.
Life may bring loss and tearing apart that we have no control over, or don't see any other way to go, and starting over can be a refreshing gift from him, but let's allow it to be his wisdom that directs us, his love that shows us how to love better, and his patience to wait for his timing. The rewards of long-term faithfulness are priceless.
Thank you, Father, for loving me long-term and for your long-term eternalness. Help me live life as you intended me to receive it.