|Erin Gordon Goddard (middle) , Sara Hof (right), me (left)|
at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA
I had the blessing to be able to visit dear friends I see rarely who live in California a few weeks ago. To make this even more special, seeing them coincided with my birthday. Cupcakes, adventures, and exploring were on the docket. Nothing could have been a better present than seeing friends who are like family after a long time apart.
I met Erin and Sara in divinity school at Wake Forest University. I lived with Erin for two amazing years and spent countless hours in Sara's library studying (or not studying) and laughing at YouTube videos. These are two wonderful people who I know I could pick up with like no time has passed. They never judge me, they are always quick with a hug or friendly text, and are some of the most genuine and authentic people I know. In short, they have been models of Jesus's ethic of love for one's neighbor when I've lost my way. Without judgement, their unconditional love has always helped guide me through, as it seems to do with the best of friends. I am so blessed to have so many beloved friends (especially from Wake Divinity and University of Louisville and CBFNC), and I was tempted to begin naming them. Yet there are so many dear ones who have guided me along and been the loving presence of Christ.
When you encounter friends like these, it feels like your heart will burst and you can never give enough thanks to know such people. If I've learned anything from them, it is to pay it forward. When one friend renews your soul, try to renew another. Send a note or a funny present or a card that lets you know you are thinking of them. If a friend is in need of help--be it moving or some other project--make the time to be there for them. Friends who are like family are nothing short of life-giving, and they need to know you care.
I'm reminded of this quote from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians in Chapter 4: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." This is the mark of a healthy community, a wonderful friendship, and a model for the Kingdom of God.
How can you model this for a friend this week?