This has been one of the hardest years of my life. But, at the same time God has been so good to me. I’m turning my heart towards gratitude and one of the easiest things to count is the gift of friends who are more like sisters to me. Here is one story (of many) that made all the difference this year.
We stood in the Philadelphia airport squeezing in a few last words and sharing prayer requests. Up since 4AM she is the one who encouraged me to chase 3 Dramamines with a marginal cup of coffee before we caught our early morning flight. I am forever grateful for that advice because the short ride to Philly was the 2nd worst flight I’ve ever taken. The one that brought me there took top honors. Bonded we were.
And I don’t know how God does such things. How he takes a lovely South African born girl and drops her into the life of a mother of four living in Central Florida. Connected by laptops, worldwide webs, and words he effortlessly spoke friends over our lives. And so it was. And is.
I had no idea as I sat waiting for my connecting flight, with a much better cup of coffee, what my week would bring. I was going home to my babies after sharing hope for weary moms in upstate New York. I replayed so many moments over the past weekend grateful for God moving in a way I could not understand in and through my life.
The following Tuesday became a day of before and after. Before the phone call I was doing this and making those plans which all involved shopping, pool sitting, and movie watching with my girls. After the phone call I was on the floor trying to figure out how to get up and put six of us in a van the next day. Before the call I was fresh out of amazing. After the call I was swimming in an ocean of grief in desperate need of something to grab on to.
Her message was swift. She was the one crying. I hadn’t really started yet because shock does weird things to people. She spoke six words to me that became like a hand extended in the darkness. And what I grabbed onto was the verse she lent me for my roughest coming days:
“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
Though the next week would be a blur in many ways it was this truth that rose to the top and took me with it. I’ll tell you I have done everything with these words from holding on with dear life, to wrestling them, and finally standing firm. Truth is true no matter how you feel. And not so much unlike those 3 Dramamines she tossed my way, it has made all the difference in the world during the most turbulent ride of my life.
We speak of friends in so many ways.
We have them here and there, (in)RL, and those who live in our computers for the most part. But I will tell you I’m no longer doing that. I’m speaking of sisters. Born in the heart of God given for times of adversity. Who listen when he says go, message when he says speak, and give what they can when a need arises. I’m looking at women who go to my church, those who I knew back in the day when I wore Cream and Crimson, and others who are a mighty band of hope word warriors. They stand in airports and linger over coffee longing for a day when we all get to be together and death and tears are no more.
These are my sisters.
I’m giving thanks for them this year in the most heartfelt way. God knew I would need them—every last one of them. It doesn’t matter anymore if I met her on Twitter or we grew up in a small Southern Indiana town together. Hearts know when they’ve come home. And mine just happens to live next to a South African girl in Washington, DC, but also near the mountains of Virginia, in a sleepy college town in Indiana, farther north not too far from Lake Michigan, down south in the great state of Texas, across town just a few miles away, and many other stops in between.