Friday, May 9, 2014

I missed it!

You have heard me talk about and even blog about my friendships.  How important they are to me, how much I value and treasure them, and how I would really do anything for my friends. 
But, I haven't always been that way. 
I have always had really good friends, but I have not always been a good friend. 
This past weekend, we had a Ladies Luncheon at my church and it was an awesome time of fellowship and encouragement.  I walked away impacted, just like everyone else, but I think I was impacted in a different way. 
(pull up a chair and sit a spell...)
Denise, the speaker, spoke a lot on suffering.  She has walked through incurable cancer with her son.  She spoke of the "tear in her soul" that the diagnosis brought about.  She talked about the fight of faith.  The questions.  The numbness.  The doubt.  The hope.  She hit on it all.
She also talked a lot about her daughter-in-law, her son's wife, who walked through this with him at the age of 25.  Twenty-five.  Can you imagine?  I won't even pretend like I can understand.  But she rolled up her sleeves and went head first. She researched this disease.  She stayed strong. She trusted The Lord.  And she faced her biggest fear-- the very real possibility of losing her husband to cancer. Why was it her biggest fear? 
Because at the age of 12, she had lost her mom to cancer. Tears streaming. 
All over the room. 
And I was no exception to the tears streaming. But, I am also sobered.  I am sobered by the story, yes.  But I am more sobered by God's goodness.  Across the table from me sits the daughter-in-law.  The daughter-in-law just so happens to be one of my most precious friends, Stacey.  To me, this story is real.  This story has faces to put with it.  I knew this story was happening as it was going on, but I was unengaged.  I was too deep into my drug addiction to care, bottom line. I was not there to carry burdens.  I was not there to take a meal.  I was not there to call her up on the phone or send her a text telling her I loved her and I am praying for her.   I was not there.  And I hate that I missed it.  Sin separates us from the ones we love the most.  And we don't even realize it is happening. 
And before we know it, we look up and   
And it hurts. 
Sitting right there in front of me, was one of the strongest, most courageous, most godly women I have ever met in my entire life.  At the age of 29. And I was absolutely overwhelmed by God's grace that had maintained that friendship.  Even when we are faithless, he remains faithful.
I grabbed her after the luncheon and just said "I missed it all and I am so sorry!!"  See, I knew those things were going on, but I was so self-consumed and internally focused that I was not engaged.  But Stacey responded with such love and grace that only comes from The Father. 
And here is the thing: I don't really deserve her forgiveness.  I wasn't there during the deepest suffering of her life!  But she overly extended grace and mercy to me. 
And in that moment, I was so amazed at the goodness of God. 
Stacey, your character in suffering and grace towards me in our relationship encourage me to seek our Heavenly Father more. 
Thank you.  I know him a little more than I did last Saturday because of you. 
And I thank God that he continues to build our relationship even stronger today.
And just to update you.   Stacey's husband is now NED (no evidence of disease) and they have a baby girl, Nola Bradley, who turns one this month.  A true miracle, indeed. 
Stacey, I hope on this Mother's Day, you feel how much you are truly loved and are celebrated!