Life is getting messy again. The present is collapsing around me and the past is creeping up from behind me. (Don’t even get me started on the future.) The delicate balance is being disturbed. All of the things that I juggle each day are slipping through my fingers in slow motion and I can’t, for the life of me, keep a single one from hitting the ground. The world is closing in. Yet, I can guarantee you that I’ll have a smile on my face when I walk out the front door…because most people don’t want to know the real answer to “How are you?”.
One of the blessings I’ve found in hardship is that it quickly reveals who my true friends are. I’ve been surrounded in this life with lots of nice people. Lots of acquaintances who have done very sweet things to show my family that they care, and we’ve deeply appreciated every one of them. But something shifted when our daughter was diagnosed with Autism. Even more so when I reacted to our daughter being diagnosed. (Let’s be honest, I’m still reacting.) When it all hit me…the battles we were facing, the stress of the medical bills, the grief of dreams lost, the exhaustion of sleepless nights, the depression and anxiety that accompanies watching our child struggle…when it all came crashing down (when it comes crashing down over and over again) and the dust settled, the harsh reality was that there were very few people left standing by my side who were willing to stick it out when this journey took me to unflattering and uncomfortable places.
So, as I enter into another season of hardship, there are some things that need to be said to my true friends…
I’m having a hard time choosing a starting point but I think I’ll begin at I’m sorry. I want you to know that I’m truly sorry for all of the ways I have, and will, fall short as a friend. Whether it be that I’m so caught up in my own junk that I can’t see past it to your needs, or that I’m ill-equipped due to my dysfunctional upbringing to be the kind of friend you deserve…I’m sorry for all of the things I should’ve said or done differently. I can only hope to be as great a friend as you’ve been. I’ll never stop trying, and I appreciate you loving me despite all of my flaws.
Thank you. I tried counting the number of times I tell you that each day and I lose count within hours. So, I know it sounds trivial, but I’ve never been thankful for anyone the way that I am for you. You can’t begin to know the depth of my gratefulness. Not just because you bring me coffee and chocolate when I’m at my wits end, but because, when other friends hear the real stuff, I’m left in awkward silence wishing I’d never opened myself up to them. When they see my reality, they see me differently. With you, I can be real. I can share the pain, the embarrassment, the shame, the pride, the joy, the heartache, the desperation, the fear, the sin, the little things, the big things, and everything in between…and nothing shakes your faithfulness. Nothing makes you see me as anything less than who God created me to be. Regardless of how crazy life gets for either of us, you choose to love me through it.
You’ve seen me laugh until I cry. You’ve seen me cry until I laugh. You’ve seen me sick. You’ve seen me well. You’ve seen me with makeup. You’ve seen me without it. You’ve seen me fail. You’ve seen me succeed. You’ve seen me angry, rude, disrespectful, and unkind. You’ve seen me playful, forgiving, caring and generous. You’ve seen me hit rock bottom. You’ve seen me rise up and walk into the light. You’ve seen me parent well. You’ve seen my (frequent) mom fails. You’ve seen me worship God. You’ve seen me worship my idols. You’ve seen me suffer. You’ve seen me healed. You’ve seen me be loyal. You’ve seen me betray. You’ve seen me pretend. You’ve seen me be genuine.
You’ve seen me.
You’ve been there. Always. Without judgement. No matter what. You’ve told the truth, even when you knew I would have a hard time hearing it. You held me when I cried. (You knew that I didn’t cry often so, if I was crying, it was a big deal.) You pray for me every day. Really pray. Because if you say it, you mean it. You sat next to me and prayed over me, when I couldn’t find the words to do it myself. You’ve looked into the depths of my mess and it didn’t change your love for me.
You’ve been the hands and feet of Jesus when I needed it most.
“Thank You” could never possibly sum it up. No amount of words or actions or chocolate could repay you for all that you’ve done for me. What I will offer, because it’s all I have to give right now, is my heart. My friendship that, with any luck, will look a whole lot like yours.
For being a true friend…for being you…I love you.