Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Many Shades of Friendship

It's been a whirlwind of celebration and good times around our house for the last five days or so.  I know how blessed I am to be able to say that as there are so many people in the world who have nothing to celebrate and not much to call good in their lives.  My hope is that I'll never take any of the gifts of this life for granted.

A good friend flew in last Thursday to spend a few days with me.  It just so happened that Thursday June 8th was National Best Friends Day.  I got to celebrate well!   It was also the randomly assigned date that I was given to write a daily devotion to be shared worldwide by my church.  I have written here before about how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life to call friends...people near and far, old and young, male and female.  To be assigned National Best Friends Day as the inspiration for my devotion was perfect!  I'm not sure that I can call any one person my "best friend" because all of those that I call friends are near and dear to my heart and all add their own unique gifts to my life.

Here is part of the devotion that I wrote on and for National Best Friend's Day.   It is based on the  passage from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
It's better to have a partner then to go it alone.  Share the work, share the wealth.  And if one falls down, the other helps.  But if there's no one to help, it's tough! 
A Word of HopeToday is National Best Friends Day, "a day to honor that one special person you call your “best friend”.   This day is a time to show them how much you appreciate them, how special and important they are to you and how you cherish their friendship."
As an only child and thus never having a sibling relationship, my friends have always held an extra special place in my life.  Whether swapping my favorite marbles on the elementary school playground, lamenting the woes of adolescence, or sharing the joys and sorrows of adult life, friends have taught me that it is most certainly better to have a partner than go it alone.  In many circumstances of my life, I know that my friends have been the hands, feet, and heart of Christ.  And like Jesus, they are the ones who have shown me unconditional love, often when I didn't deserve it. Friends are those people with whom we are comfortable and willing to share trust, support, sympathy and empathy.  But, how often do we think about those particular words when we think about our friends?  
The Urban Dictionary defines friends in this way: [Friends are] "people who are aware of how retarded you are and still manage to be seen in public with you, people who make you laugh till you pee your pants, people who cry for you when one of your special items disappears. When you don’t have enough money to get an ice cream, they chip in. [A friend] knows all of your Internet passwords. They would never make you cry just to be mean."  
Though this definition may seem a bit trite on first reading, it exhibits trust, support, sympathy, and empathy.  It is, at its core, the picture of what we value most in those we call our best friends,  painted in a way that most of us can easily relate.

Yes, the official day to celebrate our best friends has come and gone; however, we can and should be thankful for those people and our relationships with them every day.  

Who are your best friends?  Do you see the hands, feet, and heart of Christ in them?  Can they see and feel Christ in you?  Do you see your friends as a gift from God?  Think about your friends today.  Tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life.  Thank God for them.
If I had to name one best friend, it would be Weber.  He is the one that knows everything there is to know about me - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and is still willing to go to sleep next to me every night and wake up and stand by my side every day.  I'll be the first to admit that some days that is not easy!

One of the reasons that my friend Joni came to visit was to help us celebrate Weber's 60th birthday.  I have to say up front, he is not a birthday party kind of guy.  His dislike of birthday parties is less about the aging thing and more about the party part.  We had to have a little "come to Jesus" discussion about how life is a gift and allowing your friends to celebrate your birthday is a way to say thank you for that gift of life.

We spent Saturday evening, his birthday, surrounded by friends, family, and barbecue.  It's hard to be grumpy when your world is filled with such awesome people!  Banana pudding, instead of birthday cake, helps too!

And as if Saturday night's festivities weren't enough, we reconvened with many of the same people Sunday morning in church  to worship together and afterward to break bread.  Several of us were together again Sunday evening to watch the Tony Awards.  Yep...that's what friends do - celebrate together, pray together, eat together, relax together.  And sometimes we share hugs, tears, laughter, and hard truths.  Oh...and banana pudding!

Today, June 13th, is  International Albinism Awareness Day.  Though albinism is something I have lived with for my entire life, it is not something that I have ever thought deserving of a celebration.  It wasn't until about seven years ago when I became active with the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) that I allowed albinism to be more than just a part of me, but a part of me that is deserving of a celebration every day.

Through NOAH, I have many new friends with whom albinism was the commonality that brought us together, but our friendships are bound together by the things mentioned above - trust, support, sympathy, and empathy.  We are now the kind of friends that will cry together when one of your special items disappears (like those stitches on your sock gusset, Joni), lend money for ice cream (Becca), and hopefully will never make one another cry just to be mean!!!  Stealing your salad fork does not count as being mean, Becca! :-)

Here Joni and I are rocking our friendship and the albinism twin thing.  Lol!  We got to share most of International Albinism Awareness Day together before she headed home.

Thank you to everyone that I am blessed to call friend.