The Richness of Others

Growing up, I had various groups of friends. There were my neighborhood friends, who lived 30-seconds down the road, whereas my school friends were at least 30 minutes away. Church friends came in and out of my life on Sunday mornings, and I played soccer with another group of friends throughout the week. I liked all of my friends, but I never really put forth an effort to be with them outside of our designated activities. At that point in my life, I didn’t realize that time and energy is necessary for friendships to endure past the fifth grade.

Things started getting tricky when I left for college. Suddenly, I had friends around Texas, and when I started traveling to different countries, I had friends not just all over America, but also all over the world. From Colombia to Serbia to India, California to Alabama to New Jersey, and all places in between, I have come to realize that my heart has pieces strewn throughout the globe. I’m pretty sure that if you catch me zoning out, I’ve probably traveled somewhere distant in my mind to be with a friend or two.

I have found that people who walk through the tough stuff are the ones who will stick together for as long as time keeps ticking. Not to say friendships in your life during the easy times don’t last, but there is something about the depth that results when friends carry on through the messes of life.

292867_10150276120625994_615770993_7974819_2253183_n

You might already recognize a few of these friendships. The ones you’ve only known for a few weeks and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, get a layer of grime under their nails and in their skin, and find a semi-clean shirt in the middle of a foreign country so you can muffle your cries in the dead of the night. The people who, though they should be asleep, will stay up with you while you are getting over jet lag or a waterborne illness or a boy you love. The friend who embraces and loves your family even though your Grandpa says the most embarrassing and awkward things to her, making you think that was the final straw for her.

But it’s that selfless kind of friendship that comes maybe a handful of times throughout life that you might let pass by because it seems too good to be true. You let them into your world a little at a time, waiting to learn if they’re patient enough or graceful enough or forgiving enough to rough it out with you. You try to push them away, ridiculously testing them to see if they’ll fight for you, to see if they actually want this friendship with you.

I’m blessed to say I have a few of those friendships. This past weekend, two of my good friends left the deathly snow and cold of a northeastern winter, hopped on a plane, and embraced the beauty that is Texas in February.

IMG_1074

This time last year, the three of us were living in a dirty flat in the middle of India. Since then, these two women have come to understand how to love me well, see me the way God sees me, and know the deepest parts of my heart. They believe in me and the dreams God has placed in me. They cry with me, laugh with me, fight with me, and are quiet with me.

This past weekend they sacrificially took time off work and came to Texas to spend four days in my hometown with my family, friends, and dogs. We played cards, drank wine, and had entirely too much chocolate. We stayed up at night to share the depths of our hearts and woke up  late in the mornings to share cups of coffee. I introduced them to Tex-Mex, ribs, and World Market, and showed them the best parks to swing on swings at. We shopped, ate, laughed, cried, and prayed…in person…for the first time in months.

IMG_1094

Some people would call this my community; others might say we did life together this weekend. Honestly though, we are just a few friends who have walked through the muck and mire, who love each other, and who want to spend time together. I believe God intentionally places certain people in our lives that are meant to be long lasting, to stand tall when we can’t, and to go wherever we may be to experience the richness that comes when God’s people join together for each other.

Do you have one of these friendships? If so, do they know how much they mean to you today? Or if not, what’s keeping you from embracing the beauty of a friendship like this?

On Life, Love, and What Actually Matters.

I fell in love last year when I was in India.

IMG_1068

Though he doesn’t know it, this little man taught me more than I could have ever asked for.

He taught me that life is most lived when you snap on your helmet of imagination and live like tomorrow may never come. When you wake up in the morning with a fresh perspective and see everybody as if they’re your own family. When you live so much that you crash as soon as you lay your head down to sleep…or eat…or pray. He showed me that life is best lived in freedom from worry, from insecurities, and from the approval of others. Because living with those limitations means you’re not really living at all.

IMG_2106

He’s one of those kids that you always have to keep your eyes on. Not because he gets into things he shouldn’t or because he will fight with the other boys or needs constant attention. He’s that kid you need to watch because you never know what he’s going to do. From his facial expressions to his crazy dances, to pretending to be a superhero and conquering the trees with a machete, he will always keep you entertained and laughing, making stories that evolve into the best memories.

IMG_0765

Though I carry many fears about getting married, being pregnant, and having kids, he is the reason I desire to experience all three of those things. The way that he trusted me and loved me is the way I hope my relationship with my husband is, and then some. How it felt when he jumped into my arms is how I long to know what it means to carry my own child. When he crawled up into my lap, curled up next to me on the floor, or snuggled into the corner is when I realized that deep down, I truly do want the blessing and honor of being a mother. I learned that the struggles and stress and lack of sleep that comes with having kids is completely worth it when I can give all my love to those tiny bodies snoring in the room next door. This little guy gently revealed the deep desires of my heart, simply by being himself.

205314_10150948160993671_1853436860_n

When I get caught up in my own sphere of life, I’m reminded that he revealed to me what actually matters in this world. It’s not how high gas prices are rising or the natural disasters that rage against our cities. It’s not discipling as many people I can find or fighting the right injustice. It’s not even poverty, war, AIDS, or human trafficking.

Don’t get me wrong. God cares deeply about His people and these things are important to Him, but there is something greater that matters in this world.

This six year old Indian boy taught me that what actually matters, what people really need, is to know they are loved, cared for, and fought for. To know a Savior whose love for them never ceases and extends to the far places of the universe. To believe that they are worth more than what others say because of the Image they are created in. To be fought for by a God who conquered death and rose victorious because He wants to spend forever with them.

IMG_0846

This little man whom I fell in love with reached into the depths of my heart and taught me the joys of life, the intimacies of love, and what actually matters.

I wonder…Who have you fallen in love with? What have you learned as a result?

Isn’t it totally worth it??