I have a friend that leaves me text messages that make me laugh out loud.
I have a friend that says things so profoundly that I want to record every word she speaks.
I have a friend that always remembers my birthday and is able to mail a card at the exact moment so it will arrive on my actual day of birth.
I have a friend that makes the most incredible cupcakes. They melt in your mouth and are the envy of all the bakers in our town.
I have a friend that reads more books than seems humanly possible. She is quick to recommend the perfect book for the situation I am in.
I have a friend who’s husband was unfaithful but she found another love and is now enjoying a new marriage and a new lease on life.
I have a friend who is battling cancer – one of the really tough ones – in a pandemic.
I have a friend who’s son is taking a gap year between high school and college.
I have a friend who’s daughter is staying home to do online school.
I have a friend who just moved her son into a dorm.
I have a friend who is planning her daughters wedding for the 3rd date since they were first engaged.
I have a friend who’s decided to home school her children this year.
I have a friend that is angry she is being forced to wear a mask in public.
I have a friend that has sick parents and she is angry at all those who choose to not wear masks in public.
I have a friend that just lost her battle with a malignant brain tumor.
I have a friend wondering how she will keep her class of kindergartners socially distant.
I have a friend who is experiencing back issues due to 12 hours of sitting at her home office chair for the last 5 months.
I have friends hoping for refunds for their Big 10 football season tickets.
I have a friend that believes there should be stricter regulation on sanitizing in her childs schoool before she allows her children to return.
I have a friend that is concerned that too much bleach on her daughters skin due to increased sanitizing efforts will reduce the germs necessary in our systems to create stronger immunity.
I have a friend the believes our family wasn’t being safe when we attended our daughters high school graduation with a couple hundred other parents.
I have friends that believe we were extreme because we chose to wear masks at the above mentioned graduation ceremony.
I have friends that will vote democrat and belive they have picked the best candidate
I have friends that will vote republican and believe they have picked the best candidate.
I have a friend that has posted hateful comments about their friends on social media.
I have friends that are believing this season will result in positive change for the future.
I have friends that are paralyzed by fear.
I have friends that are looking at each challenge as one in which they can see God provide in miraculous ways.
I have friends that are doubting God’s ability to bring any hope for our future.
I have a friend whose son just married another man.
I have a friend that wouldn’t have attended the wedding of my other friend.
I have a friend who just had her best year ever in her business.
I have a friend who is questioning her ability to lead and is contemplating ending her 20 year career.
I have a friend whose plane ticket home – to Hong Kong – just got cancelled.
I have a friend looking forward to her 14 day quarantine on her military base in Japan after 4 months in the US.
Oh my list of friends. They wouldn’t all want to be invited to the same party. Some that used to be close have now drifted due to too much time away from each other. Some are closer as they rally behind their belief system and what they currently deem “Right.” Some share many of my same beliefs and some just a few.
As I think through my list one thing becomes clear. The battle to maintain my relationships with these people is real. Every day I could make a list of ways I could be offended or ways I have possibly offended others. I question every post and every picture I share on social media with the simple motivation of giving a glimpse into what I am currently grateful for. It seems as if it is impossible to work, relate or play with anyone who isn’t 100% on the same page as us. This makes me sad, discouraged and dare I say it – apathetic. This digression to “not caring” about people – even our friends- is one of the most dangerous currents we can allow to take us away.
As I look at the fire pit sitting quietly in my back yard, waiting for cooler weather before a fire is lit, I remember the friends that have gathered around it since the summer of 2016. Many of these people are mentioned in my list above. They gathered and met others for the first time. They were open to connection despite their differences that showed up on their election ballots or their religious affiliations. The goal of our backyard campfires was connection and community and creation of both. These evenings under the stars brought laughter and healing. Stories were shared and bridges were built. Some nights the conversation was lively and others were quieter as we just sat side by side united by the orange and yellow glow of the flames in the center of our circle.
Oh…. it seems high time for some fire building. Some gathering of friends that have let the embers of their relationship grow cold. We need to tighten our circle – to look to the master fire builder – as our source of hope and answers. In John chapter 21 we see Jesus – freshly risen from his death tomb – standing on a beach next to a fire he has prepared. He calls his people, he encourages them to sit and eat. They are weary, they are worn, they are hungry. They have been up all night working, fishing. They are diverse. They are human. They are you. They are me. They are flawed and sinful and a mess. This man, this savior … he invites them in. He is inviting you and all your friends…
Them…… as well.
I have a friend…… His name is Jesus.