One of the greatest gifts we have as humans are friends. Friends lift us up, push us on, and accept us just the way we are, no matter what we do to them. When we were getting ready to move to Florida, our children, ages (six days shy of) 12, 14, and 16, were not thrilled; especially the 16 year old. When we talked about it he said, “Mom, I’ve never had to make a friend in my life. I grew up with them all.” He was kind of a shy guy at that point, though nobody would believe that now, and he was right, he’d never had to “make” a friend. All of his friends had always been a part of our little church in New Jersey. So, I prayed that the Lord would show His faithfulness to provide friends for my boy.
Not long after that prayer, a new family came to our church from, of all places, South Africa. We immediately loved Jan and Joy and the three of their four children that were with them. We clicked together like the perfect fit of legos and we knew there was something between our families that was made to last. We invited them to our home. Their middle son, Dawie, was just a few months younger than our son, Eric. And, what do you know, in the blink of an eye, just like that, they were best friends. Now, 20 years later, they are still best friends. And, as a Mom, I got to share that wonderful “I told you so” that is totally a God thing!
The story doesn’t end there. We got together with the Koekemoers, that’s their name, quite a bit before we left. We had lunches and dinners and talks and, overall, thoroughly enjoyed the other’s company. Cliff and Jan got along well and so did Joy and I. However, by the time we left, Joy had had ample time to experience the klutzy weirdness that is me.
Before Joy came along, I, like my son, had pretty much grown up with my friends. My longest lasting friend, Cheryl, has been my friend since I was five. I’m 59 now, guys. She’s put up with me for a very long time and she still loves me, a true friend. I am sure she’ll have extra jewels in her crown in Heaven. And, though I’m sure I’ve done some weird and terrible things to Cheryl, I don’t think they can compare to some of the things I’ve done to Joy…unintentional, of course, but still…
Picture this, it’s a lovely spring day in New Jersey. Think a Florida winter day, just warm enough and no humidity. We’re having a church picnic at the beautiful Lewis Morris Park. For friends who have been there, we’re picnicking at the lower level of the park. For our Florida friends, who are used to eternal flatness, that just means there are hills in the park and we were on the bottom. I see my friend Joy sitting all by herself with an empty chair next to her. It’s a beautiful chair. In fact, I’d never seen that kind of outside chair before. A lovely flowered cloth fabric back and bottom, it was a folding chair. Seeing she was sitting by herself, I decided to visit with her. [Side note, I was smaller back then. This was before mental-pause and the 10 or so pounds that it has added to my frame.] And so, I visited. I sat in her very lovely cloth back, cloth bottom outside folding chair, leaned back to get comfy, and the next thing I knew I was on sitting on the ground. I bet you think I went through the bottom of the chair. Nope. That would be way too easy. I did a head-over-heels somersault ripping right through the cloth on the back of the chair, because that’s just the way I roll…literally. Poor Joy. I did apologize, but soon found out, that that was her favorite chair. Not only that, it had come from South Africa, which is probably why I’d never seen one like it before, and couldn’t be readily replaced. But still, Joy loved me. I could tell because…
They invited us to dinner soon after! They had a lovely home and Joy had made a wonderful dinner. We started with salad. The salad bowls were part of a matching set, that lived together on a cute little cart in her dining room. Contrary to what you may be thinking, I did not bump into the cart and break all of her dishes. No, I did not do that. But, I maybe put one of the matching salad bowls on the center island thinking there was plenty of room for it and then maybe it dropped to the tile floor and broke so that there was no longer a “matching” set. Maybe I did that.
In spite of it all, Joy still loves me. Because, well, that’s Joy. As she says, “They’re just things…” And, compared to friends, things are really not that big a deal!