One of the things God has brought to me over and over are the people that He has placed in our lives to help mold, make, change who we are. He's good at bringing just exactly who we need at just exactly the right time.
So today, I'd like to share a few of those people with you. Because they have changed me and I love them for it. These people just won't go away.
We have fellowshipped (spell-check says that isn't a word, but I'm using it anyway - it works for me) together, played together, vacationed together, raised our kids together, laughed, wept, rejoiced, mourned, loved, vented, and laughed some more. Their kids are some of my kids' best friends. They are my best friends. I cannot imagine life without them.
We have gone through events that, as young people, we never imagined we would face, but we did. We have celebrated milestones, rejoiced in the growing and maturing of our children, wept when life just became way too hard.
The list of people that God has used to mold me is endless. He has been so faithful. I vividly remember when we were early married, in a new town, new jobs, new church. I was so lonely for the friendship of women. God used that time of loneliness to teach me that He is sufficient. And then He blessed me with some of the best friends I have ever had. The first held my hand through the births of all my children. Though I don't see her much anymore, she forever changed who I am and I love her.
Some God has brought in for a season and the fellowship was sweet. Life eventually took us to different places, different states even, but when we are able to see each other again, it feels like it never ended. One of our favorite parts of our Christmas mission trip is that we get to see some of those people every year, again - and remember how much they have molded who we are. What they have taught us.
These people have shown me sides of our God that I can see in them when I am unable to see it in myself. His patience, kindness, goodness, forgiveness, sense of humor. They have been honest with me when I needed someone brave enough to be honest. They have been my confidants when I needed to vent and say things that perhaps no one should ever say, but I needed a safe place to say them. I am safe with them. I am loved with them.
We have also managed to hurt one another through the years as well, but in that we've learned forgiveness, and the worth of persevering in relationships even when they are hard.
As I think through the list of people that have made me who I am, who continue to make me who I am, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I think about my husband, my kids, my parents, my sister and her family, my brother and his family, churches we have been in, pastors, youth leaders, friends - and I am overwhelmed.
So today, I rejoice in friendships. God is so good to us.