Last weekend my friend K. got married. Several of us from Colorado flew out to Ohio for the event, which was great fun. Sad, too - I couldn't help but crying over my own disappointed hopes and the recognition of just how much the community I was once part of is scattered across the world. Opportunities to spend time with many of my favorite people are rare.
Some of the weddings I've attended in recent years have offered few opportunities to really enjoy the bride and groom and see their personalities shine through, but this was different. S. & I were able to attend not only the wedding and reception but also a bridal shower on the night before the wedding and a less-formal party held AFTER the reception. So there was more interaction. And the couple put quite a bit of effort into things like introductions, through the printed programs, etc.
Plus the groom comes from a country where it's traditional that the reception include long speeches - not just short toasts - starting with the groom. They also do skits, performed by the family and close friends of the bride and groom. Watching the groom's brothers dress up pretending to be K & O 'at the old folks' home' looking through old photo albums and reflecting - with slides - on their life (some history, some prophecy...) or the bride's sisters do a 'little people' skit (where someone else under the table 'does' the hands...) of the bride and groom packing for their honeymoon while talking about their courtship was hilarious.
I met K. about 4 years ago when she went on one of our research projects and did an internship with us. After that she joined our staff, raised support and moved to Colorado. We worked together quite a bit, traveled together, taught together. K. was not only the MVP of our office in quite a few ways, as I see it, but she also became one of my closest friends. Her decision to relocate to pursue her relationship with this guy she has just married was both very exciting and quite painful.
I care about her as a friend, a great deal. Plus I know she also loves and enjoys me. Given that, it would have been appropriate for the two of us to talk a lot in the last year as we've both gone through great upheavals. But we didn't. My fault, really - I pulled away; couldn't bear it.
What is it that makes a friendship close? Partly it's a decision: The makings of a great friendship are not worth much if you don't cultivate the relationship. On the other hand - as in a marriage - it seems like there's not something else there, a fairly strong level of sameness or identification, you can't make it happen.
While friendship - discovered, developed, or both - is one of the things I prize the most, I don't seem to consistently make decisions that reflect that value. I'd like to see that change. K., of course, understands and forgives me for pulling away from her this year. But overall, this is something I want to give over to God and seek his guidance about in days and weeks to come.
Lord, in your mercy, give me close friends, and show me where to start to be a better friend to those I feel close to and maybe to those I don't. I know I've turned away from what might be some of your greatest blessings to me; I'm sorry! Thanks for your mercy and for second chances. May you be glorified in these relationships; may your kingdom, your purposes, come in our friendships; your will be done here as it is in heaven.