A few months ago I attended a bridal tea at my old church. After chatting with the bride-to-be, hugging her mom, catching up with a friend's daughter who lives out of town, and perusing all the gorgeous gifts, I took my plate of goodies and my cup of punch and joined a table of ladies, friends of mine from way back when.
My heart was full as I glanced around the table at these women, women who had loved my kids, rocked my babies, and cooked me supper, women who had prayed for me and with me, women I loved and admired, women who remained when we left the church, women who were no doubt grieved and disappointed by the church split, as were we all.
Yet there I was. At the table. Laughing, chatting, catching up. It was friendly. It was easy. It was good.
I loved those women, those friends of mine. I love them still. We share a history together. We served and sought the Lord together. For years. A past like that is not easily dismissed.
I am so glad it isn't.
I miss them. I saw again that our decision that July carries consequences, some obvious, some not quite so.
Don't misunderstand. I love my church so much that sometimes, in the weird way my mind works, I am afraid. The privilege the Lord has granted me, us, to be a part of this work is so great that the weight of it nearly crushes me. To say I am humbled is too trite. To say that it's a blessing is too empty. I am grateful.
I had lunch this week with one of my friends who remained at my old church. We have lunch twice a year, she and I. I know this for sure because we continue our years-long tradition to meet for lunch on the dates a local church hosts their annual soup lunch in January and their annual salad lunch in August. We did so before; we do so still. We always say we're going to get together more often, and we always mean it.
Our lunch was good, our conversation easy. Another friend joins us every August and the three of us chatted and caught up and reported all the latest. It was fun. My friend even referenced something that happened "that December after y'all left in July." It was a statement of fact, not blame or or spite or any other emotion that could accompany a situation like ours, and I was glad that this is what it is: We left. She stayed. She did what she must, following the Lord's will. We did as well. We are each thankful for how the Lord led us. We're friends. God has been faithful to us both, to us all. What grace.
I love my friend and I miss her. I am glad for our past that is part and parcel to our present. I am glad for our friendship that continues, and for bridal teas and for our lunches together.
Oh, but God is good, His lovingkindness endures forever.