I found it no coincidence this fall when planning some retreat weekends for women that God led me to the topic of friendship. I was thinking about all of the people that I would be saying “good-bye” to- church friends, special groups, customers, co-workers and family. (This was going to be a lengthy and difficult process, and emotionally painful.) While I was not leaving “forever”, the reality is that absence affects and changes relationships with those we love.
During the retreats we talked about the richness that friendships give to our lives, and how those friendships are deepened and enriched further when God is at the center. In 2 Samuel, the Bible tells the story of Jonathan and David, whose souls were bonded so closely that “they were knit together”. They trusted and respected each other to the level that they were always willing to confront each other with the truth- and do so with love. This type of friendship is something that God wants for us. We are given the opportunity to experience God’s love for us through others. This does not “just happen”- it must be an intentional part of our Christian growth.
Following the retreats, I gave my notice at work. My heart was touched deeply as I watched several co-workers’ faces reflect sadness for my leaving, but also tears of joy that my dream of serving in Africa was really coming true. The company announced the staff changes to our customers and auditors, and messages started to flood my in-box. Throughout this process, I asked the question of several co-workers, “Why do we wait until someone is leaving to let them know that they are special to us and how much we appreciate them?”
I have been given the rare privilege to develop new and lasting relationships on both sides of the globe. Wherever we are planted, let’s not ever take them for granted! They are a precious gift from the Lord.