Friday, November 18, 2011

It's a Family Affair

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

We were navigating tricky water, my friend and I. I had gravitated to and embraced renewed faith in the Creator God of the Holy Bible. She remained a resolute agnostic. For lesser friends with weaker ties, the resulting chasm might have separated us for life. Almost 25 years later, I am limp with relief as I think of the 'what ifs' that did not come to pass.

We were waxing, as we did so often in our youth, philosophical. She turned to me with pained eyes said, “You Christians! You and your club. You are so there's some secret password the rest of us mere mortals have to find to gain admittance. Then, you keep changing it, so we can't.” Despite the look in her eyes, her words bubbled out with laughter as melodious as a brook. No harm, no foul.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
In another time or place or with another person, I might have felt insulted. I might have pulled away suddenly as if to escape words delivered with a slap. I felt no need for self-protection. I only felt sadness that anyone, anywhere could perceive the faith I had embraced as presenting with the arrogance she described.

The conversation carried us along to a place of deeper, not lesser, friendship. Life carried us apart, but we remained, and remain, sisters of the heart. In her own time and place, she embraced my faith. Hers were the words that strengthened me to endure as the life I knew evaporated. She was the one that reminded me of the core of my faith. The note would arrive with a verse of scripture attached. I marveled as I remembered the day I feared my faith would cost me a friend.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
By then, I was, myself, being schooled in the reality she had described that cold, gray day so many years before. I was the one on the outside looking in. I was the one trying to find the secret password that would allow admittance into a group that would not quite chase me off even as they would not really let me in.

I blamed it on our chaotic circumstance. If encroaching poverty was a social cancer, those in 'the club' of faith seemed fearful that it was contagious. I was a carrier. Oh, if only it were that simple. We sneaked back to our hometown under the cover of darkness so that no one would see our stain of disgrace. We found another community of faith. We flew under the radar for 3 years before we felt safe enough to make our presence known.

It seemed safe because we were on the mend. We existed on financial paper again. The scarlet Chapter 13 on our foreheads was less and less visible. Maybe now, we'd be granted membership in 'the club' of Christendom again. Alas, in my efforts to find my role in that new community, I often felt as tho' I was Don Quixote flinging myself at windmills such was the futility of my efforts.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Beaten and exhausted, I finally gave up and walked away. I had been part of organized religion since I was 3 days old. How had it come to this lonely, singular decision? could I make the decision and not a single soul seem to care? I could hear my friend's words ringing in my ears. I finally understood the harsh reality of looking for the password that could never be obtained.

I don't have the answer yet today nor am I ready to search again for my unique place in an organized community of faith. I remain, however, resolute in one conviction. Within true Christendom, there is a family you cannot deny and that will not deny you come what may.

Despite my loneliness for a church family to call my own, I can tell you that my family of faith grows ever larger. It extends as far as Australia where a friend I met thru this blog gave Son #1 a 2nd family while he was so far away. Our mutual and foundational faith enlarged our hearts so that we could each 'take a chance' on strangers who live their lives a day apart.

Is it lunch time yet?
Neither distance nor time hampers the bonds of this family. Only a week ago, my phone rang. A chuckling voice on the other end asked, “Is this....?” and she said my name. I squealed with laughter as her name erupted from my lips. Twelve years and 3 states evaporated. It was as if we had just seen each other only the day before.

We spoke again today. Our lives are messy and fractured. The reasons are not even closely related. And yet, neither of us have to explain it to the other. In a life where faith is lived transparently, pain knows pain on a 1st name basis. Words are not required. Laughter gave us each a reprieve from our harsh realities. It was the same laughter we had laughed all those years ago.

Courtesy A. Squires
We made plans to meet for lunch sooner rather than later. Even nailing down the time and date fostered laughter. We paused before we hung up. “Anne,” I said, “I want you to know...finding you is a gift. I feel as tho' someone has just handed me a precious gift. I'm so thankful. I've missed you so much. I love you guys. I do.”

I heard the shyness I have noted so often in the lilt of her voice even as a giggle again punctuated her words. “I love you too.”

When faith is real and transparency is not just a trendy, feel good counterfeit we pretend to exercise, there is no ever changing password. Pain understands pain and requires no explanations or excuses. It's a fraidy cat world. Everyone needs a place to come in from the cold. Welcome home, fraidy cat. Welcome home. 
Welcome Home Fraidy Cat

Proverbs 18:18 (New Living Translation)
There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.


  1. Churchianity is a counterfeit of Christianity.

  2. Awesome post. Your willingness to share thru your transparency is a gift to us all to benefit, grow and accept one another right where we are.

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