Most years I try to send out a Christmas newsletter to family and friends we aren’t able to see through the year. Last year
I didn’t have my act together enough we were so swamped that I just didn’t get one out, and boy did I hear about it! Other than updating folks about our lives, the sending of the Christmas missive also serves as a way for us to reconnect with people we love. The past few weeks I have had the lovely opportunity to reconnect with three people.
One was a best friend from my childhood. She and I had grown apart as geography, different life paths, and the duties of life as wives and mothers had come between us. I recently found her email address, and after exchanging Christmas cards and newsletters, we reconnected again via email. It was good to give her the unedited account of our lives and to learn of her struggles as well. It is amazing how exorcising the demons from my baggage has made it that much easier to be transparent in all areas of my life. I am looking forward to keeping this friendship up-to-date again. I missed my friend.
My cousin Nini called me a few days ago, too. After a day or two of phone tag, we finally connected again today. She is actually my father’s first cousin on his mother’s side. (Nini’s dad and my grandmother were siblings.) Nini was an older teen and I was about three when we first met. My first Thanksgiving on the dairy farm her parents owned is lost in the recesses of my mind, but I am told that she and her sisters sat with me on the staircase teaching me to say things like, “groovy, man” and “far-out”. I have another hilariously wonderful memory of her riding home with us from Thanksgiving one year because Dad had a car for her. The clutch in the Volvo went out somewhere in southern Pennsylvania, and my siblings and I have vivid memories of the adults pushing the car to get it going again as we rolled down Main Street of some small town. Nini also had a gift for mirror writing. Once she dropped by when I was away, and she left me a note that I had to read by holding it up to my mirror. Nini has always been special to me.
As we caught up on news of our families it was good to hear that familiar voice and to feel the unconditional love through the phone lines. The truth is that it has been a rough few years for both of us. She is losing her mother to Parkinson’s disease. Her mom is my favorite aunt. It hurts to know that someone whose home was a safe harbor (albeit only one weekend a year) for me is being betrayed by her body. And yet, my cousin shared some precious things with me, and I am so blessed to know how to pray for her mom, my aunt. I learned that my cousin’s daughter, a beautiful young woman, is to be married in just a few days. How privileged I felt that Nini would take a few precious minutes out of a crazy week to phone me and let me know that she loves me. I am blessed that, even though my relationship with my own mother is currently broken, the Lord continues to shower the kind of motherly love and pride on me that affirms me and lifts me up. It brings tears to my eyes and sobs to my throat as I am overwhelmed with knowing how very much I am loved. He continues to do this for me–to affirm me and love me through other women in my life. I hope one day to be able to have that kind of relationship with my own mother.
I anticipate the re-connection with another old friend later this week. We have been trying to get each other, and I am confident that when we do, it will also be a sweet time. I have come to recognize that the Lord takes me though desert places now and again. I see a pattern of desert places when I grew so much followed by the sweet fellowship of friends and family. The desert places are lonely, lovely times. Times of desperation and pain, yet that is when I learn to lean more fully on Jesus.
Fellowship is a gift. Whether it is sweet fellowship with one’s family or intimate relationships with friends, fellowship is how it was meant to be. God saw that Adam was alone, and in the midst of all that goodness, God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. Marriage is the ultimate picture of fellowship–our fellowship with each other and our fellowship as it was meant to be with the Lord. Of course we cannot share that kind of relationship with anyone else–marriage is special. But friendship and kinship offer a special kind of fellowship, too. It is a fellowship of connections that run deep in the soul with people who know the unvarnished you and love you anyway.
So I cherish this week of reconnected relationships. And I am thankful that the Lord has given me yet another glimpse of what it will be like when we are in heaven with Him. It will be about fellowship with the One who ransomed me and the others who will be there. That is something to which I can look forward!