It is the quietest it has been in days, eerily so. We have gone from a house of five to a house of three and soon we will be back to two.
For two weeks our little home has been holding all that it can between its walls, the spaces filled with emotion, laughter, tears, and big suitcases as we have prepared to send off my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to Haiti. Thousands of miles and 8 months will separate us. Our best friends no longer near but instead very, very far. It has been a time of rejoicing with them, but as each moment of joy subsides, a pit forms in my stomach that gnaws like a pang of hunger when you have gone all day without eating and you're body screams, "something isn't right!". Selfishly I want them here. I want them here at my house. I want them here, drinking coffee with us at our favorite shop on Fridays. I want them here at Christmas and Thanksgiving as we eat too much dessert and open gifts that we each are so excited to give. I want them here. But beyond my wants is a calling that surpasses the earthly and chases after the eternal . And they are answering that calling obediently. So through the pangs I will continue to rejoice. I will rejoice because I have loved them enough to feel their absence. My iron has been sharpened by their own, and I will rejoice in who we have been and always will be for each other.
Love is instituted by Christ. Apart from him it doesn't exist - not truly. The Gospel love isn't the kind that requires something in return or that is feeble or fickle or easily swayed. Real Love says love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31), Real Love manifests itself as humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another in all things (Colossians 3:12-14). Real Love gave everything, death on a cross, and as we are called to Christ-likeness, we to should love in a way that gives everything.
The body of Christ serves as a tool of exhortation, a pendulum that swings back and forth pushing us to deeper sanctification with each measure. But for us to experience the body functioning in this way, we have to be apart of it. We have to be willing to dig in, to have our feelings hurt, to have our sins called out, and to love one another deeply, unabashedly, and without fear. Fear keeps us from giving too much, from letting others in, from being truly known. It helps us to create walls and settle for shallow when true beauty rests in the depths. But we know perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and perfect love is demonstrated by the Son. Fear doesn't get to separate, leaving us to trudge alone. He is the binding agent, first bringing us to Himself and then to each other.
Jesus is the heartbeat of God-exalting friendships. He is what creates the joy within them so that we may know the worth of Christ more fully because He is the common denominator and treasure between us. He is what makes them good! He is what binds us, what brings us together, and who teaches us how to love fully and freely. This is where we experience the covenant of the body.
Loving well in our friendships leaves us vulnerable but it also leaves us rich and rarely unchanged. When we love with every fiber of our being, as Jesus calls us to, it humbles us, tests us, strengthens us, and allows us to feel so very deeply. But more than anything, it helps us treasure the faithfulness of God as He is working all things out for our good and His glory. We don't love halfheartedly, keeping ourselves safe because we have protected the parts of us that are most sacred. True friendship gives all and loves recklessly, holding nothing back. And when a part of that community leaves or moves on or something shifts to make room for change, we will hurt. And cry. And feel the gap left in their absence. All because we have loved enough to really feel.
So today, through my tears, I will praise God for the gift of knowing and being known. For friendships that transcend something as passing as common interests to be rooted firmly in Christ. I am thankful that I am left marked by those friends & family who have loved me for all that I am and also all that I am not.