In her final moments, they were with her. After weeks of cleaning her home, doing her laundry, administering her medication, cooking for her and so much more they sacrificed sleep and comfort zones to hold her hand as death knocked. They weren't her sisters, hired help or nurses...they were her friends.
Even in my grief I was aware of how well these women had loved my aunt. And in the days and weeks since Kriss's death I have marveled at what she built in life. Any Saturday Kriss could be found at a soccer game or birthday party for her friends children. Her life centered around the people she loved. She lived life with them -- shopping, eating, supporting...giving of herself. She invested wholly in the people she loved and they felt every ounce of it.
One truth has come glaringly into focus for me. I don't have friends. Not friends like that. I have some girlfriends who I study with, go out to eat with now and then, but I don't have the kind of friends who would put their lives on hold to help me fight the demons at the door (be they cancer, depression or sudden emergency).
I don't invest in my friendships the way I should. I spend much of life in competition with other women; many of whom don't even know my name...let alone that I'm determined to win at what I perceive they are good at. "My children are more obedient than hers" (go ahead dare to think that thought...your children will then proceed to melt down in Target screaming and throwing things). "I need to go shopping so I can look as cute and put together as she does." "My husband holds my hand too, but I wish we looked that in love." "Before the ladies come over next week, I need to get some fresh flowers for the bathroom so my house looks like one from the magazines." I spend so much time letting my insecurities steer my life that I have been missing something incredible.
Those children who are melting down; their mother looks tired and sad, perhaps I can pray for her and offer her a small smile. You know the kind of look that says "hang in there, I understand." There's no woman with a put together house or outfit that isn't covering up the same brokenness I am. And no marriage is perfect or without moments of disconnect, instead of caring how we look on Sunday morning, I need to invest in our quiet moments at home that are the foundation for our life together.
You know what I really missed, though? Friendship.
I wait for people to call me or choose to send them a little message on Facebook. I don't reach out. I'm not vulnerable. I want to wait for someone to invest in me fully before I invest in them at all. You know what that equals...loneliness.
I'm a women's ministry leader, I love women! I want them to make incredible friendships that grow in God. I want them to learn to trust each other and understand that God designed us to be relational...we are meant to have friends. But more than that we are meant to BE a friend. I need that women's ministry as much as anyone else!
So, in the months that I have been wading through grief for the loss of one of my closest friends, my Aunt, I've learned a lot from her. I've been trying to pick up the phone more. To reach out. To offer to help. To let down my guard. To learn to be the friend that Kriss was.
In a little less than a month we will be officially kicking off our Women's Ministry for Mountain View Community Church (my amazing church home). We are in the midst of planning an incredible night of food, fun and teaching for our women. But there is some personal prep going on in my home...I'm getting ready to just be me. If I trip walking across the stage, well then I can't be any more me! If I'm not the most put together cutie there, that's okay, I can compliment the other women on their outfits. I pray that God allows me to leave my walls and baggage at home and just go meet His girls; the women He's placed in the next pew or around the block for a reason.
I'm going in search of friends (wow, not in the weird stalkerish way that sounded...in a sweet kinda way!!).