Friday, January 25, 2008

CED 2008 - A Heartwarming Story

I'd like to share an story with you. The story you about to read is true. It is an actual true life event, and a life lesson that I have experienced over the last several days. No names have been changed to protect the innocent, for we are all guilty some times for some things. Whatever those things are may differ greatly, but no matter how big or how small, they can be forgiven. I honestly believe it is how you handle that guilt, how you pray, how you seek forgiveness, how you love anyways, and trust in something so much bigger and larger than life itself that makes all the difference in the world, and this is as such a story.

I have a very good, dear and best friend, Shiela, who I've known like a sister for the past three years. We were more than companions who enjoyed each others company, who encouraged each other's faith in God, and trusted one another with our deepest thoughts and closest confidences. In October of this past year, Sheila and I had a difference of opinion which resulted in an argument, and ended in a broken friendship.

Loving Sheila's good heart as much as I do, my own heart was broken. I missed her. As days passed into weeks, and weeks into months, we didn't talk to one another, yet I know in my heart that we were never far from one another's thoughts and hearts. As our relationship grew, we became intimidated by one another's strengths and those strengths made us more aware of each of our own shortcomings. The old saying that pride goeth before a fall, rang true. I loved and missed my best friend so much that with each and every thought of her, my heart broke a little bit more. The broken friendship with my friend lead me to a broken relationship with God, until one day, I decided to turn to God and pour out the contents of my heart to him. As I prayed daily, a miraculous event took place. Sheila telephoned my husband, Don, on behalf of a mutual friend. While I continued to pray, asking God to soften my friend's heart, I discovered it was my heart God was softening. Unable to turn my attention away from my broken friendship with Sheila, I asked God to show me what a friend and friendship is. After I prayed, I turned to my life application bible, and I read every chapter, and every verse, I could possibly find on the subject. I wrote five pages of notes as I wrote every word that spoke to me.

After that bible study, another friend IM'd me and with my heart still feeling troubled, I sought her advice and guidance. Afterwards, I continued to pray and read my bible and the notes I had made during the bible study.

I learned a true friend doesn't allow envy and jealousy to interfere with their relationship, for God blesses those who he chooses to bless and gifts those with gifts who he chooses to and inspires them to use them. I learned that true friends help, not hinder, our relationship with God. They are loyal and love at all times. They are available in times of distress and personal struggles and that I should be the type of true friend that the bible encourages. I learned that love always protects. It trusts, it hopes, and it preserves. It isn't selfish and it helps us only if God helps us to set aside our own instincts and desires, for isn't love in doing for others expecting nothing in return?

I read that there is a friend who sticks closer to us than a brother. Who listens, cares, and offers help with it is needed, who is there in good times as well as the bad times. That it is better to have one such friend, than a dozen superficial acquaintances. As I read those words, I knew in my heart that I once had that friend and friendship with Sheila. That I loved and missed her a little bit more each and every day that passed by. I was not prepared for what I read next.

Instead of seeking to find a true friend, I should seek to become a true friend. And I prayed. I asked God if there were people who needed my friendship, just as I needed my friend's Sheila's friendship, that he reveal them to me. And he did. While chatting via an IM with the friend I'd sought her godly advice from, I told her about my struggles, my prayers, and my bible study and what God had revealed to me. I told her about my hopes of reconciling that friendship and my fears as I continued to pray.

As I was reading my bible the next day, I stumbled onto Romans 5:2, I learned when I surround myself with other believers as friends, that faith, hope, and love are the life of a Christian heart. That our mutual relationships with God = faith; that hope grows as we realize and learn all that God has in mind for us, promises a future. That God's love fills our lives and gives us the ability to reach out to others.

In Matt. 5:23,24 I read about broken friendships and discovered that they can harm our relationship with God. That problems and grievances with a friend should be resolved as soon as possible. That our attitudes towards one another reflect upon our relationships with God {1 John 4:26} I learned that I should have mended our small conflict right away and made peace. I knew I had to make things right with Sheila before I stand before God. The question that plagued me, was how was I going to do that?

I returned to Romans 12:19-21 and re-read befriending those who hurt you. I read to be joyful in hope; patient in affliction; and faithful in prayer. To share and practice hospitality and to bless those who persecute you. I knew I needed to put Sheila's feelings above any fears that I felt and I prayed to God to help me recognize those fears. I knew I needed God's help so I asked him for strength and I continued to love Sheila, even if my worst fear came true I had to love her from a far.

Little did I know that yesterday, a single ring of a telephone would shatter my world. When Don telephoned and we made the trip to the ER and from the ER to Riverside. I was uncertain of what I was going to do and I prayed. The voice within me was loud and clear, and my heart whispered, "Call Sheila." So, I obeyed. At first, I reached her answering machine and quickly hung up. As instantly as it took me to make that gesture, I had to ask myself, "do I really desire to disobey God?" The answer was simple and swift. As I reached Sheila's answering machine the second time, I left a message. I told her I could use her help and all about Don and I asked to please, call me back. Within 15 minutes, my telephone rang. It was Sheila. She asked, "Where are you at?" and then said, "I'll be there in half an hour." {She lives out of town.} Those words were like sweet music to my ears. My best friend was on the way. Instantly, I learned that forgiveness is both attitude and action. We should forgive just as we've been forgiven.

Is there someone in your life who needs your forgiveness? Who needs your kindness? If it is difficult to feel forgiveness, the bible says, we should respond with kind actions. Tell the person you'd like to reconcile your relationship; lend a helping hand; send a small gift; smile; and that right actions lead to right feelings.

Sheila and I talked for the first time in months. We said, "I love you" in ways that no words were needed. We forgave one another and in doing so, God forgave both of us. Together, we reconciled our relationships --- not just with each other but with our individual relationship with Him, who matters most. We've certainly both have been blessed!


liannallama said...

oh, what a wonderful and happy story! I am glad things are good again with your friend! (((HUGS)))

Janie said...

God works in WONDERFUL ways. And not matter what he is always there and is working in all our lives every second of every day!!!

Love ya Cathy!
Janie W.

bec said...

Isaiah 26: 3,4 God will keep those in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him...God is our eternal rock!

When Don's health is better, you need to come to GA, where he can get some R&R and you and I will play in the studio and reconnect with nature. Why, dear friend, didn't we connect spiritually before? I do believe that God is using your personal situation to bless others.