Saturday, November 12, 2011

If you look around at the people you associate with and find that you are the most respectable person in the bunch then you might want to rethink your friendships.

This little proverb occurred to me tonight while I was thinking about the day, praying for one of my friends, overwhelmed with how good she is, how much I love her, how thoroughly she inspires me, how much I want God to bless her and her husband and kids.

Dwayne and I barged in on them today. As they welcomed us with kisses and hugs and laughter, the savory smells and warm air coming through her door pulled us right into their home. We found her busy simmering a pot of homemade soup, cutting out made-from-scratch biscuits and cooling some carrot cakes (made with fresh carrots) for her friends and family. She was doing as much work as I do in the kitchen on a holiday on a regular Saturday and all this for other people. And, perhaps most notably, she is doing all this in the midst of fighting breast cancer, the cheerful handkerchief covering her head a reminder to me as we visited.

As Dwayne and I drove home, we talked about her and I told him that people, including me, might have been able to chock up her excellence as a woman before cancer to "having more energy than most people," but I think it's clear now that she is fighting cancer and still accomplishing so much that she does what she does because she is who she is, not because it is just easier for her or something.

She graciously let me help her in the kitchen today, even though I am pretty sure I was mishandling her biscuit dough, and I learned so much just by talking to her about everything as we worked. Be it the name of a one of the best childrens' book ever or how to make espresso or not to turn the biscuit dough as I cut it out because it makes the layers stick, I always learn something from her when I visit.

As we worked, I mentioned that I need a food processor. There's a lot I can't do in the kitchen without one, etc. A few seconds later, she was pulling one out of the cabinet so I could take it home. "I have another one downstairs that's better for what I need anyway," she said. I took it without even bothering to try and talk her out of giving it to me like politeness dictates I should. I've come to realize she is perfectly serious when she says she wants me to have something, even if she says it after only a second of thinking it through. Her propensity to give has become a running joke, actually. I told her I thought mentioning a food processor would be safe enough because there would be no way she'd be able to give me one of those, but then again, with her, I should have known. I never leave her house empty handed.

I'll admit now that when I met her several years ago, I was intimidated by her excellence. I wanted so badly to get to know her better but I didn't feel like I could converse with her on equal footing. She was so smart, so funny, so capable, so Godly. I felt sure I'd just stumble over my words when I spoke to her and that all my inadequacies would be apparent to her when we talked in any depth. It took humility for me to accept her invitations of friendship and be myself when we were getting to know each other. But, I was wise to go ahead. I knew she was the kind of woman I should befriend and now I am so glad I had to courage to do so.

As I was thinking about this friend of mine, it lead me to thinking about all my friends these days. I can't name one that I don't respect, admire, and that I don't consider equal to or more excellent than myself (speaking openly). When I was younger, I was drawn to befriend people who made me "comfortable," those who made me feel better about myself because they were flawed in some very apparent way. But, now I try and make friends with people who are so excellent it scares me to death at first. They end up inspiring me to be excellent, too.

So, once again, if you look around at your friends and realize you are the only one with sense, it may be time to accept that invitation from that someone you haven't had the courage to get to know. Because "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 13:20

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