It always surprises me when I hear the words, "You are a good friend." I think it's because I have my bar set pretty high - for myself, that is - and I consistently find myself knocking it down from its lofty perch. My past friendships have always seemed to indicate how pathetically clumsy I am with remembering to do the right things for my friends. But no matter how brutally honest I am with myself about my friendship skills I still lament my lack of long-term friends. I even get a little envious when Bill gets e-mail from friends he's had for nearly 10 years.
So, today, I was wonderfully amazed when my phone rang and I answered to hear Nicole's voice. I met Nicole in 1995 when we were both enrolled in a college for business and technology. I was working through computer programming studies and she was finishing up accounting classes. My life was not in order by any means and I was making some very bad personal decisions that caused me a great deal of guilt and heartbreak. Basically, I was bewildered that I even knew someone who freely called me her friend. I wouldn't have chosen me and I still don't know why she did. But when she told me today that I had been a good friend to her I just had to sigh deeply and thank God for His grace. Somehow He saw to it that her remembrance of me was positive and good, even though I used to feel so much shame for not living rightly during that time. She encouraged me with her words and I was astonished that she had found my friendship to have benefitted her at all in any way. It has made me humbly grateful.
Since those years I have learned at least little more of how I should behave as a friend. It still means being honest and open but it also involves much prayer and encouragement. Jesus demonstrates His friendship to me daily and I can't help but wonder why He chose me. But He did and I know my bar will never be as high as His.
"A man who has friends must himself be friendly. But there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24