My friend Monica is, in a word, amazing. She is such a Godly woman...warm and winsome :), refreshing to the soul, and encouraging to the spirit. I have the best group of friends anyone could ask for, and I have always struggled to put my feelings about them into words. Monica did a far better job than I ever could have when she wrote this:
The Beautiful Face of Christ
I am setting myself up for failure, and I am taking a risk. There is certainty of failure in that what I want to try to write about can't be captured in words. It's a little like trying to capture the essence of the mountains or the ocean on a 4 by 6 picture. You can't help but take the picture, but you can't help but be disappointed by the result. No matter how many pictures you take and how many different angles, it simply does not do justice to the subject. I am also taking a risk. It's always a risk to write about what you feel, because, after all, someone might read it. Even worse, there is the distinct possibility of becoming sappy as you try to put your feelings into words. I hate sappiness. It makes me want to gag. But, just as I have been compelled to take literally hundreds of pictures of the mountains, I also have to try to write this.
The subject of this little composition is my friends. Now there are friends, and there are friends. These are the friends that everyone wants, but far too few people have. These are the friends that cry with you and laugh with you and laugh at you. These are the friends that are always there to encourage you and that are always there to tell you when you're being stupid. I would try to name names, but how can I? I might miss someone- because I'm good like that- and it doesn't matter anyway, because they all know who they are.
I have had friends before. In high school and college, there are friends all over the place. They're great to hang out with and many of them helped me in my walk with God...but now that I've been out of college a few (five!) years, I find that there are few people that I still keep in touch with. In grad school, I had some wonderful classmates and roommates. I do still keep in touch with them, but if we're not making small talk or talking about physical therapy things, it can get kind of awkward in a real big hurry. There are always those close friends here and there that know all your warts and love you anyway, but this is even bigger than that, though it certainly applies.
How do you even explain what it is? It's a group of people that have come together with a heart for Christ and who want to deeply search for the truth and who want to have a lot of fun along the way. I truly don't know how to explain it, other than to say that it is friendship the way God meant it to be. I remember when my parents made us read about the saints growing up, and I always thought that it was ironic that so many of the saints "happened" to know each other. I am beginning to see that it is more likely that it is a case that each helped (pushed) the others along the way.
That is not to say that we do not have our faults. We get petty and annoyed. We gossip and hurt each other's feelings. At times we even take each other for granted. Yet, there is something there, Someone that is bigger than any one of us.
I feel that I have known these people forever, but the calendar does not agree. It's actually been only a couple of years for me. Let me try to tell you what that's been like for me. At first, it was simply awkward. I can be shy, and I'm definitely introverted, and this was one large, loud group...and we usually end up being packed into someone's small apartment, so it seems like the place is going to bust apart at the seams. Most of them had known each other forever, so I felt like an outsider, and never got all the inside jokes. Yet, somehow, they kept inviting me back, and I always came. I could tell this was a group of people that I wanted to get to know better.
I finally started to get to know the names and faces a little better and start to figure out who fit in where and how. It really got deeper, though, when I started going to the women's Bible study. Every Thursday night, we meet for dinner and time together. Sometimes we even study the Bible. But this has become the place that we talk about anything and everything, from small talk to God, the good, the bad and the ugly. They challenge me, and they have been the means that God has used for my spiritual life to grow by leaps and bounds.
The guys are also very special to me. I wish that all women could be around guys like these. They are guys in that they can be crude and raucous and proud of an especially loud or stinky fart, but they are also manly in a way that few men are. As a woman, I can say that there are few men that are as respectful of women as these guys are. I honestly don't know how they do it, but they have made me see my worth as a woman in a whole new way. I've tried to think of specific examples, but it's all the little things in the way that they show their respect for all of us women. They also unabashedly love and value children, in a society that says children are a nuisance and a bother. I'm not going to lie, though. They have been known to run from a poopy diaper.
I was once accused of being too picky in finding a guy to date. There was a challenge made that maybe my standards were too high and that's why I'm still single, because what I'm looking for doesn't exist. That is not true. They do exist, and I will be single until I find someone that can treat me the way these guys treat their wives/girlfriends.
I love that there is so much talent in this group and the way that it is used to honor God. I love that I know if I spend the weekend with them, Mass will be a priority. I love that when we go to a Mass, or someone's wedding or a baptism, people see us as a group and see something there that is so special that many have commented on it. I love knowing that hanging out and a game of shooting each other with nerf guns may be paused for a serious theological question. I love knowing that these people are my friends now, and that even as the group changes as some move away and others move in and all the other changes that life brings, they will be my friends when we are in eternity with Christ as well. I thank God for them.
How do I explain who these people are? They are my friends. They are my family. They are the beautiful face of Christ in my life.
Thanks, Mon, for taking a risk and letting your heart spill out through this writing. (Hopefully you don't mind that I am posting this, I coudn't help but share your talent and share about the community that we are so blessed to be a part of).