A good friend of mine, one who recently wrote a beautiful post for my #TwentyTuesdays series, has written a beautifully moving tribute to her friend she lost nearly five years ago. Today would have been her 25th birthday. She asked if she could share these words on my blog, feeling that it would be an appropriate place to express this sentiment. I was honored.
Increasingly, I know more and more people who are suffering in some way, whether a physical illness, a loss of a child or friend, or a loss of a dream once held dear. To see the beauty in it – to find perspective in the madness – is something only God can do. Thanks, Erin, for sharing this tribute to your lifelong friend on her birthday. Love you, girl.
I was recently reading the lyrics of “It Is Well” and as usually happens when I think over the line “whatever my lot, thou had taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul“, I think of my best friend who was born 25 years ago today.
I don’t remember meeting her, our moms were friends long before they knew we would even exist. We were friends since birth; to the other, a friend we could always rely upon. That was the lot God gave us.
Anna has been a part of my life for 25 years. The lot she was given in life was shorter than the lot God has given me, but the lot I’ve been given included learning these things from my first friend.
Compassion. I learned compassion from Anna. Overwhelmingly when I think of her, I think of compassion. I remember Anna talking about wanting to share the love of Christ with someone who came through her check out line at work. She told me how he looked so sad and she wanted him to know true happiness.
Then she told me he thought she was weird. Only then did she think that sharing Christ with someone buying goods from a retail store might not be the most natural or comfortable experience for someone. Her full-on love of people was reflected in every facet of life.
Graciousness. One of my favorite memories of her and her love for me takes me back to the age of seven. We were trying to decide who could take the first turn at a game, and I – being a whole three weeks older and therefore wiser- decided that whoever had the biggest feet would be the winner. Of course, I won, and when the time came to choose again she acknowledged she knew I had bigger feet and could go first. I will never forget that she showed me love and grace when I most definitely did not show it to her.
Courage. Anna was not afraid of much. She was always wanting to get dirty, keep up with the boys, or climb as high as she could. She was once “ze mosquito killer” in our cabin at junior high camp, keeping us safe from itchy, red bites.
But, when I think of her courage, I think of a time when we were in college and she felt that she needed to address the behavior of some friends, in love. I was worried for her, that they would get mad, but she replied “if they say they follow Jesus, they should act like it.”
Life skills. I learned that I could shave my legs at the sink from Anna. I learned how to walk in high heels, wear a bandana, and paddle a canoe. She tried to teach me how to whistle a few times… I learned how to play chopsticks on the piano and most importantly, how to pick a cicada carcass off of a tree without breaking it.
Hope. Anna had bright eyes for what God had done and could do, even at a young age. We were eight years old at her cousin’s visitation when she looked me in my tearful eyes and said Heaven is a wonderful place. She was always optimistic that God would give us His best. I remember crying with her about a disappointment, and she just hugged me, waiting until I was ready to remind me of that truth.
Faith. Since her passing I have grown so much in the knowledge that God is on my side, and we are on this earth to glorify and make His name known. I don’t question it. It took awhile, I was angry and bitter – letting my life spin it of control. But, He was there to pick me up. I think of her every day, and when I am discouraged in my line of work, I’m reminded frequently of the time she used on earth to help others know God, and it inspires me to keep loving.
It was her lot to meet Jesus at age 20. It was my lot to know her in life and grow through her death. It was her family’s lot to lose their sweet and spunky second born. It was our college’s lot to hear about the girl who loved Jesus. It was the lot of the worker who, after witnessing the faith of Anna’s family in the days following her death, came to know the Lord.
This is my lot, and it is well with my soul.