Today we’re excited to introduce the winner of our first contest through Facets of Faith – Gloria Cooley. Gloria is a gifted writer & speaker, friend, wife, and mom of 2 littles. Read on to learn how a necklace, a backpack, and a little girl helped her see the beauty of friendship.
Recently, my seven-year-old daughter wanted to buy a necklace. Not just any necklace but a “best friends” one. You know, the kind that has a heart or puzzle piece or some other object divided into two parts with “Best” written on one piece and “Friend” on the other? She brought the necklace over to me with great enthusiasm and asked if she could use her money to buy it. My gut reaction was “NO” but thankfully I hesitated before answering. I asked her with whom she would like to share the necklace. She really did not have a specific friend in mind and quickly listed a few names of girls at school. A short conversation ensued as we talked about what friendship and a best friend looks like. After a few minutes my daughter named a girl who truly is a good friend to her. We talked about why it might be nice to share this necklace with her. The purchase was made and my girl left the store with the joy of childhood friendship on her face and a plan of how to gift her friend with this necklace.
Friendship. If only it were as simple as purchasing an inexpensive necklace and gifting it to another with a pinky promise of being friends for life; however, developing and maintaining friendships is not always that easy.
C.S Lewis spoke of friendship in this way – “The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
God, the Creator, is at work revealing the beauty of others and Himself through the gift of friendship. It takes work on our part to acknowledge that beauty and respond. Some friendships develop naturally over shared neighborhoods, activities, and churches. Other friendships are a little more unlikely. These friendships develop despite geographic location, shared interests, and ethnicity.
Some of my favorite childhood books included stories of unlikely friendships or better yet what I like to refer to as God ordained friendships. Wilbur and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), Tod and Copper (Fox and the Hound), Pooh and Piglet (Winnie the Pooh), Mowgli and Baloo (The Jungle Book), Anne Shirley and Diana Berry (Anne of Green Gables), David and Jonathan (1 Samuel), the list could go on and on. Each of these friendships was unique and comprised of two unlikely individuals whose paths crossed and a friendship was formed.
Over the years, I myself have had a number of friendships that could only be God ordained and most certainly used to reveal His beauty. One such friendship developed across an ocean and a generation. We were the unlikeliest of friends: me, a college student from Florida, serving as a missionary in Hawaii, she a church secretary, wife and mother from Georgia. There was no reason our paths should ever cross, but God knew otherwise.
God used this unlikely friendship to teach each of us about Himself and reveal to us the beauty of the other. As Anne Shirley would say, it was “positively providential” that she and I would meet. Through a crazy series of events including a young college student from Georgia, a stolen backpack, a gift of help, a visit to Maui, a seminar at a conference for Sunday school teachers and later a trip to Georgia, this unlikely friendship began to blossom.
This friendship spanned miles and years filled with much laughter, joy and sorrow. We did not see the beauty of this friendship from the start and there have been times over the past 18 years that we have lost sight of the beauty God intended to reveal, but ultimately this friendship has been a picture of our Creator. A beautiful picture of what it means to share life with another. To encourage, uplift, admonish, teach and rebuke when needed.
The beauty of this friendship is not because of the two, flawed individuals involved but by the grace of God and our willingness to look past the surface and trust what God intended for our friendship. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”
As I think back to the joy on my daughter’s face as she purchased that necklace I can only pray that she will experience a number of friendships that will point her to God, reveal her inner beauty and allow her to return the same.