Recently I received a text message from a very dear friend that I met in high school. She was dropping her oldest daughter off for her first day at band camp, which prompted her to reminisce about how she and I met at band camp so many years ago. On their way to the school that day, my friend told her daughter, “On my first day at band camp, I met a friend that I would love forever. I hope you’re as lucky as me!” This text message made me a bit misty. In a beautiful way, the connection she made between our friendship and her daughter’s similar experience graced my life.
The truth is, when I hear a lovely little story like the one my friend told, I sometimes feel regret that I have not been a perfect friend over the years. I don’t keep in touch as well as I should. Sure, I send a Christmas card, write an occasional email, and try to see my friend when I am visiting my hometown. But life is so busy, and time is so short, and there is always so much to do. In a perfect world, I would be able to see everyone and do everything and, somehow, not go crazy trying.
And then I hear God’s whisper. And I take a deep breath, and try to remember that God is in the messiness of life as much as God is in the “perfect.”
Lately, I’ve been trying to live comfortably in the grey area rather than see everything as black and white. For me, this is a very difficult proposition. I tend to be a perfectionist about everything, and when I am not “perfect,” I get annoyed. My behavior with my friend over the years is a good example. When I think of how I’ve failed her, immediately my mind goes to, “bad friend.” And yet, in my heart, I know that my friend and I could pick up tomorrow as if no time had passed. I am aware that the connection between the two of us is the gift. The way that each of us is compelled to keep that connection alive is the grace.
The same holds true for the “good friend” label. I could ruminate over my definition of a good friend here, and I could give examples of the times I have lived up to that standard.
And yet, that’s not really the point. The point is, we are friends. My role in this friendship is not “good” or “bad.” Instead of using these labels, I’d prefer to say that our friendship is blessed with beautiful, illuminated, authentic moments. Moments that take my breath away and moments that bring me to tears. All are gifts. All are grace.
To be human is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often.
–John Henry Newman