Monday, June 14, 2010

Bitter Sweet...

I reconnected with an old friend yesterday and it was almost too much. Sue and I were friends back in high school. We both played trombone. She played in the Catoosa HS band and I in the Broken Arrow HS band. We both took lessons from L. Dale Barnett and I truly believe challenged each other to always achieve more, although I know she was always better than I was. We hung out together a bit and even went out once; twice if you count the date we went on with Wally Thrun - another trombone player! Sue was, and and continues to be special. She is now married to a great guy, with great kids and still has the same big heart! She loves Christ, loves her church and still loves to play the trombone! It made me glad that she found me! (I guess facebook is good for somethings!)

Anyway, isn't it funny how your heart leaps when you reconnect with someone you haven't communicated with in a long time? Many people come in and out of our lives. Some of them we remember more fondly than others. But then there are those who really made an impact in our lives in a positive way. Although my window of time with Sue was brief - sophomore and junior years in high school - they were important years and important contacts. I can say this about a number of people in my life - Sean and Mark, Kale, Debbie, Don, Joe, Brent and quite a few others. I don't see them often, sometimes for years; but when I see them, my world lights up.

What is the intangible in my relationship to these people that does this to me?

My only conclusion is that it is one of the many forms of love - true friendship. The Greek word for true friendship is philadelphian - brotherly or friend love. The bond is deep and it is not simply a feeling, but a state of being. I have connected with these people and they have connected with me. We share philadelphia - brotherly love - on a very deep level. We are connected. Over time, I believe that philadelphian can transform into agape: the selfless love that God has for each of us, we can have for each other. Indeed, I believer we were designed for just that kind of love.

Although our world tries to define 'love' severely - as a biologic reaction, or a condition that is out of our control and leaves as quickly as it arrives, or as an exclusive condition between two people - that is not the Biblical warrant of love. Interestingly, not many people - not even Christians! - can handle loving others outside the world's definition of love. The very idea of love is too powerful, too intimidating. So we limp along, missing the completeness God has for us by not loving others as Christ loved us.

I have loved several people deeply - I know, because I have the broken heart to prove it! - but Tennyson was right: "it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." I don't regret loving those people unconditionally, for I know that is how Christ loved me. And though I've hurt when that love was refused, unreturned or unappreciated, I don't regret loving. You see it is in the sharing of God's love and its consequent grace, mercy and hope that we are completed - regardless if it is returned.

Thank you Sue, thank you Scott, thank you... for finding me, caring about me and truly loving me as your friend. You will always have my love in return.

Indeed, Christ says, "They will know you are my disciples in that you love one another."


  1. Things like this have been on my mind lately. I would "thank" you, but truthfully, I'm still working through some of the dust this topic kicks up for me. Maintaining a reasonable balance can be challenging at times.


  2. I think that half of any blog is found in the comments it generates. Too bad most people won't read what you and I write here.
    The more I think about it, the more I'm beginning to understand that my life is about love. My life is invested in my relationships and indeed to what degree I have invested in those relationships. Maybe I'm thinking too theologically, or too metaphysically; but I hope not. I hope that my understanding of life with God is simply becoming clearer. My wife and I struggle at times - arguing, wrestling with the difficult aspects of our reality; but love is still the essence of our relationship. My kids disappoint me at times; yet love still binds us and gives us the strength to forgive and keep creating life together. There are people I love passionately, yet I almost never see them or even talk with them, much less show them affection. The relational strength of love is still there. I am more convicted than ever before that love as theologically and classically understood is at the heart of what it means to be human.

    Thanks for always making me think my friend.