She's a whole 'nother kind of saint.
|My beautiful friend Angela, and her husband Shalin|
I have had many good friends, and I could write something about each one. Right now I could especially write a whole lot about those who have been the most amazing friends - my husband, my mom, and Julie. And a few others... I love, appreciate, and need all of you. I need a whole community of people these days and am floored at the way God works through all of you... but that's another post...
The friend I really want to share about right now is Angela. I want to tell others about her because I have never had a friend quite like her before, and there is something about her that just astounds me.
Angela has a lot of uniquenesses, to be sure. She isn't from here and speaks with a southern accent. She is more openly emotional than most of us are around here! She is an extremely brave woman and mom, to have moved away from all her family and friends to the middle of a bunch of cornfields... because God called her to marriage and a new life.
But none of these things are what make our friendship so special.
A sample from this week. My dear friend took two hours out of her busy life to walk around with us in 100-degree weather and take family pictures for us. We were all sweating. Why would we take pictures outside when it's 100 degrees? Because it's become very difficult for me to schedule anything like that knowing I will feel well enough to do it when the time comes. But Angela knows this, and she would understand if I had to bail out at the last minute. In fact, I believe this happened a few times last summer and we never got pictures taken. So, we made a tentative plan and we got it done. It was hot, but I was available, so she made herself available.
Making herself available is what she has done for the past four years for us. She has spent countless hours caring for our son when needed - at a moment's notice - on days when I have been physically unable and Shane had to go to work. Pushing him in the stroller, playing with him on the floor, singing to him, and distracting him from the pain. I remember one of the first times she came to the rescue. I could hear her smiling and talking with my baby, and I was just crying in thanks to God for sending someone who did it like I would be doing it. She has spent hours and hours loving my son to pieces. She is like an aunt to him.
But I wasn't sure why she came. It amazes me to know someone who chooses not to ignore the needs that she sees; instead, she makes those needs first priority. I would've understood it more if I had first done something for her, been a friend to her. But our friendship was so new, we were both new to the area and she just reached out to us. She didn't ask for anything first - she has never expected anything from me. And to be honest, I have not had much opportunity to give back to her at all. This is why I am astounded that, even until today, if I call this lady she is there.
Not only is she there... she is ALL there. There are a lot of emotions that come with physical disability, and she has been there to listen to them. She has let me cry and held my hand. She has prayed. One time I was in horrible pain, had the shakes from it, needed cold rags, etc. Shane was trying to take care of me AND get our little boy to sleep, without letting him into the bedroom. It was a desperate situation. Somehow Angela knew something was wrong, and she showed up at the door just in time to help me while Shane took care of our child. She listened to my pain, sang to me, and held my hair back while I threw up. Then took care of the mess. Yeah, that's right. She did that...
On top of stepping in as a babysitter and a nurse, my friend (or shall I say, sister for life... that's what happens after someone takes care of you while you puke)... has also been such an encourager. She has made special jewelry for me, made a CD of worship songs for me, sent me encouraging e-mails and texts, and called just to see how I'm doing. She cleaned our house before we moved in and she helped us move. She has clothes-shopped for me when I haven't had enough windows of time to get out of the house. I will never be able to repay all the favors she has so joyfully done.
Angela has been through some very difficult times in life, but I wasn't there for those so I will never know what her struggles were really like. However, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the brothers and sisters of Seacoast Church for the love they poured onto her during those times. When I thank her, she always says, "I just think, what would I want someone to do for me?" Then she refers back to those who helped her and her pastor who says, "If you refuse to let someone help you, you are robbing them of the joy of giving." Thank you, Pastor, whoever you are.
Angela, really, is the kind of friend I hope to be someday. And God has revealed to me what the difference is in being this kind of friend. It is a laying down of your own life... even your own family's life... for the sake of the family of God. (I am not saying she has neglected her own family. Her amazing son, though, is old enough to keep himself occupied and has also helped out!) I am Angela's sister in Christ, but the thing is she really acts like I am her sister. I am so challenged by this. Who would give up their own time, even their own family time, to take care of someone else when they are a complete mess?? Who does that??
I will tell you who does that. Jesus, our mutual Lord and Savior, does that. He lays down his life for his friends. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13).
I love you, Angela, and thank you for laying down your life for me. May God bless you abundantly.