I spent the afternoon with a dear, old (yes, as in friends for 30 years, old) who came for a visit and to help with a few things around the house…like getting the cobwebs down from the vaulted ceiling and changing burned out security lights. We don't see each other too often these days, but we always have good conversation and laughter when we do. He misses Todd too, and he is still very angry. We are like family, so we can pretty much tell each other anything. He listens to me and I listen to him—whether we agree or not is a different story, but we always listen.
He confessed today that he had read The Shack (upon my recommendation), and he HATED it. He said he was so angry when he finished it, he wanted to destroy the book. I found his response interesting, because I have only talked about this book with people who either liked it as much as I did or who just didn’t care for it, but no one who so passionately HATED it. This friend and I have disagreed passionately about things since we first met, but we have always loved and respected each other. We talked about it for a little while, and he explained why he hated it so and why it made him so very angry. I asked him if it bothered him when “people” went on about God’s grace, mercy, and love, etc. He thought for about 5 seconds (only because he is very deliberate about what he says), and responded with a small laugh “yes. yes it really does sometimes.” I had to laugh too (of course, I just knew he meant “other people” and not me ;-)
I started thinking about how I have been blessed with many enduring friendships--some of which span several decades. These friends move in and out of my life at different times, but it really does seem that although we change during our time apart, these friendships are very easy to drop back into. I can't pretend I am something I'm not with these people—because they know better. They have seen me at my worst and at my best…and they know that both of these contribute to the person I have grown to be. They know I am capable of very bad judgment and spreading ugliness, and they also know I am capable of sharing goodness and Light. They may not know my beginning and end, but they have experienced quite a lot of the in-between. No masks necessary. Whew. That is a relief (and refuge) in a culture that seems hell-bent on molding us into cookie cutter images of one another…with cookie-cutter definitions of beauty, success and happiness and the recommendation to use frosting (liberally) to cover over all those pesky imperfections.