To be honest, I struggled in titling this because my friend Christy has brought so many gifts to my door, heart, and life over the past eight years or so that titling limits me.
I met Christy in the second half of 2002, about a year after my ex-husband Jason, my son Cade, and I moved to Powhatan. We were attending a cookout in the pavilion of Red Lane Baptist Church, and Christy gushed over Cade's Chuck Taylors. Christy's son Noah was about three years old; Cade hadn't yet celebrated his third birthday. I loved talking to Christy and said something like: "Let's be best friends," or, "We're going to be best friends."
I have been stuck to her like a tick on a dog ever since.
Christy and I have flat torn up the road. We have made at least three trips to East Tennessee. We have (in no particular order) gone to the Smithsonian, several aquariums, Wolftrap (to see Annie, on the lawn, in the pouring rain), the pumpkin patch, Bible study, fall festivals, the apple orchard, antique and shopping malls, Bear Creek Lake, the Green Valley Book Fair, the zoo, movie theaters, Kings Dominion, and I could go on and on. We have baked Christmas cookies together for at least seven years. We have taken our kids trick-or-treating and Easter-egg hunting. There was a period of time during which I worked Tuesday through Saturday, and Christy and I spent nearly every Monday together.
Christy knows me. I mean, she really knows me. She has seen me angry, despondent, and afraid. She has seen me in physical pain. She has endured my bossiness, rudeness, and unfortunate tendency to pass judgment. She witnessed what was, possibly, my worst parenting moment ever. She has been my friend through two marriages, one divorce and two break-ups, one changing-locks situation, three moves and four houses, two childbirths, three churches, one graduation and three jobs. She knows my parents; brother, sister-in-law, and nephews; sister-cousin and niece-cousin; and she has met most of my other friends...even the ones who live far away. She has seen me naked. She has prayed for me, cried with me, fed me, and advised me. She knows nearly every story I have that is worth telling. She knows my history so well that--when I told her I was driving to South Boston to see Jim Galyon for the first time in eleven years--she asked: "Wait a minute. Isn't that the guy who took you on your best date ever? The one who pushed you into a tree and kissed you?"
As I was trying to figure out how to pour eight years into a blog post, I asked myself what in the world has fueled Christy's loyalty to me. She has been mature, responsible, and settled over the course of our entire relationship; I feel like I am just starting to figure things out. I haven't always been a good friend to her, let alone a good person around her. I don't mean to downplay her very evident love for me, but--when I closed my eyes and pictured her big, almond-shaped baby blues--I laughed and thought: maybe she has just always wanted to see how things will turn out! (My mother says I have been a lot of things, but I have never been boring.)
|Curiouser and curiouser!|
In fact, Christy is infused with curiosity. I refer not to rubber-necking, holy-cow-look-at-that-nasty-train-wreck curiosity (although I would've been good for that, too, at times) but, instead, to a sense of curiosity over how God will work things out, with the kind of faith Paul demonstrated when he wrote: "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears" (Philippians 1:6, MSG).
Curiosity sparks Christy's love for adventure, as well as her appreciation for challenge. She loves to push the boundaries of what she can do through Christ who strengthens her. I call her up and ask, "What are you doing today?"
"Oh," she answers, "pouring concrete. Refinishing a piece of furniture. Homeschooling my kids and purging my house of all clutter, but--in half an hour--I'm going to paint backdrops for Vacation Bible School. And then I'm going to build a chicken tractor."
I say, "Whaaat?! Wow, you sound really busy."
"Why?" she asks. "Do you need something?"
"Well," I tell her, "I need to come up with a baby-shower cake with a train on top."
"Oh, that's no problem," she reassures me, gently. "I can help you with that just as soon as I drop off the kids, tomorrow."
"Your kids?" I ask, confused.
"Oh, no. Not my kids," she replies, "the four kids who've been staying here all week because their parents are on a mission trip in Zimbabwe." (Christy nearly always has extra kids because--when all the parents of Red Lane Baptist Church ask their kids where they'd like to stay for the day--they want to go to Christy's house, thank you very much, and, Mommy and Daddy, can you delay picking me up by a few hours or a few days?)
So Christy gets her workhorse on until, finally, her husband Alan puts his foot down, at which point she pouts, but only until she realizes she's completely and utterly exhausted and has been so very busy that she hasn't sent the Christmas cards she addressed and stamped. Three years ago.
Christy's a wonder, and it comes to me: one of the most wonderful things about her is that she brings out in me (and so many others) a child who calls out: "Hey Christy, watch this!" because I know she will be just curious enough to turn her light-colored, luminous eyes toward me and--no matter how crazy my activity--look upon me with love. If I succeed, I want her to see it, and--if not--I choose her as my compassionate witness. Either way, we can talk about what happened over chocolate cake. And here's my special message especially for her:
Ok. Maybe I don't love you quite that much, Christy. But I do love you beyond my ability to express it, and I appreciate your patience and servant's heart. Thank you for doing life with me.