Saturday, April 04, 2009

Birthday Thoughts for a Special Friend

The Lord is sweet to cross our paths with faithful, encouraging men and women along life's journey. He brings them into our lives at ordained times, although there are times when we aren't aware until many days/months/years later of the lasting impact a particular individual has had.
The young woman wearing the SFA t-shirt in the above picture is someone I have never had the opportunity to meet, and yet, our paths have crossed this past year. We share the commonality of not just being blog buddies, but there is someone who has been a crucial thread in knitting us together as friends. I have had the honor and humble privilege of knowing the woman in both pictures since I was an over-dramatic, obnoxiously loud adolescent. From as far back as I can remember when we met, the Lord began a work of encouraging and spurring me on through her words and presence in my life. Through her and her best friend, I was being taught from a young age that my value is in Christ alone through His redeeming work.
AJF from Absolutely His is celebrating her 20th birthday today, and her day of fun and celebration has compelled me to reflect on the ways in which I have been mentored just as she has thus far in life. We are so undeserving of the dear friends He places in our lives, and it gladdens my heart to see the fruit of the two of us having been directly influenced by the same woman. When I was AJF's age (umm...almost seven years ago? scary...), I was positively clueless as to the lasting impact both Funderstorm and PandaMom would have on me. At that age, halfway through college at the time (AJF is way ahead of where I was in school at the time), I was beginning to feel the weight of the refining process, and had accepted neither the fact that I was a work in progress nor that the Lord had far greater plans for me than I could have dreamed. I am amazed and praise Him alone that I did not sell myself short in the midst of my doubt and impatience during those immature years.
I remember when Funderstorm and PandaMom would respond somewhat awkwardly in my mind to the countless letters and cards I gave them in attempts to express my gratitude. In my immaturity, I thought it was awkwardness on their part, but how little I knew then. What they were dealing with was the fact that none of us are deserving of the very great, very weighty privilege of being used as instruments in the lives of others. From our weak and ill-equipped perspective, the task can be overwhelming when you realize the impact you may have on another at any given time. The most seemingly insignificant word can have a lasting impact in the heart of another. I look back now at the influence these two women had, and I can say without a doubt that they were fully dependent on the Lord during those times. Acknowledging that they had nothing in and of themselves to offer, they relied on Him for wisdom, that the truth of the Gospel might be heard through their words and acts of compassion.
Now that I am actually past the age they were when I first met Funderstorm and PandaMom, I am starting to realize that I am no longer the adolescent. We are always growing, always being shaped and molded into His image, but I am no longer that adolescent child I once was. I am now at an age and place in which the Lord is showing me ways I can be of encouragement to younger women. The realization is strange as I often still feel so young and childish, but in our weakness He is still sweet to move and to work.
AJF - I am thankful for the unexpected way in which our paths have crossed. It kind of weirds me out how similar we are; as I read your blog, I sometimes feel as if I am reading some of the very things I thought and wrote at your age. It can definitely be a challenging season, as you have articulated on occasion, and I see the ways in which the Lord is preparing for whatever He may have in store for you. You are nearing a new chapter in your life, and I know the changes in store can often be overwhelming. May you continue to rest in Him, hold fast to His truth in the face of changes and new individuals with whom you will come in contact. May you never lose sight of Him in whom your identity is found, and may every knew experience draw you that much closer to Him. Happy birthday, dear friend!


PandaMom said...

I love hearing you as an adult. You move me, girl. Thank you for the kind words. I know you mean them deeply.

And...I still feel that I'm nowhere near the wonderful person you thought/think I am. ; )

Love you much!!!

Ashley said...

You are too kind. Thank you for doing this!