The words to Point of Grace’s song “Circle of Friends” popped into my head this morning as I was getting ready for work. And I cannot shake them today. Friendship is hard work. It takes effort but it is so worth it! Yet when have to say goodbye much sooner than we would like, it is easy to think it isn’t worth it. But what I have learned over the years is that it is every bet worth it. These friendships are the notes that create a beautiful tapestry of lyrics.
“We were made to love and be loved, but the price this world demands will cost far too much.” My friend/our friend Ben was the best at showing love to others. He had this way of making you feel accepted, loved and welcomed into a community. It was never forced; one hundred percent genuine. And when Ben found the love of his life Mara, that love only multiplied. It was one of the most joyous weddings I have ever attended. And then when his daughter Elizabeth was born, that love multiplied yet again. This love is the kind of genuine love that will live on through those who knew and loved Ben.
My heart is heavy and weary with grief. I am sad that it has been awhile since I have seen Ben or Mara. I am sad that Ben won’t get to watch Elizabeth grow up. I am sad for my friends who have lost one of their best friends. In the midst of the pain and grief, I want to take it all away. But what I have learned throughout this grieving process is there is a community; the community of Wartburg Theological Seminary that holds you up when you cannot hold yourself up.
I love what my friend Ali shared on her FB page last night, “But because we belong to this community we get people who love you and lift you up and remind you of God’s promises when you need them the most. And we know we are never alone and for today…that is enough.”
Indeed that is enough! And today I am so incredibly thankful for that. Sunday night, I will hop on a train so I can be at Ben’s funeral next Tuesday morning. I need to be with these dear souls who hold a big piece of my heart. Grief is so hard and again there are days we wonder if it is worth it.
Ben, it was totally worth it. It was worth it to hear you laugh with that big robust laugh of yours. It was worth it to hear you sing to your heart’s content. It was worth it to watch you be a husband and a dad. It was worth it to lose to you during those game nights and it was worth it when we got to beat you at those board games even if those wins were few and far between. It was worth it to be your friend and for you to be mine! I don’t regret that for a second.
But this loss hurts! It hurts so deeply to lose a friend because we are bonded together. We were and are bonded because of Wartburg Theological Seminary. In the words of Jean Vanier, “In any case, community is not about perfect people. It is about people who are bonded to each other, each of whom is a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, love and hate.”
More often than not, you my friends, have shown me good rather than bad, light rather than darkness, love rather than hate. And today, that good, that light, and that love are much dimmer because we lost one of the best people I know. But my heart and soul know that this friendship, and every friendship in my life, is 100 percent worth it! Thank You for being a part of my circle of friends!