During these past few weeks I was reminded the meaning of real friendship in so many ways. There were a myriad of appointments which came my way bringing a variety of friend relationships which meant more to me than I can say. For many years, I have not had the impressive string of amazing gatherings of people I have loved and some all of my life, some for a short while and some so endeared I wanted to write about it for everyone. Some of the people I just "ran into", some called, some I saw at church, some were divine, but ALL have been important.
Friends can pick up where you left off and it be just like it was the same so many years ago. I had an Aunt Judy Horsely who through divorce had been separated from me for decades. I got to talk to her on the phone and my heart just jumped because she has always been so dear, along with my Uncle Ted (who were actually both cousins). She and I had not talked to each other since I was seventeen, but our endeared love was just as strong. In fact, the friendship ran so deep it was like a welcomed family reunion just having the opportunity to talk to a lady I have loved since childhood. We shared joys, two world apart and I was so thankful for her in my life.
Since mother died, I had a few of her friends whom I stayed close with in their family. Getting the chance to talk to my mother's sweet friends have brought me great joy and happiness. Time had stood still and I realized once again that with friends, real friends time can stand still. Family friends and even relatives who go back decades bring me to almost an emotional stand still, because so many feelings of unconditional love fill my heart.
Meeting this week with a group of my my old junior high and high school friends just had a tendency to bring such love to my heart. We turned around and were talking about a forty year class reunion next year. These men were great men of courage who never talked about themselves but I found myself more enchanted with each of their lives, than ever before. We kidded, joked, laughed and had the best time over a meal which went all too fast. We snapped a quick picture and the memorial of our smiles was something I will never forget.
One of the friends in my life I have not seen in six years has come back into my life after decades of friendship. He was a friend whom I thought was not a friend, not only had he proved me wrong but made me see how wrongful I could ever judge anyone. I had made a real mistake. People in life have such a tendency to judge others way too harshly, so why do we that anyway? What can often look so bleak, can completely change everything, but your heart has to be right to receive it, even friendship. I thank the Lord for a prodigal friendship back on track.
I was getting something framed at Hobby Lobby and the precious lady helping me stopped in her tracks. You see, she, after finding out my name was Kevin McAfee said, "I know you and your father so very well". She shared who she was and I realized it was my dad's favorite preacher in the world's... daughter. We talked about how quickly the last fifty years have gone by. Pastor Jack Thompson had preached mother's funeral, but I hadn't seen this woman since I was in elementary. The same day, a friend of mine from college was sharing about her ministry and how God was using her and tears filled my eyes to hear of what God had been doing. My emotions have been high since.
In our neighborhood in Franklin, I have met the most wonderful people and am so very drawn to them, all new friends who are filling my heart with kindness, with love and an unconditional presence I have been missing, in my own community too. What a blessing to KNOW your neighbors and really begin to understand them, verses living in a recluse situation where you don't even know who is next door. It's honestly very sad our world has become what it has which is WAY TOO BUSY, but I believe I am more guilty for feeling "too comfortable". You have to invest in your neighbors, give and get involved, don't just pull in the garage and shut the door with the opener.
In the past year I connected with friends of mine in the music, film and publishing industry who have been so very kind, I have been ashamed I have not been a better friend, to reach out and communicate. These are people who really have my deepest love and respect and they are not just colleagues, but true friends to me, to my family and to everything I am doing. How could I miss this by being too busy, but I did. The list is embarrassingly long and all I can say, THANK YOU to those of you who have reached out to me in so many ways.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized in recent days my busyness, my schedule, my travel and my world has not been very "friendly" to my own friends. This made me truly sad and I just felt like saying, "I am so sorry as these treasures of my heart have been beautiful reminders of what matters the very most to me in my life". You have to take time to be a good friend, you have to sacrifice, be willing to listen and not move so fast you forget and discard or be discarded.
Through all of this, I thought about the thousands of times I was so busy talking, I didn't stop to listen, to hear their pain or hurt. Missing thousands of opportunities to show love, I realized things needed to change in my own life about how I did FRIENDSHIP. I had several wise praying friends who talked to me about how to pray for your friends, segment them, chronicle staying in touch with them, and invest in true relationships where you could grow, become stronger and make a difference...together.
Then it went deeper because I realized these many times were dwarfed when the Lord himself was waiting on me, to talk to me, to listen and to share my pain, to undergird my path and guide me through the biggest challenges of my own life. I was the problem thinking I was ok, but I was faking it. Christ was standing there just waiting to be the ultimate friend, but I wasn't listening. Wow, I don't want to do this to a God who loved me so much, He gave and sacrificed His own Son for me to have eternal life. He is the friend of friends, the friend of sinners and He is my Savior. There is another way to live and we have to stop, open our eyes, our ears and our hearts even more.
A song once said, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer". Let's work to be better at being a friend with our God too. If you are too busy to talk, to listen and to learn, you are too busy. Let's focus on hearing from His voice and taking time to listen and let's commit to being a friend to the greatest force in the universe. Faith isn't easy and we all want something now, but when we slow down, listen and pay attention, we may find an even deeper and more joyous world than we ever dreamed possible.
Thank you for being a friend dear ones. Thank you for hearing all of our tears, thank you for sharing your tears and thank you God for being the best friend ever. Thank you for your patience and we WILL do better....
Love you all,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.