I’ve been putting this piece off for a week because honestly, I don’t feel like crying again. But I know if I wait too long, I’ll not do it justice. So I’ll attempt to convey a little of my heart to you today.
Recently, our good friends Bob and Bri and their family made a move to Texas. Last Sunday we packed up their house and loaded them on the truck. You may say, “What’s the big deal? People move all the time.” That’s true, but this was a little more personal. The day was filled with tears, for these weren’t just friends, they were family. They are family. We shared our hearts with each other. We shared birthdays and holidays. Bri was and is my heart’s sister even though we weren’t technically related.
We used to joke that God made us enough different so we wouldn’t compete but similar enough to become best friends. When I first met Bri through my sister-in-law, Jeanine, I was teaching high school English outside of Rochester. We happened to be teaching the same book at the same time, so Jeanine suggested I contact her friend Bri to get some creative ideas. “Sure. No problem,” I said, but in my mind, “I” was the better teacher! Then I found out that she sang. Not just a little singing in church, but really SANG. But in my mind, “I” was the better singer. HA! I laugh at this now because I know Bri thought those very same things. As far as the teaching goes, she was and is the better teacher, but that’s okay because I have this writing gig I’m working on. Over the years we discovered how our gifts were not in competition with each other. God made her a soprano and me an alto so our voices would blend and complement each other to bring glory to Him. There was no competition necessary.
I say all that to show a little of what our relationship was like. With her leaving, my heart was breaking. Here was my friend, the one God designed to complement me, and she was leaving. Her voice will no longer be a part of our worship team. Her gifts are being used elsewhere. That’s okay. I know God has good plans for her, but I don’t have to like it.
Last Sunday was her last week in church. Everyone knew it. The entire congregation recognized how difficult it was for the worship team to get through the songs with Bri sitting in the pews. We sobbed through the lyrics, “You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, ‘Blessed be your name.'”
But that wasn’t the hardest part. I was struggling to keep myself together and still give praise to the God who deserves it no matter what we feel. Then my son and my nephew did something that turned the whole church to tears.
At the end of the service, Pastor Joe offered prayer for anyone who wanted to come forward. The band started to sing when I saw three little heads clearing the seats and moving toward the front. Ian, Nathan brought their friend Cameron, Bri’s son, forward for prayer. They were having a hard time losing their friend, but they knew that in the midst of their hurt, they could turn to the God who had them all in his hands. No one prompted them. They chose it all on their own.
At the same time my heart was breaking, it burst with pride that my son and my nephew knew to turn to God in their hurt. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me.” Scripture also states, “A child will lead them.” That day, our church was moved by the heart of two little boys who wanted God to take care of their friend.
So today, I’m thankful for my son’s and my nephew’s heart for Jesus and for their boldness to step out and teach people generations older than them what it means to trust God. I’m also thankful that my God here in New York is the same God in Texas.