Choosing Joy

BlessingsIt’s funny how people change over time, some for the better and some… well, not for the better. Tonight, I’m thankful for rekindling old friendships and finding that the years have been good to us – defining, healing and sanctifying.

I recently moved into a new apartment and was getting rid of some old furniture and decor that didn’t fit in my new place. I posted an ad for the items on Facebook, and the first respondent was an old acquaintance named Kelly.

I say acquaintance because, although Kelly and I were in the same bible study for two years, she and I never really connected. At the time, I found her loud, brash and insensitive. I’m sure she found me negative and whiny. We were, needless to say, not the best of friends. It’s been four years since I’ve seen or heard from Kelly – I changed churches, and she was always on the road for work – so I was a bit surprised when she was the one to respond to my ad.

I foughtWe met for dinner tonight to make the exchange, and I think we were both pleased at the changes the passing years have brought about in one another – and in ourselves. When I’m with friends like Ashley, who has been a regular part of my life for decades, I don’t notice my transformation because it is so gradual. But being with Kelly, and remembering what our interactions were like four years ago, I was struck by the difference between who I was and who I have become.

Kelly, too, has shown remarkable change. Like me, she is a female engineer working for a major oil & gas corporation. She is smart, strong, confident, capable, independent and established. All of those qualities used to come off as somewhat abrasive, but she has softened over the years.

PlansKelly shared with me that a couple of years ago – all in one week – she closed on her first house, started a new job, went through a breakup, and her mom had a heart attack. People don’t come out of weeks like that unchanged. Kelly began to wrestle with depression. It’s a painful, heart wrenching battle – as I well know – but Kelly said to me, “I have grown so much in patience, compassion and mercy.” Her suffering taught Kelly a lot about both receiving and extending grace.

There is a kindness to Kelly now; a gentleness that I never saw before. For the first time, we connected on a soul-deep level, and I was astonished to realize just how similar we are. Our journeys of sanctification have been much the same – strong women being broken, for God’s glory; then built back up in Truth with grace and dignity; love and humility.

Tonight reminded me anew that there truly is a method to the madness and a purpose to the pain.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” -1 Peter 1:6-7

Authentically Aurora