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The Love of Friendship

Yesterday I sat in a court room with my friend and her mother on a bench long enough to support many more. There was one more there. A friend of Bobbie. See, my friend was in court to face one of the men who killed her son. Donnie was just fifteen. Fifteen and full of life. He walked out the door on that early morning to wait on the school bus that his little sister would be missing because on this morning she wasn't feeling well. Before the bus arrived four cars, racing and each person behind the wheel had their fill of alcohol. They couldn't wait to get to the local diner. Didn't have time to respect those around them. No regard for anyone but themselves. Donnie was standing in the driveway when one of the drivers decided to pass another and in doing so Ethan Humphries hit Donnie going over ninety miles per hour. As my friend heard the crash and ran out the door life would would forever be changed. She would try to breathe life back into her broken son, but our Jesus had already taken him home. 

On this day in court Bobbie was to face Christopher Kitchen. A man she hadn't seen face to face before. No one knew what would happen in court on this day. We have been praying for two years now for justice to prevail. This man, with no emotion, pleaded guilty. We praised Jesus for that guilty plea. Next month he will face his sentencing and again on that day I will sit next to my friend while she lives the unimaginable

Next month there will be more of these men to face the judge. Some may be continued once again. But that's part of their game. See, the more they can continue they hope that people will forget. They hope this tragedy will not be fresh in people's minds. I can tell you that I will never forget. I made a promise to Bobbie and to Donnie that I would help fight in every way possible to see justice prevail. But this is what friends do. Friends stick closer than a brother. We are not just friends. We are sisters in Christ. That is a mighty bond of love. 

As friends we love and support one another in every possible way. We pray for one another, Here's the thing. There are times we need to put hands and feet to those prayers. We need to be present. We don't always live near our friends. In those circumstances we call, we text, we send cards. We ask our friend, "How are you doing right now? What can I do to help you in this unspeakabale journey?" We are to be the willing vessel for God to move through, to intercede for those grieving. 

Just to hear the voice of a friend on the other end of the phone gives such encouragement. It lifts the soul. It gives peace to the friend living in agony. Sure, we don't always know the words to speak. We don't have to worry about saying the right thing. Just call. Be the friend who listens and then before we end the call pray together. 

There are times a text will give much needed strength. We can simply text, "I love you". Send a scripture verse. We are to pray and ask God to use us in a mighty way. "God, give me the words. Move through me. Use me for Your glory. Let me be the friend my friend so needs at this time. Let Your love flow through me and lift my friend in all the ways she needs".

Not every friend is blessed to be a part of a church family. But when one is blessed to be a part of a church that is a valuable gift. A treasure indeed to have the women of the church surround you in prayer. To stand with you. To be the sister you need. May we stand with those friends who are a part of our church family whether they are in attendance each Sunday, twice a month, or three times a year. Our support for friends grieving is vital to their healing. Love is not just found in words, but it is seen and felt in action. The church is the circle of love to those in need. Oh, to have the church stand with you, to support you, to be there through the journey gives strength and such needed grace during a period in life that you never expected. There are times we can feel so alone. We have such needs, but after a while we tire of asking for help. Why? Because we have asked so many times and no one shows up. How is that possible? 

We can find every excuse to not be able to be there for a friend, but instead we need to be looking for every opportunity to be present for however long they need us. We  are to be the kind of friend we would want others to be for us.

I know that we cannot always be at court with Bobbie. Circumstances occur and life doesn't allow us to be present. But for us to be diligent in finding ways to support her is a powerful testimony to our Christian love. We can live with intention to be present in her life as much as possible. 

She has taught me so much about compassion and just being a friend. I have learned I don't have to do a lot, I  just need to be there. Gosh, I'm not the perfect friend. Maybe that's why we love one another so much. We accept each other for who we are and we know what each is capable of doing. We have learned to give God room and to have grace, to give grace. I just can't imagine not being there for her. I must be honest. It is discouraging to see those who are not there for her. Please, let us not forget. Let us move heaven and earth together as brothers and sisters in Christ to bring about justice. Let us share Donnie's story. Let us speak his name and continue to the fight to stop drunk driving and racing so no other child must die from the poor actions of another.

So often she will ask, "Rob, where is everyone?" Just to stop by her house, send a card, hold her hand, let her cry in your arms, just be there for her. She needs us so badly. Wouldn't we want people to surround us with love and support? Imagine if it were you and your family living in what seems like a dream, but every day you wake it's the reality you never thought possible. 

This journey isn't over. This is life for this family now and they need our support in every possible way we are gifted to share with them. 

See, I knew Donnie. He wasn't only my Friend's son. I taught Donnie in church. This young man was very special to me. On this morning, it could have very well have been one of my children, one of grandchildren. It could be me living a nightmare of the unbelievable. It could have been any one of us. 

On this day I didn't do anything super special. I was simply present. I sat on the bench and prayed the entire time. I was not only praying for justice, but praying for this young man to know Jesus, for his life to be changed forever, so that God can bring beauty from ash. God can take a tragedy and move mountains to change the heart of men. Oh, how I pray these men come to take responsibility for their actions. I pray they stand in truth and be held accountable for taking the precious life of Donnie. 

My heart breaks daily for my friend and her family. Tears fall so easily. It could have been me and if so I know Bobbie would never leave my side. See, we don't have to be best friends to support one another. We can be acquaintances. We can total strangers and reach in love. We can make an impact. We can change laws. We can stand together. Take off work, change your plans, do something. Most importantly get out of our comfort zone and allow God to use us for His glory. 

Hope, healing, courage, comfort, this is what we can give to a friend in need. When we give of ourselves to our friends this allows them to soar into healing. Let us show others that we value them. That they are important to us and we are willing to move on their behalf. God can use each of us in His own specific way, but in order for Him to do so we must surrender our heart to Him and allow Him the room He needs. Just imagine what giving love and time to a grieving friend can do. There is no limit to all God can do. If each of us could just step forward, come together, and be a willing vessel of love healing doesn't just begin, it gives the soul new life and a hope that life can be lived again. 

As we left court I wrapped my arms around my friend's mother. No words would come. They weren't needed. Love was shared between us and God was right there in the center. Tears flowed as I could imagine her deep pain of losing her grandchild. I have three grandchildren and one on the way. If something happened to them I would pray and so desire for people to help me stand and not only fight but to simply breathe. 

Let us think about what kind of friend we are to those around us. Let us think about how we can reach out and support those around us who are in such pain. May we be the hands and feet put to into action of the Savior who loved us enough to give His life. The question is, what are willing to give to share His love. 

"The only way to have a friend is to be one." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend." 
Henry David Thoreau


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