Thursday, July 14, 2011

Arms Wide Open

On Tuesday, I got the most random thought. Out of the blue, an old friend came to mind. He is someone I hadn't talked with in a couple of years and really hadn't thought much of either. He comes to mind in passing sometimes but with all the things that vie for attention in my life, reaching out to him never became a priority. Just like the fleeting thoughts of the past, I figured this one would go away rather quickly. But it didn't. I actually found myself looking him up online to see if I could get a glimpse of what was going on in his life.

I struggled most of the afternoon with thoughts of him. Nothing bad, just this nagging "reach out to him" kinda thought. I typed up a quick "just saying hi" message on my phone but couldn't hit send. With him being married, I felt like it was a little borderline disrespectful to contact him. I didn't want to cause any issues, so I didn't send the message.

But the nagging feeling didn't go away.

I spent the rest of the day, night and most of the morning on Wednesday kicking myself for punking out on sending the simple e-mail. I finally got over myself and sent the message that afternoon figuring not much damage could be done from saying "Hi, I hope you and your family are well." Knowing that my friend is online a lot, I knew it would be a relatively short turn around time for a reply. I was right.

I wasn't prepared for the news that he shared. Him never being one to sugar coat things, he was very direct and open about what was going on in his life. Without going into details, my heart broke for him and his current circumstances. Despite our obstacles and fumbles when we were closer, he is a pretty decent guy and an amazingly devoted father. Anytime he hurt, I hurt. Even now and its been years since we last spoke.

I replied that I was truly sorry to hear what was going on. I wanted to know how he was holding up, how his kids were. But he didn't reply right away. I was at a crossroads at that point. I believe in God and he does not. Offering to pray for him would not be received well and I knew that. I knew that in the span of time it would take for him to reply, he was going to look me up on the net to see what was going on in my life. I knew that he would run across the plethora of blog posts or random musing about God I have written. I knew our e-mail exchange would be brief after that. I was prepared for that. I was okay with that.

When I got the idea to reach out and see how he was, it was never with the intention of shoving Jesus down his throat. It was never to flaunt my faith before him and to spark a debate. There were no motives, no pretense, nothing. Just a sincere desire to check in with a friend who seriously left a mark on my life. I wanted to know how school was going, how his wife and kids were, what new ventures he was undertaking. He is a brilliant man, great conversationalist, and in my eyes, the differences on God didn't matter. To me, I see him for the regular guy he is.

He finally responded this afternoon confirming what I already expected. He'd found my blog and called me more religious than when we met. He hoped that I wasn't following blindly. I knew that my heartfelt concern was being overshadowed by our difference in belief. My heart literally felt like it was going to break. Tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn't stop them from falling. I felt sad and angry all at the same time. Sad because my friend was so guarded that he couldn't see that someone truly did care about what he was going through. I was angry because I thought back to the stories about how fanatical "Christians" would attack him and his family because they didn't believe in God. It's people like that who use judgement and condemnation to spew hatred and divide people. Sometimes, I don't blame non-believers for not believing based on the image that Christians portray. The church has really dropped the ball in showing the love of God to all people, believers and non-believers alike.

Everyone has a choice to believe in whatever they want. Doesn't make me any better or less of a person and the same goes for those that don't believe. I was a sinner when I didn't believe in God and I still sin and fall short after accepting God. I am not perfect and never will be. I just know that even in my sins today, I am forgiven and get another chance to get it right. I am not who I used to be and it is truly a miracle that I am here today. I can't deny Him. I won't relent. I won't stop being nice and caring for my friend and his family from afar. I won't stop rooting for him and desiring the absolute best for him in all he does. I won't stop loving people unconditionally and seeing them for the people they are, not the titles they carry. I won't stop loving with my arms wide open.

Love God. Love People. Prove it.

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