“We’re going to be in town for the next few days, and we’d love to see you guys.”

A simple Facebook message sent to my husband and me.

Somewhere well over a decade ago both of our families attended church together. Since then, they’ve served overseas and returned to live in another state. We’ve lived on a ranch to foster multiple children and returned home.

With the vast distance between us, communication became minimal. Lives go on with those around you as they are wont to do. Yet, with that simple message the three years since our last discussions seemed like a vapor.

When they arrived, the wife and I hugged. We skipped awkward introductory moments of, “How have you been?” and picked up conversation like it never stopped so long ago.

She is the kind of friend I treasure for a lifetime.

I recall a recent trip to my home state. My children played in snow for the first time, and I soaked up precious moments with my sister. Though this trip was not the usual see-everybody-you-can kind of trip, I did reach out to one friend from high school who lived within a couple of miles.

She too is that kind of friend.

One text message to let her know I was near led to a quick phone call in return. Despite the years without words between us, our lives intersected again with ease. She took me to get a pedicure and we talked about life along the way. In many ways we are different, yet we share memories, love and care without fear of rejection. In many ways we are alike.

This kind of friendships lasts through lapses of time as if they never were.

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What makes this kind of friendship? How and why does it last? What underlying current lies with friends who can come and go at different intervals of life?

What forges the strongest bonds that survive trials and disagreements, time and distance? Something special draws two friends together and brings them back when they’ve been apart. Something other worldly connects hearts in such a way.

And it is, from an another world.

Grace.

Freely given. Freely received.

Over the last year God has shown my heart the vastness of His grace. Though I thought I knew it, because I could explain it with simple words, I didn’t know it in my heart. Only now am I beginning to know it in that deep penetrating way, in an intimate way.

Intimate knowing refers to something far more than mental ascent. It tunnels into every fiber of our hearts and minds. It becomes a part of us. Knowing His grace in this way is too wonderful to explain. Chains of legalistic thinking, defensive self-protective responses and control over all-the-things break a little more with each infusion.

My heart receives each drip with times relief and joy as well as conviction and sorrow. I mourn the ways that I have hindered deeper relationships by wanting things just so, or by letting bitterness grow. I need forgiveness. 

Freely given. Freely received.

As this kind of friend comes and goes I can’t help but ponder the thickness of grace which pervades. Kindness and grace override differences of opinion, contrasts in theology, and variances in lifestyle. When grace flows freely between two women, the bonds of friendship are forged supernaturally.

The most extravagant giver of grace is one who knows rejection from a close friend, betrayal from another & abundant hatred from others. He chose death for the sake of all.

Jesus’s grace freely given. May we freely receive.

When we are hurt by unkind words, may we offer grace in return.

When we feel rejected by a look, or a lack of response, may we offer grace in return.

When we are betrayed by one who is close to us, may we offer grace in return.

For all the times when grace is not reciprocated, may we offer grace anyway.

For all the friends who have shown me grace, undeserved, I am deeply grateful.

Lord, help me to be the kind of friend grace makes.

Tags:
Jolene Underwood / Posts / Blog

Jolene Underwood is a faith warrior acquainted with many of life’s challenges as well as God’s healing work. She is passionate about cultivating a life well-lived, because she knows the power of God to revive weary souls. She believes a well-lived life is one that goes from surviving to thriving, no matter what the circumstances are.

Join her conversations of encouragement & faith at joleneunderwood.com and on social media at @theJoleneU

  • Meredith Bernard

    Love these thoughts, Jolene. I have some of those friends. The kind you don’t see for years and then when you do, you pick up right where you left off. God’s gracious to give us those relationships. And I’ll echo this prayer with you, friend, “Lord, help me to be the kind of friend grace makes.” Amen. Thank you Jolene!

    August 12th, 2015 11:41
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com/

      So glad to have others pray this with me. May we all be that kind of friend. 🙂 Love you Meredith!

      August 13th, 2015 18:03
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  • Wendy Speake
    http://www.wendyspeake.com/

    So blessed to have some of these. My husband often reminds me (when I feel I should keep reaching out to more and more people) “Let’s work on depth with the people we do have rather than breadth, trying to acquire more.” So very sweet. Thanks.

    August 12th, 2015 15:26
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com/

      What a great thing to be reminded of, especially by your husband. Your words bless many Wendy, and I’m sure those who are close to you treasure your friendship.

      August 13th, 2015 18:04
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  • Barbie
    http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/

    I’ve been blessed with grace-filled friends over the years. I desire to be that kind of friends to others.

    August 13th, 2015 16:07
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  • Starla J
    http://starlajimenez.blogspot.com

    Grace! Freely given and received. So important. I love how God perfectly orchestrates friends into my life.

    August 14th, 2015 11:54
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