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Some years ago, I met my friend Temple through our church. I quickly found her to be the most genuine and rock solid real person I may have ever met. 

Over the years, Temple has become the friend I think of when I consider the true meaning of friendship. We raised our small children together, we led VBS together, we organized the Christmas pageant costumes together. We've cried through funerals together.  When I had an anxiety attack in a difficult public situation, Temple pulled up a chair for me and said, “you’re sitting right here with me,” and she protected me with her normalcy so I could collect myself. We have talked about hard things in our family life, celebrated milestones with our children, gone on long walks, given funny gifts. We have laughed until we cried together, and we have cried until we laughed together. 

Brene Brown says “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: 'Who has earned the right to hear my story?' If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

When I describe Temple in my own life, who do you think of in yours?  Take a moment to ponder this.  Does an answer come to you quickly, or do you need a little time? Some prompts in our thinking: Who has stood by you at the graveside? Who has stood up when you were overwhelmed and wrapped you in protection? Who makes you laugh? Who do you share important history with? Who SHOWS UP for you? As Brene says, Who has earned the right to hear your story?

As Jesus shared the Last Supper with his friends, knowing he himself was about to give his own life, John’s version of the Gospel says Jesus spoke these words:

John 15.12-17

12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

I'm so thankful for Temple and for others that have stood in the gaps of life with me so many times. I never take friendship like that lightly. I'd encourage you to take some time today to lift up and thank someone special in your own circle today. They probably don't hear it near enough.

May we go and bear fruit in friendship, serving others and modeling the care of others Jesus called us to - a challenge set before us offering gifts beyond measure. 

With grateful and hopeful hearts - Amen.

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