Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Becoming a Friend

(Arlene, Me, Luci, and Margarita)

I met Margarita 4 years ago when I heard God ask me to drop some milk off at her apartment. I did not know who she was from Adam. After that brief moment of obedience, I did not see her again until she started coming to my house this last May to receive food from the food pantry.

Now, Margarita is my friend. She has been coming to the Jubilee Food Pantry ever since we opened. Margarita speaks minimal English and I speak minimal Spanish, so we don't actually have many conversations. And even though not much is said between her and I our friendship has taught me more about the Gospel than any book, Bible study, therapy session, or sermon could ever teach me.

Two thoughts before I continue: Jesus was/is about relationship and money is the root of all kinds of evil.

My relationship with Margarita has been filled with awkward moments, sign language, a lot of smiling, sitting, looking at pictures, going with her to the medical clinic, hanging pictures in her tiny apartment, going on errands together, watching our kids play, and making tamales in my kitchen.

We are completely different; not necessarily in personality, but in culture, background, ethnicity, language, lifestyle, financial state, etc. It has taken the power of God for our relationship to become what it is now and there is a lot more of Margarita to know and love. I have moments when I think I know how to love her but I am quickly reminded of the differences and how my "love" might come across to her. And I think about doing something and then think again at why I would want to do culture has ingrained in me this thought that I have something to give to her and she should be grateful. As painful as that is to say, it is true. God has sifted more out of me in these last 7 months than He has in a long time. Gently and persistently, He is putting a new mirror up and revealing more things that I have been subtly told and therefore believed for 30+ years.

God never called us to be a friend with an agenda. If you really think about it, I'm sure you also have a secret agenda for a lot of people you know and "love". It may be a deep hidden thing that you don't really even know about, but it's there. Maybe a few parenting tips they need to know, a little wisdom for their marriage, some ideas on how to budget a little better. Maybe it's more than that, maybe they need to know Jesus, or some new understanding of theology that you have discovered, maybe it is the power of the Holy Spirit, maybe it is the idea of God as Father, maybe it is just plain old pity. Whatever it is you think you have to offer, check yourself. Agendas or "good intentions" as more people would like to put it, will be found out sooner or later.

I am being brutally honest here and it is even making me squirm a little. I think I know, but I really don't. I think I'm pretty great sometimes, but I'm really not. The only great thing in me is my BIG, AMAZING, GOD. He makes me great. My ideas of how to be friends with Margarita are very flawed, but He is starting to help me see through His eyes. His imagination is helping Margarita and I to have a healthier relationship than if I was to come along and try my hardest.

The idea that money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10) is becoming so alive to me that sometimes I feel hopeless. I look at my relationship with Margarita and money has already wedged itself in and made a big old rift. Neither one of us has made it happen, it is just a disease of this world. I am wealthy beyond belief, she has grown up in a world of poverty, or at least that mentality. We can't change our backgrounds or families, but we can change the way we view one another. And that takes the power of the Living God. It takes the people who know and love Jesus, to act like Jesus. It takes time, persistence, showing up, being available, dropping your "to-do" list for the day, and letting yourself sit in a place where you have to trust Him.

Four months ago God told me to be friends with Margarita. I have no idea where this will go, but I am learning what it truly means to be a "Friend". It is messy, confusing, and heart-wrenching at many times but God is teaching me about himself through relationship. And for that, I am grateful.


Shelly said...

You are a remarkable bondservant of Christ Serenity. More than anything, your life is an increasing revelation to me of our Lord's love and His life. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I pray a blessing over you and Margarita's friendship in Jesus' name.

Thoughts for the day said...

I think it is wonderful ... if you ever need an interpreter my little lily who I babysit is half 'mexican' and her daddy is fluent in spanish and fluent in english. Jesus could come and help you in some words if you ever want him to. The language barrier might go down if she knows you can share with her in her own language.
let me know.

Barb said...

Your humility and honesty bless me, my sweet daughter. Thank you for teaching me what love is all about.

Susannah said...

beautiful. thanks for putting into words what i couldn't. very refreshing