It was the fall of 1976, and it is likely I was wearing a “wrap skirt” that day when I showed up to help with hot lunch at the small Christian Reformed grade school where my children had recently started attending. In that kitchen, making hot dogs, I met Barb for the first time. Her signature smile and warm sense of humor were so welcoming, and it didn’t take long for us to realize that we were “soul siblings”. Our sweet friendship grew over those years our children attended school together and eventually we could finish each other’s sentences and complete thoughts – unspoken!!
Our friendship was a mutually joyful, trusting, admiring and filled with the sisterly love we shared. My husband and I took our 50th Anniversary Alaskan Cruise with Barb and her husband, Chuck. Our priceless friendship lasted for 38 years before she entered heaven just a few years ago. I think of her everyday and I grieve the loss of our friendship, but not without hope, because I know I will see my dear friend again in heaven.
In May I will see my 79thbirthday. I have seen many seasons come and go and in those seasons I’ve experienced what blossoms, builds, matures and remains; and I’ve also weathered hard seasons marked by death and loss. Honestly, the older I get, the more people I anticipate the sweet reunions heaven holds!
Inevitably, as seasons come and go the question arises, “what if I had taken the other road” instead of the one chosen? For some of us there are emotions of regret or guilt, frustration or sadness of how our choices worked out.
I find for myself that what draws my heart and compels me is always tied to relationships. At this point in my own journey I have lived through the loss of relationships never healed or mended, sights not seen and adventures missed. And at the same time I have tasted over and over the sweet fruit of life-long friendship, continued intimacy with my husband, deepening closeness with my children and joyful goodness with my grandchildren.
The reality I now understand is that while we have influence on our relational “crops” they are not completely under our control.
The contents of my relationships are both fragile and resilient, and this truth has strengthened my faith.
There have been times I felt that relationships were lost, when in fact they were only in need of some water and cultivation. Others, have weathered storms with hurricane force winds and have stood strong. I find I am both grateful and amazed at God’s faithfulness.
As I sit on the edge of nearly 80 years of this earth I have learned that for me what has been most important in every season is my relationships as follows:
- My own soul.
- My soul mate.
- My Children
- Other people ( family, and others)
By embracing those four things I have experienced such blessing, and I believe the same could be true for you too.
Pat Sloan was born and raised in Arizona where she still lives today with her husband of 56 years, John. Together they were on staff with The Navigators for 30 years. She is a bible teacher, mentor, disciple maker, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. In 2016 she survived a stroke and now holds even more deeply that every minute is a gift. She loves caramel lattes, finding the perfect gift for those she loves, and spending time with her husband, family and dear friends.