“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” – Proverbs 17:17 (NIV).

Children’s Church at Reid Chapel.

This is the verse that describes my state of mind this week. This is the week I dread all year. It’s the anniversary of my marriage and the anniversary of my husband’s death. I do a lot of self-reflection around this time – about life, God, relationships and what it all means. And this morning I found myself thinking about the relationships I’ve made over the years, not romantic ones, but friendships. I’ve been thinking about my former coworkers and my church family in South Carolina. I miss my former pastor, Rev. Grady and the ministers who welcomed me. I’m thinking about Bro. Ed Brown, one of the seniors in the church who cut my grass when I couldn’t find a lawn service. I miss the way he led devotions during our Wednesday afternoon service. I’m thinking of Danielle and her family. She and I worked together in children’s church every Sunday. She babysat my children on several occasions, and our children became friends. I’m thinking of Anita and her husband who graciously welcomed me and my children into their home. There are several others. I miss them.

I’m also thinking about the relationships I developed at Wesley. They know who they are, and all of the laughs we shared and how many of them added to my growth in ministry and spiritual maturation, and I’ve even been thinking about Rev. Wasetta Moses, my childhood pastor when I lived in New Jersey. I didn’t know it at the time, but God put her in my life as an example of a mighty woman in ministry. I cried when she told us that the Annual Conference moved her to another church after only a year of sitting under her. Her witness, anointing and kindness helped change my life and influence my decision in saying yes to God, even though at 16 I didn’t know my life was heading in that direction.

And, of course, I’ve been thinking about loss. I’ve lived long enough to understand that some relationships are only meant for a season no matter how beneficial, impactful or loving.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

I’ve just been reflecting about relationships and the people I’ve encountered over the years. That’s all I can say, and the one thing that I’ve come to learn is that Proverbs 17:17 is true – at least when it comes to me. A friend loves at all times because I cared about them then. I loved then, and I still love them now even though life has moved me in another direction and time has passed. When I love you – and I’m not talking about romantic relationships – I love you for life. I may not see you or talk to you, but when you come across my mind, I pray for you, and I may even reach out if I feel led. Does it sound silly?

What does one do with all of this? What does it all mean?  

I really don’t know, but my pre-marital counselor – who counseled me and my late husband when he first started having seizures and who counseled me after he died AND who is counseling me and my fiancé as we prepare for marriage – and I were talking about my call and where I am in ministry. He asked me again if I accept that I’m called to pastor because “I love people.” I don’t know about all of that at this phase of my life. I’m too busy trying to pastor my kids and myself so I can be the best mom for them. It all seems like too much. I have issues! But, what he said about how I approach relationships is true. If I love you, I love you.

I don’t know the meaning of why I’m thinking about all of this, but know that for many of you whom I had relationships with over the years and who read my blog, I’m thinking of you today and sending prayers up for you. Life may have taken us in different directions, but know the love is never lost, and you’ll always have a friend in me.  

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