Jumat, 29 Februari 2008

Friendships Forged in Fire

"Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness."
~Sydney Smith

“Like iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another.”

- Proverbs 27:17

So when God puts difficult people or situations in your life, do you run away or embrace them?

Well, I'm a natural runner and normally run the first chance I get. I rather not deal with them, people or things. So I go out for a drink (no actually I don't drink). I can go to the movies since I'm in Jakarta and that's the main form of entertainment besides mall hopping; or sleep through it. I can get creative with the running methods, but the truth is if I don't deal with problems in life, they'll come back and bite me in the behind sooner or later. It's the law of life--like gravity.

Of which has led me to share with you about this remarkable story.

God has put me in a house with two wonderful housemates: Mida, a former accountant who now works in admin for a British offshore company; Ria, a nationally known singer and full-time staff for our church, and then there's me, an opinionated teacher and glob-trekker. It’s amazing how we all can speak English and yet we speak totally different languages when it comes to Love.

At first, we got along just fine. You know, like being on a honeymoon. Everything’s new. You don’t mind if they step on your toes. You think, no problem dear, I love you still. What’s the use of bringing up every little thing they do that hurt you, or things they do that are simply...uh...strange! It’s ok lah, as a Malaysian’d say. Lah-ti-da, move on girlfriend. It’s no big deal.

And ladies, you how things can brew over days, weeks, and months. Thank God it hasn’t been years for my housemates and I.

After awhile, we talked a little less. Then we got too busy for each other. And when we saw each other, we didn’t talk about what really bothered us, things that polluted our hearts. Maybe we didn’t want to rock the “happy” boat we were on. So over time, we began to assume things about each other, whether good or bad. And our hearts took the toll. It became a little harder each day, colder and darker. Our home no longer was a safe haven or a place of laughter. We didn’t even laugh together anymore. We avoided each other, avoided dealing with the truth in our hearts.

I remember one day we discussed about how I write in my blog about my experiences in Indonesia and the amazing people who have made an impact in my life. Then Mida said that her name and Ria's weren’t on my blog, yet they live with me. Well...

At this point, a bit of earth science knowledge comes in handy. According to my recent Internet research, Indonesia has the most active volcanoes in the world and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Thus, you often hear on the news about earthquakes and such. People may know nothing about Indonesia but that earthquakes and tsunamis happen here. Well, that’s besides the point. Anyhow, I recently went to a volcano called Tanggu Banprahu on Java Island. The hot lava in the crater just simmered and let out constant hot steam. But as you know, underneath a volcano, continental plates rub against each other,generating an extremely high level of heat. And when the heat is the most intense, a volcano explodes and the hot lava spews forth for it can no longer be kept under wraps.

Thus is the same behavior for the lava of the heart.

The eruption is the climax of my story where the lava sputters and oozes down the sides of a volcano, providing the top soil with rich nutrients forged deep in the heart of the earth. And according to the short story tradition, we are now moving on to the resolution.

We talked, shed tears, and opened up to each other. It was probably one of the most amazing moments in my life. A huge burden had been lifted. The junk in our hearts was thrown out and God filled it with love. We realized how much we needed each other. And to quote Mida, she said “We complete each other.” Their strength in evangelism is my weakness; my strength in deep emotional/character growth is their weakness. But together, we change for the better. I'm a better person because they are in my life and vice versa. We’ve also learned to love each other better. Mida’s love language is gifts, Ria is words of affirmation, and mine is quality time. Our friendships have truly been forged in the fire and have come out purer, stronger, and better in every way. Praise God that three women from different backgrounds who have hurt each other can learn to love better and more deeply the way Jesus talked about in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We aren’t perfect, but we try…

We've had some beautiful and crazy experiences since then, some of which are inappropriate to the children's ears, so I'll stop here.