For almost two years, I have been a member of Facebook. I primarily use it as an evangelization tool, but will share brief moments of whimsy and stress along the way. It's an outlet for human emotion, especially when no other human is available to listen in person.
But, for two years, I have avoided adding people from my past; my focus was on developing new friendships.
I knew why, too. Those people knew who I used to be -- and, I am no longer that person, not even slightly. What would my old friends, acquaintances, partners in crime, think about the change in me? How would they perceive the complete 180 degrees that my world has adjusted? Some of them have chosen alternative lifestyles, political views and maintained social behaviors with which I no longer agree. How would they react when they see the way my life has progressed?
I contemplated that carefully for the past couple of years, checking in on who was connected to whom, and hovering over the "send friend request" button.
But, it was a reading from Acts that hit home and made me no longer hover, but actually send the friend request.
Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank....
So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.
He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. All who heard him were astounded and said, "Is not this the man who in Jerusalem ravaged those who call upon this name, and came here expressly to take them back in chains to the chief priests?" But Saul grew all the stronger and confounded (the) Jews who lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Messiah. (Acts 9:1-9; 17-22)It was that last line in the passage, specifically "grew stronger and confounded", that offered me the insight I needed. Many of the people to whom I sent friend requests last night have shared wonderful and turbulent memories with me: High School Musicals, trips to Howard Johnsons for clam strips (YUCK!), parties, writing music and poetry, acting, singing, and growing up in a world of chaos and cacophony. And, we not only survived it, we've thrived.
In my life, the Lord reached down and grabbed me out of what might have become a very ugly future. Yes, He's offered me much in this almost 30 years post High School to set my ways straight and make up for my many shortcomings. I am profoundly grateful for that foundation -- the rock upon which I stand, the fertile soil in which I have planted my roots.
I came to see that I really did love those people who helped to form and shape me in my early years -- some of whom even recognized that I was drifting badly and tried to pull me back, some of whom broke my heart.
Well, I want to share with them now the beautiful and faith-filled discoveries that have steadied and anchored my life. I am anxious to see how some of them have grown and confounded people -- to learn of their triumph and sorrows. We've all come a long way. I want to love them again as friends in my heart -- pray for their futures, pray for their successes, pray for them through joys and sorrows. Only now, they'll know that I am present in prayer, not just mentioning them in the silence of my own heart.
That fear of "what will they think" has faded, and the joy of who I have become has emerged. I am so excited to share my life with them now because I know that it is God who has led me back to them.
Thanks to all those folks who didn't hover over the "accept friendship" button last night. You are in my prayers, and I can't wait to catch up.