I have started and retyped this post several times now, only to come to the conclusion that I'm not exactly sure what I want to say.
Today was special. A good Thanksgiving.
That's not to say that any in the past have been any less special. But, today was different (or, at this point, yesterday...).
This Thanksgiving was spent at my Aunt's house. There was a lot of food and a lot of family. Of course, it wouldn't be a family gathering without a bit of drama thrown in, as well. But, this year was different because we had a guest. My best friend.
Nicole's presence at our Thanksgiving event is probably what has prompted my whole "self-reflection." To say that she has had it rough in the past would be the understatement of the century. Growing up, I was sheltered. Sheltered by my amazing, loving, God-fearing family. I lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. There was always food on the table, and I never heard my parents talking about their financial troubles. We were at church every Sunday and most Wednesdays. I accepted Christ at the ripe old age of 8. I knew I was loved. We traveled. A lot. My mom would check over my homework each and every night. I had it made in the shade and didn't even know it.
Not only did I grow up this way but so did most of my friends. Of course, the older you get, the more and more you realize that not everything is shiny and perfect, like it seemed when you were a kid. But, really, in my own little bubble, things were good.
Nicole and I became friends almost four years ago. Our friendship grew quickly, even though we are polar opposites. She was a new Christian and was seeking friends who would encourage her in her walk with Christ. We were in a small group Bible study together, and, for whatever reason, she started to confide in me. She told me things about her life growing up. Things that chilled me to the bone. Heartbreak after heartbreak. Over several months, her trust in me turned into a truly beautiful friendship that I am ever grateful for. She slowly became not just a close friend, but a part of my family. My parents started thinking of her as their third daughter. She was, essentially, "adopted."
Since the beginning of our friendship, she has witnessed her parents fly back to her home country of Germany and her father pass away. She has learned about the struggles of finding a teaching job in this economy. She has had to pick herself up, dust herself off, and humble herself before others, hoping to find a decent place to live on a meager salary. She has developed into an amazing Christ-like woman. I know that God isn't finished writing her story. I know that He has great things in mind for her. I know that He has allowed her to walk down this path, so that her story could bring Him glory. And, I know that one day He will reveal His grand purpose to her.
In the meantime, she will continue to be a vital part of my family, making it more precious with her presence. That was definitely the case today. Today, she helped me to remember to be thankful for all of my many blessings. But, more importantly, she reminded me of how thankful I am for God placing her in my life.
So, Nicole, when you read this, please realize how much you've blessed my life and how deeply and sincerely I thank God for our friendship.