Kimberly is a friend of mine from college, she has the voice of angel and used it amidst the Ambassador Choir through all 4 years of her bachelors in music. Her role was never to be soloist, taking front stage and being the "star" of the show, nor was it ever her desire. She liked being part of the group and twinkled just fine. Kim is one of the most humble people I know and while she is talented and beautiful I think she thinks she should only twinkle, when really her friendship shines bright.
I can hear her laugh as I write, we would often get into mischief in the dining hall, court yard or dorms. We'd talk about the cute bass players and she and our other friend coined the phrase, "I love you my most." To which we still say in our conversations that are now few and far between. We shared many movie nights watching classics and chick flicks, and it was Kim to changed my movie watching world when she introduced me to M&M's in popcorn. You heard me right...IN..not with...you put them IN the popcorn and enjoy the sweet and salty goodness of melted chocolate protected by its candy coated shell, and salty, buttery popcorn....I need to grab a snack, my mouth is watering. It is just so good. If you have never done this before, I suggest you try it and let it rock your world like it has mine.
Kim and I were a year apart, so I had graduated a year before her and had moved to the city, but I still would make trips to see my friends. On one particular trip I had come down, and much to my dismay it was overcast. You see one thing that Kim and I shared was a love/passion for the stars. So logically getting out of the city I looked forward to stargazing in the vast prairie skies. That night when I was walking up into the dorm with my other friends I actually prayed aloud, "God could you clear the sky so I can see the stars while I'm here," that left it at that.
The next night Kim and I and our other friend had one of our legendary movie nights where we caught up and shared stories and of course watched a movie. Then as when Kim and I were getting in the car to leave said to me, "Look at the stars!!!" She had not heard my prayer the night before, but there it was; a blanket of bright stars gleaming down on us. Next, we did what was only natural, we drove to a farmers field in the middle of the night and laid under the stars.
I had a sleeping bag and blankets in the back, so we weren't too cold while we absorbed their beauty, astounded by how many of them there were. To this day there have been two other times I have seen stars that bright and numerous, but neither were as significant and that night.
Taking it in, I recalled my prayer the night before. "God could you clear the night sky?" ...I shared it with Kimmy, and then I could not stop saying how deeply and madly in love with Jesus I was. Over and over I proclaimed it, as I realized that too He loved me. I learned three very important truths that night:
One, the significance of praying specifically. The more specific you pray the more easily you can see God work and answer those prayers.
Two, the importance of a shared experience. I felt like this was when I truly became a Christian and not just a religious fanatic. Or maybe it was part of working out my salvation...regardless after four years of bible school preparing me for this moment I had finally discovered a relationship and not just a religion. It had sunken from my head to my heart: the God of the Universe who had sent His son to die for me, loves me, and my friend was there to witness it. She, and she alone will know the depths of how much I fell head over heels in love with Jesus that night. I retell the story often, but she GETS IT, she shared that moment with me. She witnessed Divine revelation and watched it unfold as we gazed into the star infested sky.
Last, and don't miss this, I learned that God loves and cares for ME. Specifically, ME. Equally important here is that its UNCONDITIONAL. He cares about the smallest detail of my life but also looks past my mistakes because that is what He died for. That truth has reshaped everything in my life. That truth is the cornerstone to my life. It would eventually be the foundation for diving into much harder things in life. In the days ahead I learned to come back to the alter where Jesus met me intimately. I'd come back to when He cared about something little and answered something simple just to show His love and the depths of that love.
My friend may have thought I was crazy that night. She may have been super happy for me or she may have struggled to understand what was happening. I am not able to pinpoint her experience but I could tell she loved the stars, she enjoyed the moment under them. Her encounter wasn't the same as mine or at least wasn't matched with the enthusiasm I was exhibiting. She was supportive and happy, and again I can hear her laugh as I write, but something else was going on. I couldn't tell you what was happening for her, or to the depth that it was occurring, but I can tell you down the road her light wasn't shining as bright. In the months ahead after she graduated from college she, like many of us do, chose something different. She questioned and doubted and for someone who grew up always knowing God starting testing who He says He is.
Kim and I would catch up on the phone as we had returned to our respective homes after college. Phone call after phone call I asked how her and Jesus were doing. She said struggling, each time had a similar response, though I think she would try to drum up something positive. Sometimes I reciprocated the feeling of struggle, other times I tried to encourage her. Sometimes she'd tell me specifics, other times she was vague. Then one conversation she pre-emptively told me she had something important to tell me. I jokingly made all kinds of guesses...which was dumb, cause she was serious. She told she was pregnant. I was taken aback, but only for a second. My immediate response was to tell her I still love her, and that this didn't change anything. I continued to assure her that I was there for her in any capacity I could be from afar. The real truth in that moment wasn't that she thought she had made a mistake, or that shame was trying to encompass her life, but that there is still a God who loves her. UNCONDITIONALLY!! The thought to judge never crossed my mind, but it was my high hope that she would feel His presence, and run back to His arms. My heart was that she was my friend who I will always love and cherish. How could I even think about passing judgement on my friend who had witnessed such a beautiful moment of God's unconditional love being poured out? After all "I love you my most," wasn't just words, I meant it when I said it. Again God planted a seed for me to begin to understand grace. I started to retrain my brain that if I, with all of my faults and tainted thinking could extend love, grace and kindness, how much more does He do it for us. It is still a long hard battle, and I am always learning to be more grace filled, but it is more like a sprout that a seed. Kim was learning it to, again probably more than I can know or speculate.
She did do it, she received His grace and unconditional love. She ran back into His arms and had a beautiful baby boy, who is growing like a weed these days. I visited years ago on the coast of Oregon. We shared crab, which the scent of seeped into her jeep and she could not get it out for weeks. We had more adventures, along with her son who was growing up with a mom who understands love and grace. Kim is no longer just letting her light twinkle, she now let's it shine bright for a young man who lights up her whole world, as well as all people around her. Part of life is that you tend to go your separate ways and live life apart. We check in with each other occasionally but one truth between us always remains, "I love you my most."