I'm thinking of inviting "Andrea" to my birthday party. Well, my whatever it is. She'd be my only one there who I'm inviting because I want her there. We had planned the meetings to all start on the 28th so that I could have a birthday without having to care for the team. In fact, my husband had been clear about it in his letters inviting people - come on the 28th because it is my wife's birthday on the 27th and I want to spend the day with her.
Except our myopic director decided to book his ticket for the 27th at noon. Then decided since he was coming early with another team member, that they should do a work session on the 27th while they were here. And that will run late, and the ladies will all be in it, so we need supper. With that set, then others all began to book their tickets for the 26th and 27th. Thanks. So, I decided that I will at least eat my birthday dinner with my family, and the rest of the team can drive over to my house instead of me delivering it. So I am having 33 people over to cook for for my birthday, not exactly what I had in mind. I can handle it; but it is just that I had hoped to have coffee with come friends and go out with my family for a quiet day.
So I am thinking of inviting "Andrea". She likes me and cares about me - who I am, what I am thinking, spending time with me, talking, sticking up for each other, cracking jokes. Her boyfriend walked out on her after four years with no warning. Why? No sex. But the why there was no sex is what kills me. Andrea got a needle poke injury. An angry patient stabbed her with his insulin needle. His family refused to sign consent for HIV/Hep C testing. So Andrea had to go on drugs and wait three months to see if she is clear. So no sex. None. To protect her boyfriend. Who then left her.
I told her she is worth more than that and not to take him back again even if he comes back begging.
So Andrea may come. She may swear up one side and down the other. She may tell off color jokes and laugh loudly. But I don't care. She is my friend, and I care about her. I don't care if she measures up to standards. I just like her. She grew up Catholic and being also forced to go to a fundamental Baptist church with her neighbors. She got the rules and requirements from both sides, and she threw it all off when she grew up. She moved out, experimented with drugs, slept with anyone, and ended up living in an "apartment" with other "creepy people" as she describes them. But she cleaned herself up, went to school, and became a nurse. She still hates religion, yet believes there is a God. She respects and cares for me, even knowing I believe in God. We talk. I share with her, too, how I was disappointed with religion, but that while I am throwing off the binding ties of a stuffy religion, I am finding God. Andrea believes in God. She's just tired of all His people's rules. And we are friends. And if she comes to my birthday party and swears, I will hold my head up and say, "This is my friend who I love." I am not ashamed of her.
Because I am not. Her swearing doesn't make her any less of a person than another person's quiet exterior with the critical thoughts hiding behind it. With Andrea, you know where you stand. And with her, you know that she's ok with where you stand. I feel no need to beat her over the head with "the gospel". She has a very accurate knowledge of the four spiritual laws and the verses to back them up. What she doesn't know is that God is unlike the way she was taught. That God is not judging her and finding her worthless and wrong. That God is longing to know her, for her to know Him. That He also will not slam her for her sins, but wants to accept her.
I can not teach her the gentleness of God by more strong correction. I can only teach it to her by my own gentleness, my acceptance of who she is. I was always taught that if we accepted people who were obvious sinners, people would think we accept what they do. That isn't true. Andrea has no doubt in what I believe. We've spoken of it in our long quiet evenings after people are asleep. While we fold towels, chart behavior, and discuss our dinners that we plan to cook. She knows what I believe. She's open to hearing about it, even asking me, because she knows I will never preach her a sermon or correct her behavior. See, I've learned something. God is not about changing behaviors. He's about changing hearts. If He wins her heart, she'll change her own behaviors. Love does amazing things. So I am totally unconcerned about how Andrea acts or what she says. And if she swears like a sailor at my party in front of all our "good Christian" friends and their children, I won't care.
But I doubt she will. Andrea cares about me. She knows that my friends won't talk like she does, so she will behave.
We respect each other.
She was saying tonight that what she misses most about her boyfriend moving out is losing his family, too. Her family, well.... some families are better with distance. But his family welcomed her in, and now she is alone in the world. She's lonely for family but laughs that no one would invite her to be around their kids since she is the way she is - all screwed up. We already had plans to go out on the town and celebrate my birthday when the crew is gone - do it right and go do crazy girl stuff together. But I am going to invite her to my house, in front of my friends, and with my kids. I just hope she's not working then.