I lost my friend.

22 years.

The blink of an eye.

We met in first year, probably at cell group. Bulawayo girls, but I had not known her back home. It was almost definitely through Em that we met. Navigating first year, finding churches, finding friends. We became close.

I remember her showing me her French-manicured nails one day, when we were sitting at my practice, whiling away time. She told me we had to take care of our appearance, because we wanted to get married. I laughed at her, but she was earnest. I laughed some more, and told her I couldn’t keep nails because of the work I did. She was at pains to tell me medical people could still have pretty hands. I still found her amusing.

We had a serious fight. I mean, friendship-ending. She had her side of things, and I had mine. I was offended, you see. I blocked her. I stopped speaking to her. I avoided her.

Somehow, I still got invited to her wedding. Took selfies with other friends there, was incredibly happy for her. Still managed to be diffident towards her in the years after, holding onto my idea of her opinion of me – why I was originally offended. Making no real effort to fix things. I wanted my life a certain way, and was not allowing certain things – or people – in it.

Over the years, there was some healing.

I saw her for the first time in many years on Feb 9, two months ago. I don’t know how it happened, because every time friends arranged to have tea and I knew she’d be there, I’d make excuses. Secretly told said friends I didn’t want to hang if she was there.

But that day, tea was arranged, and (in a rare moment of sociability) I actually agreed to leave the house (because – that’s a long story, but I generally don’t). I had no idea that she’d be there. I relaxed with my friends, talked, laughed, cried a little (intense times) – and then she walked in, heavy, tired – and very real.

It was awkward for a while. But outside, when we were leaving, we hugged and took selfies. She nearly hit the pillar, reversing to leave, and we exclaimed and giggled. As she drove away, I felt a small twinge of regret – and grace.

Which twinge has come down on me like a ton of bricks, this time. Because, Friends, that was the last time I saw her, spoke to her. She passed away on 13/04/2019, a few days ago, from complications relating to childbirth.

22 years is nothing, I’ve learnt. My anger was real, and a fire. Justified? I don’t know. I made a choice.

Would I have done differently, knowing how short time was? Probably not. I still feel the fire of my anger. I didn’t know better, and did what I knew then – but now I do know, and still feel my humanity.

My sister has been so helpful, talking me through the difficulty of human relationships, and the pain we cause each other. How we can love people, and still be entirely unable to relate to them in a healthy way.

A masterclass for me. I am terribly, spectacularly human, after all. I hope this will change me. But if it doesn’t – it reminds me just how much I need a Saviour.


Emoji fast

I half-jokingly gave up emoji for Lent.

If you’ve messaged me since the advent of emoji, you’ll know how liberally I use them. They’re often shorthand for communication, maybe even for real engagement. So when I impulsively gave them up, it was a small joke, but I knew it was also a way into Lenten practice, a way to remind me to go deeper.

This, from cru.org, reminds me that the real point of Lent for me this year is to remind me about my dependence on God. I’m a control freak and perfectionist, you see. I would rather fine-tune my own life, ensure I present a perfect facade, than open up my life, needs and vulnerability to Him. But this:

This is the real point. This is what I’m reaching for, this Lent. This is what I’m reminded of by my slightly facetious fast, every time I reach for an emoji. This is what I’m thinking about all day, and working through in my devotions. My brokenness, my inability, my failures, my imperfection: these are the things I keep bringing to Him this Lent.

It will never be about my ability to be perfect.

It will always be about my need for a Savior.