Jody Wilson, Jody's Journal
Both of them worked for the same public service agency. Bruce* was in a different department than Amanda*, but from time to time they would pass each other at the time clock or out in the parking lot. Sometimes they passed without speaking but occasionally there was a nod or maybe a generic greeting befitting their positions.
Who knows how many times they slid passed each other in the corridor without much notice. From time to time they would end up in the parking lot together where they exchanged some nebulous comment about the heat or being glad their shift was over. But somewhere, sometime they passed and he noticed she was cute. And he wasn’t married. He had just become aware of the fact that she wasn’t wearing a ring either.
Their friendship grew as they tarried a little longer in the corridors between their departments. Eventually they were both feeling brave at the same moment and they started dating. Both were cautious. Failed marriages do that to you. You take one step forward, one step backward, and then sidestep. But through the pitfalls and pain of learning to trust again, they began to see sterling qualities in the face that looked back at them over dinner or as they shared a cup of coffee. Trust was being built one small kindness at a time. And it took some time. Trust is not built overnight. It is like writing a book. It is written one chapter at a time.
They laughed together. Life’s disappointments had stolen that out of their hearts. But the laughter came back, strong and robust and it left little pools of happiness in its wake. Their relationship became comfortable. Neither of them were religious people but they were relational people guided by biblical principles and eventually shared a strong faith.
They felt the same concern regarding social conditions around them. Both wanted to give something back and change what they could. They were ready to donate a large part of their lives for the good of others. They shared so many common interests and when they fell in love the next logical step was marriage.
Their love delighted their friends. Seeing the empty places in their lives overflowing with love and laughter brought a smile to so many faces. And everyone was applauding when they were awarded one of the highest service awards for their sacrificial work in their area. They were a team and they were dynamite together.
Things changed on their jobs. Changes in administration caused a good deal of pressure in Amanda’s department. And Bruce was ready for a second career. He had served his time and wanted to retire. So the scene changed rather rapidly. They said their goodbyes and walked into a new and entirely different season. The one common dominator was that they were still in public service. Their new jobs required selling their home and locating in another town. But they had some special friends there so it wasn’t exactly ‘cold turkey’. They looked forward to an opportunity to serve side by side with Dirk* and Ali* Hendricks*.
Everyone stood in awe of the incredible way they touched people with friendship, with food, with faith that their efforts and prayers could and would change the lives of those around them. And it did. They worked on these projects together as a couple and also alongside Dirk and Ali. It was a partnership, mutually satisfying. A deep admiration and appreciation grew between them and the friendship was more than a surface relationship. Their hearts were woven together as they worked with a common purpose.
Did I mention that all things are subject to change? Their friends were transferred to a job out of town and moved away. Phone calls, notes, and occasional visits can’t nourish a friendship as effectively as a face-to-face relationship. Both families were busy and life demanded their strength and concentration.
They did come together with their friends and share a big event in the fall. But the schedule was hectic and somehow Bruce and Amanda seemed preoccupied and busy. But that’s what it was. It was a tremendously busy weekend.
Dirk and Ali should have followed up with Bruce and Amanda. But Ali had some health issues and Dirk was going into one of the busy seasons at work, so they dropped the ball. They didn’t call and check on them after the event. It may not have changed anything, but Dirk and Ali would certainly feel better if they had tried to reach out.
Then there was Thanksgiving and Christmas and the kids came home. There were family gatherings and parties at work. Things got even crazier when some local friends buried a family member during that time. Their hearts were mourning that loss.
Then Dirk and Ali received a phone call well into March the next year.
The news drove a dagger into their very souls. “You won’t believe what I’m about to tell you. Bruce and Amanda are divorced.”
Ali could feel a chill seeping into her very soul. “Are you sure? How do you know?” But the facts were there.
Ali was deeply disturbed. The pain was monumental and she could not carry this by herself. She had to reach out and tell Dirk. She punched in his cell phone number. When he picked up she said, “Dirk, I just got word that Bruce and Amanda are divorced.” The pain in Dirk’s voice was palpable. “No! I can’t believe that.” But it was true.
Other disturbing information came on the heels of the phone call. Ali crawled into bed alongside the man she loved and respected. But she couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned. She lay there wiping tears, asking questions in her heart. Why? What happened? Could she and Dirk have made a difference if they had been there? She prayed for Bruce and Amanda. She mourned the demise of their dramatic, effective life together. How could two beautiful people, so gifted and gracious, and lovingly regarded by so many now be separated from each other? Their beautiful friendship ended in bitter finality.
Our dear friend, a pastor’s wife, Marj Rives, shared some ‘one liners’ with me. This one comes to mind. “Friendship is like a book. It takes years to write, but it only takes seconds to burn.”
Dear Reader, be careful what you toss into the fire of thoughtless disregard. You may destroy something that can never, ever be replaced in your lifetime. Somewhere I read these words: Casual neglect produces catastrophic results. God help us! Let us resolve that we will not be casual Christians.
*Names have been changed.