Do you know what a year-long hug feels like?
It feels like homecoming, it feels like an accomplishment, it feels like breaking down a wall with your bare hands. It feels like the ultimate attainment of a promise given three hundred days past.
Let’s just say I hardly touched upon the feeling of two people separated by circumstance or need – like soldiers deployed into the field, leaving behind their loved ones, or a long-overdue reunion between family, or even two people who have yet to meet in person but have developed a friendship and a relationship through virtual space.
I was able to meet a friend last year in January because of a Spiritual Revival Conference I attended for the first time. A year later, just last week, we were able to formally meet after a year-long correspondence only by virtual means – on the phone, and through social media.
I got to know her because she was part of a prominent arm in the conference – she was a dancer in the worship team. Now, before you go on preempting yourselves and second-guessing what kind of a story this is, it’s my highlight of finding friends in my whole lifetime. I wouldn’t want to spoil it, but that’s basically what it is, nothing else.
So she was a dancer in the worship team, then what? Do you know what Matthew 5:13-16 says? In a nutshell, it says we are called to be Salt and Light to the earth; wherever we go, Jesus is seen in us; We don’t even need to speak, because His glory and goodness radiates in us. That is exactly what I came to see in her. I do know that when you stick around with company as such, you will catch this radiance and fire, this anointing. To be clear, I’ve always been like this. My personality has me befriending people whom I am curious about, whose lives have caught my attention, and this one wasn’t an exception.
Surprisingly enough for me, I found out that our pastor had known her and the others from the Team, due to our pastor’s previous assignment to their church area. We therefore had a mutual friend, and I grabbed that opportunity, asking my pastor to introduce us to the worship team. It happened on the last night of the conference, where we all took a group photo. Afterwards, we bade goodbye to all of them. But I didn’t get to talk to the person who is now my friend. In the flurry of the goodbyes and hellos and the time constraint, I had no choice but to head outside where our vehicle was waiting but not before I got to glance one of my churchmates giving my friend an encouraging word and a hug.
After that, it was all social media that connected us. Through the photo tag, I was able to find them, and talked to her. In an exchange of numbers, that’s where my learning began. I was so humbled to the extreme when she shared to me her life and testimony, her ministry and service. Up until that point, I thought I was so busy and caught up with my own work. God rebuked me – mostly about my pride and my complacency, thinking I was privileged to this and that, etc. All of these and more just through mere text messages! It wasn’t until later that we got to talk to each other on the phone that I was able to achieve something else: her trust. I became an accountability partner to her, and vice versa. In addition to all the personal lessons that the Lord had taught me for the whole of 2013, this was one lesson that involved other people – it was being responsible and concerned for them. This is one trait of discipleship that I love, that because you have a mentor he/she is accountable for you; and you are also a mentor, you are accountable for the people under you. Of course, I was not her discipler and she wasn’t my disciple. But it was just a welcoming thought to know that as long as you are children of the Most High, as “spiritual siblings” you are accountable for each other.
When you realize you are part of someone else’s growth, you stop and think if you hold your worth to be able to attend to these people. You realize that you have to be more responsible, and that you have to be discerning even more than you used to be. It is a learning experience, and a journey. It gives you a different perspective of how people need other people. It’s building up yourselves, knowing you have God and His Word to guide you both.
This friendship I’ve come to have in the past year was the most memorable new thing that had happened to me. It was a step out of my comfort zone. This friend and I had a phone conversation last December, and I had to pray while simultaneously talking to her, because I needed all the wisdom from the Holy Spirit to help me answer her correctly. I did not want to give my own personal insights and opinions, and I was cautious enough not to say anything careless. Praise God, the conversation ended well, with a lot of interceding afterwards.
I promised this friend the overdue-hugs in our SMS conversations; I kept giving IOU hugs, saying “God’s going to hug you for me,” but that wasn’t enough. And so one week ago, in fulfillment of all of the repeatedly mentioned promise, I was able to give and receive a year-long hug, one that spoke volumes louder than words: full of gratitude, of relief and safety, of happiness, and of true friendship.