Common Ground

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)

Image by Gisela Merkuur from Pixabay

I was typing away on my laptop lost in my to do list when I heard the exterior door to my office click open. I had no appointments scheduled and I was trying to meet a deadline, until a familiar voice I hadn’t heard in quite a while greeted me.

“Hi, Codie. Are you able to sign this purchase order?” Mark said.

“Mark. How are you?” I replied, “it’s so good to see you.”

Like many of us, Mark was among those who struggled to process the impacts of the pandemic, and as a result, I hadn’t seen him. He worked remote. He worked behind a closed door, limiting interactions. He insisted on a mask for as long as we have been navigating COVID. He was paralyzed by fear.

Today, not so much.

“I just got back from Orange County,” he said, knowing I am from Southern California.

“Did you go to Disneyland?” I asked, beaming a smile just thinking about the happiest place on earth.

“Three times!” he chimed, “and it was so much fun.”

We fell into conversation like old friends catching up at a high school reunion. We shared the highlights and challenges of the past year. It was common. Familiar. Comforting.

It is rare that we have experienced something every other human has experienced. The worldwide pandemic brought us so much closer together in this way. And today, I was able to comfort and be comforted by the comfort God poured into our lives in specific and unique ways.

It only takes a moment to find common ground when what we need most is to belong, to feel connected, and to recognize that we are not alone in our circumstances.

God also accomplished this for us when He sent His only Son to earth to understand life from our perspective. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV) puts it this way, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

“My wife and I didn’t agree on vaccines at first,” he shared, “and it caused conflict. It was tough.”

“We struggled too since we have a blended family and have to share our decisions with my step-kids’ mom,” I reciprocated, “I think it was a struggle for all of us in some way.”

I signed the purchase order and Mark was on his way. But what stays with me is the sense of hope I feel knowing God sees us in our times of need. He is our great High Priest who understands. And He gave us each other as ambassadors of comfort, connection, and common ground.  

My Great High Priest, You knew I needed to be seen today. You knew I had words of comfort I could share. You orchestrated a moment of common ground that infused hope into what may have seemed like an ordinary day. Thank you for reminding us that You understand. Thank You for calling us to comfort one another with the comfort You have so generously given to us. May we maximize the moments You present to us. – Amen

Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved

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Friendship Tree of Life

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (New International Version)

May of 1995 marked a turning point in my life. Literally. I learned to do a perfect pageant turn and wave – step, pivot, step, pivot, Vaseline smile…wave, my arm floating softly through the air from side to side like the leaves of a Del Mar palm. And…it was the beginning of some of the most treasured friendships I have had in my lifetime.

We met at the 50th anniversary Fairest of the Fair pageant as Miss Chula Vista, Miss Escondido, Miss El Cajon, and Miss La Mesa. Though none of us was crowned that night as Miss San Diego County, we won something more valuable than the glamour of that moment – true connection. A longing fulfilled.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about the value of a friend. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

In our case, it’s a fourfold cord ornately woven together through triumph and tragedy, paradise and pain. We have watched each other’s babies come into the world and stood beside one another as marriages crumbled. We have held each other through countless challenging moments, listened and laughed, loved each other’s families as though they were our own, tattooed our bodies together, driven and flown miles to get a little face time, and offered words of affirmation and encouragement as life’s moments warranted.

This past weekend was just such an occasion of togetherness – a friendship tree of life. Golden, Colorado Girls Weekend 2019. My heart is full.

We were created for relationship, for friendship. Friendship with God and others. It is a heavenly whisper that we are not alone. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13, NKJV). My hope is full.