~Henri J.M Nouwen
The dance was not always beautiful. Sometimes it was awkward and the music didn't sound right. Sometimes, I didn't have a partner that knew the same dance steps I did. Many times, I was too embarrassed to dance in public- to be "out there" for everyone to see. I often stood alone just watching others dance. It was incredibly painful when people would bump into me or step on my feet.
Then one day, I had an extra measure of courage and slowly began to sway to the music. A fellow dancer approached me and offered: "I don't know this particular dance, but if you teach me, I'd really like to dance with you"
I began to teach her the steps, how to listen to the music and respond accordingly and she became sensitive to my methods and technique. We soon were twirling and dancing in rhythm. We felt free and the laughter bubbled forth. Something beautiful emerged from our awkwardness and we found we were able to express ourselves in ways we had never tried before. The more we rehearsed and danced the more we communed. We learned to speak through the dance and we became kindred spirits.
The above is a very true story.
In my very short life I have been an oldest child, preacher's daughter, military wife and I have experienced infertility, adoption and parenting a child who experiences special needs.
That resume isn't a very popular one in my circle of influence. There just aren't many people that can relate to my same life experiences.
More often than not, I was one of those people who, even in a room full of people, felt very alone.
I had a difficult time relating to women that complained about their scads of children when I would have given anything for just one!
Yet, I really needed a friend. Even though I knew the Lord was with me always and my husband loved me fiercely, I desired a female presence in my life. Arms that could embrace me (other than my husband), a girlfriend that I could really open up and share with honestly.
I prayed for a certain kind of friend. One whose resume matched mine.
But God, in His wisdom, answered my prayer very differently. He sent someone to me that could not have been any more opposite. She had a houseful of children (I had none), She prefers talking on the phone (I hate the phone), She is amazing at remembering birthdays (and I am not) - and the list goes on and on and on...
I received a letter in the mail (and she hates writing). She began by saying that she had no idea what it was like to experience what I had and was experiencing, but that she would love for me to share it with her (if I felt comfortable). She promised me a "safe place" to vent all I was feeling and to be completely honest. She was interested in knowing what my struggles and joys were and most of all she wanted to be there for me and uphold me in prayer before our King.
She asked a girl, who had stood on the sidelines of friendship for a LONG time, to dance. She became my friend.
Our friendship dance is not always perfect or pretty. Like a ship, the waves of life sometimes bring us close together and sometimes we float apart. But, I always know she is there.
When I struggle with the challenge of teaching my Kylie, who experiences Autism, social skills and how to be a friend. I think back to the most precious friendship of my lifetime and how it all began:
- Reaching out selflessly
- Being willing to learn something new
- Experience something unfamiliar
- Being trustworthy
- Looking for the beauty within and cherishing it.
I was thrilled this week to stumble onto this cartoon as Kylie was watching Public Television. It demonstrates the kind of friendship I desire for my Kylie and wahoo!- it also teaches about Autism Spectrum disorders in a kid-friendly way.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
~Henri J.M Nouwen