Merilyn Packer laments the impending passing of a dear friend, and the implications of the ups and downs of their relationship . . .

Today the winter sun is shining white in a clear sky over crisp, cold, green Adelaide. It is winter in Australia. It is winter in my heart, too. An old friend is dying in a hospital far away. What can you do from far away? I have been writing little letters. That has pleased me and expressed something, I hope, of the prayer and love I offer.

Her life has delivered many disappointments. She was creative and gifted with children, although she never had any of her own. She had energy and interest for fun projects and activities that were beyond the scope of most mothers of small children. Especially, she organised wonderful birthday parties. My pizzazz for parties was definitely at low ebb and I appreciated her.

She used to come around for baking days and we would cook up pizzas, home-made from the dough up. We would fill the freezer with pasties and sausage rolls and she would ask the children to help her clean up the mess in her car. They always found lots of stray coins in the debris, and of course, the coins were keepers. The kids showed great enthusiasm for the work!

She showed extra care and interest in each group of people she became part of over the course of her life.

The highs and lows

However, it hasn’t always been easy to get close. Relationships are rarely straightforward and many a grief and disappointment has come into my friend’s life through relationships that haven’t delivered what she had hoped. We all carry some of that—disappointment in our work, ministry, opportunities or friendships. It has been an extra load for my friend. I wonder what is going through her mind. I hope I might be able to see her soon but it may not work out. Even if it does, I may not gain any insight into what she is thinking and feeling. There are so many variables now.

Undoubtedly I have contributed to her disappointments in the past. It was never my intention and as is my way, I do not remember particulars. But she probably does. Life holds many mysteries. Her conscious desire was to love our family and help us. Mine was to love her and be a channel of blessing into her life. Yet, there have been twists and turns and disappointments. The Bible describes our sin in one spot as missing the mark (see Rom 3:23). I feel very conscious of missing the mark, both generally and with this precious friend.

In God’s hands

However, I breathe easily. I have kept short accounts with God. I have opened my heart as best I can and invited him into this relationship over many years. I trust him. What a fabulous place to be—in God’s hands. Who else sees everything, understands everyone and knows how to weave everything together for good? God has promised to weave everything together for good for those who belong to him. We belong to him. Jesus hit the mark in every aspect of being human and he can make good my missing.

So, I feel unconcerned about the unfinished business between my friend and me. If I knew what it was and if the opportunity were there, I would certainly talk with her. But I cannot make it happen. And even though I am unable to tie up the loose ends, I know we can part in peace because God has us in his hand. What we see dimly now we will see clearly after death. My friend’s view will clear before mine does and she will understand her life. I look forward to the dawn of clear understanding myself and can live very peacefully, very fully in the hope of it now. What a relief!

Everything twisted will be straight, everything murky will be clear. Everything grievous will be joyous, and everything unfinished will be beautifully and entirely complete. CW