It is 6:25 A.M. My phone beeps. I roll over and squint at it. A text. From Chet.
"Are you up?"
"Really or like you'll be here in 20 minutes up?"
"I'm out of bed. I'm getting dressed."
I'm lying. But he knows that. So fifteen minutes later, when I run into the breakfast restaurant in downtown Wheaton we meet at every other week or so, apologizing and still throwing my hair up in a ponytail, he just smiles and sips his coffee and glances up from his paper. "I just got here. I knew you weren't up."
I order the same thing I always get and he rolls his eyes and tells me I'm unbelievable for eating so much sugar so early in the morning just like he always does. And we drink our coffee and eat our breakfast and talk theology, or what we'll do at work today, or our roommates, or what we're praying through regarding church or grad school plans, or the weather. And then whoever's turn it is pays the bill, and we head off for our respective jobs.
And it is comfortable and just right.
(And I start work way happier and more caffeinated than I ever do otherwise.)
It is Valentine's Day and I ask him to go on a run. He kindly agrees, and then spends five miles listening to me freak out about a guy. I repeatedly ask him what he thinks and then immediately act shocked and tell him all the reasons he's COMPLETELY wrong when he attempts to give me some, you know, male perspective.
Then I slip on the ice, and this happens:
Me: $@*#!!!! Don't judge me for cursing!! OW, ^&*@!!! Don't judge me!!!
Chet: Omigosh, are you okay???
Me: NO! %%&!!!!!! OWWW!!!! Chet, do NOT judge me for cursing- oh, OW!
Chet: Will you stop saying that?!! I'm not judging you, I'm wondering if I should take you to the hospital! Geez!
This is, for the record, exactly how every attractive, financially independent, single, spiritually mature 22-year-old man hopes to spend his Valentine's Day evening.
It is last August and I am sitting alone at Caribou Coffee, staring at a book that was recommended to me on trusting God in the face of suffering. 100 pages in and I am calmly, desperately, considering throwing it across the coffee shop (not exaggerating).
I call him. "Hey. Can you meet me at Caribou right now?"
He comes without further explanation needed. And my most doctrine-loving, sovereignty-of-God-trusting friend, sits silently across from me as I choke out through tears how ridiculous I find every argument this author makes. How hollow words that would have brought me comfort a year ago seem now. How I feel we are speaking different languages and his response and this Scripture verse and that logical conclusion do not speak to my girls, do not speak to what they went through... and I am crying and I am angry and I am so, so scared. And I ask this friend, this most doctrine-loving, sovereignty-of-God-trusting friend, what I am supposed to do with that.
And he does not judge. And he does not attempt to give answers. And he does not minimize, in any way, what my girls went through. Or where I am now.
He sits silently with me. And then he reads me 2 Corinthians 4. And then he sits silently longer while I cry. And he does not try to explain it, because this doctrine-loving, sovereignty-of-God-trusting friend finally tells me that he thinks God is sovereign, but that all we can and should do before certain types of suffering is be silent.
And right then I can't trust God, but I can trust him. And so that makes doctrine and the sovereignty of God seem just a tiny bit more believable.
Hopefully, these vignettes make it clear that Chet was such a gift to me this year.
I'm grateful for Chet's stability, consistency, and faithfulness.
I'm grateful for his willingness to, as you can see, walk through very hard and scary spiritual places with me, even when the questions I was asking were far from where he was.
And I am grateful for his faith in a good and sovereign God, which I could rely on at times when my own was faltering.
I'm grateful for his rock-solid character, integrity, and desire to serve others.
I'm grateful for his mocking of me which only makes me laugh at myself and is never mean.
I'm grateful that he pushes back at me lovingly but firmly, and is never afraid to call me out on sin or a bad attitude.
I'm grateful for his ridiculous sense of humor (shared items on google reader, anyone?).
I'm grateful for his willingness to consider positions different from his own, even when he holds his own strongly and deeply.
I'm so grateful (especially reading over these vignettes... geez) for how available he is willing to be when people need him. Namely, me. I'm grateful for his listening and his patience.
I'm grateful to have gotten to see ways God is working in him.
I'm grateful to have seen his incredible leadership skills used more and more.
I'm grateful for how I think our different ways of connecting with God teach each other.
I'm grateful that he drove to West Chicago to help one of my families with a computer problem once, even though he doesn't speak Spanish and had just worked a long day.
I'm grateful for the amount of time we got to spend together this year, and I'm grateful for its consistency. Chet was one of the only people I almost always saw more than once a week- running and breakfasts and random "Hey I'm reading at Starbucks want to come?". I'm grateful that our conversations could be easy, catch-up, daily-life-random-details conversations.
I'm grateful for those memories. I loved running. I loved talking theology and the weather and our lives. And our breakfasts at Egglectic were highlights of my work week and one of my favorite memories of the year and also like ever.
And I'm so grateful for the kind of friendship that comes with history. Chet was the only one of my "main posse" from college who I spent consistent time with this year (I mean... out of state friends are still close and beloved- but there is just something great about friends who can meet you for dinner on 20 minutes notice :-)). And in more ways than he knew, this year being with Chet were some of the times I felt most like I was with family. We've seen each other through stuff for years. And we know each other. And it is easy and comfortable to be with him in that way that only happens when you know even if you totally get on each other's nerves you'll roll your eyes but no one's going anywhere. I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but also not. I am SO grateful for that and I needed it this year. Such a gift.
Thanking God for giving me Chet this year.