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Monday, February 12, 2007

Chp 107. The true value of friendship

Lately I’ve been feeling tall. Extremely tall.

I feel as if I’ve grown a few inches taller! But strangely, all my pants still fit me perfectly. And then I realized why I am feeling this way.

It’s because I’ve been hanging out a lot lately with short people!

What happened to my usual gang of tall friends?

Ever since my exuberant experience with the Lord, I’ve been going to every Church service possible. And my usual gang of friends, well, let’s just say, they do not consider Church attendance a very important part of their Christian life, although most of them turn up on Sundays. Hence on weekdays, for the night services, I go to Church with a different set of people. Short people.

But does that mean I stop hanging out with my old set of friends? No. They are the most amazing bunch of guys I have ever known, and they’ve been my friends since childhood. Just because they do not see the good Lord the way I see Him does not make them any less of a friend. During my “peniel", one of the most persistent requests I made to the good Lord was not to give me that “Holier than thou” attitude if I ever undergo a transformation.

Our gang of friends, well, we’ve been through a lot together. We used to party together, get drunk, experiment on strange “stuff”, and sometimes sit together at Church and giggle at the good people dancing in the Church consumed by the Holy Spirit. Ah, we were so stupid then.

And there I was, sitting in Church with the same set of friends for the first time since I came out of Camp. I think there was some discomfort in the air around us, but I don’t know if it was because of them or me. And then the song started, and everybody started singing and clapping and dancing… I closed my eyes as I clapped my hands and sang… and I felt this great call from within, urging me to do what I really felt like… at first, I was shy, thinking, what will my friends think of me… but as the chorus of the song filled the Church…

Vân ropui, Eden thar nuam chu,
Lungngaih awm tawh lohna hmun chu;
Aw, engtik nge ka thlen ve ang,
I chatuan lalna ram, êng mawi nuam tak chu?


(Glorious Heaven, the new Eden of total bliss
Where there is no longer sadness/loneliness,
Oh, when will I reach that magnificent Place,
Your eternal Kingdom, with its bright lights of splendor?)

It was at THAT very moment that all thoughts of shyness and hesitation disappeared. I just didn’t care what my friends would think of me. I stood up, something that I never did before, raised my hands, clapped, shouted praises to the good Lord, SCREAMED OUT HALELUIA and sang with all my heart with tears streaming down my face, right there in the midst of all my friends! Ah! I’ve NEVER felt that complete in my entire life. Maybe my friends around me were laughing at me, I just didn’t care. All that mattered was our Lord, Almighty father.

And you know what? After Church, none of my friends even commented on what I did. We continued talking just like we used to, as if nothing strange or different happened. Nobody teased me about it. From that day onwards, I became a regular “one who dance” guy. And boy, it felt GREAT!

Now I truly understood what “M” meant when she told me “A true friend is someone who will not make fun of your beliefs or shortcomings.”

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to spend an entire day shopping with a family friend, M. She was what everyone would call a “nula fel”. I still remember I was a bit nervous that day, because other than the fact that it was the first time I was alone with her, there was also a great contrast in our lifestyle. She was extremely devoted to God, caring, helpful, never uttering a single cuss word, always smiling and cheerful, abstaining from kuhva, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, alcohol etc, pure at heart and definitely a virgin. One cannot help giving such people their profound admiration and respect; they seem to have this divine aura around them. She’s now happily married to a Pastor, serving the good lord at Charachandhpur.

What amazed me that day was, when we paid her closest friends a visit, I was expecting them to be pretty much like her… you know, all the goody goody stuff. I was wrong. So wrong. Her best friend “S” was an unwed mother, uncertain about who the father of her 4-5 months old baby was. Her other friend, also called “S”, turned out to be someone I knew from Bangalore! Not personally, but I’ve seen her a lot at Pubs and Discs back then, partying wildly with Middle-eastern students and alcohol, but not crossing that line of promiscuity.

Later I asked her how come her friends were so different from her, and she just laughed. She told me that those two girls had been her close friends since school, and that there is more to friendship than having similar lifestyles. “How they lead their life does not make them any less of a friend”, she told me, while adding, “but yeah, I do pray for them every night, hoping they will turn more towards God.”

Back in School, our dormitory warden Brother Montfort always used to say, “Identify the bad elements among you, and stay away from them. Do not even mingle with such people”. Hence, when I became a “bad element” later in life, I always used to think the “good elements” were avoiding me. Now I realized all that was just in my head, and that in reality, a good Christian NEVER forsake a fellow Christian friend.

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” [2 Thessalonians 3: 14-15]

Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Amen to that.

Even though I know I am definitely not qualified enough to preach His Holy word to others, one thing I can atleast do is to try making my friends experience what I am going through right now. Hence, everyday, although it takes me just 5 minutes to reach Church, I start off from home 30 minutes early, so that I can visit all my friends on the way and invite them to come with me to Church. Ofcourse so far, no success except on Sundays, but still I will keep trying, and trying, and trying. Not forcefully, but just a humble invitation coated with a genuine smile.

Remember that popular born again song “Great Change”? We used to sing it in school when I was still studying in Mizoram (1985). It goes like this (Don’t freak out, my memory is not that good! I just happened to dig out my old school song book just the other day )

Chorus: Great change since I was born (3)
There’s a great change since I was born.

1. Things I used to do, I do them no more (3)
There’s a great change since I was born. [chorus]

2. Books I used to read I read them no more (3)
There’s a great change since I was born. [chorus]

3. Songs I used to sing I sing them no more (3)
There’s a great change since I was born. [chorus]

4. Place I used to go I go there no more (3)
There’s a great change since I was born. [chorus]

5. My dear brother, what about you too? (3)
There’s a great change since I was born. [chorus]

The song is about being a born again, and not doing the things we used to do before. However, the song does not mention anything like “Friends I used to have, I have them no more”. Instead, it gently puts forward a request to our friends to rethink about their lives. And I strongly believe that is what we should all do. Never let go of your friends. Grasp them tightly, never letting them stray afar, and lead a life that will make them want to lead such a life too: A good Christian life.

14 comments:

emmie johnson said...

Hey! Cool post. Friends just make life seem special, actually there can be no life possible without them. Peep into my blog on friendship greeting cards for some beautiful e-greeting cards and friendly tips.

myself said...

great post again!!! as usual..... psst will comment further later,tunah chuan tihtur a tam em mai... :P

Rami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
virgochhas said...

God is good.

correction ... God is great.

be strong, my prayers always with you Kim...

am so proud of you

Anonymous said...

Your family friend like 'M' are rare people. Most of our so-called regular vhurch goers have an attitude of 'holier than thou', these people need to know God do not didtinct us, but our heart is the most important.

illusionaire said...

@ emmie: thankyou dear, for the ad :-) Great blog u have.

@ myself: So when are u going to comment? Am still waiting :-P

@ virgo: Thanx ram. My prayers are also with you too. God bless.

@ anonymous: I hope you do check out one of my upcoming post on Church goers and people who gossip about those who don't go etc... Thanx for dropping by.

mnowluck said...

Wow! Great post as usual... Kima!! I really appreciate your move!!I'm so proud of you..
Btw .. thanks for the link(ing) and ur visit..

he@dspin said...

exactly..
but at some level i think its kinda hard for people who are so completely diff to get along really well..unless they've known each other for quite sometime.. because we tend to judge others by their cover, its sick but its our nature..and thats unfair coz we most prolly do nt knw what theyve been thru..
so yeah i think praying's the best that we can do... and HE promised to answer the prayers..and HE always do..
neat stuff.. and must say im impressed.. very.. hope u grow taller in more ways..

illusionaire said...

thanx mnowluck. ur welcome anytime.

hey casey, i comment thiam fuuu hi! :-) thanx for the comment dear.

Anonymous said...

i dont know u yet feels like i know u coz u know d value of friendship...keep d faith

illusionaire said...

Thanx anon, you Keep the Faith too...

robert said...

u know sumthing...a true friend is one who would never gossip about ur shortcomings.. rather he or she would never let u know about it if it doesnt affect ur personality...friends are those who make u feel at ur best everytime but if u have any negative attitude that might go against ur betterment, ur friends would undoubtedly make u aware of it..that is called friendship..they help u become the best person but at the same time...not by hurting ur sentiments but by understand u to the core! take a tour to my blog as there u would find some real good stuffs on friendship :)

jessica said...

Yes it is so true of what M said to you...a true friend would respect your beliefs, your lifestyle, everything that surrounds you.....Anyways, it was really great reading your post. If you do find the time do drop by my blog too and share your views on friends and friendship too.

Patrick said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Patrick