I met my friend, Sarah, just over 15 years ago. She and her husband, Skip, were expecting their first child at the time. Sarah and I began attending a women’s group together while Chad and Skip both joined the same men’s Bible study. We took our kids to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet, swapped Aldi quarters, moved furniture, attended costume parties, celebrated various events and made so many memories together. I have many friends for sure, but Sarah is one of the very best.
Around 13 years ago, we also began building a friendship with a single man named Bob. Bob was in the same men’s group with Chad and Skip. When our son, Ben, was born, he brought over a meal for us and gradually started becoming part of our family. He attended our parties, slept on our couch, and took our kids on birthday outings. We solved most of the world’s problems during late night conversations at our kitchen table, and he introduced us to any of the women he dated. He became one of our closest friends - and Chad’s best.
Five years ago, I sat with Sarah at the hospital as she processed Skip’s tragic death at age 42. While I was at a complete loss for words, she prayed . . . Thank you for 17 years with this man. Chad was out of town on a staff retreat when I called to say . . . Come home now. Three weeks later, Sarah informed our small circle of friends that she was 8 weeks pregnant with their fourth child. As I sat there in her living room, dumbfounded again, she said in a way that only she can . . . Better pick up your jaw. This couple . . . this woman . . . who had influenced my faith so deeply . . . why was this happening? None of this made sense.
Fast forward again, as we stand together at a function in the church lobby, Sarah leans down to me and whispers . . . I went on a date. I am grasping for words. What? When? Who??? Bob. Bob who? Not our Bob? Yes. Once again struck with a loss of words, I turn to face her as she says . . . Better pick up your jaw. People are gonna look.
A tapestry is a large piece of fabric woven with a complicated pattern that results in an intricate and beautiful picture on one side. A tapestry, however, is considered nonreversible because the backside is terribly unbecoming with an interplay of threads and colors that do not make any sense to the observer. Even after seeing the picture on the front, it can be impossible to understand the methodology of the back. Yet, the more we gaze at and appreciate the beauty on the front, the more we can respect the work on the back.
I do not understand why Skip died. He was such a great man who loved his family so well. I hate that Sarah and her four children (who look just like their dad, by the way) have walked this broken road. I do not know why that ugly thread made its way onto the tapestry of my friend’s life.
But. The beauty is on the other side. Not the other side of death. The other side of the tapestry. The side that proves God can do anything with anything. When you stand back for very long and gaze at the picture God created in this family, you see the beauty of redemption. And when I see redemption in their life, it is easier to have hope for it in my own.
At Sarah and Bob's wedding, Chad gave the best man's speech while I wiped the tears. Tears that were sweet. And bitter. My best friend's husband died. So tragic. And then she married my husband's best friend. So ridiculous. And then together, we both celebrate and remember. So incredible.
I see something beautiful, God.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11