Christ reminds us in John 15:13 No one has greater love that this, to lay down ones life for ones friends. Then he says, “you are my friends, if you do what I command.” What does Christ command? John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

“Do you wanna be pals? I wanna be yours.” That’s what Zach said to me last night. Then he put his arm around me and smiled. I couldn’t help but laugh–really belly-laugh. My reply was, “yes, of course I want to be pals!” I have been reflecting on what being a pal means to me today. It seems to be about LOVING WILDLY! I have carefully chosen the word “wildly.” According to the dictionary, “wildly” means unrestrained, extravagant, eager–eager means ardent–ardent means devoted and passionate. Those are the ways I want to be loved and the ways, I believe, we are called to love others. I don’t know how to love any other way. I have been blessed to been surrounded all my life with people who loved well and loved wildly.

Loving Wildly is about EXPRESSING IT. Just this past week, I got a chance to be with a friend from another town. We were getting ready to leave a hotel, when she just broke into the sweetest words, “Celia,” she said, “I have been all over the world and met several folks in my life and you are one of my favorites. I love you and feel so privileged to know you and call you friend.” Well I was not prepared for this type of comment from her. We were both putting on makeup in a small bathroom. I was putting on mascara and my first thought was, “what made you say that?” We both leapt to our feet and hugged and talked about how good it is to have a friend that knows you and to recognize that kind of love. So today I called two people that have been on my mind. I wanted to tell them I loved them and was thinking of them. They are two of my best pals and I love them wildly. I had nothing specific to say, they were just on my mind, so I called. That seems to be the kind of gentle nudge I receive from the Holy Spirit. When was the last time you just told a friend you loved them and that you were glad they were in your life?

Here are some other things that I have learned about my loving wildly. Loving wildly to me means…

HOLDING ON WHEN LIFE IS HARD. Last month I received a gift from another friend, an angel that has one of my favorite quotes on it. The quote was from Mother Teresa–“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” I am reminded of our friendship each time I walk past that angel. (It now hangs in my home). I remember the ups and downs that we have experienced together and I remember times we have cried together through difficult times–we have carried each other. It is not always easy to walk with someone through the valleys, but it is the inescapable risk of loving. You cannot regret loving, even when life is hard. Loving wildly sometimes takes you there. I think of all those times when friends have been willing to just BE with me in my hurt and just let me be: a fender bender at age 16; when I my boyfriend broke up with me my senior year; my last concert with my college choir (Centenary); our miscarriage and the loss of my sister and parents.

BEING WILLING TO FEEL DEEPLY. I cry easily (Ron will tell you that the “On Star” ads on the radio get me. Maybe you have heard them, “My baby is in the back seat, etc. please help us”.) I remember a time when I heard that some close friends’ dog was hit by a car. I drove to their home and the 3 of us just sat and cried on their front porch while we held the dog’s vacant leash. (Incidentally, the dog made a full recovery, but at the time, recovery was uncertain.) My friends have been willing to feel with me through both happy and sad tears. I have felt their prayers and their presence in those times. Someone once told me if you are never intimate, you’ll never be hurt, but you’ll also never feel the joy of loving fully.

BEING IN THE MOMENT. A willingness to be live in the present moment does not make you a punctual person.If I have been late to meet you because I was in the moment with someone else, I apologize. However, there is something pure about tuning everything out and just being with someone–about listening, and about really giving from your heart, about allowing no distractions.

GIVING MYSELF. Beyond my resources: (gifts.. time.. energy.. cards), my whole self… just like the hokey pokey, I put my whole self in. I want to give myself to others. Last week my sister-in-law was in a car wreck. Wreck is the right word for it.–the car–her body– the other person involved–recovery in the months to come. Ron and I got a chance to sit with her for a few days–to answer the phone and take messages. I felt like the rest of the world could wait and that being present was what I needed to do most. It was a little like the movie “It’s a wonderful life.” As word of the accident circulated, there were calls, food, gift baskets, flowers, e-mails pouring in. Over and over we heard , “What can I do? How can I help? What do you need?” Love showed up, incarnate. As I thought of what she means to me and about what she has meant to me, I tear up. My life would have a huge crater in it if she had not walked away from that accident. If you saw the pictures of her car, you would know what I know. How she survived the wreck is a miracle and I know how blessed we all are that she is here with us. My driving has changed, how I hug my kids has changed, how I am living my life since August 5, 2005 at 3:30 PM central time has changed and I hope it does not just fade into gray. I hope I continue to learn the lesson that life is a precious gift and that we are not guaranteed anything except that God is with us and we have each other.

LAUGHING WELL WITH OTHERS. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to overhear someone say of you, as you walked away from a friend?–he/she laughs well with others. Maybe we should add that to our report cards. There is nothing better than laughing with someone. Some of my best memories are laughing with my kids, with youth groups, at concerts, with family, at memorial services, with Ron, with friends. For me laughter is very healing and I feel God’s presence when I laugh. At a recent wedding reception banana splits were served as a big band played and I laughed as I got in line. What a great way to celebrate the uniqueness of that couple and their new life togher. It was so them–they laugh well with others and the chocolate fountain was a nice touch!

Finally, I AM MADE BETTER BY LOVING. I can say that anytime I have loved, I have received more than I have given. That is the paradox of love. It is about giving for its own sake, but when we give, we in turn receive. Some of my finest hours have been when I gave to others without regard for what I might receive in return.

Lives well, cries well , laughs well…loves wildly; not a bad way to live. Maybe a little more wild is what we all need . . . Celia

P.S. If this note reminded you of a friend, send it on to them with a note that says I’m wild about you. If you received this from a friend, something in the message put you on the mind or in the heart of a friend.

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