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Talking with Godve Graves

I'm reminded of a recent incident in which an acquaintance was sharing her frustrations. While getting ready for work, she discovered that she had misplaced her keys. She exclaimed, "Dammit, God, why are you messing with me? You know I have to get to work. Quit messing around and help me find my keys." She considered her outburst and said, "I guess I better watch my mouth, huh God! You could strike me down just like that."

While her vocabulary may distress some, part of me envies her easy relationship with her Lord. Her God is a familiar companion, always at her side.

The conversation she recounted is that intimate banter possible only between best friends. Not only is she comfortable with herself, she is comfortable enough in relationship with God to be herself with him.

It was after some mediation that I realized that she did not always have this relationship with God. Friendships take time and are built through sharing our hopes and disappointments, our dreams and nightmares. We must first become acquainted before we can become intimate. Our initial prayers, like all first conversations between strangers, may be awkward and tentative, perhaps even of a shallow nature in the beginning.

Friendship requires trust but true trust in a relationship comes only through shared experiences. Trust can't come secondhand or through reputation or from a book. We must learn for ourselves firsthand if our friend is dependable and we for him.

Saying that I trust God is one thing. Saying that God always comes through for me is more impressive because the statement requires personal experience. Coming through for God consistently is rarer still.

Friendships can't be one way. We must share our selves and listen in return. We mustn't be selfish if we want to stay on good terms with God. We have to give in return.

We treat the children of friends with respect, generosity and concern. We give deference to the friends of our friends. This means we must treat all of God's children respectfully if we want to stay friends with God.

Friendship requires constancy and loyalty. We can't dump our friends just because we get involved in careers, marriages or other pursuits. We need to make time for friendships if they are to flourish.

True friends are ready to forgive. We sometimes neglect our friends for trivial reasons. We might avoid them because we're ashamed of something we've done.

The first one or two conversations with fallen away friends can be tough and embarrassing but reconciliation is its own reward. So if you've lost contact with your old friend, or perhaps you would like to meet a new friend, give him a shout. It's toll free.

Ask your Pastor about the programs and groups active in your Parish. If you don't find an organization that meets your needs, then start one.

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