Marsha was fuming as she plunged her hands into the steamy dishwater. As usual, she thought to herself, here I am with a sink full of dirty dishes, work still to be done, and where the heck is Annie? She was supposed to get here early to help me set up for our weekly prayer circle. Instead, there’s less than an hour until everyone arrives and I’m the one doing all the work!
It’s not like it’s the first time either, Marsha fumed. Annie seemed to have a convenient way of disappearing whenever there was work to be done. Thirty years had passed since they had become grade-school buddies, but it seemed to Marsha that she had always been the one doing all the work.
Take the prom, for example. While Marsha had spent that Saturday breaking her back decorating the gym, what had Annie been doing? Annie had been where she always was on Saturday afternoons, hanging out at the Literacy Center, teaching the homeless teenagers to read. I mean, really, couldn’t she have skipped that one Saturday and instead helped her best friend get things ready for the most important night of their lives? Marsha wondered if Annie will ever get her priorities in order.
As Marsha stood lost in thought, she heard a car door slam. And then another. Hmm, Marsha thought, she must have forgotten something, as usual, and had to go back to the car. Drying her soapy hands on her apron, Marsha reached for the doorknob. At that moment, the door swung open and Annie practically burst into Marsha’s.
“Sorry we’re late Marsh,” Annie said breathlessly, kicking off her shoes. Following behind her was a woman Marsha had never seen before.
Her mind racing, Marsha thought “Who is this woman and why has Annie brought her here?” She was also thinking, “So that’s why Annie was late. She was out having a good time with her new friend and forgot all about helping me – her OLD friend.”
Annie interrupted Marsha’s thoughts, “Marsh, I want you to meet Sara. She’s a minister at New Hope Church. Sara and I knew each other when we were teenagers and we ran into each other at Safeway. I invited her to join our prayer circle.”
Extending her hand, Marsha greeted Sara, “So nice to meet you Sara. I’m so glad you’ll be joining us.”
Taking Marsha’s hand in her own, Sara replied, “Thank you, Marsha. I’m happy to be here.” Glancing at Annie, she continued, “And I don’t have to tell you what a blessing that lady is. She totally changed my life.”
Puzzled, Marsha said, “Oh, really? Please tell me more.”
“Well,” Sara began, “I had a rough life as a teenager. My dad left us when I was three. My mom tried her best to take care of us, but she got cancer when I was eleven and died before my twelfth birthday. I was in foster care for several years, but I was always getting into trouble and the families couldn’t handle me. When I was sixteen, they placed me with a “last chance” condition. If I didn’t make it this time, I was going to be placed in a group home.”
Intrigued, Marsha urged Sara, “Go on.”
“My foster parents wanted to help me improve my reading skills, so they took me to the Literacy Center. I was very angry. I thought no one loved me. And then I met Annie.”
Sara continued to tell her story, the story of how one teenage girl had given up her Saturdays so that other teens might have a better life. She told of others that Annie had helped learn to read and how she had loved them unconditionally.
Marsha’s eyes stung with tears as she realized how wrong she had been all these years. Marsha had viewed Annie as selfish and lazy, when in reality it had been she, Marsha, who had been the selfish one by putting “doing” ahead of “loving.”
Marsha walked over to Annie, took her hands and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever told you just how proud I am to be your friend. And I want you to help me be a better friend to you.”
Annie simply smiled and said, “That’s not possible. You’re already the best friend a girl could ask for. And I love you just the way you are.”
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