The truth of the matter is that we choose very little in life. We are born in a certain place to certain parents. We are sent to a certain school. And if we were just one neighbourhood over, if we were just one year older, if that something else had been said to start that chance conversation, our friends would also be very different.
And so there is Dorothy, a Ugandan woman with an infectious laugh and gentle spirit. Jon has known her since he was three months old, Liz since she was two years, Hannah since this little girl joined our family almost four years ago.
Dorothy is their baby-sitter. And they never had a say in it.
It all started this way. My Bride and I were heading to Uganda with a two-year-old and an infant. ‘God,’ we said, ‘help us find a good babysitter. And, if you could somehow manage, could she live close to our home? It would be so nice if she was close to our new home.’
So I went off to Uganda, before the rest of the clan, to get our home established. There was a 40-foot container shipped from Yemen. There was as an empty house on a muddy hill. And while moving the contents of one to the other, this Ugandan woman with the infectious laugh and gentle spirit showed up to help.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I can take care of children.’
And where did she live? She pointed that-a-way. She lived some 100 metres away, just on the other side of a banana patch.
That was almost seven years ago. Dorothy is still nearby, even today, even on this side of the ocean, making sure Liz, who is home from school sick today, is taking her medicine.
Had Dorothy not been living with her sister for that small window of time those years ago, this would not be case. My entire family would be poorer for it. And so would Dorothy.
This is how friendships work. They’re not some reward given to us for our good taste and prudence in decision-making. They’re brought our way to open our eyes and show the beauty and uniqueness of others.
This, it seems, is why Jesus said to his friends, ‘You haven’t chosen me, but I have chosen you.’
And why he has given us each other as friends, not that we have chosen one another as much as he has chosen one another for each of us.