FRIENDS Tribute: A Remembrance, A Praise & A Plea

(From Dec 4, 2023)

A remembrance of 2 dear friends. 

A praise to the True Friend. 

A plea to be a real friend to God and others.
By Margaret Yu

FRIENDS Theme Song: Theme Song from FRIENDS 

So no one told you life was going to be this way.*

Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA.

It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,

When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.**

That, I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.

I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.

I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.

(Here is the rest of the lyrics that we don’t know much about:)

No one could ever know me, no one could ever see me.

Seems like you’re the only one who knows what it’s like to be me.

Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with,

Someone I’ll always laugh with, even at my worst, I’m best with you. ***

PREAMBLE: Matthew Perry (Far Right)

Matthew Perry and I have never met. But he has touched my heart during very difficult times in my life through his talent. My friend Susie, who died of ovarian cancer 3 years ago and I have many memories of watching the TV show FRIENDS together. The show resonated with us as the 6 friends were like us in that we had discovered that sometimes friends are more like family. Finally, a great memory of watching FRIENDS was being able to watch it live in studio as it was being taped during the last season. Susie made that happen among many things that benefitted me in our friendship. She was a true loyal friend who was like my sister. Both Perry and Susie’s deaths have moved me to grieve all over again the passing of many dear friends who are there for me through thick and thin.

Susie & me. (I miss her every day. She was a loyal friend who loved me well and taught me to grow my own voice for God’s glory.) 

So no one told you life was going to be this way. *

When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. **

2017-2023 These last 6 years have been the most challenging of my entire life. Professionally being a BIPOC leader in a PWI space had burned me out even as I embraced and loved leadership and its calling. Both of my parents’ health began to deteriorate to the point of now both being bed-ridden with many health complications. Meanwhile I had to juggle between the demands of care-giving and working and directing an Asian American ministry. 

I am not sure if I could have ever imagined my life turning this way for the last few years and especially the last year. 

For the last few years since COVID, I have been mostly tethered to my ailing parents as I care for them. (For me to do anything is an orchestration of finding trusted caregivers and working miracles to make sure all the details will be covered.) My life is at times very tedious and mundane as I care for them seeking to love and value their dignity as human beings or imagebearers of God even when they cannot literally do much of anything. On some days, I cry and other days I am grateful for this honor of ascribing dignity to those who are elderly and most vulnerable and what society deemed as ‘unproductive’. 

There are days when I feel like I am stuck. Prior to this, I had loved traveling and going to new places to learn about new cultures or just have vacation and rest points. I had always been a spontaneous person being able to do things spur of the moment with friends and family.  But in the last few years, that has NOT been my story. 

There are days that I envy friends who can travel at whim. There are days when I live with FOMO at every turn. Then there are days where I get jealous of others who get to do more. I succumb to comparing my life with others and I tell myself: I am stuck in this life-stage. Others are moving forward, but time seems to stand still for me in this sea of caregiving responsibilities.

Recently, I had a horrible day where it seemed like I was dropping everything in sight or I was making the wrong kind of turns behind the wheel. I caught myself saying: This is just not my day…

And then, something happened. I stopped dead in my tracks from completing that thought. Somehow, God had intervened into my grumbling of a horrible day and made me pause. And through the work of the Holy Spirit, He stopped me from going into this spiraling down path that would lead me to: This has not been my day or week or month of even my year or MORE. This has not been my life…My life is so hard. There God put his gentle hand on my mouth to make me stop talking. He then touched my brain or my mind and helped me recall that while I was having a hard day or maybe it does not seem like it was ‘my day’, I could still recollect that on that very day, there were also some very positives in my life. For example, on that day, I will get to see my nephew and his new girlfriend and we would all share a holiday meal together. Then, I began to think of other ‘good stuff’ in my life. 

So I give praise to God who is that True Friend who is loyal and sticks with me even through my negative thoughts or self-pity parties. I give thanks to God for being there for me as a friend who listens and allows me to grumble. But I am most grateful for God or the Holy Spirit’s ability to guide us to transform our hearts and minds from the inside out. I praise Him that he can somehow give me gratitude and joy even when it does not seem like it’s been my day, week or month or even my year or even my last 7 years or even what feels like my hard life. 

The paradox is that somehow life is NOT fair, but God is always good to us as he invites us into his presence through our darkest days. My life is really hard. There are days when I can only laugh or cry that I spent 5 hours literally changing diapers or helping my parents be OK and comfortable. But then, there are moments where God still gives me purpose and joy and peace. 

Recently I found myself at another pity-party. I recall telling God: I wish I could travel like everyone else. (Don’t worry I do get a couple of breaks a year being away from caregiving.) I found myself feeling all sorts of emotions that could lead me to hate my life. I started feeling a bit sorry for myself. Comparisons often lead us to that pitiful place. I found myself wishing I had the same freedoms as all of my friends. 

But then, it happened again! Through God’s grace (There is no other word other than grace!) I was able to gain a different perspective. I saw how some of my friends (I am included in this at times.) really needed these travels to escape their lives or needed these travels to validate or help them feel happy or successful. These external things were assisting them to find happiness or worth. Somehow, I began to think on my life. I began to see how in this season, I was learning in new ways that I actually don’t need many things to make me happy. In fact, I saw that I actually have true freedom as I did not need per se external things to make me feel happy or joyful. I had learned to live in the freedom of being grateful or content even if I felt like I was tethered or at times imprisoned by my caregiving duties. Somehow God again!  Somehow I found freedom with God in spite of my circumstances. I learned contentment and true joy. (Phil 4:11)

So I salute my True Friend, the Holy Spirit of God who guides me always to be honest with Him and who invites me to be the best version of myself.  (Someone I’ll always laugh with, even at my worst, I’m best with you. ***)  

This bears repeating: 

That, I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.

I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.

I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.

I praise God for being my True Friend who is there with me through the rain and the storms. It harkens my desire to be there for God too. It beckons me to be a real friend to others as well. 

Father God, I want to be there for you in that I trust you even when the storms come and the days are long and dark. Lord Jesus, I want to be like you in being loyal to you even when I am tempted by this world or my own selfish desires. Holy Spirit, grant me the grace to be a loyal and real friend to others even in the midst of my own pity parties. God, help me to love well even when it is NOT my kind of day or year. God, somehow, redirect my heart to receive your invitation to your presence and love. Teach me to live in the freedom that is afforded in your presence and love. Amen.